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GNU/Linux

Arch Linux is More Awesome Than I Previously Thought

with 23 comments

As an ardent Debian user, I’ve always admired the simplicity and stability of this incredible operating system. One of the things that I like about Debian is that I can download and install a netinst version and build up the whole OS from ground up with my preferred packages and apps. In this way, I ended up with an extremely stable Debian installation on my little EeePC netbook with very low footprint. However, since I had already got rid of my ancient, noisy and big desktop computer, the EeePC netbook was the only computer I had for the last few months. Therefore, buying a computer for more serious computing was on the to-do list for a while. Looking for a fairly decent second-hand laptop I came across this 3.5 years old Dell Inspiron 1520. Core 2 Due 2.2 GHz, 2GB Memory, nVidia 8600 GT Graphic Card. I suppose the system used to be a gaming machine in its better days. I was quite satisfied with the specification and $150 price tag so I decided to pick it up.

After turning on the computer, unsurprisingly, the monotonous loading bar of the Legacy OS (the vista kind) appeared on the screen. I think It took a solid 10 minutes for the Vista to boot up. Then I was welcomed with loads of errors complaining missing DLLs, outdated Anti-viruses and stuff like that. The computer was unable to perform even the most frivolous tasks like web browsing at a reasonable speed. The OS was consuming a huge portion of CPU resources and the central fan was basically howling in pain.

So the next step was to pick up a GNU/Linux Distro and revitalizing this decent computer which was suffering from an inappropriate operating system. Although I was initially planning to install Debian on this machine, later I decided that it is not a good practice to rely on a single distro. Furthermore, I kept hearing great things about Arch Linux so I decided to install this cutting-edge distro.

arch linux xfce sonata chrome dell 1520

Arch Linux, XFCE

The basic installation of Arch Linux is very straight-forward and simple. You do the usual stuff like partitioning and boom. In less than a few minutes, you have a basic installation of Linux and a bash prompt ready to take orders. From now on, you are the creator of your own universe and you can install whatever Desktop Environment, Window Manager, modules, drivers, software you would like to have on your system. If you don’t know where to start, the Arch Wiki is a great read for you.

I spent the whole yesterday reading Wikis and customizing Arch. I’m so far amazed with it. It’s so lightweight, powerful and elegant that It is already on the way of becoming my favorite distro. I’ve learned a lot of things and now I feel like I know more about the guts of GNU/Linux. My head is still buzzing with new idea on how to customize Arch even more and I feel like I can do some amazing things with it.

To conclude, I wish I could suggest Arch Linux to Linux newcomers instead of these ‘buntu, mint stuff. It’s a quite easy to learn and use. You just should not be afraid to use command line. The process of installing and configuring all parts of your operating system might be a bit time-consuming yet it’s a very rewarding and valuable experience. Just give it a go!

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Written by Woody

January 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Distros

23 Responses

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  1. Yes, people forget that what makes something “easy to use” isn’t necessarily the amount of flashy graphics on the desktop (ie, Ubuntu’s tact) but rather, the amount of accurate, detailed instructions how to do something. Arch’s WIKI is second to none. It is kept uptodate and very detailed. With Ubuntu, the devs keep changing things around, and don’t bother to update their docs, so if you search the Ubuntu forums for a solution, you’ll find probably 10 different ways to do something, and at least 9 of them will be totally obsolete and unworkable because the solutions are applicable only to old versions. Ubuntu is a terrible distro to maintain and customize for this reason alone.

    jg

    January 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    • It is remarkable to see the role that Arch Wiki plays in defining the Arch Linux user experience. It seems that as Linux gets more advanced, the importance of having a well-written, up-to-date documentation is becoming more vivid.

      Ironically enough, I never found ubuntu ‘easy to use’. Probably ‘easy to install’ would be a better term. I always had trouble with instability and odd behavior of it. Karmic broke down on me for nearly 10 times in the first month(I was about to become a ubuntu recovery expert). the newer version broke down in the 3rd day. ubuntu is probably ok for newcomers from windows but just try to push the envelope a little bit and it’d probably breaks down in pieces( I had similar problems with ubuntu-based distros like gNewSense and Mint). And now they are moving to wayland…

      Woody

      January 11, 2011 at 6:14 am

  2. I’m an big Debian fan as well, and I’ve been meaning to check out Arch… your post hs prompted me to download the ISO so here we go!

    lefty.crupps

    January 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    • Good for you! I believe that Debian and Arch Linux share many common grounds. it’d be lovely to use both of them. If you are interested in understading the way that Arch differs from Debian you might want to read this wiki page:
      https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Arch_Compared_to_Other_Distributions#Debian_GNU.2FLinux

      Woody

      January 11, 2011 at 6:37 am

      • I have a favorite feature in Debian and am wondering if it presents in Arch:

        when enable autocomplete in bash, it helps me even with program options – for example apt-get ins and completes with “install”

        also if start typing packet name in apt-get install and hit tab – shows me all the available packages starting with that string

        jet

        January 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm

        • It is available in Arch. It is in the package bash-completion (just like in Debian, BTW). To install:
          pacman -S bash-completion

          unknown

          September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

  3. How well does “arch” deal with the presence of other distros? I was once surprised in this way by a “primitive” script which is probably “cured” by now.
    (It innonectly knocked out the multi-boot which I had to restore).

    zygmunt

    January 11, 2011 at 8:10 am

    • It’s hard to say what exactly the problem was with the information you have provided.Maybe this will help: You probably should have avoid installing GRUB from Arch Linux installation. In other words, install Arch Linux but skip over the Grub Installation. Then restart the system and configure GRUB to point to your arch /boot partition. That’s the way I used to do it with other distros but I haven’t done this with Arch so do a bit of research and read Arch Wiki.

      Woody

      January 11, 2011 at 9:10 am

  4. “I spent the whole yesterday reading Wikis and customizing Arch.”

    And therein lies the rub. I’m also very interested in Arch but I don’t have the whole of any day in the foreseeable future to dedicate to reading wikis. I envy those who do. I wish I were a kid now discovering Linux, I’d certainly go for Arch.

    But for a work machine that needs to be fast and stable it’s still Debian.

    Also, are there any shortcomings in Arch? I hear good stuff about it, but I also hear people describe horrible breakages.

    llewton

    January 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

    • So far I’m pretty satisfied with it’s stability and performance. I’ve installed a great deal of different packages and graphical eyecandies yet the computer is still very fast and stable.

      Woody

      January 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    • I too was in the same boat, wanted to try arch but just didn’t have the time for spending a day getting everything “just so”. I’d been running ubuntu on my work desktop for a year or so (although, yep, originally a debian fan) and finally got sick of the constant problems and breakages.. changes from the norm.. ugh.

      I ended up taking my machine home one fairly free weekend and spent the whole of saturday learning this new beast, customising it to my liking, and you know what?

      I’ve never looked back.. Arch has been fantastic! It’s been running for a little over a year now and has been as stable as anything.. I’m very impressed. I too heard the horror stories of breakages but, aside from a couple of minor (and quickly resolved) hiccups here and there, I’ve not experienced any.

      It’s been a rock solid, workhorse system for a development workstation – if you’re willing to put in that initial upfront work for a day.

      Dan Haworth

      June 9, 2016 at 8:20 am

  5. In the Linux world, I’ve got three lovers: Debian, Arch & Slackware.
    It’s difficult for me to choose one.
    🙂
    Cheers!

    kubrick

    January 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

    • Nice selection! Slackware is among the distros that I’m really looking forward to test in near future. I’m currently quite busy with Arch and Debian.

      Woody

      January 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm

  6. […] a comment » I previously blogged about my satisfactory experience with Arch Linux installation on a second-hand laptop. Now in this post I’m going to turn that $150 laptop into a kick-ass and sexy Amp and Effect […]

  7. What is your xfce theme name?

    Bilegt

    February 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm

  8. I use to be a Debian junky and avid distro hopper until I found Arch. I loved this OS since first install and have been using Arch on a daily basis for over a year now. 🙂

    Evil

    August 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    • I just spent the best part of 2 hours installing it on a Virtual system and I just thought ” F%^K this!” and pulled the plug on it, I was editing files left right and centre for really no reason and not really learning much. They go on about it being a SIMPLE OS – its not in anyway – if they want to keep it simple, design an installer that installs a really basic linux system that then prompts you to choose the display manager and apps you want. Not install it from scratch – who has the time?!

      murph

      September 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      • Arch’s idea of “simplicity” is bare bones. Whenever I put Arch on a new system I just do the base install and utilize the command line for a month or two.. finally getting around to Gnome or OpenBox.. usually one of those two, sometimes Awesome. It’s tedious and sometimes difficult depending on the system at first install, but after you complete the install successfully a few times it starts coming along pretty fast. The last time it only took 45 minutes to get an install up with Gnome.

        LA

        March 15, 2013 at 11:52 pm

  9. I’m using Arch for about 2 years. It’s absolutely beautifull, fast, and reliable most of the time. It doesn’t have any trouble detecting other distro. A note of caution though: be aware that it breaks sometimes, and they have this habbit of making radical changes on the go. DO NOT USE IT on a production machine, unless you are very-very familiar with it, and you have enough time to use chroot from time to time, and get the system alive.

    Dimon Pockemon

    December 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm

  10. i use archlinux on a server, also have it on 4x home computers,it never gives me a problemo. As for arch being simple a la KISS philosophy, it means simple from a developers perspective not the end users, so if u want a distro that hold’s your hand hides the command line and dont trust you with a oot account ( lawl) and wipes yer arse to boot, stick to a mintbuntu.

    Archie

    October 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm

  11. Since this article was written, Antergos has arrived; It’s the perfect way to jump into arch without all the hassle – hundreds of tweaks already done, the packages carefully chosen so that you can be up & running in twenty minutes with this, the most awesome of distros! Go on.. you owe to yourself – Arch is not the intimidating monster it once appeared with Antergos OS

    plenty

    May 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm

  12. Where can I get that theme of yours?

    Thom

    August 26, 2014 at 6:46 pm


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