22 March 2009

Arch Linux

Sitting catching up with a weeks worth of news feeds I happened across a couple of Arch reviews ...


I have now been using Arch for about 3 months and love it. I have been using Debian for, erm, a "few" years and still love it but there where a few reasons I started to look at alternatives. The main thing was the KDE4 support. That means up to date KDE4 support not KDE 4.0. I also wanted the rest of my packages to be pretty much upto date and not have to wait months after a release to find it in apt. I did want to keep the rolling release and excellent package management. I'd also like to keep some level of reliabilty.

After doing some reading and ruling out Kubuntu (too close to Debian and IMHO too second class in the *buntu family) and SuSE (odd pakage management... too many package managers?!?!?!) I narrowed it down to Slackware and Arch and from the reading I did Arch come out as favourite down to pakage management and KDE4. I know I could have used gslapt and the various Slack KDE4 packages or even installed from source but some times you just want ease of use.

So I spent 3 weeks reading the Arch wiki and installing it! ha ha ha!!

I initialy installed it on my old Thinkpad (R40e) and that went easy enough and I was soon running the KDE mod pakages with no problems. So I backed up home and installed on Gonzo my main R60 Thinkpad. It was not so much the difficulty in installing the system (it really isn't difficault and is very very well documented) but more the "oh thats how that works....." or "ahhh... thats the config file for ....". I ended up reading up on every stage and I can say hand on heart I learnt a lot about Linux and how a distro hangs together. It was a very worth while 3 weeks and the ability to pick and choose which pakages you have is great. You feel like you've built the distro you want rather than installing one you have been given.

That said you also appreciate the work that the distro makers put in to save you the hassle. Additionaly you appreciate the fact that they have to worry about every combination of hardware and pakage rather than just making it work one package at a time on one laptop.

Do I have any gripes about Arch. Yes.... of course I do. Firstly the standard KDE 4 pakages I am running on Gonzo do not include KNetManager. You can try and run the package in AUR but I did not have much success and found WICD to be a good replacement. Amarok 2 does not for some reason seem to be in the offical pakages .... yet (please feel free to tell me if I am wrong).

On the whole though I can not fault Arch. I look forward to using it for some time

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