Linked by Andrew Roberts on Thu 27th Jan 2005 19:27 UTC
Linux Can there ever be too much choice? Is that a bad thing? Well, to me in recent months it feels that way as I seem to have installed more Linux distributions than you can shake a stick at! Serial installers are a common phenomenon within the Linux community, but I say to you all, alas, I am cured!!! So, what makes Arch Linux all that? Well read on...
Order by: Score:
v Why are there so many versions of Linux?
by dongs on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:10 UTC
Could you imagine...
by Dr.BooBooGone on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:10 UTC

...a Linux user saying "Windows Media Player works better because it's integrated with Windows".

The author says: "The main difference between Kopete and Gaim that I have noticed is that Kopete obviously integrates better with KDE."

With that said, I have to say that Arch Linux is definitely the most Windows-like Linux knockoff available. As a Windows user I felt comfy with Arch. I just didn't like how painful it was to set up wireless networking. Yeah, yeah, I know it works fine for the small number of supported cards. I'm saying in general, Linux really doesn't do wireless networking very well...

v @dongs
by Dr.BooBooGone on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:14 UTC
v RE: Dr.BooBooGone
by Eugenia on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:15 UTC
Nice article
by Kakus on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:23 UTC

Great article. I too, am a happy Arch user.
I took much the same path to the distro as you did.

Of course, there are a few things that would likely address some of the issues you had, but that is here nor there at this point. From the perspective of a new user, if that information is not readily available to you, then it doesn't do much good does it?

Again, thanks for the good article. It is nice to see the hard work that the Arch devs do getting some good recognition.

it was ok
by system of x on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:26 UTC

I tried Arch a couple days ago and it was an OK distro, but honestly it just felt like I was using CRUX "my primary distro" w/ some flashy addons/changes made here and there and of course a different package management system...

Now being that's how I see it, if asked? I would recommend it to others. It is a very easy to use distro and a very good stepping stone to learning Linux...

by Kevin on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:27 UTC

This article in itself could serve as a nice Arch Linux newbie guide. It reminds me of the piece Clinton De Young wrote for Debian Woody.

by Shadowhand on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:27 UTC

Your story is like a mirror of my own. Excellent article.

by Emil Oppeln-Bronikowski on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:33 UTC

Well, it sounds like Slackware experience to me. :-) Arch sounds useful, too bad I have no time to play with it. ;)

re: Could you imagine...
by rebo on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:34 UTC

"With that said, I have to say that Arch Linux is definitely the most Windows-like Linux knockoff available."

I have the utmost difficulty comprehending that statement.

v I still say it blows
by jsagazio on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:36 UTC
v Make it stop...
by Wildpickle on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:37 UTC
re: Could you imagine...
by rebo on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:41 UTC

btw.. just to elaborate on my previous comment. How is Arch anything like Windows? I can understand comparisons between Fedora, Mandrake, and the like to be compared to Windows - but Arch Linux? Are you sure you are talking about the same distribution? Arch, at it's base, is nothing but a bare-bones linux system. You build the rest of the system around that.

Arch is a "tweaker" distro
by JeffS on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:55 UTC

There are different types of Linux users (obviously).

There are newbies fed up with Windows and want an easy alternative that "Just works" with little or no fuss. For them, Mepis, Xandros, Linspire, and Mandrake a great.

Then there are slightly more experienced users who want to get under the hood a bit, and use lot's of different software and services as well. For them, the big mainstream distros like Red Hat/Fedora, SuSE, and Mandrake fit the bill.

Then there are expereinced users who want to be rid of extra bloat, but also want a highly stable and efficient system that's both easy to use and let's one get under the hood. For them something like Ubuntu fits the bill.

Then there are highly experienced users that have to try the latest and greatest stuff, enjoy the process of installing and configuring, want to get down and dirty with the command line, have complete control of their systems, and always want to try new distros. I call these users "tweakers" because they enjoy the process of installing and "tweaking" Linux just as much if not more than actually using Linux (like for web browsing, word processing, playing games, programming, etc.). To them, the journey of installing and "tweaking" is the destination as much as anything else. This type of user usually prefers pure Debian, Gentoo, Slackware, and now ArchLinux.

This review kind of illustrates this because most of it was about installing, configuring, and adding software with Pacman. In other words, "tweaking". The author hardly mentioned anything about day to day use. But that kind of thing is typically less interesting to "tweakers".

As for me, I'm mostly in the middle category. I like a very stable and efficient system that's easy to install and use, and let's me get under the hood as much as I want. I currently use Ubuntu, Mepis, and Mandrake.

But for the tweakers out there, I say enjoy your bad-@ss selves with Arch or Slack or Gentoo or pure Debian. Tweak to your heart's content! ;-)

I'm glad the author...
by Tuishimi on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:58 UTC

...has found a distro. he can live with.

Hello Leeds Person
by Luke McCarthy on Thu 27th Jan 2005 20:59 UTC

An Arch user too! Ace.

Arch Install
by James A. Hillyerd on Thu 27th Jan 2005 21:08 UTC

I installed Arch last night. Definitely a lot less work to get booted than Gentoo, and it's nice not to have to compile things.

The installer (/arch/setup on the CD) presents a list of package categories to choose packages from (not unlike debian's installer), but the docs recommend only installing the "base" packages and install other things later. But once the system is up and running, /arch/setup is long gone and you are left with pacman.

I've used Linux long enough to have a good idea of what packages I need, but it's still nice to see a list to remind you what's available. And at the point I was at, there was no X, or a web browser to go online and look at the package lists.

Device Issues
by phignuton on Thu 27th Jan 2005 21:08 UTC

Mentioned several times are issues the author had with naming conventions for devices under devfs vs. traditional dev entires. I would really recommend udev over devfs. It's an easy install (pacman -S udev) and then add devfs=nomount to your /boot/grub/menu.lst for the relevant kernel.

I know it sounds pretty complicated but it really isn't. Also, the forums and wiki are quite well done.

Tweaker distro's
by paul on Thu 27th Jan 2005 21:15 UTC

they're good fun an all, i've tried a lot of distro's in the past. i started with linux using redhat 5, then after sticking with that for a while, i started trying others. slack, and gentoo being the main 'tweaker' ones. the problem is, you spend more time playing with settings and installing stuff than you do actual work. which is what i use my laptop for.
for this reason, i dont see me ever using a distro other than ubuntu again. it's by far the best i've ever used.

by HIRE ME!(Smartpatrol) on Thu 27th Jan 2005 21:19 UTC

Take the title of this article "A Week in the Life of an Arch Linux Newbie" and change the references to Arch to your favorite Distro and poof you have an OSnews worthy article. I really like OSnews but the "why my distro is the coolest" articles are getting really lame and boring.

Fragmentation of user base
by Kevin on Thu 27th Jan 2005 21:50 UTC

Distribution Alpha lists IDE hard drives under /dev/hdx, distro Lambda puts them under dev/discs/discn. Third-party apps are installed in /opt, in /var or God knows where. Now imagine a potential user who wants to buy a linux administration book. Is he supposed to buy one per distro, just in case ? Maybe it's time for most distro maintainers to adhere to the Linux Standard Base.

Re: Fragmentation of user base
by Luke McCarthy on Thu 27th Jan 2005 22:22 UTC

Aww, come on. It isn't that bad.

The device file difference is because of DevFS, which I imagine will soon become totally irrelevant because of SysFS/UDev (and because it's deprecated).

/var is no place to put applications. Who does that!?

Re: Fragmentation of user base
by ponds on Thu 27th Jan 2005 22:26 UTC

/dev/hdx works under arch once arch is installed and udev is running, Arch just uses /dev/discs/ for its main devs, which is the same case with most distros, most distros devices are actually in lun notation, but it's hidden as /dev/hdx, just as the case is in arch.

Nothing is ever installed in /var.

Only big third party apps are installed in /opt, which is what /opt is for according to the Linux Standard Base.

Arch isn't trying to be an 'everyone' distro, it's just trying to do its thing without having to live up to superficial progress-slowing political movements (such as the LSB).

I agree that the LSB is great, and it has its places. If Arch were trying to be a certified enterprise linux distro, or a newbie desktop, it would be great, but that isn't what Arch is.

Arch is a tricked out, simple and powerful workstation/server for the band of hackers that work on it, it serves no interest but those who directly influence it, and in my mind, we need a distro like this.

is cd burning really that hard?
by pixel on Thu 27th Jan 2005 22:38 UTC

the heavy distros (redhat, suse, mandrake etc) just do that for you, its almost mac like (or slightly easier, since its a big "burn" button on the window, instead of having to "eject" to find that burn icon)

for the more DIY or lighter distros (or debian, since that one does want to do things for you) theres a HOWTO at and a man page for cdrecord and mkisofs. i know its not the easiest thing in the world, but even slackware lets you know how to set the kernel to do it, most others do the ide-scsi thing for you. heres an example,

cdrecord dev=0,0,0 foo.iso

that dev=0,0,0 is the hard part. and you might want -v in there. if you set it up (also clearly documented, but should probably be done by however cdrtools is installed) you can just say

cdrecord foo.iso


cdrecord -v foo.iso

as for burning cds as a user, these are DIY distros we are talking about there,

chmod +s `which cdrecord`

the above might seem complicated, but i looks easier than what the comments imply. (again, in many distros, you just pop in a blank cd, a window comes up, you drag your files there, and click burn, the above is only for people who want full control from the command line and/or want to script)

a bit underwhelming
by AdamW on Thu 27th Jan 2005 22:52 UTC

Well, that all looks...perfectly nice. I can do all of that on Mandrake, or on Fedora, or on Debian, or on anything really. I think what Arch and Slack illustrate between them is that it's not actually difficult to make a 'distribution' of Linux for 'experienced' users, because what that basically means is you write a package manager, build everything completely stock into your package manager's format, and stick it on an FTP site. And that's what some people want, so more power to 'em. But it doesn't make for a particularly interesting article, and it doesn't seem to be a particularly impressive feat, though maybe a necessary one. Ah well, whatever.

Most Windows like. The author didn't mention LinSpire.

Before any LAME people talk about ROOT. Keep in mind that was in the past. LinSpire by default prompts the user to setup a user account that is NOT ROOT.

I can understand that people that want to reach under the hood and tinker aren't the target audiance for LinSpire. But it was made to be as much like Windows so that non-geek/non-nerds have a very easy time using it when moving from Windows. try something different.

by Ecio on Thu 27th Jan 2005 23:04 UTC

well.. i must say this is one the best distro experiences article i've read in the last few weeks.
Thanks for sharing your experience ;)

RE: Arch is a "tweaker" distro
by Shahar on Thu 27th Jan 2005 23:30 UTC

I must say that I've been using Arch for almost a year and I don't consider it a tweaker's distribution. That is one of the reasons I'm using it, by the way - because it is pretty vanilla and does what it is told.

by JeffS on Thu 27th Jan 2005 23:46 UTC

"I must say that I've been using Arch for almost a year and I don't consider it a tweaker's distribution. That is one of the reasons I'm using it, by the way - because it is pretty vanilla and does what it is told."

Maybe so. But the article left the impression that getting a running system, with everything desired, required a lot of tweaking, to the tune of several hours or days.

It's easy to get a full running system, with all software desired, in an hour or less using Ubuntu, Mepis, or Mandrake (and insert a number of other distros here), requiring little or no tweaking.

I kinda agree with the other poster in that it seems you can easily build a "tweaker" distro by writing your own package manager, then throw in vanilla kernel, shells, KDE, Gnome, etc, and offer no extras - requiring your users to go through the effort to get the system usable (in other words, "tweaking").

If that's what you like, then knock yourself out. There are positives about using vanilla stuff, and being forced to tweak to get everything working (the learning experience is valuable).

For me, part of what makes a distro good is adding the extra goodies, like hardware autodetection and autoconfiguration, and adding GUI config tools like Mandrake's Mandrake Control Center or Libranet's admin menu, or easy installers, etc. These things make it more difficult on the distro developers, but easier on the distro user.

i'm a arch noob too ;-)
by seshu yamajala on Fri 28th Jan 2005 01:32 UTC

Just started using arch a few days ago when i heard about the 0.7 release. I already LOVE it! had a few kernel panics when i first started using but recompiling the kernel fixed the problems. I am also considering a port to x86_64 after i get to know pacman and abs better.

RE: Could you imagine
by w00dst0ck on Fri 28th Jan 2005 01:44 UTC


I don't understand how Arch is anything like Windows... I just don't see it.

Perhaps KDE/Gnome have things that remind you of it, but it's totally different in the sence that, well, it isn't windows.

I don't really know how to react to your comments... I feel offended and humoured at the same time.

This quite a...
by X on Fri 28th Jan 2005 01:58 UTC

sweet distro. I didn't bother with the iso (though I got a cdrw); did an ftp install through 3 floppies. Installation was breeze. This is an easy distro to install and configure, and it's fast.

Only a tweaker distro?
by Tom Yeo on Fri 28th Jan 2005 02:41 UTC

I use it on production servers. I can't find a distro that I can setup and update faster than Arch. And in the mean time almost as customizable as gentoo. I do have a test server (well my lap top) and would be extra cautious updating things like glibc or new kernel. So far no down time caused by system updates.
The overall score of stability + ease of use (kiss-ass package management, minimal modications on packages, if any) + ease of customization (simple init script, simple scripted build-from-source system) + availability of most up to date packages + performance, is the highest among all distro I've tried.
I'm now proudly a recovered linux distro junkie, thanks to Arch.

The easy..
by Chris on Fri 28th Jan 2005 03:21 UTC

If it's easy to install now they really worked the installer over... I found it moderately easy, except having to turn sound on in devfs (not find drivers, but turn sound on).
I wouldn't call Arch a tweaker distro, although ABS is perfect for quick compile time tweaks. It's more of a "don't change my settings" distro. Since it doesn't change your confs...
Really the best description is this: "opt in."

RE: the tweaker comments
by darren on Fri 28th Jan 2005 03:51 UTC

I believe that some people are missing the point of why a person would want to use a "tweaker" distro. It's not so much that they can fiddle with everything. It's because they have had problems with full featured distros getting in their way.

For example, I've been trying to get wireless working on Mepis for a few days (on and off between classes). While it was a piece of cake in Mandrake, it's been impossible in Mepis. Why? I suspect that it has something to do with Mepis having its own wireless tools, KDE having its own wireless tools and me installing my own wireless tools. When you have so many things competing for the same hardware and something doesn't work, where do you turn?

I don't enjoy hand tuning everything anymore. I just don't have time for it. So, I would rather have a distro get my power management, Samba printer, wireless, X and whatever else working for me. But, since that still seems to be some ways off, I'm thinking about getting back to the basics by trying a distro like Debian or Arch. Until Linux can install these things correctly for me, maybe it's better to just get out of my way and let me do it.

The importance of optimisation
by Elad on Fri 28th Jan 2005 04:51 UTC

Could someone please enlighten me on the impact of processor optimisation in distributions?
ArchLinux is advertised as i686-optimised, while Debian, for example, declares itself as i386. Is the difference notable? Is it a major thing to consider when selecting a distribution?
One more question: how does i686 optimisations work under AthlonXP?

RE: The importance of optimisation
by w00dst0ck on Fri 28th Jan 2005 04:56 UTC

This is always different for every user. Some claim that there is a huge difference and some say that they don't notice any difference.

Personally I noticed a difference, but it wasn't that major. The system just feels snappier under heavy loads. Programs such as blender3d (similar to 3dmax or maya) feels faster when rendering.

I suppose you'll only notice a difference with CPU intensive apps. Other than that, I'm not to sure. I wouldn't worry about it to much.

With newer CPU's such as your AthlonXP, you'll be able to utilize more of the CPU's capability under a i686 optimized distro. It never hurts.

just my 2cents

The competence paradox
by WaFuSan on Fri 28th Jan 2005 05:26 UTC

I enjoyed the "competence paradox" paragraph (page 5).

In my opinion, all the problem arises from the "competent linux users" of the archlinux introduction. The important word is "user". A competent user is not an administrator; i think it's just the normal guy who can use linux on a daily basis, and knows what he needs and where he can get the info, and this is usually achieved after a few months on any of the "easy" distributions (mepis, mandrake...).
So who could be interested in archlinux ? every linux user willing to learn through experience a little more about the linux operating system.

robust article
by Peter Harmsen on Fri 28th Jan 2005 07:17 UTC

NB, before anyone exclaims “But what about FreeBSD?”, my answer is that it's not Linux, is it?!

I could have written the article myself for the most part of it.Ambiquous to notice a lot thought view points in common.I tried Arch for a short period of time and switched back to Gentoo and FreeBSD.Gentoo takes indeed it's time compile everything from source.Great advantage: A superb modern repository .FreeBSD does it all i a third of the time and seems more snappier,only drawback,is old and to few to choose from when bttv native packages/source are concerned.
As i'm waiting on my mac mini,i'm very anxious to see it dual boot gentoo and MacOsX.

About time any distro starts making packages,P4,athlon-xp,AMD64 only.There are plenty of distros around who also target at the older processors.Maybe Gentoo?
Still have to try VIDA linux ,based on Gentoo ,optimized for just the three mentioned arches but without the compile it yourself time.My holy grale would be FreeBSD complemented with the Gentoo repository ported,compiling from source doesn't realy take much time on Beasty.

Go(o)d robust article,though.

v Re: first post
by Nick Borrego on Fri 28th Jan 2005 07:35 UTC
RE: First Post
by Michael Salivar on Fri 28th Jan 2005 07:58 UTC

Go easy on the poor guy, I think he mistook Arch for Ark. He still should have read the article before posting, but that's no reason for name calling.

regarding configuration
by Michael Salivar on Fri 28th Jan 2005 08:26 UTC

If you're having trouble with hardware or your xorg.conf you might want to check out the 'hwd' package. It's an autodetection routine which doesn't actually configure anything, but it gives you a bit of a howto and generates a sample xorg.conf on which to base your own.

What you do is run:
hwd -s
hwd -e

This prints out all of the hardware it reads.
Then run:
hwd -h
to generate a customized man page to help you configure your hardware.

There's also:
hwd -y
which gives you a nice enhanced 'di' output as well as memory and swap state.

by AdamW on Fri 28th Jan 2005 09:20 UTC

Can't speak for anyone else, but *my* point was not that there's anything wrong with 'tweaker' distros, or that people shouldn't use them - on the contrary, as I said, for some people they're perfect, so go right ahead. My point was rather that it just doesn't seem like there's anything particularly noteworthy about *making* such a distro. From my perspective on Mandrake, a good 90% of the effort that goes into making such a distro goes into the Mandrake-specific tools and into the integration and writing of patches to improve the functionality of bare system components. Whether *you personally* like this is of course debatable and entirely your decision, but if you cut that out, there's just not a lot of work for the makers of a tweaker distro to *do*...

RE: Could you imagine...
by mikeyd on Fri 28th Jan 2005 10:19 UTC

Yes, I could, because I've done it. Of course it's also a disadvantage because of windows' bad security model, and it ties wmp to windows. Rather like the integration ties kopete to kde in fact. But do you prefer to have your desktop look like an explosion in a paint factory? If a program is for windows, it should look like a windows program, and if it's for linux/kde it should look like a kde program. I use gaim rather than trillian for IM on windows ME because gaim with the windows-like gtk theme fits in far better than trillian's luminous blue. (But maybe trillian fits in better with xp, I don't know)

A note from the author
by Andy Roberts on Fri 28th Jan 2005 11:15 UTC

Dear readers,

If I have somehow, inadvertently given the impression that ArchLinux is in any way similar to Windows, then my sincerest apologies to ArchLinux developers and users. Permission is granted to punish me - for I have sinned.

v AdamW, are you an...
by xerxes2 on Fri 28th Jan 2005 11:39 UTC
Competent linux users, let me see...
by arael on Fri 28th Jan 2005 12:40 UTC

"competent linux users" - "users that knows how to enter and how to use it with profit for himself"


re:is cd burning really that hard?
by PeterH on Fri 28th Jan 2005 14:15 UTC

Not on FreeBSD.

cdrecord dev=1,0,0 some_file.iso burns an image cd fast and simple.After a initial fresh install of FreeBSD without GUI you can backup your data to CD or DVD with burncd.

"cdrecord-scanbus" should give you a clue about dev=x,x,x.

by EVApilot on Fri 28th Jan 2005 14:22 UTC

The article doesn't discuss the fact that Arch doesn't adhere to the LSB (Linux Standard Base). This can make installing your own applications a little painful - particularly server daemons which expect an /etc/init.d for example. Having programs in /opt is also a little odd and requires adding all kind of --prefix lines to configure scripts.
That said, the ABS system to let you compile from source is somewhat easier to script for than Gentoo, but lacking in power.
Arch maybe suitable for desktops, but for production servers, it's better to go for something LSB compliant.

How about Libranet?
by Brian Masinick on Fri 28th Jan 2005 17:11 UTC

If you liked MEPIS but found it a bit too basic and you want something that's a bit more flexible, but still pretty easy to deal with, I recommend Libranet. Version 2.8.1 is the current version. This version uses curses based installation tools, so it looks a lot like Slackware or Arch as you are going through the installation. Once installed, it has a really excellent adminmenu that you can use from a console or Xadminmenu that you can use with a GUI (a graphical user interface). It uses the IceWM as the default, but also comes stock with KDE, GNOME, XFCE, and several other window managers.

Libranet uses Debian packaging. I recommend it. To me, it is fast, flexible, not too little, but not too overwhelming, either. MY favorite overall.

@Brian Masinick
by JeffS on Fri 28th Jan 2005 17:29 UTC

I've been considering giving Libranet a try. I think I'm going to wait for 3.0 to be released, however. 2.8.1 is using old stuff like KDE 3.1 and Gnome 2.2, and the 2.4 kernel (nothing wrong with that though). And even though Libranet makes it easy to upgrade to current stuff, it still takes time to download all that stuff (I'm on dial up at home).

Also, I've making comments about "tweaker" distros. None of my comments were meant to criticise "tweaker" distros or those that use them. Those distros serve a purpose, and are great for those that really know what they're doing and like to get under the hood and want the distro to "get out of their way".

Pesonally, if I had the time I would love to try one of those distros, just for the learning experience. But I work full time, I'm married, my wife is pregnant, and I have a two year old daughter. So my time is fleating and therefore I really appreciate distros like Mepis that save me so much time and make everything so easy for me. I can install Mepis is about 20-30 minutes, boot up, and everything works. Then I can dive in under the hood in very small increments, and write programs in very small increments, and do general computer usage as my schedule allows (when wife and daughter are asleep ;) ).

by AdamW on Fri 28th Jan 2005 18:11 UTC

"What the hell are you babbling about? Arch is written from scratch, mostly by one guy."

Well, that's really my point, isn't it? No matter how impressive that may be, there's an absolute limit on the amount of work one guy can do on his own. I doubt that Red Hat and Mandrake hire tens or hundreds of hackers to lie around on their asses and do nothing all day.

ArchServer in a few hours
by DiegoC on Fri 28th Jan 2005 18:36 UTC

After 12 hours of this "install-athon" i've came up with a great Arch (wombat) based server!

It's running on an old PII 350, 256Mb RAM and 80Gig HD ...
iptables (nat), samba, sshd, dhcpd, apache, tomcat (jdk 1.5), cvs, postgresql & mysql!

Fabulous distro!

Distro Junkies
by Derrick Gaskin on Fri 28th Jan 2005 20:19 UTC

Like many here I have tried just about every distro imaginable. Like most, I did my learning through gentoo and thier great documentation and forums.
Graphical setup tools for hardware do not always work and when you look for help in forums for (Suse, Fedora, Mandrake etc..) they always tell you to open up the graphical setup tool. Which of course didn't work and why your in the forums to begin with.
I've been using Arch for about a year and everything works even after upgrades. With the other distro's, an upgrade could screw everything up and send me looking for another distro to install. I guess that's why I've tried so many.
If you have experience installing Gentoo or Slackware and have a broadband connection, installation takes less time than Fedora or mandrake.
Arch is "keep it simple Stupid".
Arch is the latest and greatest packages.
Arch is vanilla so that those packages work as intended.
I like Arch because I don't want developers spending all their time writing configeration tools instead of building and maintaining a stable system and packages.

Written by one guy...
by Chris on Fri 28th Jan 2005 20:58 UTC

He should go through the nice website, that shows each individual package. And on each packages page there is a line that gives the maintainer.
There's quite a few maintainers. Judd is not the only guy running Arch....

re: A note from the author
by foo on Sat 29th Jan 2005 03:14 UTC


It's nice to see accountability every once in a while ;-)

Solid install article. I tried Arch last year and was immediately underwhelmed. Reminded me of installing Slackware except even duller. I think I may be developing a debian-based distro bias :-D

After reading this, I want to try it again.

Sleeker, not tweaker
by null-unit on Sat 29th Jan 2005 06:57 UTC

Arch gives you a lean, fast, quick-to-install, easy-to-update system. It does assume you know some Linux basics, but it's very straightforward to get a box that does just what you want, gets updated with the latest packages very quickly, yet is generally quite stable. Having used RedHat, Mandrake, Gentoo, etc. it's easy to like Arch because:
- Packages get updated frequently [you are always current]
- It lets you setup the system just the way you want, but...
- Avoid Gentoo-style compile times and emerge --rsync times

The compile overhead is more of an issue on an X workstation than a server. I run FreeBSD on servers [with the system and packages compile from scratch], but Arch for my desktops. They both have a clean feel, but Arch is just less hassle for a window environment [even for lightweight setups like my favorite fluxbox].

Who said Windows?
by Alex Boag-Munroe on Sat 29th Jan 2005 17:09 UTC

The author doesn't say anywhere that Arch is like Windows what the hell are you smoking?

From the sound of it, Arch is ideal for Gentoo users who don't like to compile. As lean or as bloated as you like. Personally I like and use Gentoo I have enough bandwidth and a fast enough system to not care about compiling apps when I want them.

If I did, from what I am reading, I'd like to use Arch. I would have to switch to udev though because I prefer the /dev/hd* notations. Yes, LSB has a place with all distros after all as a consultant and sysadmin I don't want to have to sit remembering where the hell everything is when I sit down to trouble shoot a client's Linux server. It is bad enough that cross Unix platforms put things in different places (Solaris to BSD to Linux to AIX).

For me, Linux is currently the best Unix platform available. It works great as a desktop and is absolutely fantastic as a server. For servers, the more leaner distributions that are available like Gentoo and Arch, the better. I don't give plaudits to Red Hat or Slackware here because their package management quite frankly, sucks. Debian is alright but I find Debian so arbitrary and I couldn't go back to apt from portage now.

by Chris on Sat 29th Jan 2005 19:01 UTC

Arch is officially Udev to my knowledge, although it always breaks my system when I turn off devfs.

different distros for different users
by purist on Sat 29th Jan 2005 19:43 UTC

There are
1) puristic sysadmin-friendly distros where developers don't like to compromize to make their distro more end user friendly
2) general purpose sysadmin-friendly distros where developers spend some time effort in making their distro more friendly to end users
3) end user friendly desktop distros.

Arch, Slackware, OpenBSD and NetBSD belong to the first category, Gentoo, Debian and FreeBSD to the second, and Linspire, Xandros, Mepis, Ubuntu, Mandrake and Fedora to the third. The purists say that the general purpose distros and BSDs have made too many compromizes and the desktop group complain that they haven't made enough compromizes. The purists also tend to say that the desktop distros have only sweeped their messy problems under the carpet and the desktop people say that end users are not supposed to look under carpets, so everything is actually sweet and dandy.

It's good to have different types of distros (and BSDs) for different types of users.

by AdamW on Sat 29th Jan 2005 20:39 UTC

"and Linspire, Xandros, Mepis, Ubuntu, Mandrake and Fedora to the third"

So in that case I guess I'll just go tell Oden Eriksson he can stop doing probably the best, cleanest and most comprehensive set of Apache2 packages available anywhere, then? After all, they're for Mandrake, and according to you, it's an end-user friendly desktop distro. Sigh. Linux is LINUX, and unless it's really intentionally horribly mangled, you can do whatever you like with it. This kind of categorisation is a tad too glib.

it's one of the best
by mrroman on Sat 29th Jan 2005 21:37 UTC

it has:
1. very good package manager, very fast.
2. one of the best (or the best) bootscripts. they are easy to use and fast.
3. big repository.
4. it's fast on old machines and the fastest on new one.

if only someone could make of it good looking (graphic installer, GUI tools) version, it would be very popular.

RE: @purist:
by purist on Sat 29th Jan 2005 22:06 UTC

You misunderstood my comment. I'm not attacking against end user friendly distros. And I'm sure Mandrake's package quality is excellent, despite all the people who say that it's buggy as hell. :-p

by Michael Salivar on Sat 29th Jan 2005 22:41 UTC

Yes, of course you can get server oriented packages for user friendly distributions and packages to make techie distributions more user friendly. I don't see how that in any way erodes the veracity of his categorization.

That said, purist, I disagree here and there on your 'sysadmin' side of the spectrum. I think both those groups should be subgroups, first of all, because they're more alike than different under these terms. I also think Slackware should be switched to general purpse sysadmin-friendly, because after all, it does have some of it's own configuration tools which aid in configuration. I'm also curious as to why you think Gentoo belongs in the general purpose (sub)group. I haven't been able to use it myself, but I thought it was as do-it-yourself oriented as Arch, if not more.

RE: Could you imagine...
by RobErt on Sun 30th Jan 2005 05:21 UTC

I really haven't seen a distro that I would say is a windows knock off. There are several desktops and window managers that "look" like windows, but in my experience the similiarity to windows is superficial. Just window dressing (excuse the pun). Even though these desktops and window managers look like windows, they are running on a very un-windowslike operating system.

I have tried Arch-linux. With a little work and configuring it is a very usable system. I took it off my machine when the website annouced that they don't support our troops in Iraq. That is the only thing I have against the distro.

RE: RE: Could you imagine...
by Anonymous on Sun 30th Jan 2005 10:28 UTC

" I took it off my machine when the website annouced that they don't support our troops in Iraq."

Hmm. I don't ever recall seeing that. Maybe someone on the forums, but on forums you get all kinds of people, with diverse backgrounds and belief systems..

My favorite distro
by Steve Howard on Mon 31st Jan 2005 04:03 UTC

I had shuffled between distros for some time, but it was only when I tried Arch that I stopped.

You see, I read Robert Burns's review on ExtremeTech (I'm a member there), and I first thought, "No way. I don't have extensive Linux knowledge, and not that much time." Of course, then I realized that Linux (to me) is a pet project to use up my time. Really, it's a great way to learn Linux, and it was very helpful to see that the IRC folks were knowledgeable and courteous to a n00b. The package management is excellent (Just use pacman -Syu to upgrade the whole system: Doze can't do that!), and I love using Nano rather than vi or emacs (most distros prefer those, and it drove me nuts).

I've used Arch for a fair amount of time now (4-5 months), and it's taught me some important stuff about my hardware that even I didn't know (like the refresh rates, vsync range, and hsync range on my monitor). Please, if you want to try Linux and are up for a challenge, use Arch Linux.

RE: Could you imagine...
by Steve Howard on Mon 31st Jan 2005 04:10 UTC

Arch Linux is definitely the most Windows-like Linux knockoff available.

How so? You mean you usually install Windows from a TUI? You often choose every single package you want in Windows? In Windows, if your graphics is nonstandard, do you have to run nano /etc/xorg.conf? AFAIK, Windows supports (by default) only one window manager.

The command line is an afterthought in Doze, whereas in Arch it's the brains of the operation. Want proof? When in Arch, in your nice little GUI, hit control-alt-F1. You'll find a - gasp - command line! You can find help in a text format on every command that ACTUALLY HELPS! What do you get when you ask for help in Windows? A nice little Microsoft Knowledge Base page in Internet Exploder telling you to try something you've already tried to fix a problem.

Arch is terrific
by scarecrow on Mon 31st Jan 2005 10:13 UTC

With Arch 0.7 you definitely don't have to mess with devfs at all, if you want to use 2.6.X kernels exclusively- just untick devfsd from the BASE packages while doing your first installation. The result is a perfectly running system, exclusively udev based.
The only things I miss in it is a network profile manager for my laptop (the two managers included in the extra repo don't work very well, at least not with KDE which I'm using as default) and webmin as a system manager for lazy people like me- you can still install webmin using the Slackware 10.0 defaults, some things work immediately but some others need manual tuning.
Overall I think that Arch is the best binary distro available, and I would even recommend n00bs (not total n00bs, but fairly new to Linux) to give it a try.
The windoze comment was most obviously referring to Ark Linux, so it doesn't make much sense insisting on it...

Troops in Iraq??
by Alex Boag-Munroe on Mon 31st Jan 2005 14:16 UTC

What? Are you serious? You're not using a Linux distribution because of their political views? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I can't say I've ever seen the ArchLinux people say they do not support our troops. Are you sure they didn't say that they don't support the WAR? I don't support the war, that doesn't mean I'm not behind the troops who had no choice in going.

Besides, imo that's a ridiculous reason to not use a distro. Distros should be taken on their technical merits.

No Arch in Jesusland...
by scarecrow on Mon 31st Jan 2005 20:07 UTC

Yeah, Arch is evil, its makers are buddhist terrorists from the United States of Canada. Uninstall it ASAP from your machine, and install Scwarzenegger Linux- satisfaction guaranteed...