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…
ArchLinux quotes itself as being “an i686-optimized linux distribution targeted at competent linux users.” Part of its philosophy is that by not providing you with lots of configuration utilities, you are forced to “learn the ropes” and you will benefit from the additional knowledge acquired. A sensible approach you may think, and is fine for experienced and/or fearless techies. You know that this isn’t going to be the distro to recommend to your mother! But, I wouldn’t say ArchLinux is elitist as some readers may fear. Sure, you will be frowned upon (to put it mildly) if you ask questions in the forums that are blatantly answered in the main documentation.
However, expecting users to actually edit the appropriate config files manually isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.
Obviously, the choice of one’s operating system is subjective. I
know a lot of people who are using the “perfect” OS, but
each system is different. Perfection, I suppose, is therefore
relative to your past experience and current/future needs. Let’s be
clear, I like ArchLinux, so I feel it best to give some background
and discuss my OS requirements.
Nowadays, I’m studying towards a PhD within the School
of Computing at the University
of Leeds, UK. I spend a lot of time programming in Java
and Python. Browsing the web and
emailing are surely a given. I write my documents in Latex
or OpenOffice and in the
background I normally have an instant messaging client running plus
an mp3 player.
I’ve been running Linux in some form for about 8 years. If my
memory serves me correctly, Red Hat 5.2 was the first distro I
installed on my PC. My switch to Linux being my primary OS came
shortly after I started my computer science degree back in 1999.
Since then, I have played with many versions from mainstream Linux
vendors, namely Red Hat/Fedora,
Suse and Mandrake.
A year or so ago, I tried Gentoo.
Admittedly, I was worried about getting the thing on my PC as I
didn’t have a pretty graphical installer to walk me through. But it
turned out not to be that bad at all! And once up and running, I
thought I had found the perfect Linux distro. The Portage
package management system was great (and still is fantastic), yet my
poor old Athlon 600 was showing its age, and having to compile all
the entire OS (plus updates) tried my patience a little too much. I
had stuck with Gentoo for a while, but eventually, it had to go, and
Suse took over.
A few months ago, I bought myself a shiny new laptop, with plenty
of processing power and more than my fair share of RAM. Yet, Gentoo
was no longer on the cards. Sure, Gentoo has some pre-compiled
binaries for popular packages, but to be honest, I still believed
that all the compiling was too much of a hassle. So, over the past
few months, I have embarked on a mini-mission to find my New
Favourite Linux Distro.
So, what were my requirements? Basically, all I want is good
package management. Naturally, a good selection of packages need
to be available too. What my experience with Gentoo taught me was
that being able to easily maintain the software was the
killer-feature that I had been missing all that time with the
RPM-based systems. But, no compiling, unless I want to!
Speed and stability are also secondary factors. Although, I’m willing
to take some risks with the stability side of things by running
relatively up-to-date packages.
I feel pretty comfortable installing Linux nowadays. I’m not
saying that I could install Linux from the command line with my eyes
closed or anything, but as long as there is some half-decent
documentation, I feel that I could get by. I am in fact happy to
invest the time with a more “hands on” install as long
the the resulting system is what I want.
At this point, I expect many readers are thinking “Debian”
or “Slackware”. Both are well-established distros and I
was tempted by both. I had heard anecdotally that Slackware’s package
management is rather simplistic, e.g., no dependency resolution. (I
love how the Slackware
entry in Wikipedia
describes this as a “unique” feature!) Naturally, 3rd
party tools like Swaret
came into existence to remedy this, but I was still put off. I did
try a Debian-based system in the shape of SimplyMepis.
I was very impressed with the simplicity of installation. It begins
as a liveCD that you boot from and a fully functional KDE desktop is
loaded. If you wish, you can then click an icon and you follow a
little wizard, and before you know it, Mepis is installed! It was the
easiest and quickest install I had performed and I expect this
approach will become increasingly common in the near future. However,
the main attraction with Mepis (for me) is that you have access to
the vast Debian repositories, accessible through the well-known
apt-get tool. Things ran smoothly with Mepis. The Apt
system wasn’t as great as I had expected, although admittedly I
wasn’t overly familiar. Debian
has a reputation for being a tad too safe with packages it considers
‘stable’. So trying to update KDE 3.2 to 3.3 wasn’t as
straightforward. Anyway, there was nothing really wrong with
Mepis, but I just had this little itch as I recalled a review
I read ages ago about ArchLinux. I thought, “right, I’ll give
it a try, and if it doesn’t work out, then I quickly stick Mepis back
on.” Well, I’ve not had that urge yet!
NB, before anyone exclaims “But what about FreeBSD?”,
my answer is that it’s not Linux, is it?!
For this review I’ll be discussing ArchLinux 0.7 beta (Wombat). To
be fair, version numbers don’t really play a significant role like
they do with other distributions. I recall as a Red Hat user, I would
always be looking forward to the next release so that I could benefit
from updated packages. Unless I’m very much mistaken, ArchLinux
releases are little more than snapshots of the current and extra
repositories. Of course, you get the installer to with the release,
which I expect is improved for each iteration. Otherwise, once you
have it installed, its package management utility will keep you
The first thing to do is make sure you have read the installation
documentation. You’ll quickly discover that there are two
possible CD images. One is a base install, which provides you with
all the basic components to give a basic ArchLinux system. The other
is a larger image that comes with many additional packages. I opted
for the base installation, as intended to go for an FTP install. So,
download and burn. And whilst that is going on, read the rest of the
I booted up my laptop with the freshly burned disc. Incidentally,
my laptop is a Dell Inspiron 8600. No fancy hardware so I didn’t
anticipate and problems. The specs are: Intel 735 M processor
(1.7GHz), 1Gb RAM, 80Gb HD, CD/DVD writer, ATI Radeon 9600 128MB
graphics card,1280×1024 LCD screen. ArchLinux booted and a command
prompt beckoned. You then need to type /arch/setup to get
the show on the road. And then, what do you know, a curses-based text
installer! See, they don’t expect you to do everything at the
You are first asked for your installation method. I wanted the FTP
install. This takes you to network setup screen where it
automatically loaded my network card module and configured my network
via DHCP. You’ll then be expected to prepare the hard drive. For me,
that wasn’t difficult as it has already been set up from previous
Linux installations. So, I simply re-used my old partitions. There is
an “Automatically partition your hard drive” option – I’m
sure it would have done a fine job. Next was to then select the
filesystem types and mount points. This led my first head-scratching
moment. I am used to the /dev/hda* approach of the old
school /dev device tree. ArchLinux does use DevFS but it
apparently sticks to the ‘default’ device tree. This means /dev/hda1
is instead represented as /dev/discs/disc0/part1. Ok, it’s
not the hardest thing to get your head around, but at the time, I was
unfamiliar and so just hoped that part1 was hda1,
part2 was hda2, etc (which it is!)
Next is the simple task of selecting packages. I selected the base
system only. The following step is to explicitly install them, which
is composed of selecting a mirror, then the packages are downloaded
and installed. Choosing your kernel is the next step in the setup
program. You can choose either the 2.4 or 2.6 version. And within,
you are offered IDE, SCSI or build from source. It’s recommended in
the documentation to leave your tweaking until after the basic system
is up and running, which seems sensible to me. I choose the 2.6 IDE
“Configure System” is the next option on the setup
menu. Within is a list of various config files that are free to edit.
You could skip this section, but you will probably need to come back
to these files at some point, so you may as well get it over and done
with! I edited the rc.conf file, specifying my timezone,
keymap, and various network related things, such as hostname and
enabled DHCP. I also removed a couple of daemons that I know I don’t
need at the moment. I then looked at my Grub configuration in
menu.lst. I added an additional entry so I could boot my
Windows partition. Finally I added an entry in the fstab
file to automatically mount my media partition. This is a
large vfat (fat32) partition consisting largely of mp3s so that I can
listen to music regardless of which OS I’m currently in.
Happy with my configuration files, the final step was to install
the boot loader. You do get a choice of Grub
or Lilo, but as you will
have guessed I use the former. Pick where you want to install –
I always go for the MBR on the primary drive, which translates to
/dev/discs/disc0/disc. Done! Exit setup and reboot.
The OS booted with no obvious problems and was greeted with a
command-line login-prompt. Logged in as root which required no
password. Quickly rectified that with passwd. I then added
my first user account. It’s worth mentioning from the outset that if
you’re setting up a desktop PC where you want to listen to music and
watch DVDs, then it’s worth making sure that you add necessary users
to the audio and optical groups too.
Thought I may as well stay as root as I need to add a
whole load of packages so that I can have my typical desktop
workstation. This is where I get to experiment with the infamous
pacman – the heart of ArchLinux’s package management.
Unfortunately, at this point it became apparent that I had no network
connection to my router. The module for my network card hadn’t been
loaded. So, back to the /etc/rc.conf file and added by
network module “b44” to the MODULES
section. Rebooted and all was well.
Now, back to pacman. The first thing to do is sync
yourself with the current package database, pacman -Sy. If
you were installing packages from the CD, you may be better with a
pacman -Syu which will also upgrade any packages which have
inevitably become outdated since the CD was compiled.
Getting X installed was my first task. pacman -S xorg
went without a hitch. Running xorgconfig helps to produce a
working xorg.conf. (Make sure you know your monitor vertical
and horizontal refresh settings!) There was another DevFS trap here
which I fell into. I forgot that the mouse (well, touchpad in this
instance) was no longer on the default /dev/mouse but mapped
to /dev/input/mice. X would completely freeze whilst loading
until I figured that one out! Installing KDE 3.3 with the British
locale files was straightforward though (pacman -S kdebase
kde-i18n-en_gb), only needing to edit ~/.xinitrc to set
KDE as my WM.
As far as I can tell, the only modifications to KDE that ArchLinux
packagers have made are the default wallpaper which is a custom
ArchLinux background, and they have also added a menu set within
KMenu containing hyperlinks to various ArchLinux web pages. The
anti-aliased fonts option is not enabled by default, so I promptly
changed that (I can’t imagine anyone who would prefer jagged fonts to
anti-aliased fonts.) I also downloaded the MS fonts package (pacman
-S ttf-ms-fonts). The Bitstream Vera fonts were already there. I’m
not sure what package they were part of as there doesn’t appear to be
a ttf-bitstream-vera package as expected.
I’m happy using KMail and KNode that come with KDE, so no extra
effort required there. For instant messaging, once again I opt for
the KDE supplied package, Kopete, which allows me to log in to
multiple IM protocols all within the same application. The main
difference between Kopete and Gaim that I have noticed is that Kopete
obviously integrates better with KDE. The KDE web browser, Konqueror
is pretty good and is improving all the time. However, for pure web
browsing, Mozilla Firefox is my favourite. pacman -S
mozilla-firefox will sort that out. (Kitting out my browser with
the various multimedia plugins is discussed in the next section.) IRC
is supported by Kopete, but I find the interface to be rather
awkward. Pacman had no problem downloading and installing Xchat.
Additionally, I need an ssh client so that I can remotely log into my
Linux account at university to read email, grab files, etc. (pacman
Unfortunately, you are not spoilt choice when it comes to
BitTorrent clients. Not there is anything significantly wrong with
the standard BitTorrent client,
but there are some alternatives that are increasingly popular such as
BitTornado or Azureus
that offer additional functionality. The bittorrent package
was fine for me though (CTorrent
is the only alternative) – but don’t expect the installation to
automagically configure your browser so that clicking a torrent link
will open the BitTorrent client!
Finally, for the P2P enthusiasts out there, once again you are
hardly in for a dilemma over which of the available packages to
install. I normally use Limewire
but this doesn’t exist as an official ArchLinux package. So, for the
first time I put pacman to one side and installed Limewire
myself using its perfectly adequate installer. aMule,
and xMule are the officially
My preference for media players is Amarok.
This took a little bit of time to get going though. pacman -S
amarok will grab the package plus its gstreamer package
dependency. What it doesn’t do is install any of the gStreamer
plugins needed to decode various music formats. Amarok would load,
and it would show you all your MP3s, but try adding to the playlist
and nothing would happen. I had a feeling it had something to do with
gStreamer and discovered a package called gst-plugins. This
sounded important, so off I went and installed. No difference! I
looked again at more gStreamer related packages and found
gst-plugins-mad which is the MP3 decoder for gStreamer. I
installed it and then MP3 playing worked.
I occasionally like to watch one of my DVDs on my laptop. To grab
Xine, pacman -S xine-lib xine-ui
was the route I took. The libdvdcss package needs installing
if you want to watch encrypted DVDs – which I did.
Unfortunately, every time I tried to play my disc an error popped up
about not being able to read the source. This transpired to be a
simple problem of Xine’s default path for the DVD device being
/dev/dvd. For my system, under the ‘default’ device scheme,
it is in fact /dev/cdroms/cdrom0.
Finally, to complete my multimedia setup, I installed MPlayer.
All the non-Linux native codecs (Windows Media, Real, QuickTime, etc)
are found in the codecs package, and had already been
installed as a dependency of xine-libs. Although Mplayer is
effectively duplicating Xine, I like it because it is easy to combine
with my browser so that I can view media files over the web. This is
achieved by installing the mplayer-plugin package that
integrates MPlayer as a plugin to any Mozilla-based browser.
One aspect I always fear with the more “do it yourself”
distros is CD burning. It’s the one thing that I always hope that it
simply works out of the box. With no disrespect to ArchLinux, I was
anticipating problems in this area: the wiki had a CD burning section
that was empty except for “This tutorial has been removed
because it does no longer work”. A browse through the forums
will also yield tales of CD burning woe. And I did experience
problems, but they were all my fault! The short version of the story
(excluding details of broken media!), I installed my preferred
burning software, k3b (pacman
-S k3b) and burned a disc as easily as you expect. This, by the
way, was under my standard user name and not as root.
As I mentioned, Latex is my preferred system for producing
documents, which is made available via the tetex package. I
sometimes use Lyx which is a Latex
GUI frontend. Pacman -S lyx grabbed that, but also installed
tetex as well since it’s obviously a dependency. To view output, I
needed a Postscript viewer (pacman -S gv) and a PDF viewer
(pacman -S acroread). Ok, I know that gv will view PDF files
too, but I like Acroread, so I may as well install it. In hindsight,
I was glad I did because it installed the PDF browser plugin which is
useful as my research means I read many online publications.
I occasionally have the need for various office applications –
of which OpenOffice fits the bill. Because I require British
localisation and spell-checking, I require a couple of extra
packages, and pacman openoffice-base openoffice-en
openoffice-spell-en did the job. For those who like to live life
on the edge, the OpenOffice2 development packages are in the
ArchLinux unstable repository.
By this stage, my current favourite language, Python (v2.4) was
already installed – I reckon it probably got dragged in with
the KDE install. Java is the other main language I use. pacman -S
j2sdk will install the Java SDK (v1.5) for you. Vim has been my
editor of choice for the past 5 years and I needed the X version
adding (pacman -S gvim). I sometimes use Eclipse for larger
Java projects (pacman -S eclipse).
So far I have only really described package management in terms of
installing new packages. There is a lot more to it, and since Pacman
is such an intrinsic component of ArchLinux, I thought I ought to
discuss package management a little more deeply.
Like most package management systems, there exist some package
repositories that are hosted somewhere on the net. Arch Linux has
current, extra, testing and unstable.
According to the documentation, by default, Pacman only knows about
current which provides your basic system components. If you want a
graphical desktop and multimedia functionality, etc., you’ll need to
configure Pacman to use extra too. I must confess, I don’t
recall having to change anything in /etc/pacman.conf to
achieve this. Of course, if I did then it was only a matter of
uncommenting one line, which is maybe why my memory is failing me.
Alternatively, maybe the Pacman developers have stopped being so
conservative and are now providing extra by default too, but
the documentation team haven’t kept up! Testing and unstable
are pretty obvious in their purpose, and I must admit that I’m not
that interested in experimenting with their contents just yet! The
first job you must do is get in sync with your chosen repositories
should you choose to download from them, which is done with pacman
Before you can commence installing, you have to know the package
names as they are stored in the repositories, otherwise Pacman won’t
know what you’re asking for. The basic approach is using the -Ss
<string> argument which will return any packages that
contain the string in their names or descriptions, e.g.,
$ pacman -Ss p2p
aMule is a eMule-like client for ed2k p2p network
A bridge between P2P protocols and front-ends.
A complete, fully featured Gnutella P2P client
An easy to use, multi-platform clone of the eMule P2P filesharing client
Within a repository, packages are often divided into categories, such
as daemons, editors, games, etc. ArchLinux packages follow such a
scheme, but I have yet to find a way, via pacman to get
access to this information. So, for example, you want to search to
see all the possible editors available in the current repository.
This type of query is only available via the ArchLinux
package search web page. Still, maybe it’s not the sort of
feature Pacman developers thought you need since you are supposed to
be a competent user, and therefore know the names of the packages you
want to install, rather than just browse. Maybe my browsing habits
stem from my Gentoo days which had a fairly fine-grain package tree
stored locally in /usr/portage. I used to look through and
when I’d see something that looked interesting that I never heard of
before, I would emerge it and play with it for a while.
Anyway, once who know what you want, you have seen how easy it is
to install, and all dependencies will be satisfied. It’s worth noting
that systems such as apt-get with Debian have a reputation
for being a little over-zealous and installing masses of packages,
some of which seem to have no relevance. ArchLinux has been praised
for being more streamlined in this respect, however, is equally at
risk. This is because this issue is not the really down to the
dependency checking algorithms, it is due to the package maintainer
going overboard on specifying more dependencies than are actually
needed. ArchLinux package maintainers do have a nice system for
specifying runtime dependencies and compilation dependencies to help
ensure that only the necessary packages are installed.
Removing packages is also a doddle. You get a variety of options.
pacman -R foo will remove the package foo, but
leave any configuration files associated with it. pacman -Rn foo
will remove package and config files. Of course, the package that you
wish to remove may have installed dependencies that are no longer
required by any other package. The command pacman -Rs foo
removes recursively, and will remove any dependencies if they are not
required. There is another option, the “cascade” option,
which as far as I can gather will remove target package, plus
dependencies, regardless of whether they are required by other
packages! Of course, I could be wrong – but I’ve not had the
guts to try it in fear it’ll mess something up!
It’s worth noting that by default, if and when a new version of
the Linux kernel is released and uploaded to the current
repository, the next time you run the update command (pacman
-Syu), this version will be installed and overwrite your current
kernel. Now, in theory, I like this idea. I personally like to keep
up-to-date with the Linux kernel, so how handy is it that Pacman just
upgrades you with very little effort. However, in practise, you can
see it really opens itself up for problems. I seem to recall how
kernel 2.6.8 seemed to break CD burning for non-root users. You can
prevent prevent any package being upgraded if you explicitly add it
to your /etc/pacman.conf file (in this instance:
IgnorePkg=kernel26), although I personally think this should
be the default, and for users who know what they are doing, can
comment out that line if they are happy with the consequences.
Additionally, perhaps the ArchLinux developers who maintain the
kernel package could write a script that backs up the old kernel so
that it would be easier to recover should a serious problem occur
with the upgraded kernel.
The other aspect of package management is the Arch
Build System. It is this system that allows users to build new
packages that can be installed with Pacman. It is also possible to
recompile existing packages to amend the configure arguments, or to
use alternative compiler flags. This is a substantial topic on its
own and so I won’t cover it any further – I simply wanted to
highlight that these features do exist.
Speaking for myself – although I doubt I’m alone –
when I am thinking about switching distros, I like to know what the
support is like. I typically look for two things: installation
documentation and forums. This is important – I recall spending
ages deliberating over whether to install SimplyMepis because its
documentation was so sparse. The ArchLinux Installation
Guide was a decent guide. I imagine its difficult to get the
balance right between providing all the information you could
possibly require, verses the need to make it actually readable! I was
impressed on how good a job the documenters had done producing a
relatively concise guide covering a lot of detail (32 pages if
printed compared to Gentoo’s 113!). Perhaps they were lucky in being
able to expect a high level of competency from their readers. The
guide could be even shorter as in my opinion the introduction to
compiling your own packages using the Arch Build System doesn’t
really need to be included with installation material. This could
easily be made into a separate document.
The forums are very good. At the time of writing there are almost
2800 registered users who have read/contributed to some 58,000
articles. The groups are divided into 4 main sections: General
for security advisories, announcements and off-topic discussions;
Arch Linux section has the typical boards for installation,
Arch Linux general discussion, desktop environments, etc; A Pacman
section for boards discussing how to make packages, package requests,
etc; and finally a general GNU/Linux section for general
Linux discussion. I must admit, I think the boards could be tweaked a
bit, for example I have already made a request for a multimedia board
since non-hardware related sound/video issues are scattered around in
Installation or Workstation User boards – whatever that means.
That aside, the forums are now well packed with a wealth of
information which should answer most questions already.
There is an additional wiki
which I used frequently during the post-install period as it provides
lots of handy guides on how to get most aspects of your system up and
running, such as X, window managers, sound, compiling your own
kernel, etc. There is a general discussion mailing-list, which is
archived. There are ArchLinux channels on IRC (in 4 languages) and
finally a weekly newsletter to keep you up-to-date with the latest
When I started using Linux I initially found it difficult. The
only way to become knowledgeable was to study the man pages, but the
only way you could understand them was to be knowledgeable! And
perhaps this ‘chicken or egg’ situation arises here with ArchLinux
(and any distro that expects experienced users).
One thing I think ArchLinux needs to do is spend a bit of time
defining what they mean by a “competent linux user”. I
would not consider myself as such, but do I become competent by
starting off with Linspire, then Knoppix, then Suse and slowly keep
graduating towards more ‘serious’ distributions? Or do you just jump
in to the deep end, and get straight on with learning about
partitioning, bootloaders and kernels?
It’s at this point that I find myself confused as to whether I
wholeheartedly support the ArchWay.
Let me first start by saying that I do admire ArchLinux. It’s not
trying to be the perfect distro that appeals to everyone. It’s not
trying to be the #1 most popular system. It is the result of a
dedicated team working from scratch to make their ideal
Yet, ArchLinux will always have a get-out clause should users ever
have difficulties/issues, e.g., automatic upgrading of kernels. The
competence prerequisite means that users have to deal with it
themselves, because they’re competent, right? I think I’d be happier
if the ArchWay was (openly) a little more encouraging towards helping
novice users become “competent”, rather than the less
appealing ‘come back when you’re more experienced’ vibe that it still
So after that install-athon, what is ArchLinux like to use? And is
it worth all the hassle? Well, from my experience, ArchLinux is
fantastic! It’s streamlined, it’s fast and it’s robust. If you think
about it, most Linux distros are essentially the same core
components/libraries/tools and applications. What differentiates
distros is how easy it is to get those bits onto your hardware, and
then how to maintain and extend your system from then on. And it’s
the latter where ArchLinux exceeds. Installing new packages is a
doddle and takes very little time.
Naturally, the ArchLinux system install will be off-putting to
those new to Linux. But, in many respects, despite using Linux for
many years, until I took the plunge with Gentoo last year, I was new
to installing Linux without the safety net of a GUI installer doing
most of the leg-work. I personally found it not to be too difficult
at all – providing you follow the documentation. The likes of
Fedora/Suse/Xandros are always working towards making Linux simpler,
(which is not a bad thing) but it’s very unlikely that a similar
trend will grip ArchLinux development. It’s not anti-GUI per se,
merely anti- anything that takes too much control away from the user,
and I dare say that this will be their philosophy for a long time.
At the end of the day, the ArchLinux developers have produced a
system that I really enjoy. It all works! The package management is
simple yet effective. The community is friendly and knowledgeable. I
do hope to learn more about Linux and I like that ArchLinux
effectively forces me to learn.
About the author
Andrew Roberts is a computer science graduate from the University of Leeds, UK. He remained at Leeds to study further towards a PhD in Natural Language Processing. He has been using Linux for almost 8 years.
If you would like to see your thoughts or experiences with technology published, please consider writing an article for OSNews.
…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…
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.
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…
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.
Your story is like a mirror of my own. Excellent article.
Well, it sounds like Slackware experience to me. 🙂 Arch sounds useful, too bad I have no time to play with it.
“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.
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.
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! 😉
…has found a distro. he can live with.
An Arch user too! Ace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!?
/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.
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 http://tldp.org 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 -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)
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.
http://www.gobolinux.org try something different.
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
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
This prints out all of the hardware it reads.
to generate a customized man page to help you configure your hardware.
which gives you a nice enhanced ‘di’ output as well as memory and swap state.
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*…
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)
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.
“competent linux users” – “users that knows how to enter http://bbs.archlinux.org and how to use it with profit for himself”
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.
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.
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.
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 ).
“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.
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!
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.
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….
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 😀
After reading this, I want to try it again.
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].
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.
Arch is officially Udev to my knowledge, although it always breaks my system when I turn off devfs.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
” 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..
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…