Long standing user of Arch Linux side-steps the typical OS-review template and takes a fresh look at several features of Arch Linux that make it an interesting and exciting distribution. Update: A recent interview with Judd Vinet, Arch’s founder.
Mini-Arch Linux Review
About The Author
Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.
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2007-01-08 5:50 amBlackhouse
That’s because it’s not a review but rather an insight in Arch Linux. Putting two lines of opinion at the end doesn’t make it a review.
Edited 2007-01-08 05:50
That article suggests Arch Linux is worth a try. So many things to try, so little time . And Debian made me quite lazy .
This is by far my distro of choice, but as allways there are some minor problems, at archlinux it’s the packages. They aren’t as bind as for example Ubuntu, Fedora,… from my experience to say.
One example is the KDE+HAL+pumount that doesn’t for example eject CD’s nor umounts some USB drives, or the bluetooth support.
This minor problems wich became a problem when are detected only when a person needs and find that they exist. One point on favor… the bug report system works as the forums, a person can post and get results in minutes.
As that said, ArchLinux is a nice distro for power users that are unaffaind of getting their hands dirty in forums, howtos and bug reports. In overall… give it a try
…except that the install process is just too complicated, IMHO. If there was an easy way to install Arch, it’d be the perfect distro for me. For a time, it was fun configuring everything by hand, but now I got tired of that and prefer most things to be set up automagically.
2007-01-07 11:08 pmGullible Jones
Try using the quick-install script. That doesn’t let you weed out packages you don’t need from the base install, but it should be quicker and less complicated.
2007-01-07 11:53 pmlucke
You could use that: http://user-contributions.org/wikis/userwiki/index.php?title=Arch_L…
2007-01-07 11:58 pmMacTO
Easy installations may be nice, but I’ve found that they involve a huge compromise: it is very difficult to do stuff that the installation and system management software wasn’t designed to do.
Contrast that with Arch. If I wanted to do something wonky, like put /home on an encrypted file-system, I can visualize that changes that would have to be made to the system. It is very easy to understand what is going on because it’s designed so that humans can manage the internals, rather than a graphical (or command-line) front-end.
Doing stuff manually isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of us who like it (or are simply used to it) Arch is a great distro.
2007-01-07 11:59 pmTheMonoTone
Because it takes an hour to setup? I don’t get it. whats so complicated? Almost everything is automatically configured these days.
2007-01-08 6:31 amabhaysahai
Agreed that Arch is easy to setup and a great distro for people who want to do things on their own.
Initially I was an ardent fan of doing things on my own, to the extent that I tried gentoo for a long time. Then I realized that I am spending too much time compiling, so I switched to Arch. No doubt, Arch is simply great, once fully setup. But it is the initial setup time which is difficult. For instance, I would like to do things “with” my computer, rather than spend time configuring it. My main task is programming and not configuring. I believe that when someone like me, with good exposure to Linux programming, can feel the feel the need for an auto configured system. My friends with limited Linux exposure would definately prefer a SUSE, Ubuntu or Fedora.
Arch is one of the easiest to maintain, with latest packages and arguably the best package manager. However, We need to take Arch further to everyone. The Arch Linux Office Install CD http://user-contributions.org/wikis/userwiki/index.php?title=Arch_L… is a good step in this direction. The guys here have not only provided a working ( with Xserver, Office), Arch install, but at the same time detail the process of making my own Arch linux CD http://user-contributions.org/wikis/userwiki/index.php?title=Make_I….
Due to this I can make my own custom CD with my current packages and share with my friends.
Arch gives you up to date stuff, in a sensible way.
The KISS principles of Arch lead to a very simple == less error prone system.
Arch can adapt fast, as it doesn’t heavily wrap stuff from upstream.
Arch gives you power, as it doesn’t tell you how you should use it, it doesn’t stand in your way.
Arch is still not mature. Yes, you can use your very same Arch installation for years, keep it updated, without ever breaking it (I do since 2004).
But there are some major updates like mkinitcip for the kernel, or java 6 etc., which can result in some handwork needed (esp. if you have a complicated system setup).
On other distros like Ubuntu this would just be done in a new release you had to install over.
2007-01-08 4:28 pmConstantine XVI
Wait a moment, what?
You don’t have to re-install Ubuntu every release. It’s just a matter of running “gksudo update-manager -d”, or running a find/replace on your sources file, then “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade”. I’ve never had to do a full reinstall since Breezy (Oct 05), and I’m running Edgy now. SuSE and Fedora, on the other hand…
2007-01-08 7:08 pmFord Prefect
dist-upgrade is basically a “new install”, from the distributors point of view. You have a clean entry point.
On the other side, a friend of mine did Ubuntu’s dist-upgrade and X, etc. broke. She had to do a manual reinstall…
I didn’t want to express you would have to wipe your whole install. I wanted to express that you have to wait for the new release to get a “new” system. Contrary, on Arch, you don’t have to do this and even big changes are done incrementally, with the drawback that sometimes an update needs you to do handwork (for example, change your grub settings or fstab..).
what happened to cacti’s site? he used to have a nice wordpress theme. its gone now!
One more thing to mention about Arch is that it is optimzed for i686 processors. It runs blazingly fast on my good old P3 450Mhz test machine with XFCE. Arch brought this machine, which was almost trashed, back to life.
Also, RRS really rocks !!
Arch Linux is the perfect distro for me at the moment.
Time for a new comparison?
2007-01-08 10:47 amB12 Simon
Arch is the one distro that has a chance of nudging Slackware off my PC. Current PC isn’t broke, so won’t be changing. I’ll be very tempted to play with Arch whenever the next PC lands.
Underground linux is a way to get a functioning arch install without the hassle.
Maybe it is the ongoing config that you find bothersome? The community is really helpful for this. The wiki is just undergoing a revamp and the forums are always useful.
PS thanks to all of the ArchLinux contributors
First things first: Arch is my distro of choice. Period. It is what a linux distro shold be, IMO.
That being said, to say it’s easy to install is a complete fallacy. Tpowa’s recent 0.7 install isos are nice, and the 0.8 installer is supposed to be fairly smooth, too, but let’s be serious – pacman -Su [drivers] [desktop] [daemons] is well outside of what constitutes an “easy install.” Yes, *I* can have a system built and running in about an hour, but for a newbie – even somone who is just an Arch newbie – it’s going to be daunting. I don’t think we should fool ourselves by saying otherwise.
Edited 2007-01-08 16:53
I’ve dabbled with Arch since version 0.7 and did manage to successfully get it installed and up and running on my old laptop.
However, I recently attempted to install and use version 0.8 on my newer laptop and it was a totally different kettle of fish. I had the Arch Wiki open for hours after I’d installed it (incidentally I find the installation process quick and simple) searching for what packages to install for my hardware and how to configure them. Even then I couldn’t get X up and running with the Intel i810 driver.
I would love to say I was running it now but in the end I had to give up…perhaps only until some bright spark writes an Arch Linux/Dell Laitude D620 HOWTO. 😉
That said, I did enjoy using 0.7 and I can honestly say I also found it responsive. It’s certainly one of my favourite distros and deserves plenty of credit for being different.
PS – If anyone has a URL for alternative Arch ISOs for me to try out then please post them. Cheers!
Edited 2007-01-08 20:54
2007-01-08 10:17 pm
2007-01-08 11:05 pmbenir0
For now, 0.8 is alpha software, so that may have something to do with your problems. I haven’t had a chance to try 0.8 yet, though. Maybe stick with 0.7 for now?
I am an Arch user, I am really impressed with this review. No fluff, great info. Nice to see.