For the past couple of years, every so often I try to install Arch Linux on one of my laptops to see if I can reasonably work with it. Over time, every time I’ve installed it, I’ve made it more and more functional. Usually, I would into some practical problem that would prevent me from doing what I’d want with it, and I’d end up installing Manjaro on it to just have a working system. The first time, I got stuck on trying to get networking to work (NetworkManager or iproute2 are the answer); the next, I was stuck in the commandline interface (installing xorg-server ended up being the answer); after that, I got an Xorg server running, but couldn’t properly install a desktop environment (I ended up going to i3wm); and so on, and so on. This time, however, I’ve gotten farther than I ever have.
Ever since I fully switched my desktop over to Linux, I’ve had to solve more and more issues myself. Pretty much every time, the real issue was just my ignorance – I’d have updated something without properly reading what the consequences where, or something would break because I didn’t do a simple fix, or things along those lines. The consequence of solving these, though, is that this time around when I installed Arch Linux, I didn’t really run into many issues anymore. Or, more accurately, I encountered the same thresholds, but I’m not getting stuck on them anymore. Sure, I had no sound after the first boot, but that just made sense, because I had no drivers installed. So, a quick install later, some referencing of the Arch Wiki, and I was done.
Similarly, this time around, when I ran into features that I was lacking, I at least had some idea of what I’d want. I’ve experimented a little bit, so I know a program or two that does what I need, and I can more accurately decide which of those I want. Or, as I have been noticing now, I have obtained decent enough skills to implement a minimal fix myself. Running i3wm from a basic install meant I didn’t have my media buttons active yet. No big problem, I just needed to reference the i3wm documentation to see what the syntax was, reference my keyboard layout to see what my key names are (just to confirm it was the default), and them implement a simple volume-up and volume-down key combo. Then I noticed there was no feedback to using those. Well, install a notification daemon, use pactl to list a bunch of info that includes my current volume, grep out the volume, awk out the exact number, pass that to dunst, and done.
Implementing that made me really feel comfortable with Linux. That was a moment when I really saw a set of separate skills come together into a single solution to a simple problem that just a year ago would have me reinstall Manjaro Linux rather than work it out myself. This is the point where there’s a Souls-like enjoyment: I’ve butted my head against the problems long enough, and thanks to my perseverance, I’ve now gained enough experience to start netting a win here and there.
Now, on to solving the next little thing I want to improve in this setup . . .