How to 🍚 your pc

Intro ⛩ī¸

Maybe you've taken a look at the r/unix**** subreddit and you're like (how the f*** does it look like that, I want that!) or you have a potato pc and you want it to still run fast, well in both cases you've come to the right place! Here I'll teach you how to have your desktop look like this:

Starting completely from scratch (i.e no bloat whatsoever).

Linux distro đŸ’Ŋ

I will be using arch linux for this guide (the same steps can of course be followed for an arch-like distro, e.g artix). The full installation instructions are well-documented on the Install guide, don't forget the microcode packages (I forgot them a lot of the times) also don't forget to create a user as is explained on the General recommendations page. This guide could probably be followed for other distros (e.g void, gentoo, debian, maybe even openbsd) but the program naming might differ.

Required packages đŸ“Ļ

We'll need a window manager (bspwm) , shortcuts (sxhkd), a graphical thingy to communicate to the graphics card and tell it what to show (picom and utils), an instance that shows the screen (X), an application launcher (dmenu, note that this can do way more but we'll learn about that later), a background manager (nitrogen),a terminal emulator (xfce4-terminal) and a web browser (chromium). For the more knowledged out there I will be using X instead of wayland as I don't really see a reason to switch ngl. So, first off look at what you'd like to use to display your graphics:

Intel and AMD

If you don't have a graphics card and just run an intel cpu or amd cpu you should install the mesa package:

$  sudo pacman -S mesa

note that some tutorials will give the advice to install the xf86-video-intel package, do NOT install this package, it's outdated.


if you run a nvidia gpu, install nvidia and nvidia-utils:

$  sudo pacman -S nvidia nvidia-utils


If you have an AMD graphics card, then install both mesa and xf86-video-amdgpu:

$  sudo pacman -S mesa xf86-video-amdgpu
It might also be the case that you need adittional drivers, see here.

The đŸĨŠ of the 🍚

So, we'll now start laying out the base for the ricing, first run the following command to install the previously mentionded packages:

$  sudo pacman -S xorg xorg-xinit bspwm sxhkd dmenu nitrogen picom xfce4-terminal chromium 

Now we want to create the config files in which we'll put the bspwm and sxhkd configs, create the folders:

$  mkdir .config/bspwm 
$  mkdir .config/sxhkd

And copy the example files over to these local files:

$  cp /usr/share/doc/bspwm/examples/bspwmrc .config/bspwm/
$  cp /usr/share/doc/bspwm/examples/sxhkdrc .config/sxhkd/

Configuration ⚙ī¸


Now edit the .config/sxhkd/sxhkdrc file and change the terminal emulator shortcut:

# terminal emulator
super + Return

I.e upon pressing the super key (windows 🤮 key) combined with the return key (enter key), the terminal will be opened. And maybe already add some useful shortcuts, e.g super+u opening chromium:

super + u

Optional shortcuts

And some other useful things (if you have e.g volume control buttons and such) are:

	playerctl next
	playerctl previous
	playerctl stop
  amixer set Master toggle
  pactl set-sink-volume 1 -5%
  pactl set-sink-volume 1 +5%

Where, for e.g the file and file, you can have a look at my Scripts later.

Starting bspwm

As mentioned before, X (xorg) is the program managing the desktop enviroment you start, so we'll tell it to start all the necessary things. To do this edit we'll first copy over the example file from /etc:

$  cp /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc .xinitrc

Then edit this new file, deleting the last 5 lines (twm & and onwards). Then adding in the following lines instead of those:

setxkbmap YOURKEYBOARD -option caps:escape &
picom &
exec bspwm

And change "YOURKEYBOARD" to yours e.g for belgium it's "be". The "&" mean the process is run in the background, the "-option caps:escape" thing is optional and remaps caps lock to escape (easier for vim). And finally exec bspwm executes (you guessed it) bspwm. Go ahead and start your enviroment by executing:

$  startx

And if everything seems fine, (Note that if you're stuck and can't do anything or something, you can always press the combination ctr+alt+f2 to go to another tty and killing bspwm from there) you can go ahead and make bspwm start on login by adding the following to your .bash_profile (or .zprofile if you're using zsh):

if [ -z "${DISPLAY}" ] && [ "${XDG_VTNR}" -eq 1 ]; then
  exec startx

Now that the ground work is layed out, let's get to acual ricing:

Ricing 🍙


The first ricing won't really be ricing, it will be just making bspwm not ugly, for this we'll need to add the following two lines to bspwmrc (in .config/bspwm/):

nitrogen --restore &
xsetroot -cursor_name left_ptr &

The first makes it so a background is permanent, the second makes your mouse pointer a pointer instead of a cross.


The first basic rice that we'll do is add a bar at the top of the screen and make it possible to get notifications, for this install the following two packages:

$  sudo pacman -S polybar xfce4-notifyd

Copy the example polybar layout to the .config folder:

$  cp /etc/polybar/config.ini to .config/polybar/config

and add the following lines to bspwmrc:

polybar &
/usr/lib/xfce4/notifyd/xfce4-notifyd &

To make it start upon starting bspwm (press super+alt+r to reset bspwm). You're left on your own to further improve this bar . Ricing is your own art, so don't just copy over a full config, try to implement snippits and make your own.

Blurry Terminal Emulator đŸ‘ģ

To now have a good looking and readable terminal emulator we want more than just a transparent background: we want a blurry one, go ahead and copy the config file of picom to our local config folder:

cp /etc/xdg/picom.conf .config/picom.conf

And change the local picom.conf, first off go to "Background-Blurring", and change the lines under there to the following:

# Parameters for background blurring, see the *BLUR* section for more information.
blur-method = "dual_kawase"
# blur-size = 12
# blur-deviation = false
blur-strength = 4
# Blur background of semi-transparent / ARGB windows.
# Bad in performance, with driver-dependent behavior.
# The name of the switch may change without prior notifications.
blur-background = true

Then also uncomment and change "blur-kern" to:

blur-kern = "3x3box";

And in "General Settings" change the backend to glx and vsync to true:

# `xrender` is the default one.
backend = "glx"
# backend = "xrender";

# Enable/disable VSync.
# vsync = false
vsync = true;

Then finally go ahead and open the terminal emulator's settings by right-clicking on it and going to preferences, change Scrollbar is: to Disabled, go to appearance and choose in Background "Transparent background". Therein also uncheck the boxes under "Opening New Windows". Reset bspwm by doing the key combination super+alt+r open a terminal and you see that you now have your first rice!

đŸĨ” pc specifications

Note that on my Probook6570b, which is quite low-spec (for you nerds out there: CPU: Intel i5-3210M (4) @ 3.100GHz and 4Gb's of ram) on idle 0.7% of the cpu is used and 440mB of ram and everything works fast af (note that I don't have any clue how much a DE or other operating systems like windows or something use as it's been quite a long time since I've had anything other than this config installed but I remember it being waaaaay more). Even though everything works fine on my not so fast computer, maybe yours is way slower and some optimization tips are needed. As I have a thinkpad R500 at home, I've tried most of these: First off do NOT add the blur to picom (this can be a quite heavy process), use zsh with no flair (no powerlevel10k or something), or if it's almost dead-slow, use bash. Use dillo as main browser (you'll get used to it) and chromium only when absolutely necessary and you might prefer dunst over xfce4-notify. Lastly if your pc is pre-historic, try using st (suckless terminal) from the suckless website as your terminal emulator instead of xfce4-terminal.

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