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Bridge Linux – Arch with "a human face”

Posted 05-05-2012 at 09:58 PM by ludvick

As a preliminary.

Maybe a bit on the recently growing wave of popularity of Arch Linux (I get the impression that many people just reach for this distribution), I made an attempt to install a 64-bit version of this system with KDE.

Because, I'm rather an individual, who loves comfort, I started from Chakra Linux. However, the "specific" approach of its creators to GTK applications (I use a few, and not everything is in the bundles), determined that I said “good bye” to this distro. So, in such a case, remained only “vanilla” Arch...but there was also something I did not like: fit, though, perhaps that was due to errors committed by me during the installation or my ignorance of Arch.

So, anyway, I went back to Sabayon, but - as it turned out later - not for long...

Looking through the list of distros waiting to be added to the main “collection” on distrowatch.com, I came across a real gem: BRIDGE LINUX

Who and what?

Bridge Linux is an Arch-based distro, issued as a LiveCD with easy installation on a hard disk (either from CD or a USB stick). It can be said that it is fully configured Arch Linux live edition, equipped additionally with a number of programs and scripts, that it is a kind of a “door-to-Arch”, or – as you can read on the project website: "Simplified Arch Linux" ("Arch made easy").

Distribution is available in several varieties: with Xfce, GNOME, KDE and "light" (LXDE environment by default and OpenBox as an option), and each of them released as 32-bit (i686) and 64-bit (x86_64).

The creator of Bridge Linux and its sole developer, not counting the share, gathered around the project - and as yet small - community, is an American, Dalton Miller - a lover of Arch and Xfce. He is, moreover, confirmed, when asked whether the distribution of all kinds are treated equally:

Quote:
Honestly, I'd like to treat them all the same, but Xfce is definitely the best/most polished version. It's what I use, it's what the first version was, so it's the best.
Such an approach of the Author does not mean that he neglects different environments, as I can prove, for example, the issue with KDE. When I started Bridge Linux first time, I was sure that I would have to deal with yet underdeveloped distribution, acting unstable and full of errors, but in fact it was completely different and after a short live version test, I decided to install Bridge Linux as my primary (and only) operating system. Simply, it is exactly what I was looking for: easy to install, fully configured, fast, stable and – what is most important – a rolling distro (not requiring either cyclic reinstallation, nor upgrades) with tailor-made KDE, which contains very few programs by default (and thus it is not necessary long removal of unwanted components). Thanks to very quickly updated and rich repositories of Arch Linux (including AUR) at the same time there is easy access to the latest software releases.

Depending on the selected version of the desktop environment, there are different minimum requirements for hardware. Based on information from the project website:
  • Bridge Light might run on a P2 or P3 with 64 - 128 MB of RAM.
  • Xfce maybe 128 MB RAM and a P3.
  • GNOME I've heard runs ok on Netbooks with Atoms and 1 GB of RAM.
  • KDE will probably be best with at least 1 GB of RAM and a 1 GHz CPU.

“Boss” of the distro says that the above data isn't based on his own tests, so they could not be a determinant of minimum hardware requirements. In his opinion, Bridge Linux will work properly on your computer with a minimum of 1 GB of RAM and 1 GHz processor clock speed.

Installation

Bridge Linux - as I mentioned earlier - gives the possibility to install it on a hard disk. It could be done through a simple installation program (somewhat resembling that the one from Arch Linux). It is not a peak of professionalism – which also the author confirms (and ensures that a fully functional installer with a grafical interface is one of his priorities) – however, the installation process is not either too long, nor overly complex and goes almost atomatically – except for the few obvious for the installation configuration issues that require user action (detailed description of the installation of Bridge Linux will be the subject of one of my next entries on the blog).

What after install?

Note! The rest of the entry applies only to Bridge Linux with KDE!

It should be noted that the selection of applications, Dalton Miller guided by the principle of no duplication, and left it, mostly, to the user. Hence, as already mentioned, Bridge Linux is characterized by minimalism in terms of quantity of software installed by default. To me, this is one of the advantages of this system, I have, in fact, some favorite applications that I use, but, usually, they do not coincide with the so-called "general trends", with what most distributions offer by default. Using other distros, I usually spent a lot of time on uninstallation of unnecessary, in my opnion, packages (software) from the freshly-installed system – in case of Bridge Linux, I removed just around twenty-some of them (most of the kdeartwork group).

Which software does Bridge Linux offer in the default kit?

Contrary to what may be suggested, a reduced number of default applications in the distribution created by Dalton Miller gives user quite a lot of possibilities: there is a web browser (Chromium), an email client (KMail), an IM (Kopete), a program to use torrents (Transmission-qt), there is also an office suite (LibreOffice), a pdf viewer (Okular), a graphics program (GIMP) and Image Viewer (GwenView), there is an audio player (Amarok) and video player (DragonPlayer) there are, finally, tools for programmers (Qt-Assistant, Qt -Designer and Qt-Linguist). In addition, a script which starts with the first run of the system, allows to install, among others, Java environment (Oracle's jre - personally, I did not use this option and installed OpenJDK by my own).

It should also be noted that a program installed by default called “packer”, allows a user of Bridge Linux to use AUR repository "out of the box", without any additional configuration. Packer is, in general, a useful tool, because except AUR, it supports also standard repositories, replacing, thus, partially pacman.

Is there anything that you need to install on your own?

Yes, first of all, your language package for KDE, kde-l10n-<your language code> and for LibreOffice - libreoffice-<your language code> (unless the system is to remain in English). Besides, the Java Runtime Environment (or jdk), if it is required and was not installed with the script, I described above. Also, Icedtea must be installed for OpenJDK. Other applications users install according to their needs and preferences.
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