Arch Linux Hacker Battlestation Setup

When I was using my laptop by itself, I loved to boot into Arch Linux and then use tmux to split the terminal into multiple windows and start a bunch of different programs to make it look all 1337ed out. But when I started using the dual-monitor setup, I started to have problems doing this. The biggest one being that Arch Linux doesn’t recognize multiple monitors in text mode, so I was stuck using only one monitor and having the other one blank at all times. The second problem being the text-mode scaling, which never matched the actual resolution of the monitors. Well, through some bending of the rules, I have managed to achieve the look that I want. I’m writing this as much as a note to myself as to anyone else.

My battlestation:
Dual monitor setup running Arch Linux with tmux

Left screen:
Dual monitor setup running Arch Linux with tmux

Right screen:
Dual monitor setup running Arch Linux with tmux

Here’s how I accomplished this:

Arch Linux: I cheated a little bit because I’m actually running two Arch Linux VMs in VirtualBox. It was the only way I could think of to get Arch Linux to utilize both monitors in text mode. A neat side effect of this is that the aspect ratio is now 4:3, which is the aspect ratio Arch assumes when it’s running in a VM (I’ve never been able to figure out why). Thus it’s closer to what I need for these two monitors, which are 4:3 (right) and 5:4 (left).

Font: The font I’m using is Lat2-Terminus16.psfu. To change to this font I ran the command setfont Lat2-Terminus16.psfu. This font does a good job of interpreting the extended characters as they should be interpreted (some of the fonts don’t do this, seeming to default to the IBM Extended ASCII encoding rather than the UTF-8 encoding). It also just looks more Linuxy, in contrast to some of the more DOS-style fonts.

Installed programs: tmux, screenfetch, cmatrix, htop, lynx. Also running are Vim and Midnight Commander.

tmux: To split the terminal window horizontally, type Ctrl+B ". To split vertically, type Ctrl+B %. To resize the windows, type Ctrl+B and then hold down Esc and press the arrow keys.

screenfetch: The full screenfetch output won’t fit in any of these windows, since it needs at least 2/3 of the screen both horizontally and vertically when using this font in this resolution. So to fix this and prevent it from getting messed up by character-wrapping, I’ve used the -L option, which tells screenfetch to only display the logo and not the system stats.

Miscellaneous aesthetic concerns: Midnight Commander is using the “gotar” skin, which I think looks best with everything else. Vim is using a modification of the Peachpuff colorscheme, where I’ve changed it to display statements in yellow rather than brown. cmatrix is set to display bold characters using the b keystroke and is set to the slowest scrolling setting (you control scrolling speed using the number keys). In real life this makes it look more like the the actual Matrix code in the movie.


One thought on “Arch Linux Hacker Battlestation Setup

  1. Instead of screenfetch, try neofetch. neofetch is more customizable and fits the logo anywhere without messing it up. Instead of logo, [if your terminal supports] you can also put an image which I think is really cool feature.


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