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Arcan -

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From the project's website:

"Arcan is a powerful development framework for creating virtually anything between user interfaces for specialised embedded applications all the way to full-blown standalone desktop environments."


# xbps-install -S arcan

As the packaged version of Arcan uses the egl-dri backend, it needs exclusive control to your graphics card. Therefore, either kill all instances of X and wayland that might be running or start Arcan from separate tty.

If you just want to see if it is working, try the shipped welcome application:

$ arcan welcome

Applications and Desktop Environments


Also packaged you can find the projects flagship windowmanager/desktop environment called Durden. It comes with a launcher script that helps setting everything up nicely, so starting is as easy as:

$ durden

Optionally, clone Durden's repository and copy/symlink its durden-folder to ~/.arcan/appl/durden. Now you can make all the changes you like to it and run it with

$ arcan durden


This "Plan9-Rio like Window Manager for Arcan" is currently not officially packaged, but setting it up is as easy as described before: clone or download prio's repository and place its content into ~/.arcan/appl/prio. Run it with

$ arcan prio


This "3D/VR Desktop built for Arcan" is currently not officially packaged, but you can refer to safespaces' repository for more info.


Arcan itself can be configured according to the list of options you see when running arcan without arguments.

Applications may have their own configuration interface. Durden, for example, exposes many configuration options via its {global,target}/config submenu.

If interested, take a look at upstream's documentation.


More configuration for Arcan and its applications is stored in a database, to which access is provided via arcan_db.

(example shown: durden)

To see application-specific config, use:

$ arcan_db show_appl durden

or if you broke your config and want to reset:

$ arcan_db drop_appl durden

or if you want to modify a certain key while the application is offline:

$ arcan_db add_appl_kv durden show_titlebar 1

It is also possible to maintain different configuration databases through the -d argument to Arcan.

Configuration file system

Since 0.5, acfgfs can be used to access all configurations via a fuse-based filesystem (reference).



Some helper applications are available:

  • aclip: Clipboard manager
  • aloadimage: Image viewer

Starting native X applications

You probably want to run a few graphical applications too, so install the xarcan package. From a running Arcan instance, spawn an X-window with

$ Xarcan :0

where 0 indicates your DISPLAY=:0 number. You can have multiple, you just need to set the environment for letting clients connect, like this:

$ DISPLAY=:0 firefox

For better performance, you can try out the -glamor switch of Xarcan.

Starting Wayland applications

To run wayland applications, you first install the arcan-wayland package.

Then you use this from a running Arcan instance:

$ arcan-wayland -exec /path/to/wayland/client