Arch Linux cheatsheetEdit

Just a set of personal reminders for me as I set up a Linux box. Some of these are generic, but many will be specific to my machine.

Creating installation media and installing

After grabbing the ISO image from the download page, follow the procedure outlined on for macOS on the USB Flash installation medium page:

diskutil list # figure out device eg. /dev/disk3
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk3
sudo dd if=/Users/glh/Downloads/archlinux-2021.03.01-x86_64.iso of=/dev/rdisk3 bs=1m

After that, it’s a matter of booting from the media (see "Selecting boot device at power-on below) and kicking off the installation script:

loadkeys colemak # "iyasefjr cyifmae" typing colemak-style on qwerty)
iwctl station wlan0 connect $SSID
curl -LO

# etc...


# then, after logging back in...

cd code/wincent

Reconnecting to the WiFi

netctl restart $PROFILE # eg netctl restart cole-valley

Pairing or connecting Bluetooth headphones

$ systemctl start bluetooth
$ bluetoothctl
# help
# power on
# scan on
# scan off
# pair 00:1B:66:CD:BD:8F
# connect 00:1B:66:CD:BD:8F

Putting the machine to sleep

systemctl suspend

Rebooting the machine

sudo reboot

Powering the machine off

Note: sudo shutdown -h now is not going to cut it.

sudo poweroff

Updating all packages

sudo pacman -Syu

Inspecting key and mouse events


Terminating the X session

  • Control-Alt-Backspace

Switching to another virtual console

  • Control-Alt-1, Control-Alt-2 etc.

Entering BIOS at power-on

  • Tap Delete (probably repeatedly).

Selecting boot device at power-on

  • Tap F12 (probably repeatedly).

Applying BIOS updates

  1. Download new BIOS versions from Gigabyte’s X570 support page.
  2. Unzip the download and copy the file to a FAT32-formatted USB drive. The filename will be something like X570AOMA.F32 (for a normal release) or X570AOMA.33j (for a beta release, indicated by the trailing letter after the number).
  3. Insert the USB into the front panel (a blue port, ie. USB 3.0).
  4. Tap Delete after reboot to get into the BIOS menu.
  5. Select "Q-Flash".
  6. Choose "Update BIOS". Note that there is an "Also update backup BIOS" checkbox; these motherboards actually have two BIOSes, a primary and a secondary fallback one, so you can update both at once with the checkbox (alternatively, you can leave the secondary BIOS as-is; I am not sure how you would actually switch to the backup BIOS and update it later).
  7. Hit Delete on rebooting to get back into BIOS.
  8. Reenable the XMP profile.
  9. Insert Arch installation medium into USB slot. Now, for some reason, every BIOS date resets the NVRAM, where critical EFI information is stored. The system won’t boot properly until it is reconfigured. Reboot one more time, hitting F12 to get the boot menu. Choose UEFI:USB to boot from the installation medium. Using the medium, you have two choices (explained below) for returning the machine to a bootable state.

Option 1: Use efibootmgr to repair the boot table

There may be a better way to fix this (probably in the UEFI wiki page), but the following is the easiest way I have found so far to restore bootability to the system, using efibootmgr to get the boot entries back in place.

From the installation medium, boot in the UEFI Arch installer. We need this in order to access tools such as cryptsetup and mount which are stored under /usr on the encrypted volume.

loadkeys colemak -- (ie. "iyasefjr cyifmae")
iwctl station wlan0 connect $SSID
cryptsetup open /dev/nvme0n1p2 cryptroot
mount /dev/mapper/cryptroot /mnt
mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot
arch-chroot /mnt

PARTUUID=$(lsblk /dev/nvme0n1p2 -o PARTUUID -d -n)

efibootmgr \
  --disk /dev/nvme0n1 \
  --part 1 \
  --create \
  --label "Arch Linux LTS" \
  --loader /vmlinuz-linux-lts \
  --unicode "cryptdevice=PARTUUID=${PARTUUID}:root root=/dev/mapper/root rw initrd=\initramfs-linux-lts.img" \
efibootmgr \
  --disk /dev/nvme0n1 \
  --part 1 \
  --create \
  --label "Arch Linux" \
  --loader /vmlinuz-linux \
  --unicode "cryptdevice=PARTUUID=${PARTUUID}:root root=/dev/mapper/root rw initrd=\initramfs-linux.img" \

Option 2: Boot the machine using the UEFI shell

There is a UEFI shell that you can also access from the installation media, but it is to painful to type in (using Qwerty when my muscle memory is wired for Colemak, and my keyboard has ninja keycaps on it so I can’t even hunt-and-peck…).

So, I created two .nsh scripts on the /boot partition that run the necessary command to boot off the main partition.

a.nsh will boot the "linux" kernel and its contents look roughly like this (roughly, because the partition UUID will vary with each install):

\vmlinuz-linux cryptdevice=PARTUUID=a7ade8a2-2a7d-2247-b2ea-5142c917746b:root root=/dev/mapper/root rw initrd=\initramfs-linux.img

b.nsh will boot into the "linux-lts" kernel:

\vmlinuz-linux-lts cryptdevice=PARTUUID=a7ade8a2-2a7d-2247-b2ea-5142c917746b:root root=/dev/mapper/root rw initrd=\initramfs-linux-lts.img

To use either of these scripts, it suffices to type:




In addition to a.nsh and b.nsh, my installation script also creates and that can contain copies of the efibootmgr commands printed above. This means that, after booting using the above technique, you can run sudo bash /boot/ && sudo bash /boot/ to permanently repair the boot table ("permanently", that is, until the next BIOS update). Note the order in which you run these commands matters; running first then ensures that "linux" comes before "linux-lts" in the boot order.

Seeing fan speed and temperature information


Getting X window metadata

eg. for targeting specific windows in i3:


Setting up irssi for Twitch chat

With OAuth token:

/network add -nick greghurrell Twitch
/server add -auto -ssl -network Twitch 6697 YOUR_OAUTH_TOKEN
/network add -autosendcmd "/quote CAP REQ" Twitch
/ignore jtv
/connect Twitch
/channel add -auto #greghurrell Twitch
/join #greghurrell

See also


Font size

  • Ctrl-Shift-Minus: Decrease font size by 2 pts.
  • Ctrl-Shift-Equals: Decrease font size by 2 pts.
  • Ctrl-Shift-Backspace: Reset font size to original.



  • Alt-Shift-C: Reload config.
  • Alt-Shift-P: Restart i3.
  • Alt-Shift-Q: Quit i3.


  • Alt-Q: Kill focused window.
  • Alt-Shift-Space: Toggle floating.
  • Super-B: Do next split below.
  • Super-R: Do next split to right.
  • Super-T: Toggle fullscreen for currently focused container.
  • Super-Y: Cycle through container layouts (eg. vertical splits, horizontal splits, tabbed, stacking).


  • Super-h: Focus left.
  • Super-l: Focus right.
  • Super-j: Focus below.
  • Super-k: Focus above.
  • Super-a: Focus parent.


  • Super+mouse: Drag floating window.
  • Super-Shift-h: Move focused window left.
  • Super-Shift-l: Move focused window right.
  • Super-Shift-j: Move focused window down.
  • Super-Shift-k: Move focused window up.


  • Control-Super-Left: Grow window leftwards.
  • Control-Super-Right: Grow window rightwards.
  • Control-Super-Up: Grow window upwards.
  • Control-Super-Down: Grow window downwards.
  • Control-Super-Shift-Left: Shrink window leftwards.
  • Control-Super-Shift-Right: Shrink window rightwards.
  • Control-Super-Shift-Up: Shrink window upwards.
  • Control-Super-Shift-Down: Shrink window downwards.