Making the Switch to Arch Linux
January 23, 2010
I have been using Ubuntu for years, as well as trying several other distros, including RedHat and Gentoo. One of the nice things about Ubuntu is that, for the most part, everything just works out of the box. This is nice, because you can spend your time enjoying Linux, without having to do too much fighting.
While I still use Ubuntu on several machines, including my laptop and media center, I haven’t really been a fan of some of the changes they have been rolling out and feel it has gotten a little too bloated for my liking. So, I decided it was time to try something new.
My first inclination was to move backwards up the line and switch to Debian Unstable. I am a fairly competent Linux user, with many years of experience working with servers and using it as a desktop environment. However, after spending way too much time fighting dependencies when upgrading from Lenny to Unstable, reminding me of my time using Gentoo, I decided to give Arch a try.
I have heard a lot of good things about Arch Linux, in part from my time browsing reddit.com/r/linux, where the supporters are pretty vocal. So, I went ahead and spent some time reading through their documentation, which was really easy to understand, yet still very comprehensive. Then, decided to give it a try.
When booting the Arch CD, one of the first things I noticed is that they included Space Invaders, or more accurately a Space Invaders Clone, on the install CD. So, after spending a few minutes playing, I began the install process.
Using the beginners guide, I was able to quickly install the base system and get it up to date. I decided to start with Gnome as my desktop manager, because I am already very familiar with it and have never been a fan of KDE. However, when I get some more time, I would like to try out Xcfe, because it looks to be a little lighter.
One of the things I really like about Arch is that you basically build your system from scratch, only installing the packages that you need. The core install is just a console setup, which I think gives you a fun way to get to know your system as you add the necessary components. As I said above, the documentation is great too and there seems to be a pretty active forum base for added support.
So far, everything is running smoothly and I am working on installing some of the essentials, such as Firefox, VLC, Eclipse, Thunderbird, and so on, as well as getting my dual monitors set back up. I really like how snappy everything is and have been having no problems getting the hang of using pacman as opposed to aptitude.
Overall, I am really happy with Arch, although to be fair, I haven’t been using it for more than a day yet. However, the documentation is great and the installation was relatively quick and painless, so I am pretty pleased at this point. I look forward to getting more comfortable with it and switching my other machines as well.
It is amazing how much fun switching to something new can be…