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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Arch Way (A Arch Linux review)

As many people would start a review of Arch Linux or any Linux for that matter they have to discuss the philosophy that is behind it. For Arch there is the philosophy of the Arch way. Which is simplicity of code over ease of use. What does this mean for the end user. Well unless you are at least an intermediate Linux user then you should have no problem installing it using the extensive documentation provided at the arch wiki. You put the your live USB in, and you are ready to get your Arch on. You boot the USB and it brings to a relatively nice looking grub menu, unless you booted from UEFI or EFI. Then it Presents you with a standard black and white grub. You select either 32 bit or 64 bit options. And you boot, but no GUI is showing up. That's because Arch Linux simply doesn't have one. Arch has only one option for official ISO and that is text only install. So make sure you have your partition formatted first with something like Gparted. The documentation and the beginner's guide make the install doable. You need another device to access those while you are installing for the first time. By having this text only install really makes you get to know the basic commands and how Arch works. Arch comes with almost no programs with a default install. So that means if you don't want to run as root all the time that you have to install Sudo. You want a GUI your going to need a Display Manager and a Desktop Environment A Display Manager is essentially a login screen. Arch with its unique package manager Pacman, makes it easy to install lots of packages. You can just put pacman -S (list of packages to install) then you list the packages you want separated only by a space.Then there is the Arch User Repository or AUR for short. This is where users upload packages so you don't have to manually compile them. To be able to access this wonderful repository you need a manager for it. However the manager is not available in the Official Repositories so you have to install manually. It is Not to hard once you have a GUI installed. The most popular AUR manager is Yaourt; that is what I am using on the system that I am writing this review on. Yaourt works the same as pacman same syntax just replace pacman with yaourt. Arch is a rolling release which means it update constantly. How does it look? It can use any current desktop manager and a lot of cool tiling ones to. Arch is so highly customizable, is because you can build your own user experience out front instead of doing after the install. At the end of the review I will post what my desktop on arch looks like. So to answer how does it look, any way you want it to. Is Arch Fast? That answer depends on what you where using before arch I came from Mint and installed Cinnamon on Arch and notice little to no difference in speed. If you are coming from Cinnamon and install Xfce or Lxde then maybe you will see a difference. Coming from a windows it is faster. Arch is a great intermediate to advanced Linux Distro. If you are looking for something to tinker with or like the idea of a rolling release, then Arch is definitely for you.

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