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How To Clean And Speed Up Arch Linux

Out of all of the different Linux operating systems out there, Arch Linux stands out as one of the leanest and cleanest ones out there. It’s easy to see why, as Arch Linux lets users build their system from scratch, eliminating a lot of bloat software. Still, for as lean as most Arch Linux PC’s are, they still have the potential to slow down and get messed up.

That’s why in this guide, we’ll be going over all of the ways you can clean and speed up Arch Linux PC and restore it to the speedy OS it once was!

Cleaning The Pacman cache

Clearing out the Pacman cache in Arch Linux is a good idea when things start to slow down, as with each software update, Pacman fills up with lots of downloadable package files. To clear it out, open up a terminal window and use the following command to clear it out.

sudo paccache -r

The above command works for most users, and will completely empty all packages in the cache. Doing this clears space, but it can also be unsafe. Especially if an update breaks and you need to downgrade to a version in your cache. If you still want to speed up Arch by clearing out the cache, there’s another command that will allow the user to manage the versions of programs to delete, rather than indiscriminately removing everything.

sudo paccache -rk1

Alternatively, if you’d like to only remove uninstalled Arch packages from the Pacman cache, run this command:

sudo paccache -ruk0

The Arch Linux package system has a lot of options. For more actions, run paccache -h in the terminal.

Manage Startup Apps

Even though Arch Linux users build their operating systems from scratch, they still may be vulnerable to having too many startup applications. Taking control of this aspect of your operating system is important because too many applications running at startup can quickly eat away at CPU resources and RAM.

Each Linux desktop environment does a pretty good job of letting the user manage startup applications, but if you’re just looking to quickly delete programs from starting up, there’s no need to use an app. Instead, open up a terminal and use the CD command to move the terminal into the ~/.config/autostart folder.

cd ~/.config/autostart

Using the LS command, reveal any programs that may be residing in the autostart directory. Then, copy the filename and use RM to delete the file from the folder. Removing the Desktop shortcut file with prevent it from automatically loading up when Arch boots, reclaiming precious PC resources.

rm example.desktop

Repeat this process for as many entries as you’d like.

Disable Staggered Spin-up

One possible slow aspect of Arch Linux is “staggered Spin-up”. It’s a feature with some PC hard drives which causes ATA hard drives to boot up slower, by loading each connected drive one by one. If you use Arch Linux with multiple hard drives, especially on a laptop, this can save precious battery life. However, it also may reduce your boot time. If you can live without this feature, it’s a pretty easy way to speed up the Arch Linux boot process.

To disable, first confirm you have it enabled. Keep in mind that not every Arch PC will be using Staggered Spin-up. To determine if it’s running, run this in a terminal:

dmesg | grep SSS

If you notice something referencing “SSS” in the output, your Arch Linux PC is using Staggered Spin-up. To turn it off, run:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Look in the Grub configuration file for GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT, and add the following bit of code between the quotes.

libahci.ignore_sss=1

After adding the new code to the kernel parameters, re-generate a boot image to save the changes.

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Reduce Boot Delay

One perceived slow-down for Arch Linux is the grub boot screen. It takes 5 minutes (and sometimes more) to load, which is pretty annoying. If you don’t ever touch the Grub bootloader, having to wait for 5 seconds might seem like an eternity. To get those precious 5 seconds back, consider reducing the time that Grub sits on a boot entry before automatically loading.

In a terminal window, run:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

In the configuration file, find GRUB_TIMEOUT=5, and change the number to a lower number. For your own sanity’s sake, don’t go lower than 1 second! When you’ve decided this edit makes sense, generate a new config:

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Next time Arch Linux loads up, Grub will take less time to boot!

Disable FSCK At boot

Every time Arch boots up, a FSCK process will run and clean up dirty bits from a hard drive. This is super useful if your Linux PC has accidentally restarted,  or something else related to hard drives has gone wrong. Trouble is, running an operation like this takes quite a while. If you don’t care about the FSCK tool, and you know what you’re doing with your Linux PC, you can regain precious startup time by disabling this feature.

To disable, edit your kernel and add fsck.mode=skip to the parameters.

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Find GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and paste the code in-between the quotation marks. When done, save Nano with Ctrl + O and Ctrl + X, then regenerate the kernel.

fsck.mode=skip

Regenerate with:

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

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