Introduction to Arch Linux

Coming from a background of using MS-DOS for about 4 or 5 years exclusively (MS-Dos 4.1 or something) Being new to Linux and *nix in general I thought that I would want to learn from the “ground up”. I did not want the bloat of Redhat or Mandrake but wanted something simple where I could learn the “stuff” of the OS.

Editorial notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of

If I ever needed to use a computer exclusively with Linux like a dedicated graphics workstation or server I would most likely use RedHat. But since I would use a “PC emulator” like Bochs or Vmware I just wanted to learn with something small. So I was at Distrowatch and was looking for something that suited me. I tried Slackware but it seemed too slow on releases. I tried Debian but it seemed too out of date and when I upgraded to testing and unstable things would break and I wanted to make GCC 3.x my compiler but I did an “apt-get” and got the GCC 3.x but didn’t know how to make it default. Then I tried Gentoo and got it working but could never compile my kernel correctly and did not like the idea that I HAD to “compile” everything. Then I tried FreeBSD, and I LOVE it, but alas there is nothing that even comes close to linuxconf but I LOVE the ports system. Then I found Arch Linux, it had a very simple install, small base, simple package management, a BSD style ports system and wonderful package updating.

Install & Running Arch

After I downloaded the ISO of .03 (Firefly) I started the install program and it was easy to get through like FreeBSD’s only a tad simpler. Got the base only installed (minus vim, but I added nano and dhcpcd) and ran the “insmod mii; insmod pcnet32; dhcpcd; ifconfig” and got my network card to work I ran the “pacman –Syu” when asked to update you hit NO, then you run “pacman –Sy pacman” then “pacman –Syu” and updated my packages. After that you run “pacman –S cvsup” and then “abs” and you get your BSD style “ports” system (you just “cd” to the dir and run “makepkg” and it will build and compile the program and then you get a xxx.pkg.tar.gz file and can use the “pacman –A xxx.pkg.tar.gz” to install or if you don’t like compiling you can run a pacman –S and you will download the packages in binary form. I found this system very nice.


In closing I just wanted to ask all you who would be interested to help this project because they have a only have SMALL selection of packages and if they could get more they would be very popular IMHO.

In review after you get an install working (during the install you NEED to check your lilo.conf to make sure the partitions are right.)

“Pacman –syu” and answer NO
“pacman –sy pacman”
“pacman –syu” answer YES
Rerun lilo (again check the lilo.conf)
“pacman –s cvsup; cd /usr/abs; abs” (only if you want BSD style ports and Unofficial packages) (use “abs” to update it too)

When the flowing come out I want to try them:

Debian with GCC 3.2x as default compiler
Slackware 9.0
Gentoo 1.4
FreeBSD 5.0

Just out of curiosity what is the best file system to use: Ext3, XFS, ReisferFS, or JFS? (I heard that XFS had no “backup FAT”, or whatever that is)


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