Progress with Arch Linux

It has been several weeks since I started playing with Arch Linux. I’ve two of my three systems running under this distro and figured it was worth posting at least a short blurb on my impressions and experience…

Both (impressions and experience) have been very positive. I’m running it on two older laptops right now, but have not yet migrated my primary system over yet, and won’t for a bit. The installation experience is very different than Linux Mint (my preferred distro to this point) in several ways: it’s text-based (which in and of itself is not a bad thing, particularly within the context of the Arch philosophy) and because the installation itself really does just install a basic core system, getting to the point where you have a fully-populated desktop environment along with the other needed tools installed, configured, and running takes quite a bit longer. My slow progress really doesn’t have as much to do with the installation process itself as it does with the fact that I am working through it in chunks of about 15-20 minutes each day.

At this point, the two systems in question are probably 90-plus percent “finished” in terms of getting everything I know I need or want for an initial system. Having said that, however, that 90% is a fully functional box with everything I need to access the ‘net, use the system on day-to-day basis to do what I need to do, supports multimedia, deals with removable media (including my camera), and has a working LAMP stack with my blog running locally.

Keeping the system updated and installing additional packages so far has been a non-issue, and I’m impressed with pacman, Arch’s package manager. No complaints or issues there to date. In fact, the only real issue I’ve had at all is an occasional and very intermittent hang on booting at a particular point in the startup process. It’s very intermittent and requires a hard reset, but once past that point in the startup, the system has proven to be rock solid. That particular little nasty is the subject of an on-going thread on the distro’s forums, and others are occasionally seeing it, as well…

Speaking of the forums, the distro’s wiki and forums are definitely two of the distro’s strong points. Both are active, and the documentation on the wiki is excellent both in its coverage and its quality.

The biggest difference for me with this distro is speed. Startup on both of these systems is well under 30 seconds from power on to login under gdm. Shutdown on both is under 10 seconds. What’s the difference? Clearly there are far fewer services running here than on a stock Ubuntu or Mint installation, since the only stuff running is what I’ve installed and configured. It makes me wonder what all that other stuff is doing for me on previous distros because I haven’t missed any of it yet…

In short: so far, so good. At some point, unless I step into a massive hole somewhere along the lines, I will probably move my last (and primary) box over to Arch.

2 thoughts on “Progress with Arch Linux”

  1. I came across you site by running a Google search for “Idaho Falls Arch Linux”. I live about 45 miles from Idaho Falls and am part of an Open Source Users group in Rexburg. We generally run all Ubuntu versions and I have tried to install Arch but failed once I got to installing xorg. I will be going for it again soon and that is why I was doing the search. I am curious if you are around Idaho Falls and if you have much to do with the Linux community in the area. Anyway you have a good site with some good posts. Thanks and keep it up.

    Josh

  2. @Josh: thanks for the comments; I am in fact here in Idaho Falls but don’t actually have much to do with the Linux community (such as it is) here in the area. I’m still very much a fan of Linux Mint (as I noted in my post). Within the past month or so, I actually pulled down the current version of Arch and installed it briefly. There are aspects of Arch that I still find appealing, but I just kept bumping into rough edges with some of the packages — stuff that just works in Mint and its upstream Ubuntu. It is extremely fast, both to run and to boot, but in the end “just working” and working well trumps that slight edge in speed.

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