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Distribution: Slackware, no more RH or Mandrake for me
Is Arch Linux as hard to install as it sounds?
I started my linux craze over a year ago when I started using Mandrake 8.2. I then went to Redhat 8 and didn't go back. So I've been using redhat 9 since it came out. Recently with the demise of free RedHat and Fedora Project taking it's place that has made me re-think the distro I should use. I hate Mandrake, when I tried to use Mandrake 9.1 it would not work with me when setting up an internet connection. So, now I've looked at Arch and Gentoo. Arch sounds like the better way to go since it is free and strictly for i686. But, to be honest I'm scared to try it because I don't want to mess up the install and it sounds really hard to install. Any advice would be great.
the basic options that you will be faced with are....
partitioning your drive. you can use cfdisk to do it by hand, or you can allow the installer to do a standard partitioning
selecting packages. if you use the base cd (recommended) you can leave everything as is. the only thing i remove is lilo since i use grub.
installing packages and kernel are very easy. just pressing enter on some options will get you through it
configuring the system might be the hardest part. in this you will need to check\edit your rc.conf, grub, fstab files.
installing the bootloader is also just hitting enter on a few otpions.
and then rebooting
after you get the basic system installed, you will login as root, create the root password, create a user, and use pacman to update your system and install other packages on top of that aka x, kde\gnome\xfce4\fluxbox etc
Installing Arch isn't too bad, and in any case it is certainly *a lot* easier than Gentoo, which is just absurdly complicated... Arch lacks Mandrake/Red Hat GUI installation tools. but it is also clean and simple and the process is reasonably well documented so just follow the instructions carefully and the chances are reasonably good you'll be fine. The trickiest part is probably making sure you'll have your internet connection, and this is one area I don't know much about - I serve my connection through a separate gateway so all I ever have to worry about is getting the network up and running...
i've installed it and it really inst that bad (this coming from someone who depends on gui installs and the such)
i do have one question that might be kind of off subject but why dont distros like arch install the x server and kde and what not by default? why do i have to run xf86config on my own and hope to get it right? is this what makes distros smaller and sleeker and what makes rh and mandrake so bloated since they do this kind of stuff automatically? is it that hard to write a script to configure your monitor and video card and install x and kde/gnome/e by default?
It's done like that for flexibility. By providing you with just the base system and letting you go from there you're better able to tailor a system to your exact needs than with a distro like say, Mandrake or Red Hat. This does make the overall distro a tad more difficult to use but the upshot is that it also teaches skills that are staring to be forgotten by other distros.
Originally posted by ferrix easier than Gentoo, which is just absurdly complicated...
Gentoo isn't absurdly complicated, not like Debian anyway. I'm almost positive they go out of their way to deliberately make things as complicated as possible with the idea that if you somehow make it through that mess you're some kind of god and if you don't, well, you're just another n00b without any clue what they're doing. Gentoo just goes that extra mile and removes the concept of the "installer" altogether. If you're fairly familiar with the command line it shouldn't be too difficult, just long and drawn out due to the need to download and compile everything.
Getting back to Arch, it's certainly not hard to install, no harder than say, Slackware. This means that it's harder to install than Red Hat or Mandrake but, with a bit of patience, isn't impossible.
"So, now I've looked at Arch and Gentoo. Arch sounds like the better way to go since it is free and strictly for i686. But, to be honest I'm scared to try it because I don't want to mess up the install and it sounds really hard to install."
Now we certainly wouldn't want to have you select Arch on the basis of a false assumption about Gentoo, that is to say that Gentoo is somehow unfree. It is indeed free so lets get that one behind us.
And as to your fears, for God's sake, good man, set them aside will you! While I really don't know where you may have gotten the strange idea that Arch is hard to install, if you'll simply read the installation documentation at the Arch site I think you'll find it most unchallenging, actually rather droll I would suspect. Unlike Gentoo, there are no optimization choices to make, at least at installation there aren't, no compiling to do other than perhaps your kernel if you so elect, and the editing tasks require little more than chimpanzee level competence. Now, admittedly, there will be no cartoonish embellishments to guide you on your way, but presumably you're old enough to endure such hardships by now.
So install it already and quit fussing. We'll look forward to hearing from you on the forums when you're finished.
Originally posted by LSD Gentoo isn't absurdly complicated, not like Debian anyway. I'm almost positive they go out of their way to deliberately make things as complicated as possible with the idea that if you somehow make it through that mess you're some kind of god and if you don't, well, you're just another n00b without any clue what they're doing. Gentoo just goes that extra mile and removes the concept of the "installer" altogether.
You might be right about Debian
And you're absolutely right about Gentoo: it goes that extra mile and basically removes the concept of the installer. The problem is, as far as I can see, this makes installation more complicated without actually offering any benefits compared to installer-based approach. I see Sourcemage listed in your profile - Sourcemage does have an installer, and thanks to that, compared to Gentoo it is very easy to get up and running. Yet it doesn't give anything to Gentoo as far as flexibility or optimisation goes, does it? Installer installs the very minimal core of the system, sorcery updates gcc/glibc if neccessary then recompiles the lot - and bingo, you're at exactly the same point you'd be with Gentoo, without messing around with stages 1 or 2, chrooting and all that. Gentoo installation manual runs into dozens of pages, Sourcemage requires about one page... if Gentoo way offers any advantages over Sourcemage, I just don't see them.
Actually tbph, I found that even without an installer Gentoo was easier to install than SMGL. The SMGL installer has a couple of annoying flaws that made it an absolute bitch to get up and running right (compared with Gentoo).
Chief among those (for me at least) is the clumsy way in which swap files/partitions are handled. Sourcemage mixes creating and mounting a swap partition in with creating and mounting the regular filesystems (most didstro do this yes, but most also have mechanisms in place to detect and offer to set up any swap partitions they find. Sourcemage doesn't do that either) without even a hint in the docs mentioning that this is the case. This is complicated further if you're using the guided menu (which I think is sensible to assume most first-time installers would be as it's the default) as it only lets you mount one partition before launching into creating a swap file (which can't be skipped unless you turn the guided menu off). This leads to the mistaken belief that Sourcemage doesn't let you create a swap partition at all (despite the docs telling you it's the better way to go).
The other thing that irked me about it - and although this has been corrected in the latest ISOs it still warrants mentioning nonetheless - is that it mounted the devfs on /devices instead of /dev by default which led to problems down the road when you went to do the sorcery rebuild and it expected to find a couple of devices (the std[in|out|err] devices) on /dev. Once again, the docs fail to mention this. I noticed it fairly early on in the install and while I thought it was odd I just assumed it was the way SMGL did things and even though I knew how to change it the warning in the config file about it made me hesitant about changing it.
Overall though, I think SMGL has some interesting ideas and is worth watching. Although their "spell" metaphor is neat it isn't exactly anything new, it's really just another incarnation of a ports-type system like BSD and Gentoo. Sorcery really comes into its own though when dealing with packages like the Linux kernel. If you "cast" Linux, you not only get a list of kernels to choose from but also a list of patches (for such things as bootsplash and XFS support) as well. It'll then download the source and patches, apply them and then launch into the kernel configurator allowing you to tailor the kernel to your system before launching into the compile and install proper. Gentoo has something similar called genkernel but I don't believe it lets you adjust the kernel configuration to your taste, it just takes the configuration used to create the LiveCD kernel and compiles it before installing it all without any user input. The other thing Sorcery does that Gentoo would be wise to adopt in Portage is that where Portage will download a package, compile it before downloading the next Sorcery will keep downloading while it's compiling. This makes the whole install run much more efficiently. If they get the installer issues sorted out I really think SMGL will be able to provide a decent alternative to Gentoo for people who want the flexibility of a source-based distro but don't want to wait for everything to download and compile on the spot.
You might want to backup up all your data and upgrade to Fedora. Depending on your hardware, it is a bit snappier than RH9 and you will get most of your packages updated to the latest version or close to it.
If the upgrade fails or you don't like it, give Arch a whirl. If re-partioning your HD is cause for concern, just leave the partitions as they are (remember of course what partition is mounted where in RH) and reformat during the Arch install. The Arch install is not that difficult if you follow the directions. You may want to make a copy of your current /etc/fstab, /etc/resolv.conf, /etc/X11/XF86config files and write down what modules you have installed (lsmod from the command line). All this may be useful as a reference if you get stuck.
Don't sit and fret. Your going to have do it someday anyway so you may as well pick a day when you have some time and go for it.
With apologies, because this thread is now straying far from Arch... I wish we could move it somewhere more appropriate. I can only hope some Arch users might be interested in source based distros as well - I know I use both...
Originally posted by LSD Chief among those (for me at least) is the clumsy way in which swap files/partitions are handled. Sourcemage mixes creating and mounting a swap partition in with creating and mounting the regular filesystems
Have you used the recent versions? I installed 0.6 and 0.7.1 and they didn't seem *that* confusing to me at all, perhaps they've made some progress since the early days... In any case, their approach is in no way more complex than Gentoo where you also need to create and mount your file systems one by one. Yes, swap is mixed in with other partitions, but since swap is just another partition after all, it makes some sense to treat it as such. SMGL does not auto-detect existing swap, but it is a hands-on type of distro so that's to be expected. And again, neither does Gentoo, and what we're talking about here is whether Gentoo's installation offer any advantages over installer-based approach....
The other thing that irked me about it - and although this has been corrected in the latest ISOs it still warrants mentioning nonetheless - is that it mounted the devfs on /devices instead of /dev
True, but as you noticed it has been fixed. In any case, again, the issue here is not so much whether SMGL has any problems, because it obviously isn't perfect, but whether Gentoo's foregoing the installer pays off in any real advantages that would vindicate such approach and justify the complexity of installation? I still don't see any...
Just about the only positive I can think of is that starting from Stage 1 is really a very small download, smaller than SMGL's installer/iso (which isn't that big anyway at around 200mb, IIRC). But considering you'll then be downloading everything else as source anyway, I don't see much benefit there.
Sorcery really comes into its own though when dealing with packages like the Linux kernel. (...snip...) The other thing Sorcery does that Gentoo would be wise to adopt in Portage is that where Portage will download a package, compile it before downloading the next Sorcery will keep downloading while it's compiling.
While we're on the subject, other things I really like about sorcery are self-healing and rollback to previous versions of software should update go wrong... does Gentoo offer anything like that?
Installation is pretty much straight forward and you can use the documentation at Archlinux.org for guideance. It is not as in depth but then it really does need to be. Just make sure you know your hardware and what modules to loadup.
well like i said earlier in this thread, i have installed arch with no issue, but wanted to know why they dont include graphic setups or install X and a WM/DE by default and i understand why they dont. i am interested in doing more setup for my own likes and to do it my way, like arch provides. sometimes a n00b just needs a little more hand holding.
has anyone tried vector linux 4? i have installed that. it installs X and XWM and gives you choices between XFce, IceWM and one other that i can remember now. they are ok, very fast, but nothing like KDE or GNOME. they were a lot harder to configure (for me anyway). the free version that you can download does not include kde or gnome or any of the bigger software packages, like openoffice. you have to buy the deluxe version for about 23 bucks. my question about KDE though is where can i find an installer for that? why cant you get KDE as one file download instead of all the rpm packages? i have all of them and they are on a cd, but can i run rpm *.rpm on the directory they are all in and have kde installed? and if so how does one go about getting it to be the default DE?
i know this is way off the thread, maybe we should move this somewhere else.
...or install X and a WM/DE by default...
Huh? Are you talking about arch? I installed arch and did the full x install and it loaded my system with about 10 wms. Fvwm, twm (of course), enlightenment, xfce (although not technically a wm), blackbox, icewm, and there may be more I don't know about. I didn't pay much attention to the install.
i should read the rest of the thread before answering, but its a pain to install. its a good bit of research, adn you gotta be willing to use this forum, the arch forum, and google.
the upswing is that its probably the best distro out there out and out. its as clear and simple (actually moreso) than slack. its real easy to find everything, and to tweak it the right way, and the package management is better than debian. not as many packages, but it doesn't break. and its easier to obtain than debian, because its simple and succinct. no "what should i get"
i read somewhere that hardware detection will be in .6, and i bet at that point it will start to rise to the top with the big 5(is gentoo now making it the big 6??), and eventually become more popular than slack.
and forget that 2 day install crap with gentoo, this is already compiled for i686