Linux software is available when you first install the operating system as well as after the install. If you recall, we selected a few packages during the initial install and I mentioned that we will add and remove more packages later.
How to install new software with pacman
Arch-based Linux distributions have, in my opinion, the best package installer. So let’s fire up pacman and take a closer look at what it can do for us. The fastest way to starting it is to click the icon the the panel. It’s the first applet and placed to the left of network, audio and date/time.
If you can’t yet see it, then start pacman from the main menu.
It’s under System > Add/Remove Software
Let’s start at the top of the pacman application. There are three buttons which are labeled:
This is where you search for a package
This is where you see all of the packages which are installed
This is where you see the available updates
As you administer Arco Linux, you will most often use Updates and Browse.
Update is great for seeing what updates have been made available. As already mentioned, Arco Linux is a cutting-edge distro so updates come in on a daily basis. If it’s just software, then it is safe to press the Apply button which is located at the right lower corner of the window.
For upgrades that include the kernel or graphics driver, you should always use the terminal. It’s as simple as typing “update” into your terminal, press enter, provide your password and press enter again.
Installing additional packages
Linux has an impressive collection of software and which one you install depends on what you want to do on your computer. If you are new to Linux and want to look at everything then feel free to install what every you fancy. Linux can handle it.
Although many form posts do not recommend to add the AUR (Arch User Repository) to pacman, I have always done so and never faced any issues. Some software packages are only available in the AUR and therefore we need to add it so that pacman can see it.
Adding the Arch User Repository to pacman
With pacman open, lick on the icon in t he right upper corner. You can’t miss it as it is the only one to pick. From the drop-down select Preferences and enter your password.
The Preferences window has four tabs. They are:
General, Advanced, AUR and Cache
Under General, the option “Check for updates” should already be selected.
Skip Advanced because there is nothing to change.
AUR : Flip the checkbox to on in order to enable AUR support. Also check “Check for updates”.
Close the preferences window.
Once more, click to icon in the top right corner (pacman) and select Refresh databases. It will take a moment to synchronize your new install with all of the available databases so be patient.
Once that is done, you are good to go. From this point on you could search for any kind of software and if it is available for the Arch platform, pacman will fetch it quickly.
Enable all processors on your system to compile packages
Arco Linux has a lot of hidden gems. One of those gems is a script the developers have included which will make sure that your computer uses all of the available processors when compiling a new software package. If you do this quick step, then installing new software will be much faster.
To get started, fire up Thunar which is your file browser. If you need help then search for Thunar in your start menu. Once Thunar loads, Navigate to your home directory. Look at the left-hand side of Thunar to see the file tree. You home directory is the first entry right below where it says PLACES.
Once your home directory opens, you should see eight additional directories such as Documents, Downloads, Pictures and so on. If you see those, then you are in the right place. Now press the following shortcut: ctl+h
This will make all hidden directories visible. If you want to hide the hidden directories again, simple repeat the same shortcut key combination ctrl+h and it all will revert.
With all the hidden directories visible, click or double click on .bin
After that, click on main
Inside the main directory are some scripts which we will run as needed. For now, right-click somewhere inside the main directory and select “Open Terminal Here” from the popup.
With the terminal window open, type this line exactly as I show you:
./00 (and then press the “tab” key.
Let’s analyze what we just did. Entering a dot followed by a forward slash and two zeros will do this. The ./ portion will run the script and instead of typing the whole script name, we just type 00 and press tab. Linux will know that no other file starts with that name and enter the missing letters for you. Eventually, you will appreciate this time saver. If you come across an article that deals with “tab completion” then read up on it. It’s a powerful way to get a lot of work done while saving your fingers from typing long and complex file names.
The whole command looks like this: ./000-use-all-cores-makepkg-conf-v4
To execute it, press enter. That’s it. From this point on, you will make the most of your processor.
Now lets actually install something to test out all of the settings we have made.
Open pacman if it’s not open, click on the Browse button and right away, type in the word pwgen and ether wait a moment or press ENTER.
Once pacman finds what we are looking for, it will display that entry. To install, press the blue Install button to the right and then the Apply button at the bottom of the pacman window.
Let’s try one more but this time, we use the terminal instead of pacman.
The goal is to install a package called “firejail” which is a sandbox that we can use to run firefox in. If you closed your terminal then open it again ether from the menu or with ctrl+alt+t.
Then type in this command: sudo pacman -S firejail
If you typed everything correctly, then you will be asked to enter your pw and confirm just you have done many times by now.
Once pacman lists what dependencies are needed, it will ask you to confirm with Y (YES) or N. As soon as you type y and press enter, pacman will install.
Installing packages in Arco Linux can be done in two ways. With the pacman GUI which is a robust graphical user interface or via the command line (terminal). In time, you will know which one you like better. I use both and both methods do the same thing. If I know what I want the the command line is faster than scrolling a long list of possible packages.
Bonus content! Let’s give firejail a quick run. If you have the Firefox browser open then close it. After that, type this into your terminal: firejail firefox and press enter.
A few lines will fly by and Firefox will load just like it always does. What has changed. Under the hood, a lot has changed. Type this into the search bar: file:///home/
Under name, all you see is your user account. Go ahead and click the link to enter your user account. Now try to remember what Firefox reveals. Short answer, not much. If you did the same without running Firefox inside the sandbox, all of your home directory content would be exposed.
If this topic interests you, then search for more information on how to use firejail. There are many well-written tutorials that demonstrate the why and how. I hope that you are beginning to understand the power of Linux which is available to those who are willing to learn.
Removing installed packages
Now that we know how to add packages, we will cover the topic of removing packages. In a way it is very similar. Once again, we begin with a search as if we wanted to install. If a package has a red button next to it, it is installed.
To uninstall, click the red button to place a check-mark and then confirm with Apply just like you did before. Because this is a system administration task, your password is needed for anything you install or remove.
Sample removal of a package
A few articles back, I explained how you can find or make amazing wallpapers. If you don’t want the ones which come with Arco Linux by default, then you can remove them.
With pacman, you would search for wallpapers by typing that word into the app. Anywhere you type will work because Linux is smart enough to know that you want to search. There is no need to press the search icon at the top window border.
From the options that pacman suggests, select: arcolinux-wallpapers-git 20.2-1 arcolinux_repo
Click the red button next to it and Apply to finalize the removal. Enter pw and pacman will delete a lot of the wallpapers.
Removing packages also works in the terminal but in this example, using pacman is much better because we see exactly what we are removing. If we know the file name, then the terminal would be an equally good option to remove a file. The syntax for removing a package is:
sudo pacman – R packagename
I will augment this article with more context and samples as needed. Thanks for reading. Be careful of what you remove and if it isn’t working, be patient. Learning a new operating system takes time but once you mastered the basics, you will be glad that you did.
Leave a comment if you have a question or suggestion and if not then here is the link to the main index page