Installing and configuring Arch Linux on Thinkpad X1 Carbon

Table of Contents

Introduction

I configured Arch Linux on the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon (4th generation) with dual booting to the pre-installed Windows 10 (for games I occasionally play). I got close to the 100% of laptop functionality working on the Arch Linux, confirming the rumor that Thinkpads work well with Linux. Setup should be very similar on modern laptops with GPT/UEFI.

Even if Arch wiki is very comprehensive, it needs a bit of reading to decide what is right for the particular hardware. Dual booting with windows and UEFI/GPT are not as well documented as the plain old linux installations.

To see my thoughts after a few months of usage you can jump to Conclusion.

This post was written in and is readable in the Emacs org mode format.

Why Arch Linux?

This section is for informative purposes only. If you are only interested in the installation you can skip to Base installation of Arch Linux.

Minimalist distributions teach you Linux

When some people hear that Arch starts without a GIU they think that using it is “masochistic”. Firstly, you probably don’t need majority of packages bundled with distributions like ubuntu.

Secondly, while Ubuntu may take you “75%” there, you don’t understand how different things got there and treat your OS like magical box, so you can’t improve it. While Arch starts from “20%”, by going “20%->75%” the learning experience allows you to eventually reach “100%” faster than users who want to go from “75% -> 100%”. Therefore, majority of users of distributions like Ubuntu are stuck around “80%”.

Vs other minimalistic distributions – Gentoo and Slackware

  • systemd is the future

    Other “minimalist” distributions like Gentoo or Slackware did not adapt the systemd yet. You may not like systemd, but you can’t deny it’s winning.

  • No need to compile packages (Gentoo)

    What’s the benefit of waiting a week until all packages compile for your OS? On Arch you can choose between pre-installing packages via pacman and building them with makepkg. If I want to just check out some program, or use it once per month (e.g. gimp) I wouldn’t want to compile it.

  • No manual dependency resolution (Slackware)

    Understanding dependencies of your packages is good. You can simply run pacman -Si gtk3 to see dependencies of a package. Resolving each package manually is too time consuming to be worth it.

Rolling release schedule is good

If you need to run the same Linux version on 100s of machines in the large organization I get why you wouldn’t want rolling release schedule.

  • I was much more frequently hit by missing this “new cool flag” in old distributions, rather than I am hit by the bleeding edge packages in Arch Linux.
  • If something goes wrong, you can always open a bug and downgrade to older version.
  • In the new containerised world servers have less “intervined” dependencies, so it’s easier to just run the latest software from Arch.
  • Bugs caused by upgrades in distributions with huge releases are harder to debug. Since everything changes at once it’s harder to isolate the failure.

Arch wiki is awesome

Even when I was using different Linux distributions I was using Arch wiki as my primary source of Linux knowledge. Any other distribution is not nearly as well documented as Arch. If you end up getting majority of your info about Linux from Arch wiki, why not switch to Arch?

Hardware specification of the laptop

This section is for informative purposes only. If you are only interested in the installation you can skip to Base installation of Arch Linux.

Serial number

sudo cat /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_serial
R90KNV08

Desktop management information

Extracted from:

sudo dmidecode

System Information

System Information
        Manufacturer: LENOVO
        Product Name: 20FBCTO1WW
        Version: ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th
        Serial Number: R90KNV08
        UUID: 8648D14C-33F4-11B2-A85C-EDB510BB0156
        Wake-up Type: Power Switch
        SKU Number: LENOVO_MT_20FB_BU_Think_FM_ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th
        Family: ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th

Processor

Handle 0x0007, DMI type 4, 48 bytes
Processor Information
        Socket Designation: U3E1
        Type: Central Processor
        Family: Core i7
        Manufacturer: Intel(R) Corporation
        ID: E3 06 04 00 FF FB EB BF
        Signature: Type 0, Family 6, Model 78, Stepping 3
        Flags:
                FPU (Floating-point unit on-chip)
                VME (Virtual mode extension)
                DE (Debugging extension)
                PSE (Page size extension)
                TSC (Time stamp counter)
                MSR (Model specific registers)
                PAE (Physical address extension)
                MCE (Machine check exception)
                CX8 (CMPXCHG8 instruction supported)
                APIC (On-chip APIC hardware supported)
                SEP (Fast system call)
                MTRR (Memory type range registers)
                PGE (Page global enable)
                MCA (Machine check architecture)
                CMOV (Conditional move instruction supported)
                PAT (Page attribute table)
                PSE-36 (36-bit page size extension)
                CLFSH (CLFLUSH instruction supported)
                DS (Debug store)
                ACPI (ACPI supported)
                MMX (MMX technology supported)
                FXSR (FXSAVE and FXSTOR instructions supported)
                SSE (Streaming SIMD extensions)
                SSE2 (Streaming SIMD extensions 2)
                SS (Self-snoop)
                HTT (Multi-threading)
                TM (Thermal monitor supported)
                PBE (Pending break enabled)
        Version: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6500U CPU @ 2.50GHz
        Voltage: 1.0 V
        External Clock: 100 MHz
        Max Speed: 8300 MHz
        Current Speed: 2500 MHz
        Status: Populated, Enabled
        Upgrade: Other
        L1 Cache Handle: 0x0004
        L2 Cache Handle: 0x0005
        L3 Cache Handle: 0x0006
        Serial Number: None
        Asset Tag: None
        Part Number: None
        Core Count: 2
        Core Enabled: 2
        Thread Count: 4
        Characteristics:
                64-bit capable
                Multi-Core
                Hardware Thread
                Execute Protection
                Enhanced Virtualization
                Power/Performance Control

Memory

8gb in total, 2x of following:

Memory Device
        Array Handle: 0x0008
        Error Information Handle: Not Provided
        Total Width: 64 bits
        Data Width: 64 bits
        Size: 4096 MB
        Form Factor: Chip
        Set: None
        Locator: ChannelB-DIMM0
        Bank Locator: BANK 2
        Type: LPDDR3
        Type Detail: Synchronous
        Speed: 1867 MHz
        Manufacturer: Samsung
        Serial Number: None
        Asset Tag: None
        Part Number: K4E6E304EE-EGCF
        Rank: 2
        Configured Clock Speed: 1867 MHz
        Minimum Voltage: Unknown
        Maximum Voltage: Unknown
        Configured Voltage: 1.2 V

Motherboard

Base Board Information
        Manufacturer: LENOVO
        Product Name: 20FBCTO1WW
        Version: SDK0J40697 WIN
        Serial Number: W1KS65P10SY
        Asset Tag: Not Available

Plugs

  • HDMI
  • 3 USB (no type C)
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Mini jack
  • OneLink

Battery

Portable Battery
        Location: Front
        Manufacturer: SMP
        Name: 00HW029
        Design Capacity: 52060 mWh
        Design Voltage: 15200 mV
        SBDS Version: 03.01
        Maximum Error: Unknown
        SBDS Serial Number: 057C
        SBDS Manufacture Date: 2016-05-24
        SBDS Chemistry: LiP
        OEM-specific Information: 0x00000000

Cards slots

Handle 0x0021, DMI type 9, 17 bytes
System Slot Information
        Designation: Media Card Slot
        Type: Other
        Current Usage: Available
        Length: Other
        Characteristics:
                Hot-plug devices are supported
        Bus Address: 0000:00:00.0

Handle 0x0022, DMI type 9, 17 bytes
System Slot Information
        Designation: SmartCard Slot
        Type: Other
        Current Usage: Available
        Length: Other
        Characteristics:
                Hot-plug devices are supported
        Bus Address: 0000:00:00.0

Handle 0x0023, DMI type 9, 17 bytes
System Slot Information
        Designation: SimCard Slot
        Type: Other
        Current Usage: Available
        Length: Other
        Characteristics: None
        Bus Address: 0000:00:00.0

BIOS

BIOS Information
        Vendor: LENOVO
        Version: N1FET38W (1.12 )
        Release Date: 03/30/2016
        Address: 0xE0000
        Runtime Size: 128 kB
        ROM Size: 16384 kB
        Characteristics:
                PCI is supported
                PNP is supported
                BIOS is upgradeable
                BIOS shadowing is allowed
                Boot from CD is supported
                Selectable boot is supported
                EDD is supported
                3.5"/720 kB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                Print screen service is supported (int 5h)
                8042 keyboard services are supported (int 9h)
                Serial services are supported (int 14h)
                Printer services are supported (int 17h)
                CGA/mono video services are supported (int 10h)
                ACPI is supported
                USB legacy is supported
                BIOS boot specification is supported
                Targeted content distribution is supported
                UEFI is supported
        BIOS Revision: 1.12
        Firmware Revision: 1.8

No ethernet, but converter is provided

OneLink to ethernet converter have been provided. I didn’t test it on Arch.

Handle 0x0019, DMI type 8, 9 bytes
Port Connector Information
        Internal Reference Designator: Not Available
        Internal Connector Type: None
        External Reference Designator: Ethernet
        External Connector Type: RJ-45
        Port Type: Network Port

CPU Cache

Handle 0x0003, DMI type 7, 19 bytes
Cache Information
        Socket Designation: L1 Cache
        Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 1
        Operational Mode: Write Back
        Location: Internal
        Installed Size: 64 kB
        Maximum Size: 64 kB
        Supported SRAM Types:
                Synchronous
        Installed SRAM Type: Synchronous
        Speed: Unknown
        Error Correction Type: Parity
        System Type: Data
        Associativity: 8-way Set-associative

Handle 0x0004, DMI type 7, 19 bytes
Cache Information
        Socket Designation: L1 Cache
        Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 1
        Operational Mode: Write Back
        Location: Internal
        Installed Size: 64 kB
        Maximum Size: 64 kB
        Supported SRAM Types:
                Synchronous
        Installed SRAM Type: Synchronous
        Speed: Unknown
        Error Correction Type: Parity
        System Type: Instruction
        Associativity: 8-way Set-associative

Handle 0x0005, DMI type 7, 19 bytes
Cache Information
        Socket Designation: L2 Cache
        Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 2
        Operational Mode: Write Back
        Location: Internal
        Installed Size: 512 kB
        Maximum Size: 512 kB
        Supported SRAM Types:
                Synchronous
        Installed SRAM Type: Synchronous
        Speed: Unknown
        Error Correction Type: Single-bit ECC
        System Type: Unified
        Associativity: 4-way Set-associative

Handle 0x0006, DMI type 7, 19 bytes
Cache Information
        Socket Designation: L3 Cache
        Configuration: Enabled, Not Socketed, Level 3
        Operational Mode: Write Back
        Location: Internal
        Installed Size: 4096 kB
        Maximum Size: 4096 kB
        Supported SRAM Types:
                Synchronous
        Installed SRAM Type: Synchronous
        Speed: Unknown
        Error Correction Type: Multi-bit ECC
        System Type: Unified
        Associativity: 16-way Set-associative

Pointing devices

Handle 0x0034, DMI type 21, 7 bytes
Built-in Pointing Device
        Type: Track Point
        Interface: PS/2
        Buttons: 3

Handle 0x0035, DMI type 21, 7 bytes
Built-in Pointing Device
        Type: Touch Pad
        Interface: PS/2
        Buttons: 2

Base installation of Arch Linux

I mostly followed steps from https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/beginners’_guide with customization for Windows dual booting, uefi, gpt and HiDPI screen.

Prepare USB stick (on other computer with Ubuntu Linux 14.04)

Download

I downloaded the 2016.06.01 image via torrent from https://www.archlinux.org/download/.

Upload it to the usb stick

Since the laptop don’t have the CD, USB is the best booting option. More detailed description is at Arch wiki article about USB flash installation media.

  • Find out the name of your USB drive with lsblk
    lsblk | grep media
    
  • If USB stick got auto-mounted
    • See that it got auto mounted
      dmesg -wH
      
    • Make sure that it is not mounted.
      umount /dev/sdb1
      
  • Burn the image with dd
    cd ~/Downloads
    sudo dd bs=4M if=archlinux-2016.06.01-dual.iso of=/dev/sdb && sync
    
  • Verify

    Re-plug the usb and:

    ls /media/kozikow/ARCH*
    
    arch EFI isolinux loader
    

Prepare Windows 10 (for computer games) for dual booting

You may want to take a look at Dual boot with Windows wiki entry.

Shrink the Windows partition from Windows

Even if partition resizing is also supported from Linux, I feel like it’s safer to do it from Windows.

  1. Press start button
  2. Search for “Create and format hard disk partitions”
  3. Right click C:/ and “Shrink Volume”
  • Shrinking limitations

    Windows only lets me to reclaim 233 gb out of 474 gb. I tried defragmentation or cleaning up some unnecessary files with no luck. I think it’s not that bad, since I can mount the NTFS partition from arch. Therefore, I can keep the most space hungry files like movies on this partition.

Check that Windows boots into the UEFI/GPT mode

You can check it on Windows in System Information->BIOS mode You may consider reading about UEFI and GPT. If we want to dual boot with the existing Windows we need to use UEFI for Arch as well.

Disable Fast Startup

If you don’t, Linux NTFS driver may damage the NTFS disk. Windows 10 instructions.

Boot Arch Linux

Disable secure boot

It prevents Arch from booting.

  1. Restart computer
  2. Press Enter
  3. F1->Security->Secure Boot
  4. Change to disabled
  5. Save and restart

Boot

  1. Press Enter
  2. F12
  3. Choose usb stick
  4. Arch

Adjust tty font size

Default tty font size if very small due to the HiDPI resolution. You can adjust it with:

cd /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts
ls | grep -P "[2-9]\d+\.ps" # Find big fonts.
setfont latarcyrheb-sun32 # The biggest one I found.

It’s a good idea to persist the font. Add it later to /etc/vconsole.conf, after you install a new OS:

KEYMAP=us
FONT=latarcyrheb-sun32

Create partitions

No need for swap partition

Since the laptop have 8 GB of RAM it’s plenty. Since 8 GB is more than plenty for a desktop, if OS would run out of 8 GBs it likely means that some program leaks memory and it’s better to fail fast. If I decide afterwards that I need it for features like hibernation I can always use a swap file.

EFI system partition already exists

Since laptop came with the UEFI support, the EFI system partition already exists. You can check it by

gdisk /dev/sda

p to list partition table. See that the first entry (/dev/sda1) is the “EFI system partition”

Create partition for Arch with gdisk

I decided I’ll go with a single Linux partition, since my movies and music will be stored on the NTFS partition. I used gdisk to create a new partition. gdisk is installed by default on the usb stick.

gdisk /dev/sda

p to list all partition tables. Based on this I found that my new partition should be placed between sectors 507793408 and 998166527. n to create a new partition. All default options were reasonable. w to save

  • Verify that the new partition is there
    lsblk
    

Format and mount partitions

I went for ext4.

Why not F2FS?

Since the laptop have the SSD, I was contemplating trying out the F2FS. It’s only slightly faster according to some benchmarks. ext4 have additional features and is more standard so it seems like safer bet.

I have been thinking that maybe F2FS would result in less “SSD tear”. I have been reading than in “desktop” usage SSD tear is almost never an issue and other components in laptop would fail first, so we don’t have to worry about it.

Why not ext3?

There exist some drivers that let windows read and copy files from ext filesystem. Even if support for using ext4 from Windows is worse than ext3, I won’t be using Windows often. If you plan to frequently boot to Windows you may consider ext3 for better Windows compatibility.

Format and mount the Linux partition

lsblk /dev/sda
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda5
mount /dev/sda5 /mnt

Boot partition

  • What is this EFISTUB about?

    Section about EFISTUB may be a bit confusing. Note that most EFI boot loaders are EFISTUBs themselves (they both create EFI entries). In particular, systemd-boot will create EFISTUB entries for itself. Bootling Linux using the kernel EFISTUB means you just skip the bootloader. In almost all cases you want to go for bootloader like systemd-boot.

  • Mount existing EFI system partition to /mnt/boot

    Since I don’t plan to use EFISTUB as a bootloader and use systemd-boot, I just need to mount our EFI system partition at /mnt/boot.

    mkdir -p /mnt/boot
    mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot
    
  • Do not format the /mnt/boot

    systemd-boot will be installed on top of existing Windows boot loader. It will detect the existing windows boot loader and set up the dual booting.

Connect to internet

iw dev # Find an interfrace
wifi-menu -o wlp4s0 # pass an interface from the previous command

Run the installer

pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel

genfstab

genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

Netctl

cp -R /etc/netctl /mnt/etc/netctl

arch-chroot

arch-chroot /mnt /bin/bash

Locale and time zone

# Uncomment en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8 in /etc/locale.gen
locale-gen
echo "LANG=en_GB.UTF-8" > /etc/locale.conf
tzselect
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/London /etc/localtime
hwclock --systohc --utc

I must admit that I had some issues with GB locale after the installation. I switched to US locale and I did not have problems with it yet. IMO, even if you are in the UK, more things will work as you expect when you go with the US locale.

Also, if you install gnome, it stores it’s own locale settings and you need to set them later. To set it, I recommend installing gnome-initial-setup and restarting the X server.

initramfs

Run:

mkinitcpio -p linux

Problem with missing vmlinuz-linux

Initially I have been getting an error:

ERROR: specified kernel image does not exist; /boot/vmlinuz-linux

The problem was that I mounted the /mnt/boot after running the pacstrap. Pacstrap writes the vmlinuz-linux to /mnt/boot.

Problem with missing firmware

I also got some warnings about some missing firmware.

Warning: Possibly missing firmware wd719x
Possibly missing firmware aic94xx

Strangely the problem somehow resolved itself. Some installation must have pulled the package. As this post mentions, missing firmware can be found in AUR.

After it is installed:

modinfo wd719x | grep description
modinfo aic94xx | grep description
description:    Western Digital WD7193/7197/7296 SCSI driver
description:    Adaptec aic94xx SAS/SATA driver

Boot Loader

After brief investigation, I decided that I prefer the systemd-boot as an x86_64 UEFI bootloader.

It will be installed on top of existing bootloader

I previously mounted EFI system partition to /boot. This partition has a pre-existing Windows boot loader. systemd-boot will be installed on top of that and it will auto-detect and properly handle the previously installed boot loader.

Install systemd-boot

bootctl install

/boot/loader/loader.conf

timeout 4
default arch
editor 0

/boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

title          Arch Linux
linux          /vmlinuz-linux
initrd         /initramfs-linux.img
options        root=PARTUUID=c0181663-6019-4a2c-b45a-ab6c112f1aa0 rw

PARTUUID is a GUID of your new partition. Beware that GUID is case sensitive in this case. You can find it using:

blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/sdb5

No need for windows entry in /boot/loader/entries/

systemd-boot auto-detects Windows, so there is no need for the windows entry. My /boot/loader/entries/ directory only contains arch.conf and I can dual boot to Windows.

Windows plays along well

I heard stories that in such setup Windows does not like to play along and messes up the EFI system partition.

I did not experience it. I am running “bleeding edge” Windows 10 develop preview, so it may have been fixed at some point.

Network

Suspicious Unnamed/non-netdev interface

At some point later I noticed a suspcious device when running “iw dev”:

Unnamed/non-netdev interface
wdev 0x3
addr ...
type P2P-device

There is a post about it. It’s probably harmless.

Just in case, I disabled the p2p interface:

sudo echo "p2p_disabled=1" >> /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Set root password

passwd

Configuring Arch Linux after booting to the new system

At this point I am able to dual boot to Arch/Windows. A few more things after rebooting:

Create the user account

useradd -m kozikow
passwd kozikow
visudo # in this file configure your user as a sudoer
reboot

Hardware support

Input devices

There are two alternative input libraries x86-input-evdev and x86-input-libinput. After reading two articles I decided to go with x86-input-libinput. Some user mentioned: “With xf86-input-libinput, the trackpoint(and middle button scrolling) works out of the box on my ThinkPad, while xf86-input-evdev requires some additional settings”.

Indeed, with libinput everything reasonably worked after the installation.

  • Keyboard hardware buttons

    Almost all keyboard “hardware” buttons work as expected, including sound and brightness. There are two minor problems:

    • Airplane mode button

      It sucesfully turns on the airplane mode, but turning it off doesn’t work well. After turning the airplane mode off I have to run:

      sudo systemctl restart netctl-auto@wlp4s0.service
      
    • F11 and F12

      I don’t know what these buttons supposed to do, but pressing them currently have no effect.

  • Adjust trackpoint sensitivity

    The only annoyance was too slow trackpoint. Methods from arch wiki didn’t work for me, probably since they were meant for the old evdev.

    • Xinput method
      pacman -S xorg-xinput
      xinput list | grep TrackPoint # Find an id of tracpoint. 12 in my case.
      xinput --set-prop 12 'libinput Accel Speed' 1.0
      

      Persisting this method requires adding the set-prop command to the .xinitrc (before exec gnome-session).

    • Device parameters method

      /usr/local/bin/my_init.sh:

      echo 180 > /sys/bus/serio/devices/serio2/sensitivity
      

      Even if there are multiple devices in sys/bus/serio/devices, only the touchpad have a sensitivity file present. Also see this post.

      I tried to persist it using systemd, but it’s a wrong way to go in this case. You need udev rule. See https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=165213.

      You can see existing udev description using udevadm info -a -p /sys/bus/serio/devices/serio2. My /etc/udev/rules.d/10-trackpoint.rules:

      ACTION=="add",SUBSYSTEM=="input",ATTR{name}=="TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint",ATTR{device/sensitivity}="180",ATTR{device/speed}="180"
      
    • Recomended values

      xinput method ranges between -1.0 and 1.0. I went for 1.0. sensitivity ranges between 128 and 250. I went for 180. It is quite speedy and it took me a few days to adjust, but now it’s much more efficient.

Graphics

Almost everything worked as expected after installing xorg and gnome.

  • libgl

    I had to choose a libgl library when install xorg. There were 4 alternative libgl implementations. I went for mesa-libgl, since alternatives were from nvidia and this thinkpad has an integrated intel graphics card.

  • Screen Resolution

    To verify that you are running the best resolution, WQHD (2560×1440), run:

    xrandr                                                                                                                           1 ↵
    
    Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 2560 x 1440, maximum 8192 x 8192
    eDP-1 connected primary 2560x1440+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 310mm x 174mm
       2560x1440     60.00*+
       ...
    
  • Some applications have problems with HiDPI

    You make take a look first at the Arch Wiki HiDPI section.

    Majority of applications, including chromium, emacs and termite correctly handled the HiDPI. Some apps, like xscreensaver or xterm were displaying too small windows, not aware of the HiDPI screen. It seems that HiDPI is correctly handled system wide (xdpyinfo reports correct dpi and resolution), but just some old apps did not adapt yet. I tried messing with ~/.Xresources. After no success, I decided that it’s not worth it, since the only affect app I use is xscreensaver.

    • TODO Try xrdb ~/.Xresources &

      I didn’t add & when adding this line to xrdb.

Sound

Sound and microphone worked without any special setup.

HDMI

The laptop comes with built in HDMI port.

  • Video (4K TV)

    When I plug the HDMI it “just works”. Resolution is not auto detected and by default I only see “part” of the screen. In gnome, I had to go to Settings->Displays and change the resolution of the secondary screen. 4K resolution (4096×2160) is supported. Mirroring displays works as expected on the TV, although I had some issues with mirroring using a projector.

  • Sound over HDMI

    By default, sound plays from the laptop speaker. In gnome, I can choose to play it over HDMI in Settings->Sound.

Auto starting

  • For init scripts that apply system wide you need to create a systemd service (Type=oneshot for just init scripts)
  • For init scripts that interact with devices you need to create a udev rule.
  • For user specific configuration that applies to graphical interface, add it to ~/.xinitrc .
  • For you shell configuration add it to ~/.bashrc (or ~/.zshrc in my case).
  • To auto start gnome apps:
mkdir -p ~/.config/autostart
cp /usr/share/applications/emacs.desktop ~/.config/autostart # Some apps may also be in ~/.local/share/applications

Auto-connect to wifi

It’s nice to automatially connect to wifi when you boot, rather than run wifi-menu every time.

sudo pacman -S wpa_actiond
# find an interface name with iv dev
sudo systemctl enable netctl-auto@wlp4s0.service

Also see: Netctl wiki entry Wireless network configuration wiki entry To disable the service and add a new wifi entry I simply use this bash alias:

wifi() {
  sudo systemctl disable netctl-auto@wlp4s0.service
  sudo wifi-menu
  sudo systemctl enable netctl-auto@wlp4s0.service
}

My personal preferences about desktip software

Window manager

Mass installing “gnome” package is against the arch philosophy, as it pulls many unnecessary things with it. If you have extra time you should pick invididual gnome packages or go for lighter WM. If you want an easy way out you can just:

pacman -S gnome gnome-initial-setup xorg-xinit xterm xorg-utils
echo "exec gnome-session" >> ~/.xinitrc
startx
  • Remove not used gnome packages

    Gnome pulls lots of stuff that I never used. You may want to uninstall some packages that you don’t use from gnome:

    pacman -Q | grep gnome # See how much things you have just installed.
    pacman -Rc gnome-keyring gnome-contacts gnome-calculator empathy gnome-terminal
    
  • Problem with gnome-terminal not starting

    gnome-terminal worked initially, but then it refused to start. I much more prefer termite as an terminal and it didn’t experience the same issue. My ~/.config/termite/config.

  • Tiling window manager

    Personally, I just spend 99% of my time in 3 programs: emacs, chromium and termite+tmux. I do the tiling and workspace management inside Emacs or tmux. I would get minimal additional benefit out of a tiling wm. The only things I need from the window manager are supplied by plain gnome:

    • Switch focus to emacs/chromium/termite with wmctrl.
    • Move window one monitor left (gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings move-to-monitor-left) and right (move-to-monitor-right)
    • Auto maximize windows and remove decorations with https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/maximus/.
  • Auto start apps

Screen lock

gnome-screensaver was buggy when I tried to use it and I decided to use xscreensaver instead.

If you want a xscreensaver with an image as a screensaver:

sudo pacman -S xscreensaver
sudo pacman -S libgnome # Required if you use gnome. Pacman do not pick it by default.
# See http://askubuntu.com/questions/74200/how-do-i-use-a-photos-directory-as-my-screensaver
xscreensaver-demo # Opens a GUI to configure
echo "xscreensaver -no-splash &" >> ~/.xinitrc # Make sure it's before any exec entry.
xscreensaver-command -lock # Command to lock screen

Also see XScreenSaver wiki entry. You can bind it to a key in gnome settings->keyboard->custom shortcuts. You may also bind it using gsettings set command.

File manager

I didn’t like the default gnome nautilus file manager and I installed thunar instead.

Video player

vlc is the most reasonable choice in this category.

Things I didn’t configure yet

TODO Verify that SSD trims are aplied. Optimize for SSDs

TODO Auto mount windows disk and choose the the ntfs implementation

Basic mount works. I did not configure auto mounting yet. I’ve also heard that alternative ntfs impelementation, NTFS-3G, is better than kernel version.

TODO Try fingerprint sensor

TODO Try card readers.

  • SimCard
  • SmartCard
  • Media Card

TODO Benchmark battery

Althought it seems to last pretty long.

TODO Figure out power management

Conclusion

The laptop itself

After a few months of usage my thoughts about the laptop are: WQHD screen:

  • Almost all apps I use regularly handle it well, including chromium, emacs, termite (terminal), thunar and transmission
  • The only two apps that don’t handle WQHD well are xscreensaver and gimp. I feel that there would be a way of making them work if I really wanted.

Keyboard: After few months of I use I must say that keyboard does not feel “as good”. I may be overly snobish regarding keyboards, as I bought over 5 mechanical keyboards. I never expected laptop keys to feel as good as mechanical keyboard, but I slightly preferred feeling of the mac book keyboard.

Others:

  • As I got used to trackpoint I find it more efficient than trackpad or mouse
  • I didn’t try the sim card of fingerprint readers yet
  • I didn’t have any other problems with anything hardware related
  • battery life seems to be ok, but I didn’t measure it
  • I believe accidental damage coverage to be a good deal. For 10% of the laptop cost I bought a 4 year coverage that will cover fixing my laptop in any scenario, even if I drop it or spill water on it.

Arch Linux

I like the choice of Arch as the operating system. In addition to my laptop I also run arch in docker on all my servers and it’s beneficial to use the same OS at home and at work.

I didn’t have any big problems with running random software packages I needed at some point, including things like connecting to the vpn or watching movies.

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14 Comments

  1. “Prepare USB stick” you should probably add something more (there may be multiple USB sticks …!). I usually plug in and check with dmesg | tail.

    Didn’t read everything but what did not work when I installed (I use openbox) is the fingerprint sensor. Did you try to get it work?

    1. > “Prepare USB stick” you should probably add something more
      I added link to the Arch wiki about installation medium. My goal was not to duplicate the Arch wiki content, but provide an end to end example of
      installation for the particular hardware and use case.

      > is the fingerprint sensor. Did you try to get it work?
      I did not try it yet.

  2. I bought a ThinkPad X1 Yoga some days ago. Now I want to try myself on a dual boot setup (Windows + Arch). Do you know if I should take care of some additional things or does this guide apply also to the X1 Yoga. (I dont expect the touchscreen and pen to work properly.) Thx for your answer in advance :-)!

    1. I bought thinkpad without touch screen, so I can’t say. I would not be surprised if it worked, especially if you would use x86-input-libinput. It worked for some people on gen3 carbon: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Lenovo_ThinkPad_X1_Carbon_(Gen_3) .

      Some extra advice:
      – Pay attention to steps on windows: https://kozikow.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/installing-and-configuring-arch-linux-on-thinkpad-x1-carbon/comment-page-1/#Prepare-Windows-10-for-computer-games-for-dual-booting . Especially disable fast startup as it may corrupt your file system: https://kozikow.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/installing-and-configuring-arch-linux-on-thinkpad-x1-carbon/comment-page-1/#-https-wiki-archlinux-org-index-php-Dual-boot-with-Windows-Fast-Start-Up-Disable-Fast-Startup- and double check that Windows uses UEFI/GPT: https://kozikow.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/installing-and-configuring-arch-linux-on-thinkpad-x1-carbon/comment-page-1/#Check-that-Windows-boots-into-the-UEFI-GPT-mode .
      – Boot loader configuration is tricky. Even if you plan to just follow steps I did, I still recommend reading https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/systemd-boot .

      1. I installed now Arch on my X1 Yoga. Everything worked (also the UEFI part). Touch works out of the box. The pen does not work (most surely some guide regarding usual Yoga Laptops might work, but I will try this later.) The only main problem I have now is the TrackPad (I also installed the libinput-package). Everything except clicking on the TrackPad is recognized. Did you experience the same problem? (The left- and right-click button works, but directly clicking on the TrackPad seems not to be recognized.)

  3. Enjoyed reading your post about installing Arch. I switched to Arch from Fedora because I wanted a smaller footprint on older machine and to get away from Gnome3. If you find a reason to try this again (install Arch) I recommend DWM for Window Management. I’ve had to learn a few CLI commands for items which the Gnome DE regularly manages such as mounting devices (dvd, usb) and connecting to WiFi/ethernet which I need to run each time I use my Arch system. The upshot is, when I start using this system, I’m conditioning myself to terminals and bash commands. I feel I can find my way around most Linux systems from this experience. (my other laptop it a Macbook, so it’s no small feat for me :))

    1. Yeah, I felt a bit noobish when I installed gnome, but after weekend of playing with Arch I had some work to do on Monday and I needed a laptop.

  4. So now, a couple of months later, what’s your feeling about the Carbon X1?
    I’m especially interested if you like the WQHD screen and if you’ve found any real annoyances.
    I’m a programmer looking for a new rig so I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask. Thanks.

    1. WQHD screen:
      – Almost all apps I use regularly handle it well, including chromium, emacs, termite (terminal), thunar and transmission
      – The only two apps that don’t handle WQHD well are xscreensaver and gimp. I feel that there would be a way of making them work if I really wanted.

      Keyboard:
      After few months of I use I must say that keyboard does not feel “as good”.
      I may be overly snobish regarding keyboards, as I bought over 5 mechanical keyboards. I never expected laptop keys to feel as good as mechanical keyboard, but I slightly preferred feeling of the mac book keyboard.

      Others:
      – As I got used to trackpoint I find it more efficient than trackpad or mouse
      – I didn’t try the sim card of fingerprint readers yet
      – I didn’t have any other problems with anything hardware related
      – battery life seems to be ok, but I didn’t measure it
      – I believe accidental damage coverage to be a good deal. For 10% of the laptop cost I bought a 4 year coverage that will cover fixing my laptop in any scenario, even if I drop it or spill water on it.

      I like the choice of Arch as the operating system. In addition to my laptop I also
      run arch in docker on all my servers and it’s beneficial to use the same OS at home and at work.

  5. Thanks for the post, even though I’m on Debian Sid (and surprisingly dding my old install from an X220 over to this new machine worked flawlessly), I appreciated the insight you’ve provided.

  6. Thanks! I followed your comments to install Arch on Carbon X1 4th generation, and it went reasonably well, even though I never used Arch before (although I mostly run linux on my machines since 1994 :-)). Few comments and questions:

    * simply referring to Network wiki on network installation is a bit too much of a shortcut. In fact, I got lost there; whereas all what was needed is to install iw and dialog (a dependence of wifi-menu)
    to get a sufficiently complete system after the 1st reboot.

    * booting with “no sound” (light on F1 key on) gives me a system with no sound. The only way to reenable it is to press F1 at some moment during booting.

    * do increase/decrease sound volume keys (F2/3) work for you (they don’t work for me)? Have you installed any special sound-related packages (alsa etc.) ?

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