Robert Burns wrote a review of his experiences with Arch Linux 0.6. Review is here, discussion is here.Our Take: I installed Arch Linux this week as well and while I liked the non-bloated nature of the OS and its somewhat simplified configuration method, I found its -Current tree more unstable than the ones found on Slackware or FreeBSD. Surely, -Current is always meant to be unstable, but I would expect more stability than just that (I isolated at least 12 major issues so far, 4 of them show-stoppers).
In my opinion, Arch has way too many package trees, Current, Unstable, Testing, TURs, Extra etc. I wouldn’t mind having just a “stable”, a “Current” and a TUR’s trees and making absolutely sure that whatever goes to -Current is actually tested. I have seen packages on -Current that are _completely_ untested (Totem being one of them (dependancies aren’t set correctly in the package), all GStreamer-based apps are misbehaving, while Gnome 2.6 package team is hosed on its own as well, half of the gnome apps can’t find their icons, while later the Planner package hosed further my Gnome 2.6 installation by overwriting all my permissions on /opt/gnome/etc/gconf, so only root could load the gnome settings from that point on).
In the short period I run Arch, I liked the speed and the simplicity, in this respect is a lot like Slackware, however unlike Slackware, I can’t consider it stable enough. Before I get bombared with messages like “-Current is meant to be unstable”, I must protest that Slackware’s and FreeBSD’s Current trees are not _that_ untested. Besides, the pacman package manager is configured by default to upgrade from the -Current tree. Defaults matter, and this means that a lot of the Arch population does run Current (especially because all the “interesting” recent packages are all in Current). For this reason alone, I would kindly ask the Arch people for some more effective inhouse testing before they place packages on -Current that easily (I have already emailed Judd Vinet about it).
Other than that, Arch is really great if you are a somewhat experienced Linux/Unix user.
is it possible to make the Arch install easier by using the LiveCD version of it to create an Arch intall on your HD?
I don’t believe that the normal Arch installation is that difficult actually. The only part that requires a bit of attention (and could do better) is on the configuration part, and this part is well-explained here:
GNOME 2.6 is not behaving correctly but now every user that did pacman -Syu [system upgrade] has a non working well gnome 2.6
that’s a very bad thing.
on the other hand you find more stable packages on TUR than in current! [for example MonoDevelop from TUR works excellent]
The recent mess with packages has stolen some of AL’s magic.
But AL is still the best distro for the Desktop User IMHO.
what did Judd reply to you?
>that’s a very bad thing.
Agreed. And other packages are hosed as well. More testing is required IMHO. GStreamer for example and all the apps depending on it just dont’ work well either. GConf-editor is also buggy on Arch.
>But AL is still the best distro for the Desktop User IMHO.
I don’t agree here, Arch is not a desktop distro, no matter if the project might try to pitch it that way. It makes a good workstation for the knowledgable user, but it is definately not for everyone. There is 0 automation, Hotplug is not even working by default (on Slackware it does and it is a relief). The Bluetooth utils are not even offered in the -Current or in /Extra. There is no integration with the wireless tools either.
>what did Judd reply to you?
Another bug: ehci-hcd is not compiled on any of the available kernels. This means that my USB-2 doesn’t work as USB2, while Fedora2 Test2 loaded the modules fine. Arch only loads the ohci-hcd, while my mobo has both USB1 and USB2 ports and requires both modules (yes, I have double checked my rc.conf and modprobe.conf).
Arch Linux IS designed for people that knows a LITTLE about Linux. The Arch spirit is to release new soft versions as soon as possible. It leads to some bugs quickly solved by experimented users and corrected within 2 days … But it also leads to an “amazingly” up to date system with all the soft in their very-last version and plenty of bugs corrected.
what is the best? a bugless old version of a bugfull soft or a bugfull new version of that bugless soft ?
It is up to you …
but for Instance; it installed kde 3.2.1 (that corrected plenty of bugs of kde 3.2.0) 48 hours after its release. And since this date nothing had to been change and it works VERY WELL …
I was before running a LFS what is too hard to maintain. But I want to control everything. Arch Linux gives me that possibility (you can compile automaticaly yourself each package from source OR download it precompiled).
My experience with KDE packages was good as well, however it was the Gnome packages that hosed my experience with the whole thing.
Personally, I would prefer to wait 10 days and get a stabler version of Gnome 2.6 than have it 2 days later and get a hosed my machine. Especially because pacman DEFAULTS to -Current, this can be a PAIN for many users. So yeah, I do prefer to wait a few days and get a stabler package rather than having to waste time to clean up the mess myself. I have better things to do with my time.
I run it, and it IS nice. Before installing 2.6.x, I had read a lot of horror stories about devfs/alsa/console problems, but I went from 2.4 to 2.6 with no problems at all. It is fast, neat, current and easy to maintain.
Only few problems I have had has been due to some package problems (Transcode and xvidcore not working together, KDE media players supports no codecs, ghostview (and a pdf viewer relying on it) not having pdf support, etc.)
I have been running Arch for over a month now and I really like it. Its clean and light. BUT I don’t use Gnome so haven’t been burnt with the recent problems.
I get the impression that there has been a relentless increase in popularity/users which has put alot of pressure on the developers and maintainers. New packages are coming in all the time but there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding growth in maintainers
Just speculation. But looks like growing pains to me. It remains to be seen if they can adjust well to the change.
> BUT I don’t use Gnome so haven’t been burnt with the
> recent problems.
These problems have gone just one day after they had began. I use gnome 2.6 on Arch and it is working absolutely correct, now. The problems had been real, so sadly enough.
> Just speculation. But looks like growing pains to me. It
> remains to be seen if they can adjust well to the change.
You are absolutely right. That are growing pains. And I think the Arch maintainers shouldnt focus to release more and more new packages. Instead they should keep the existing one updated and fixing bugs. If some new user needs a package, go build it yourself. Isnt really hard on arch, except some horrible applications. You`ll learn plenty new things.
Are they really allowed to use the name pacman for an application? I thought that was owned by namco.
I’m a devoted arch user, and I’d have to concur with what Eugenia’s said. Packages as of late have been rather unstable. I believe we went through 3 or 4 revisions of the gtk-2.4 package in 12 hours a few days ago. Moreover, other than fielding new requests for packages, the development team seems to more or less ignore the suggestions of some users. I’ve posted ideas on the forums here and there and devels usually become adamant apologists for the status quo. Nevertheless, I love arch for the ease of use (for advanced users. Tt follows the KISS philosophy of Slackware), its speed, and the safety net that pacman provides when makepkg doesn’t work.
I also use Arch, just got into it about 6 weeks ago, and overall it is a wonderful distribution. It will not hold your hand at all, but all the necessary info is in the Arch forums. Actually it’s KISS approach is very refreshing as with Slackware. I run Gnome 2.6 as my desktop and had one or two issue doing a Pacman -Sy gnome but after two attempts all works as advertized.Arch is pretty much a bleeding edge distro with updates available every day and problems do get fixed real fast.
The user base is experiencing explosive growth in the last few months and growing pains are inevitable but not permanent. The whole premise that Arch is built on makes sense to me. The user can pretty much make Arch whatever he/she wants it to be with the help of Pacman. Overall it is a wonderfull learning tool and a solid distribution.
First of all, I don’t agree with the author on the install part. If you can handle a Debian or Gentoo install, installing Arch will be a piece of cake. Of course don’t let your grandma do it.
Although I’m not a fulltime gnome-user, I got it installed on my desktop. It upgraded from 2.4 to 2.6 without a hitch.
I really love Arch’s filosophy (KISS) and it seems to live even better up to it than Slackware does. They do not offer customised packages, but leave it up to the user to customise it to their needs. And Arch has only one config file that handles modules, daemons, time, networking, etc. If you want a daemon to be started by default, just add them to the daemon array in /etc/rc.conf. No symlinks from init.d or something ugly like that.
Of course Arch can alsways use some improvements like:
– A more powerful build system. All you can do with ABS is optimising performance a bit by setting some aggressive CFLAGS, but ABS doesn’t give you the power emerge does, for example.
– More attention for releases. I don’t have the idea 0.6 was thorougly tested before it was released. There were some almost invisible iso’s on the ftp server and that’s it. Their excuse was that Arch doesn’t focus on perfect releases, but on a perfect tree. And we all know this is never going to happen. Arch is perfect for a desktop, but since there’s no REAL stable release Arch isn’t really suitable for critical servers.
For me, Arch is the best desktop distribution right now, but it could always use some improvemets.
>>If you can handle a Debian or Gentoo install, installing Arch will be a piece of cake. Of course don’t let your grandma do it.
Right, I believe I said something exactly to that effect in my review: “It may be most closely compared in terms of ease (or difficulty) of installation and configuration with Gentoo.”
The user base is definately growing, which translates into some immanent problems. The true beauty of makepkg is also a downfall: Since packages are so easy to make, it becomes easy for many more inexperienced users to make less-the-the-highest-quality packages. I’m sure I’ve done just that, although I’ve never submitted my own packages to arch (knowing their lacking quality).
installed arch a few weeks ago, and am still using it. havent had any problems at all with binary packages, but then i dont use gnome. my impression so far is that AL is a great distribution for the little more advanced user.
>>But AL is still the best distro for the Desktop User IMHO.
>I don’t agree here, Arch is not a desktop distro, no matter if the project might try to pitch it that way. It makes a good workstation for the knowledgable user,
For an experienced user, I think it’s hard to beat Arch, but then again, I haven’t been burned (yet) by unstable packages.
>There is no integration with the wireless tools either.
Confound it! I meant to touch on that. *slaps self* You’re absolutely right though, and it was annoying to have to manually install the wireless tools. That is indeed a significant shortcoming. Are the WEs even enabled in Arch’s kernel packages?
> “Personally, I would prefer to wait 10 days and get a stabler version of Gnome 2.6 than have it 2 days later and get a hosed my machine. Especially because pacman DEFAULTS to -Current, this can be a PAIN for many users. So yeah, I do prefer to wait a few days and get a stabler package rather than having to waste time to clean up the mess myself. I have better things to do with my time.”
Why not wait a few days and check the forums, basically letting others do the testing and then seeing how it goes?
A lot of reviews seem to complain of the lack of packages as compared to Debian, which is probably why Arch may be concentrating on getting packages out. There is also, as some have mentioned, a problem with user growth but no package maintainers growth.
Arch can be really stable, you just need to use the ‘release’ tree and not the ‘current’ tree. It is very stable, and more up to date than Debian stable.
If you want to use the ‘current’ tree, then you need to be willing and able to either fix the problem yourself or file a bug report. While I agree that the GNOME and GTK upgrade mess could have been prevented with more testing, this should not detract from Arch’s appeal, as I have found it to be the best of all worlds – simple and light like Slack, with bleeding edge packages like Gentoo.
With more users coming on, I hope there will be more devels and maintainers willing to submit their time and effort to the project.
So you got your mouse configuration problems solved? My PS/2 mouse in Arch is located in /dev/misc/psaux.
If you can’t deal with things not always working perfect I think Arch may anger you more than you like it. Personally, it’s fast and easy to update packages so I love it.
And btw, Gnome 2.6 works on my machine . I don’t use it though, the new nautilus is awful and I definitely prefer Xfce.
I’ve been using Arch for more than a month now. It is really a fine distro. Lately there has been indeed a huge growth in Arch’s userbase, and I guess it caught the maintainers a little bit unprepared
Do not forget that this is just 0.6, it’s not even close getting to 1.0 yet. Arch is growing fast now and so there are several problems due to the growth, but those are quickly solved. Also, I’m not a gnome user, so I can’t tell about that, but well, I’ve submited a few bug reports and those were recieving a package response in no time.
Arch has great potential, and I love it personally. I’m positive the problems will go away the same way they appeared.
All they need is some help from us, the users
“Arch can be really stable, you just need to use the ‘release’ tree and not the ‘current’ tree. It is very stable, and more up to date than Debian stable.”
However, AFAIK, Arch Linux still does not do security updates for their releases, mainly because the Arch Linux developers don’t have the manpower to do so. To keep up-to-date on security with Arch, one needs to use the Current tree.
>>So you got your mouse configuration problems solved? My PS/2 mouse in Arch is located in /dev/misc/psaux.
Yes, /dev/psaux is a link to /dev/misc/psaux.
i moved away from arch when i couldnt get pacman to install any new package from the internet at all despite my net connection working fine. pacman is no apt.
why no wireless tools on the install cd? what if my only way of connecting to the internet was through wireless?
why cant the kernel sources be included on the install cd? i have a couple of drivers that i have to compile against an actual kernel tree, and when i installed arch i had no idea if it was a stock kernel or if it had any patches (#arch on freenode did tell me it was stock)
i did love the simplicity of arch’s installation.
Just installed it, not a difficult setup. I can’t get networking to work, ls eth0 doesn’t find anything.
The only problems I have had with Arch so far is when I updated the XFree package and it overwrote my xinitrc. I’ve had worse problems with Gentoo deleting my configs. I couldn’t comment on the Gnome packages because I don’t use them.
I think they need better procedures for submitting and testing packages, but I don’t have many complaints. First time I’ve felt reasonably in control and confortable with Linux 😉
Make sure you add the correct kernel modules for your network adapter into /etc/rc.conf in the appropriate variable.
Another interresting thing in Arch Linux is the ArchStat project. THis little soft (pacman -Sy archstats) will allow you to send regularly to a server some data(you will allow) from your computer:
That data (send anonymously) will help maintainers to fit users needs
It also gives to everyone some interresting statistics data you can monitor (http://archstats.coding-zone.com/index.phtml?viewstats=y)
For users that want to help: run it !
You will have to find out what module to use. For example I use via-rhine for my laptop’s VIA chipset. Add this to the MODULES array in /etc/rc.conf, for example:
The network card modules are in /lib/modules/(kernel version)/kernel/drivers/net
This reminds me of another problem with Arch. If you update the kernel but forget to run lilo (if you use that), the old kernel will boot but it’s modules are not there so you can’t load them! I needed to boot a Linux CD and chroot to run lilo.
The only problems I have had with Arch so far is when I updated the XFree package and it overwrote my xinitrc.
Since there is no way pacman overwrote your ~/.xinitrc, I take it that you meant /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc. This problem is wat is called an user error. You should expect pacman to overwrite that file on upgrade. If you really wanted it not to, you could put ‘NoUpgrade = etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc’ in /etc/pacman.conf.
Since arch uses the vanilla linux kernel, its driver support is only as good as linux kernel, which means, in some areas, poor. For my Broadcom BCM4400 integrated ethernet card I had to download and compile Broadcom’s version since the kernel support for the card is rather poor. If you’re having problems with your card, I suggest trying the vendor for a driver.
Thanks, unfortunately it doesn’t work for me, but I’m not giving up just yet, I’ll try a few other things.
I think it’s safe to assume it was meant as a joke.
Arch has had LOTS of issues with packages lately. Some of it is their fault, such as GNOME. I’m a big Arch fan, but GNOME should have been tested more. For example, I helped test GNOME 2.4 for a week, and when the packages finally made it to -Current, they worked perfectly.
I can assure you though, these broken packages happen rarely. I have been running this install for over 7 months (from 0.5 to -Current) and it works perfectly. Pacman does work.
The other issue with packages is OpenSSL. OpenSSL links by version number, so when you update, any package that depends on OpenSSL has to be rebuilt. This was about 80 at last count, and it takes a while to rebuild loads of packages.
Anyway, Arch packages definitely need more testing, and I’ve set up a proposal at:
I hope the developers listen and implement a better testing scheme.
Nah, it’s just a troll.
Then, what is the the point of the xinitrc script? It is configuration, right? I want KDE to start with startx for all users without duplication this with .xinitrc (but don’t want to use KDM).
I used bcm5700 on Gentoo for my PC’s broadcom chip, I was a bit shocked to find that Arch didn’t have it. Turns out that it was an official driver that hadn’t made it into the main kernel. I found a module called tg3 which seemed to work.
Heh, who is running with 1K memory? 😉
Arch has been a good learning tool for this “dirty old man” of 79 years.
I found it easiest with ARCH to install all packages except gnome, kde from the .iso CD.
Then upgrade immeadiately to the latest kernel. One important element in this regard is if lilo is selected for the bootloader, every change in Kernel requires a redo of lilo and a rerun to set it…easy to forget the rerun!!!!
I have the latest kernel 2.6.5 and have mplayer, kde, and ramdisk running. In ramdisk I can run 850MB of divx movies without using the hard drive.
Setting up XFree86 can be daunting if you aren’t careful with the typing!!
Pacman is great!!!
Blessings on the fellas designing the distro!!!
Here is some news from the hom page, perhaps in response to Eugenia’s email to Judd?
We’ve been making some pretty big package updates lately, packages that in turn affect many other packages. So it seems to be a good time to unveil our special testing repository. Testing is a special repository, in that it holds packages that will eventually graduate to one of the other three repos (Current, Extra, or Unstable).
Testing packages are easy to spot because they always have a special package release designation. Instead of a normal “-1” or “-2” style, testing packages will appear as “-1t1”, “-1t2”, etc.
If you wish to help us test out new and potentially broken packages, you can activate testing by putting it above your other repositories in pacman.conf:
Server = ftp://ftp.archlinux.org/testing
Warning: these packages will be about as unstable as it gets. Only use this repo if you want to help the developers test packages. The more people to help test, the quicker we can get the new packages into the main repos.
and before Eugenia’s mail.
X 11R6 [freedesktop’s X server GPL-compatible implementation lived under the testing dir in the ftp server]
everyone should try the above package, it works out of the box
I just used the force command to get Gnome to upgrade to 2.6 from 2.4. Not a problem but then because of Arch, I decided to wipe Windows from my Hard Drive so I re-installed Arch Linux on a clean drive and it was a piece of cake. The only thing is with kernel updates which I do with abs instead of pacman cause I build a K7 SMP kernel for my system and wan’t the souces for Nvidia driver builds. Pretty simple and the system flies.
Only thing holding my system back is my old 30gig drive. The rest rocks, need to go to a Western Digital SATA Raptor drive I think and also want a USB2 HD for my downloads and music. USB2 Drives work a treat. Gnome 2.6 is very stable for me and fast. Everything works except totem but that’s not Arch’s problem, thats a problem with totem. Now I understand what I’m doing in Linux and I have a distro without all the garbage, just what I want on it. (-;
>Everything works except totem but that’s not Arch’s problem, thats a problem with totem
This is where you are wrong.
The problem IS with Arch. The package has the problem, but the package is part of the whole _experience_, that IS called Arch Linux.
Totem on my slackware or Fedora works great, it is only on Arch that has a problem. Rhythmbox also works great on my Slackware and Fedora, but on Arch it doesn’t. That’s why I must protest, that you should see the whole thing as an OVERALL product and not as “packages”. The full experience matters, not just the kernel. And in this regard, Arch has a lot of patching to do.
I’ve had worse problems with Gentoo deleting my configs.
Gentoo doesn’t delete your configs, YOU DO. If you use etc-update and overwrite all your files then it’s your fault not Gentoo’s. The only time I had a problem with config files with Gentoo was when I didn’t know what I was doing and overwrote my configs with etc-update.
Then, what is the the point of the xinitrc script? It is configuration, right? I want KDE to start with startx for all users without duplication this with .xinitrc (but don’t want to use KDM).
Maybe I was a bit too harsh on you in my post. I hope you noticed how I also tried to help out, though.
The thing is that normally all files installed by a package get overwritten on upgrade. If the file is one that most people would edit the package maintainer can make that file get backed up before it’s overwritten. Since most people use ~/.xinitrc instead of editing /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc that file is not set up for backup. Like I mentioned in the other post, however, you can configure pacman to not overwrite it on your system.
Hope this helps,