Sunday, October 26, 2008

Arch Linux Report Card

As I mentioned in a previous post, I trashed my Arch Linux installation in the process of reinstalling Windows Vista (it's a long story... read it if you like.) Anyway, prior to that event, I had been fairly happy with Arch. Here is a report card I wrote prior to "losing it":

"I've used Kubuntu, Mepis, PCLinuxOS, but was irked by all the bloat, as well as the need to wait for the next "Intrepid Ibex" or whatever. I looked for a trim distro that had up to date KDE 4.1 and rolling release.

I would warn off anyone who is afraid of command line, or who hasn't done a few Linux installations: this install is not for the faint of heart. You will not do this installation without a considerable amount of reading, learning, and a hiccup or two along the way. If you do not have a second machine available to browse the beginner's guide during the installation, BE SURE to print it out! It is 45 to 60 pages, depending on how you set your margins, text size, etc. Yes you need it!

I'm quite pleased with the results. After a week or so of messing around, I've created a very attractive and functional desktop, with access to cutting edge versions of nearly all the applications I have been accustomed to using: OpenOffice, Gimp, Blender, Firefox, Flashplayer 10 beta, Dolphin file manager, Kmail, etc.

Shaman is a capable replacement for Synaptic, although I despise the name. In addition to pacman there is yaourt, a command line tool which also gives access to Arch Linux's AUR (Arch User Repository, I think), providing a somewhat automated package building process for a wider range of packages than are available through the normal arch repositories. This is where I had to go for Bibletime and Sword packages.

Nice job, Arch Linux!"

I still feel the same about Arch, I'm just not willing to go through the pain of setting it all up again. The incredible thing about it was that after installing just about everything I needed, I still had less than 700 packages installed. Compare that to my former Kubuntu 8.04 installation at about 1400, or my current Mepis 8 installation with 1043.

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