My easy Xfce setup on a clean Arch install

Dotfiles to the rescue

I recently had to re-install Arch Linux on one of my machines. What I needed was to setup my current working environment with as little effort as possible. Recreating it from scratch would have taken several hours, if not days. Good thing I maintain a git repo with my dotfiles.

Once I had access to the shell, I cloned the repo, copied .bashrc and .vimrc, and went on to install the Xfce desktop environment as well as all the packages I use.

The installation is pretty straightforward. In my dotfiles I maintain backups with the lists of packages. All that is needed is to feed the content of such a file into a pacman command, such as:

# Download packages from main repos
sudo pacman -S - < dotfiles/pacman/native.txt

If I feel like also putting the AUR packages in place, I first build pacaur (the AUR helper):

bash dotfiles/my-utils/pacaur-build.sh

That command runs this nifty script:

#!/bin/sh

# System update
sudo pacman -Syu

# Prepare build dir
mkdir -p /tmp/pacaur-build
cd /tmp/pacaur-build

# Base devel packages
sudo pacman -S binutils make gcc fakeroot --noconfirm --needed

# Pacaur deps
sudo pacman -S expac yajl git --noconfirm --needed

# Cower build
if [ ! -n "$(pacman -Qs cower)" ]; then
    curl -o PKGBUILD https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/plain/PKGBUILD?h=cower
    makepkg PKGBUILD --skippgpcheck --install --needed
fi

# Pacaur build
if [ ! -n "$(pacman -Qs pacaur)" ]; then
    curl -o PKGBUILD https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/plain/PKGBUILD?h=pacaur
    makepkg PKGBUILD --install --needed
fi

# Prune
cd ~
rm -r /tmp/pacaur_install

Then the process for getting the AUR packages is the same as with the native list:

# Install AUR packages
pacaur -S - < dotfiles/pacman/foreign.txt

Since these may contain a program that requires lots of time to compile, I tend to select only what I truly require. The rest are set up whenever I need them.

GNU/Linux portability is a blessing

I was aware of the potential of backing up everything that pertains to a GNU/Linux machine. I just never had any practical experience with it. I have been maintaining my dotfiles mostly for reverting to a stable state whenever I go out trying certain customisations. It turns out that approach applies to a clean system install.

This has been my first attempt at replicating a custom Xfce setup on a clean Arch Linux base. I am happy with the results, though I believe the process could be automated even further. Perhaps via a script that would take care of all the configurations in the local .config as well as the system files. I still need to research that and act accordingly.

Whatever the case, the freedom to experiment with data porting is there.

If my work has been helpful and you would like to buy me a coffee, please do so via Paypal.