My system setup

Apr 28 2018

These are my notes to remember how to set up my system.

Set up programms

This whole article is probably only useful to myself, unless you use Archlinux and similar programms as me, in which case you are welcome to have a look how I try to set mine up.

Micro Editor

Micro does not (yet) work with the termite terminal out of the box To change the TERM variable in the shell add to .bash_profile or whatever the equivalent in your shell

export TERM=xterm-256color

To have copy and paste working with all other X11 apps install xclip

trizen -S xclip

This is an optional dependency of micro but is really very useful.

To enable the use of arrow keys in the Linux console (no GUI) follow these instructions

Atom editor

  • Comand palette remembers last word -> settings edior
  • set absolutely fabulous East End notebook syntax/ui theme
  • remove RET from autocomplete-plus (set in settings menu)
  • set ctrl-space for command pallete
  • set alt-pageup/down to swith between left an right pane
  • TODO: check keymap settings to


To create an initial config in Archlinux copy the standard one into ~/.config/termite

mkdir ~/.config/termite
cp /etc/xdg/termite/config ~/.config/termite/config


Install Iosevka for terminal

trizen -S ttf-iosevka-term-ss04

The font name can then be found by listing all fonts fc-list and searching for elements of the name with grep. e.g.

fc-list | grep iosevka


To use the most responsive archlinux mirror in your area update the archlinux mirror list

  • first fetchmirrors needs to be installed
 trizen -S fetchmirrors
  • Then run as root, in this case for UK
sudo fetchmirrors -c GB

Allow to update your mirror list

Useful commands for pacman

These commands usually also work with a pacman helper like trizen.

  • List explicitly installed packages
sudo pacman -Qqe
  • that are not also a dependency for other packages.
sudo pacman -Qent
  • List all foreign packages. That means from AUR or manually installed.
pacman -Qn
  • List all installed files for a package
sudo pacman -Ql package_name
  • List all packages that have been installed as dependency to another package
sudo pacman -Qd
  • List all packages no longer required as dependencies (orphans):
sudo pacman -Qdt


To get rid of the title bar on top of every window add this (at the end) of the .~/.config/i3/config file

new_window pixel 1

This leafes you with a small (blue) frame around the active window. If you want it to be more visible change the number to 2 or 3. TO make the frame go away entirely use 0 or new window none

To switch from one workspace to the next with the Win plus PageUp / PageDown keys add this in the config file.

bindsym $mod+Next workspace next
bindsym $mod+Prior workspace prev

nodejs and npm

Install npm and nodejs with

trizen -S nodejs

In most of my attempts npm did not work well. Installing locally gave no result and installing globally failed with an error:

npm ERR! Error: EACCES: permission denied, access ‘/usr/lib/node_modules

So this is the suggestion you can find in the npm manual.

  1. Make a directory for global installations:
 mkdir ~/.npm-global
  1. Configure npm to use the new directory path:
 npm config set prefix '~/.npm-global'
  1. Open or create a ~/.profile (or .bash_profile, or whatever it is on your system) file and add this line:
 export PATH=~/.npm-global/bin:$PATH
  1. Back on the command line, update your system variables:
6.  source ~/.profile

System setup

Install AUR helper trizen

Chose a directory to install trizen [this can be removed after the installation? ]

git clone
cd trizen
makepkg -si

Add user to group

Check the assigned groups for a user with groups

To add a user to a group use this pattern

usermod -a -G group username

Note: The change is only effective after the next login.

Give user access to Virtualbox shared folder

sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf mmw

?? seems not to work …

back to the lovely script then.

sudo mount -t vboxsf VM_Share /home/mmw/VM

Change (bash) shell to fish.

This describes how to make fish your default shell. Fist install the fish shell.

trizen -S fish

Find the documentation here

To make fish your default shell you need to find out it’s path with whereis fish. Most likely it’s /usr/bin/fish.

Once you have the path to fish use the command chsh (change shell) to make fish the default shell.

chsh -s /usr/bin/fish

Instead of setting variables (and this includes the $PATH) in .bashrc or .profile or so in fish you use the set command. So with set TERM xterm-256color you add a variable.

  • To export the variable you add -x
  • To set a variable globally add -g. This will save it permanently.

Aliases and functions in fish

To see all defined functions you can use the functions command. Note the plural.

To see the definition of a specific function add the name after the command e.g. functions ll

Aliases are nothing else but functions in fish. Functions are described in the tutorial. however, there is a convenient shortcut to define a function in the form of the alias command. Not un-similar to bash.

With alias la "ls -a" you can define a alias/function for la.

With functions la you can see how the functions definition you just created looks like.

If you want to save the functions to make it permanent use “funcsave la”

bash scripts in fish

You can execute bash scripts from fish normally if a so called shebang is mentioned in the bash script. Means in the first line of the script you have this line ‘#!/bin/bash’ . Basically the path to the bash command.

  • If the shell script is in a different folder adapt the path in the shebang
  • If you use a different shell than bash then add the path to that shell

spectrwm tiling window manager

Install with

trizen -S spectrwm

For a first overview the man pages are usefull: man spectrwm

For more XDG integration you could install xdg-utils.

First Configuration

spectrwm looks in ~/.spectrwm first and then for /etc/spectrwm.conf So if you do not have config file in your home folder yet, copy it from /etc

cp /etc/spectrwm.conf ~/.spectrwm.conf

For Archlinux the standard bar_font paramenter needs to be updated as described in the Wiki

To change keybindings you can copy one of the predefined keyboard mappings in folder /etc/spectrwm

To copy e.g. the us keyboard layout into your .config forlder type:

mkdir ~/.config/spectrwm
cp cp /etc/spectrwm/spectrwm_us.conf ~/.config/spectrwm/spectrwm_us.conf

To point spectrwm to your new keymapping file you need to update the .spectrwm.conf file.

Update keyboard_mapping like this:

# This allows you to include pre-defined key bindings for your keyboard layout.
keyboard_mapping = ~/.config/spectrwm/.spectrwm_us.conf

Last but not least, change your .xinitrc

exec spectrwm

Spectrwm keymap configuration

I have found the following keybindings helpful:

bind[focus_next]	= MOD+Right      # Move to next programme on the same workspace
bind[focus_prev]	= MOD+Left
bind[term]		    = MOD+Return     # Start a terminal
bind[ws_next]	    = MOD+Next
bind[ws_prev]	    = MOD+Prior

If you use Linux in a Virtual machine on Windows like me then you will find that Win+l is permanently used by Windows to lock the screen. Even if you use VirtualBox. That means MOD+l to grow the master window will also trigger the screen lock. I just use the key next to l to grow the master window. In my case ;

For Spectrwm you have to use xkb xharacter names. You can find the name of a character with the tool xev. The output is a bit messy and for ; looks like this:

KeyPress event, serial 37, synthetic NO, window 0x1600001,

root 0x2bd, subw 0x0, time 64418407, (590,691), root:(1265,692),

state 0x0, keycode 47 (keysym 0x3b, semicolon), same_screen YES,

XLookupString gives 1 bytes: (3b) “;”

XmbLookupString gives 1 bytes: (3b) “;”

XFilterEvent returns: False

So the xkb keycode for ; is - tada semicolon

So to bind the master_grow command to MOD+; you have to add this line to the keymap file.

bind[master_grow]	= MOD+semicolon  # Make current window smaller.

Setup for screenshots

To make the screenshot function work you have to

  • copy from /usr/share/spectrwm to ~/local/bin (or any other place that is in your local PATH)
  • make sure the screenshot tool scrot is installed
  • change the config and if you want keymapping
SystemArchlinuxSpectrwmMicro editortrizenFish shellAtom

How to use iOS with a keyboard

Simple syntax highlighting for the Micro editor