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Thread: Arch Linux -- My first week

  1. #1
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    Arch Linux -- My first week

    So I finally did it -- my first Arch install. No I didn't abandon Ubuntu -- far from it -- I just wanted to see how the other side lives in a "more advanced distro". Here are my general impressions for any one else considering a similar experiment

    Arch -- it can be complicated. I've used Ubuntu for a long time - 5 or more years and really like the command line. Most terminal commands are not foreign to me, and if they are, I'm very comfortable with how to find help. My first impression is that you actually have to configure everything about Arch and your hardware manually (well almost everything). The Arch beginner guide wiki is very well written -- don't skip any steps, however its somewhat incomplete?? if you have problems with your hardware. Getting the main system up and running particularly if you have an ethernet cable is actually pretty quick. Your left with a tty terminal for a log in. But that is where basically the guide ends and a little bit of the work (and frustration starts). Getting the wireless adapter up and running is always a pain, but doable, but the commands for configuring the adapter are just slightly different than in ubuntu -- a process whereby I know what I want to do, but I've got to look up the exact syntax for the commands.

    Configuring the video adapter -- yet another 4-5 hour experiment. I have a radeon 3650 "legacy" graphics card. I took me a while -- meaning a few hours -- to actually discover that the catalyst legacy drivers don't actually with the most recent versions of the linux kernel. This information isn't really specified in black and white anywhere. I ended up defaulting back to the open source drivers. A process that was easy, but I ended up wasting a lot of time

    Desktop and window manager -- I currently still run the 11.10 Ubuntu version. On this system I run gnome-fallback with compiz. It took me awhile to get the system fine tuned to how I wanted it. When new versions of Ubuntu are released, I usually just install from scratch, however this means I'm just reinventing the wheel again when it comes to installing a different desktop than the now default Unity. I've done this every release since Edgy Eft. Frankly I've become crabby at doing the same thing over and over. When installing Arch (as with Ubuntu), you can choose whatever desktop you want (yes and window manager). I can't say I've ever had to install these items from scratch before except for my brief dabble with E17. It definitely takes a few hours to get things tweaked to how you want it - and I'm not sure I'll ever be done tweaking. For those interested I'm currently running Cinnamon.

    Some of the fun and frustration at the same time is that I'm setting things up which I've actually taken for granted with the Ubuntu installation. A lot of the information on the web in general is Ubuntu centered -- very Ubuntu centered and more applicable to the apt packaging system. Arch documentation is usually a lot more scant, and I can't say I've found their forums to be overly friendly. Arch uses pacman which is a wonderful piece of package management software. Yaourt is another tool to access the AUR -- yet another gem. One of main problems however is setting systems to run at start. Ubuntu uses Upstart -- a process I've become very comfortable with -- even writing upstart scripts which are very straightforward. Arch uses systemmd -- something I'm still struggling to get my head around. Again the documentation is available, but its very technical and not for beginners.

    I'll stop my blogging here. Arch is definitely fun to see how another side lives, particularly a more advanced side and a distribution that adheres to a rolling release cycle which hopefully will keep me on the cutting edge but also not force me to keep upgrading every 6 months. It's definitely however not for beginners. Maybe I'll change my attitude with time -- as I do with most things in life as I become more comfortable with the new change.

  2. #2

    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    Hmm, seems you've had a lot more trouble than I have with hardware problems. Maybe I'm just more accustomed to the process.

    See you on the other side. Hopefully you get your Citrix issues straightened out

  3. #3
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    I always had problems with wireless drivers, and I have never been bothered to get it to work if Ubuntu has no problems for me on that side , especially since Arch seems to have less of a community than Ubuntu (their forums, as you mentioned).

    I hope to eventually make enough time to test out Arch (again?) sometime soon, but as for now, I'm happy with Ubuntu.

  4. #4
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    Thanks for that post, kevdog -- enjoyed it quite a bit. I've never tried Arch and probably never will, but who knows?

  5. #5
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    Arch documentation is definitely "just the facts, ma'am". The Beginners Guide is just that, so any specific hardware issues will be covered in separate articles, rather than duplicated in the installation pages. For example, the Wireless page covers the firmware (where required), and any quirks, and you would be expected to locate and read that.

    The forums are definitely lessy chatty than here, but typically of better technical content, as the users are, on average, somewhat more advanced

  6. #6
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    I see a lot of people on here are also running Arch. Always been curious but never went ahead and tried it

  7. #7
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    Update:

    Speaking like a newbie using Arch, however its not all that different than Ubuntu. Yes the setup is more work since you have to really know your system, however once things are setup, iptables, libreoffice, firefox, etc are the same no matter what linux distribution you are using.

    One big difference is package management -- pacman vs apt. I'll probably be able to comment more on this in detail the more I use pacman. I really like the apt packaging system. One thing that is really nice is the Arch AUR (Arch User Repository). If you like to compile things on the bleeding edge such as firefox nightly or chrome nightly or other programs that just don't make it into the official repositories, the AUR is a very useful dumping ground for such things. It really makes installing programs from git a piece of cake!!! Very simple!! I could see something like this being a very useful edition to apt.

  8. #8
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    For anyone who finds Arch too complicated to get started/installed, give http://www.cinnarch.com/ (CinnARCH) a try! All the benefits of Arch with easy full install that takes you right to Cinnamon DE.

    Now I've only tested this distro for a few hours, I prefer still prefer Arch on my work laptop and Ubuntu on some of my servers and wife's laptop.
    Hayden James
    Senior Linux SysAdmin
    haydenjames.io - Linux Performance Blog

  9. #9
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    I like arch, keep it stupid simple but hate systemd I prefer openrc (easy to git clone in ubuntu and get it setup).

    Honestly I wouldn't call it a more advanced distro, sure it does require you to modify some config files however recently since systemd you simply don't have to everything should work out of the box. Just install the proper drivers and your good to go. Don't try Unity on arch... it's a mess, it is in a somewhat usable state on gentoo but if you like unity well stay with ubuntu.

    You won't learn 'much' about linux from arch, you will learn 'somewhat more' on gentoo but if you really want to learn linux you may need a few weekends, a mr.coffee, about 6 cases of coke and mountain dew and probably call in sick to learn linux and install linux from scratch (it's honestly not that hard and I don't know why people find it hard, sure takes me a few hours because I'm installing linux manually but it's pretty simple)

    I mean if you want a more arch approach for ubuntu you can install ubuntu from scratch, where you just select the apps you want on your system.

    Don't forget to compile your kernels, stay away from the aur(it's a nightmare, the pkgbuilds most of the time are poorly written) stay within the official repos, I only use the aur for git packages.

    In terms of package management, there's only 2 great package management systems for linux they're called apt-get and portage. Packman is great, but remember arch started in 2002 and debian started way back in 1993(I think, or was it '94?)

    The new install is pretty straight forward it literally takes 5 minutes to install arch(not counting the download time for base and base-devel) just keep in mind, arch isn't about a stable system actually it's probably the best distro for testing things out I personally would not use it on a desktop because of that (use slackware and pacman or apt-get)

    Like I said, if you want to learn linux you simply won't with arch or even gentoo for the most part, the only way is to completely install linux from the ground up. I plan to when I have the time, my original experience with linux was installing it from scratch (stage 1) but a lot has changed since 1998.
    Last edited by Rukiri; January 28th, 2013 at 07:21 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Arch Linux -- My first week

    i was planning to install arch but after reading this I think I should stick with ubuntu only

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