i recently got a system76 gazelle laptop preinstalled with ubuntu. i wanted to use arch, which i’ve used and enjoyed before. here is documentation of every step i took and command i ran to get it into a working state. this is both to help other people and to document my own process in case i ever need to do some or all of it again.
some of these steps are very specific to me, especially toward the end. i’ve tried to keep each task modular.
i’m intentionally documenting every warning-like log line and strange message i encountered. so that if you’re reading this you can know that it’s normal and things will turn out fine (probably).
0 general thoughts
first, i want to say that after about 2 months of use i’m incredibly happy with this laptop. everything has been in line with what i read in reviews. the quality is quite high overall, although the built-in speakers are not great as other reviewers noted. battery life is a bit on the low side, but i don’t travel much with it so that doesn’t present a problem for me. considering my previous laptop was a 2015 macbook pro with 256 GB storage, this feels like a huge upgrade!
1 download iso
first, download an iso of arch linux and write it to an external hard drive at
/dev/sdc. double check that that’s the right location with a command like
lsblk (compare the output before and
after you plug in your HD).
dd if=~/Downloads/arch-linux.2020.01.01.iso of=/dev/sdc
2 boot from iso
next, reboot the computer while holding F2, the BIOS key. go to “Boot Manager”, press enter, select “EFI USB Device”,
and press enter. quickly, press the down key to stop autoloading. put the cursor over “Arch Linux archiso x86_64
UEFI CD” and press ‘e’ to edit the kernel boot command line. add
nouveau.modeset=0 to the parameters and press
enter. if you don’t do this, booting will fail with endless messages that look like
nouveau 0000:01:00.0: fifo: SCHED_ERROR 08 
if that happens, just do a hard reset.
i found this answer here.
3 setup wireless network
one the live install boots, get a wireless network up. since i have an AT&T WPA-secured WiFi network, i did this:
# get interface name: ip link ip link set wlan0 up # my output: # iwlwifi 0000:00:14.3: BIOS contains WGDS but no WRDS # confirm: ip link (should be "UP") wpa_passphrase ATTSB73hfi >>/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf # now type your WiFi passkey and press enter wpa_supplicant -B -D wext -i wlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf # my output: # Successfully initialized wpa_supplicant # ioctl[SIOCSIWENCODEEXT]: Invalid argument # ioctl[SIOCSIWENCODEEXT]: Invalid argument # confirm: iw wlan0 link dhclient wlan0 # confirm: ip addr show wlan0 # confirm: ping example.org
i found this answer here.
the following messages also seem to be logged unprovoked after about 200 seconds:
ucsi_ccg 7-0008: failed to reset PPM! usci_ccg 7-0008: PPM init failed (-110)
next i formatted my disk. i have 2 SSD hard drives and only put my linux install on the first one,
think if you want to boot from an NVMe drive you may need to do something special based on this
article, since i don’t have one i didn’t
research this though, sorry.
fdisk -l # to list devices and partitions fdisk /dev/sda
i wanted the following:
- EFI system partition (ESP) for booting (i am using GRUB)
- Swap partition
- Root partition (I am the only user here)
the commands to do that were (i am writing
g<CR> # create new GPT n<CR><CR><CR>+512M<CR> # create new partition at start of disk for EFI Y<CR> # confirm that i want to overwrite existing signature (i had already tried some of this before) n<CR><CR><CR>+1G<CR> # create new partition for swap Y<CR> # confirm remove signature n<CR><CR><CR><CR> # create root partition to end of disk t<CR>1<CR>1<CR> # make 1st partition EFI System t<CR>2<CR>19<CR> # make 2nd partition swap t<CR>3<CR>24<CR> # make 3rd partition linux root p # confirm # my output: # Device Start End Sectors Size Type # /dev/sda1 2048 1050623 1048576 512M EFI System # /dev/sda2 1050624 3147775 2097152 1G Linux swap # /dev/sda3 3147776 976773134 973625359 464.3G Linux root (x86-64) w # write
then configured filesystems and mounted them:
mkfs.fat -F32 /dev/sda1 mkswap /dev/sda2 swapon mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda3 mount /dev/sda3 /mnt mkdir -p /mnt/boot/efi mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot/efi # confirm: df -h
the EFI partition needs to be mounted at
/boot/efi according to this
6 install kernel
vim /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist # edit to put mirrors of your choice at the top pacstrap /mnt base linux linux-firmware # wait for a long time for everything to install genfstab -U /mnt >>/mnt/etc/fstab # confirm: cat /mnt/etc/fstab arch-chroot /mnt
7 install GRUB and configure boot loader
pacman -Syuu grub efibootmgr vim vim /etc/default/grub # set: GRUB_TIMEOUT=0 # set: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="loglevel=3 quiet nowatchdog ec_sys.write_support=1 resume=/dev/sda2 acpi_os_name=Linux acpi_osi=" grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot/efi --bootloader-id=GRUB grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
i got those linux cmd line args from this article.
the “acpi_os_name=Linux acpi_osi=” part i got from a post on the arch linux forum.
8 install networking packages
so similar network setup works without live install
pacman -S wpa_supplicant dhclient
you may want to restart your machine now so that you can confirm everything is ok up to this point.
exit umount -R /mnt reboot # immediately remove installation media after the screen goes dark
the machine should boot up fine and take you to an ‘archlinux login:’ prompt.
10 basic system config
after logging in as
root, do all the things the arch linux install guide says to do:
# set keyboard loadkeys us # set timezone ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Central /etc/localtime timedatectl set-ntp true # set hw clock hwclock --systohc vim /etc/locale.gen # uncomment en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 locale-gen echo LANG=en_US.UTF-8 >/etc/locale.conf echo KEYMAP=us >/etc/vconsole.conf vim /etc/hosts # add 127.0.0.1 and ::1 mapped to localhost # set root password passwd
11 network configuration
vim /etc/systemd/network/home-wireless.network # add: # [Match] # Name=wlp0s20f3 # [Network] # DHCP=ipv4
i don’t know why the wireless interface name changes like that.
use systemd-networkd to autoconnect to an interface
wpa_passphrase ATTSB73hfi >>/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant-wlp0s20f3.conf # enter passkey systemctl start systemd-networkd systemctl start wpa_supplicant@wlp0s20f3 systemctl start systemd-resolved # my DNS servers were bad initially, so i added a custom resolv.conf file and added cloudflare and openDNS: rm /etc/resolv.conf vim /etc/resolv.conf # contents: # nameserver 18.104.22.168 # nameserver 22.214.171.124 # nameserver 2606:4700:4700::1111 # nameserver 2606:4700:4700::1001 # nameserver 126.96.36.199 # nameserver 188.8.131.52 # nameserver 2620:119:35::35 # nameserver 2620:119:53::53 # confirm: ip addr show wlp0s20f3 # confirm: ping 184.108.40.206 # confirm: ping example.org # if that works, enable them on startup systemctl enable systemd-networkd systemctl enable wpa_supplicant@wlp0s20f3 systemctl enable systemd-resolved
you may want to
reboot now to confirm it works
12 user config
pacman -S sudo useradd -m bheim passwd bheim # add password EDITOR=vim visudo # edit to add under "root"..: # bheim ALL=(ALL) ALL
13 system76 firmware packages
now that we’ve established a minimally functional installation, we add system76 firmware packages. much of the information here comes from these two articles (arch linux wiki, francisco soto blog post) and my own experimentation.
reboot and login as my user
sudo pacman -Syuu sudo pacman -S base-devel git linux-headers # linux-headers needed for at least system76-dkms, possibly others mkdir code cd code git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/system76-dkms.git git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/system76-io-dkms.git git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/system76-firmware-daemon.git git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/system76-acpi-dkms.git # takes awhile git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/system76-power.git # build each one cd system76-dkms makepkg -sci sudo modprobe system76 # my keyboard lights turned off when i ran this cd .. cd system76-io-dkms makepkg -sci sudo modprobe system76-io cd .. cd system76-firmware-daemon makepkg -sci sudo systemctl enable --now system76-firmware-daemon.service cd .. cd system76-acpi-dkms makepkg -sci sudo modprobe system76-acpi cd .. cd system76-power makepkg -sci sudo systemctl enable --now system76-power.service cd ..
you can also install the system76-driver package if you want too, but it requires a lot of extra stuff and is mainly for older hardware.
rm -r system76-*
14 graphics card management
pacman -S bumblebee primus nvidia nvidia-settings mesa-demos # mesa-demos is needed for the glxinfo executable sudo gpasswd -a bheim bumblebee sudo systemctl enable --now bumblebeed.service sudo system76-power graphics intel reboot
turning the graphics card on and off:
# ON sudo system76-power graphics nvidia sudo system76-power graphics power on sudo modprobe nvidia-drm nvidia-modeset nvidia # OFF sudo rmmod nvidia-drm nvidia-modeset nvidia sudo system76-power graphics power off sudo system76-power graphics intel
can run this later in i3 for settings
optirun -b none nvidia-settings -c :8
15 various packages
install other things i want, i3 for config
pacman -S pkgfile i3 xorg xorg-xinit xorg-server dmenu xterm firefox echo "exec i3" >> ~/.xinitrc startx vim ~/.config/i3/config # change jkl; to hjkl, including in resize commands # change horizontal split to mod+; # after a reboot, i needed to run systemctl edit --full systemd-logind.service # and remove lines starting with DeviceAllow= # found this information in this arch linux forum thread: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=250684. sudo pkgfile --update
sudo vim /etc/pacman.conf # and uncomment the multilib lines sudo pacman -Sy sudo pacman -S steam lib32-nvidia-utils
without lib32-nvidia-utils, steam will crash on startup with:
libGL error: No matching fbConfigs or visuals found libGL error: failed to load driver: swrast libGL error: No matching fbConfigs or visuals found libGL error: failed to load driver: swrast Steam: An X Error occurred X Error of failed request: GLXBadContext Major opcode of failed request: 151 Serial number of failed request: 50 ... ~/.local/share/Steam/steam.sh: line 722: 115064 Segmentation fault ...
i figured this out from an arch linux forum post.
switch to nvidia-xrun (better performance than bumblebee)
cd code git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/nvidia-xrun-git.git # use -git version because last package release was >3 yrs ago. cd nvidia-xrun-git makepkg -sci systemctl disable bumblebeed systemctl stop bumblebeed systemctl enable nvidia-xrun-pm reboot nvidia-xrun i3
18 other development and system tools
pacman -S cmake clang qt5 ed nano emacs ninja boost ripgrep htop hub
19 installing swift
cd code git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/swift-language.git git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/libblocksruntime.git git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/libbsd-git.git cd libbsd-git makepkg -sci cd .. cd libblocksruntime makepkg -sci cd .. cd swift-language makepkg -sci
20 installing pulseaudio for steam
sudo pacman -S pulseaudio-alsa lib32-libpulse lib32-alsa-plugins
21 building supercollider
sudo pacman -S fftw cd code git clone https://github.com/supercollider/supercollider cd supercollider git submodule update --init --recursive mkdir buildterminal cd build cmake .. -DSUPERNOVA=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DSC_EL=0 -DSC_ED=0 -GNinja ninja sudo ninja install
22 audio things
sudo pacman -S jack2 realtime-privileges sudo usermod bheim -G realtime # and remove jack # log out and back in
23 set caps lock to escape
# console configuration su mkdir /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/personal cp /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/i386/qwerty/us.map.gz /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/personal/personal.map.gz vim /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/personal/personal.map.gz # set code 58 = Escape, not Caps_Lock localectl set-keymap --no-convert personal exit # X configuration vim ~/.xinitrc # and add to the start: # xmodmap -e 'clear Lock' -e 'keysym Caps_Lock = Escape'
24 add my dotfiles (bash, vim, git configs)
# install pathogen -- NOTE: i use vundle now! mkdir -p ~/.vim/autoload curl -LSso ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim https://tpo.pe/pathogen.vim # install ctags sudo pacman -S ctags cd ~/.vim git clone https://github.com/brianlheim/vimbundle bundle cd bundle git submodule update --init --recursive cd ~ git clone https://github.com/brianlheim/dotfiles cd dotfiles mv .[a-z]* .. cd .. rm -r dotfiles git checkout arch
installing and configuring urxvt with my color scheme
sudo pacman -S rxvt-unicode xorg-xrdb ttf-dejavu vim ~/.xinitrc # add: # [[ -f ~/.Xresources ]] && xrdb -merge -I$HOME ~/.Xresources
i found that xinitrc line on the arch linux wiki.
color scheme and font configuration in
URxvt*color0: #2e2e2d URxvt*color1: #ae2323 URxvt*color2: #057400 URxvt*color3: #c2bf1a URxvt*color4: #1565c0 URxvt*color5: #aa2391 URxvt*color6: #008080 URxvt*color7: #f8f9fb URxvt*color8: #545454 URxvt*color9: #db2c38 URxvt*color10: #07ad00 URxvt*color11: #e58234 URxvt*color12: #1a7ff1 URxvt*color13: #ec34c0 URxvt*color14: #00afaf URxvt*color15: #a37aed URxvt*foreground: #2e2e2d URxvt*background: #fffff8 URxvt*highlightColor: #cdcdcd URxvt*font: xft:DejaVu Sans Mono:pixelsize=13:antialias=true:hinting=true
- HDMI input doesn’t seem to work, may be related to nvidia drivers and bumblebee…
- chinese character input
- compile vim myself to get xterm clipboard support(?)
- get extended character sets in i3
- pro audio stuff
- freenode client?
that’s all for now. feel free to contact me with any issues/concerns/improvements/questions!