Sunday, December 07, 2008

Trying Arch Linux

I've been hearing some good things about Arch Linux lately, and I wanted to see how it compares to Ubuntu, which I've been using for a few years now. I loaded up a new VMWare virtual machine and mounted the iso. Let's see how this goes...

I'll be following directions from this wiki page. So that I'm not completely lost.

  1. Boot menu comes up. Install? Okay. no graphical installer. We're going oldskool. Log in as root and run setup.
  2. Installation steps aren't too hard to follow. Partition the hard disk, let's use JFS for the first time (why not).
  3. Select packages, core packages are selected automatically, I press enter a few times, installation begins.
  4. Time to configure the system *yuck*, configuration files. Editing /etc/rc.conf. Make sure that eth0="dhcp". All done.
  5. Reboot. Login? Works. ping Works.
  6. pacman is the package manager. pacman -Syu to sync and update. klibc is complaining: file exists. I check the forums. Turns out I have to do rm /usr/lib/klibc/include/asm. Minus one for user-friendliness.
  7. Update works now. Time to add a user. useradd -m -G users,audio,lp,optical,storage,video,wheel,power -s /bin/bash archie. passwd archie.
  8. pacman -S sudo (we want sudo). EDITOR=nano visudo. Add archie ALL=(ALL) ALL.
  9. Install Alsa, works (seems like Arch isn't using pulseaudio in their tutorials/beginner's guide).
  10. On to Xorg - installing lots of stuff. Xorg -configure should do the trick for the configuration. Copy example xinitrc to my home, add exec xterm. Test.
  11. Mouse and keyboard aren't working. Let's try xorgconfig.
  12. Even worse, xorgcfg? Nope, still nothing. Starting to miss Ubuntu.
  13. Oops! I'm stupid, forgot to copy new config file to /etc/X11/xorg.conf...
  14. ... but still nothing. Forums again. Looks like someone else had this problem (also using VMWare). Install xf64-input-vmmouse, and execute hwd -x.
  15. hwd generates wrong xorg.conf files. Remove the line with RgbPath.
  16. Still nothing. Add Option "AllowEmptyInput" "false" to ServerLayout section.
  17. Finally! X works, I'm learning stuff already, but still: again one minus point for friendliness (although the community seems nice, and the documentation is actually not bad for a fairly small distro).
  18. Worst part is over, on to installing a desktop environment. Let's keep it simple and try Gnome.
  19. First some fonts. I add ttf-liberation into the mix, glad to see it's there.
  20. gnome, gnome-extra, gdm, downloading and installing. Takes a while.
  21. /etc/rc.conf again: adding hal, fam and gdm to daemons, and fuse to modules.
  22. Installing a bunch of gnome themes.
  23. Installing vlc, firefox, flash, and some other things.
  24. Login as user, edit xinit, exec gnome-session. And: startx!
  25. Gnome pops up, clean background, very minimalistic. But fast indeed.

Would I use it instead of Ubuntu for everyday tasks? Not at the moment.
Would I recommend it to novice friends and family? No.
Would I use it as a server? Perhaps.
Is it fast? Yes.
Would I use it on an outdated machine? Yes.
Does is show potential? Yes.