ArchLabs (version 4.0) is an Arch based linux distribution that uses Openbox as desktop environment and by consequence many of the Arch wiki pages can be used to solve eventual hardware issues. But it is not your standard Arch Linux. After downloading the iso (version ARCHLabs 4.0) you can burn it and boot from it (or write the iso to an usb) and you will be presented with a graphical installation. That is one of its major strengths.
ARCHLabs is a Linux distribution launched by two guys with a love of BunsenLabs and Arch Linux.
We wanted to take the look of BunsenLabs and put it on top of Arch Linux.
This quote comes straight from the website of ARCHLabs and summarizes the existence of this new distro.
It takes only SEVEN graphical screens to complete the installation and none of them are highly technical. ARCHLabs does not strand you in a terminal where you should type in commands. In Arch Linux you will have to read the beginners wiki and the installation wiki and figure out what to do, what not to do and when to do it. For a beginner in linux – let us be honest – this is an impossible task.
ARCHLabs can be an alternative way to have an arch based system the easy way with the use of the graphical installer – Calamares. ARCHLabs users or Labbers will also be able to use the AUR or Arch User Repository. The AUR is a great library, where all the scripts are kept, in order to install thousands of applications.
Like Arch Linux ARCHLabs is a rolling release meaning once you installed the system, you will never need to install it again. You will get the updates and that is that. You will get the latest version of any application. So there is no release distributions like e.g. Ubuntu 17.04 or so. However parts of Archlabs need still to be updated manually for now. This issue has been included in the roadmap.
If you used a debian based system then you installed applications with
sudo apt install
On an arch based system it will be
sudo pacman -S
Once you have figured out how to boot from the dvd or usb on your system, you will be presented with the graphical interface. If you have problems with booting then you google your computername and bios or bootsequence and keyboard shortcut. When booting up you get one second or so to see possible keyboard shortcuts. In a hurry then try escape, F2, F8 and delete.
You need to go over 7 screens to install archlabs.
If you really want to see all the steps I take when installing ARCHLabs, you can see this video tutorial. To be able to film all the installation steps we will install virtualbox on ARCHLabs and will record everything with simplescreenrecorder. Follow the link to the virtualbox website and choose which file to download and install depending on the operating system you have.
Once we have downloaded and installed virtualbox we can try out ARCHLabs in a safe and confined environment of a virtual machine on our system (Linux, Mac Osx or Windows).
Arch users can follow this article to install virtualbox on their system. Scroll to the conclusion.
What ever we do on the virtual machine will only affect that system not our own operating system.
Let us now install ARCHLabs on our virtual harddisk/machine.
Remember to get rid of the iso image of ARCHLabs before you reboot or you will be asked again to boot into the live boot or installation dvd.
This will be our welcome screen after reboot. You see different notifications from the network manager and the update manager.
After some customization
ARCHLabs has many icons and themes already installed on the system. Easy for you to change the desktop to your liking.
AUL-Acros conky is monitoring our systems vital signs. Papirus icons have been used, Arc-Grey theme has been selected and the plank has a personal theme. Variety has provided this beautiful wallpaper.
First impression after installation
Let us take a look at ARCHLabs before we attempt any customization of our own. ARCHLabs comes with its own theme and icon set.
There are a few essential parts you should know :
- panel (tint2)
- and the menu from openbox.
Content of the tutorial
- You have 4 desktops
- Tint2 panel
- wallpaper can be changed with nitrogen
- Right Mouse click on desktop shows the menu or Super + spacebar
- dmenu or Super + Shift + D
- quiting archlabs or hibernate, suspend and others with Super + x
- lots of keyboard shortcuts to discover via the menu
Configuration of Openbox
It is important to know what the core files are for openbox and where you can find them.
All core files to configure openbox are in this folder
We will find the following files
- autostart – will have a list of all software that you would like to start at bootup like bluetooth, variety, dropbox etc
- menu.xml – this file will have our definition for the openbox menu – we can edit it
- rc.xml – settings of openbox and many shortcuts to start applications or manipulate windows
Changing the look of ARCHLabs
We can change any and all elements of ARCHLabs like the icons, theme or fonts. The openbox menu can assist you there.
- openbox configuration
- xfce configuration
With these 4 configuration tools you can change any and all parts of your system.
More information about variety can be found here.
Pamac is an application that will notice you if there are updates to be installed. We will show you how that works and looks.
You can also update via terminal
sudo pacman -Syu
Pamac manager can provide some additional information about packages or groups or repositories. Do check all the possibilities in the preferences.
This information can also be gathered via the command line. Pamac is a gui front-end for pacman.
Changing the conky
A conky is an application that can monitor your system’s settings like cpu usage, ram usage, disk usage etc…
ARCHLabs provides us with a conky chooser to quickly change the conky. You can have different conky’s running at the same time as well.
The standard conky we start with can be found at ~/.conkyrc. It is a hidden file in your home folder. Use CTRL + H to see the hidden files.
The other conky’s can be found and edited at ~/.config/conky.
We will activate the AUL-acros conky. This conky requires the “sensors” command provided by lm_sensors so we install it here.
sudo pacman -S lm_sensors
Plank can be an asset to your desktop
Plank is already installed and a selection of the most beautiful themes have been included in ARCHLabs 4.0.
Right-mouse click on the plank with CTRL pressed to get inside the preferences.
We use exo-open in the menu.xml which means you can change between applications for these appliactions
- file manager
- and mail reader
Deleting virtualbox-guest applications
This is something I normally do after installing Archlabs on an ssd. Archlabs has been created to work fluently on Virtualbox. These applications have been installed as well on SSD. We can delete those applications now.
Only run this script IF your are on an sdd or harddisk.
Getting the latest kernel and installing it
Archlabs 4.0 provides you with an easy script to get the latest kernel. Do check out the code inside the script. It will install linux-lts.
It is meant to be run on an SSD or harddisk NOT on virtualbox.
Changing the look of the panel aka tint2
There is an easy configuration tool supplied with the installation of ARCHLabs namely Tint2 configuration or Tint2 GUI.
There are a lot of settings to test out and you will not need most of them since there are many templates provided that look already great.
Fixing hardcoded icons
Run this script to be sure that all applications are following your chosen icon theme.
A standard archlabs 4.0 installation will have 4 hardcoded icons for its applications.
Do you have ideas, suggestions, bugs, …
The best place to let us know is the forum at http://archlabs.prophpbb.com. You will find solutions and tips there as well and it is also fun to be part of a community.
Please take the time to report bugs on the forum so that ARCHLabs can become even better.