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arch linux 0.6 widget
Reviews Views Date of last review
11 31572 09-03-2004
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
82% of reviewers None indicated 8.0

Description: Arch Linux is an i686-optimized linux distribution targeted at competent linux users (read: not afraid of the commandline)

Keywords: arch widget

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Old 03-04-2004, 09:48 AM   #1
Registered: Feb 2004
Distribution: fedora 2
Posts: 20

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10

Pros: fast, flexible, pacman
Cons: setup

my linux experience:
i started with suse 2 months ago. after 2 weeks, i've switched to fedora. i started looking more deeply into linux, and i realised that i need a more flexible distro that i can tweak to meet my needs. i've tried some slackware based distros, but still wasn't really satisfied. i saw that i have two options. installing gentoo or building linux from scratch...

then i stumbled across arch linux. i decided to give it a try. i downloaded widget (arch 0.6, with the 2.6 kernel).

main system specs:
AMD 1600, 256mb ddr ram, nvidia geforce 2 with 32mb memory, 48x samsung cd rw, via onboard sound, 60gb matrox hd, broadband cable connection.

since i still didn't have my "perfect penguin", i decided to wipe out my previous distro. the install was really straigh forward, nothing unusual. i like the option to make a base install, however i installed some more packages, since i more-less knew what i needed. i installed widget to a 6gb partition, set up an 512mb swap.

the first thing i had to fix was my internet connection. this is why arch is not recommended for complete noobs: you have to edit your config files. i booted my knoppix live cd and went for some help on irc. after some trying, i had my connection set up. i was eager to try the -probably- strongest point in arch: pacman (similar to debian's apt-get or gentoo's portage). i updated pacman itself, did a system update and had updated the packages on my system. with pacman, i can manage (install, remove, update,...) packages, and it has a lot of useful features (eg. automatic dependency handling)

then i had to fix my sound by inserting the modules. one of the strong points of the 2.6 kernel is that it comes with alsa.

i'm not really a fan of bloated desktop environments, so i chose fluxbox as my window manager. i had it set up quickly. all i have from kde/gnome is the kdelibs, so i can run some of the kde-apps (eg. k3b)

now i'm happy with the new kernel and the latest packages.i got a fast and stable system set up in an afternoon. now i can say that "i've found my perfect penguin".

i would not recommend arch as a first distribution. but with basic/semi-advanced linux knowledge, it can be the perfect distribution for anyone.

good bye distrowatch!
Old 03-11-2004, 03:45 PM   #2
Registered: Jan 2003
Distribution: Centos, RedHat Enterprise, Slackware
Posts: 524

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Simple configuration and pacman package management
Cons: Not a standardized Linux

Arch has some very very good points that others need to consider. First, the single file configuration is as straightforward as it gets. There is no mass collection of symlinks to confuse you. Look for the modprobe.conf and edit it. Then you are done.

The pacman package management system also has to be the slickest thing since Dura-Lube. Now with recursive software removal you can easily remove all the other software that was installed as a dependency for you original package. When you decide to switch from Gnome to KDE, trust me, this is a positive point.

I also like the clean installation of the user installed packages to /opt. It makes it quite easy to find everything, however, there are some quirks too.

A few issues that could be a negative is that while a benefit, it can also be a problem with installing everything in /opt. This causes the bin directory to be out of the PATH, so you need to constantly edit the path to include the new installed package bin directory. If done carelessly, this can be a security issue. THe only other negative is that this is not a standard Linux distro. Not all the things learned with Arch can be transferred to other distributions. With quite a few newbies floating around, this can be a drawback.

Overall, I really enjoy Arch and it is quite close to perfect for me! I love the small footprint, I'm 100% in control of what gets loaded on my system. 9 out of 10 from me!
Old 03-22-2004, 08:02 AM   #3
Registered: Mar 2004
Distribution: Knoppix, Debian, Gentoo, Arch, FreeBSD, NetBSD, QNX, FreeDOS, L4...
Posts: 8

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 8

Pros: Up-to-date, i686 optimized binaries, build system, advanced package manager
Cons: Many software missing, NOVICE MAINTAINERS

-Packages are up-to-date
-Binaries are i686 optimized
-Build system (ABS), packages can be made from source by a simple script
-APT-like package manager (Pacman)

-Relatively small amount of software available
-The maintainers are themselves newbies

Newbie maintainers?
I requested two packages, swsusp ( and udev ( to be added to ArchLinux. I got the answer in both cases from a maintainer that theese are kernel stuff! Both are user-space tools (swsusp also requires kernel support, which is included in Linux 2.6.x-vanilla)! Funny!
Personally I won't rely on such maintainers.

Head: Judd Vinet
Old 04-01-2004, 03:33 AM   #4
Registered: Jan 2004
Posts: 8

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Would you recommend the product? no | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 3

Pros: Simple to use Package manager, Single repository minimises Dependency Hell
Cons: Speed claims exagerated, Poor installer/Hardware detection, Proprietary OS layout, Poorly documented.

Take slackware, remove the BSD init system & the simple well thought installer. Replace Swaret or Slaptget with your own package manager, call it Pacman & give it an arcane command structure. Remove the Hardware detection & recompile all the source for i686 and you have 'Arch'.

An interesting exercise but too immature at present for all but the Tech obsessed.
Slackware is still zippier & easier...

Pro's :
Simple to use Package manager.
Single repository minimises Dependency Hell.
Repository rapidly populating with really up 2 date packages.

Cons :
Speed claims exagerated.
Poor installer/Hardware detection.
Arcane command structure for package manager.
Proprietary OS layout.
Poorly documented.
Old 05-16-2004, 11:21 AM   #5
Registered: Mar 2004
Distribution: gentoo
Posts: 87

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10

Pros: fast, stable, easy to maintain/upgrade

Coming from slack and from a failed attempt at gentoo, I was very impressed when I first started using Arch Linux. It was much faster than my slack system, and after the fairly easy installer my system was in an easy to maintain state. Pacman is awesome....worlds ahead of gentoo's emerge. Installing packages from the repositories is not only easy, but it's bloody fast. It takes care of all the dependency issues, which is a step above slack's package management.

Pacman was extremely easy to figure out, given that there are only a few specific commands one needs to know to get any package he or she wants. Many people say the installation is difficult, but after coming from slackware, I would say the two are on the same difficulty level. Sure you have to modify your own configuration files, but that consists of adding a line or 2 to a couple of files, and the installation guide walks you through all of that.

Overall, I'm extremely impressed and I've taken slack off my computer and devoted it fully to arch linux. I would definately recommend Arch to anyone who can use nano.
Old 06-01-2004, 08:42 AM   #6
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: Slackware 10.0, ArchLinux, FreeBSD 5.3
Posts: 14

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Light, Easy Install
Cons: No gcc-g77

I have been a Slackware user for a while now, and I really love Slack. However, after reading a few reviews of Arch, I wanted to try it out. Having a few hard drives sitting around allows me to play with the OS and not really disturb my system.

First a few details:
I use an old IBM ThinkPad 600X Laptop. 550 MHz Pentium III, 512 MB RAM, 20 GB dual boot with Windows2000 on the first partition, Xircom cardbus Ethernet card.

I have had no problems using Slackware 9.0 or FreeBSD 4.9 on this computer, and both run well, except that FreeBSD does not have cardbus support, so I had to use another ethernet card.

Anyway, getting a CD of Arch is no problem, so I popped it in and started the installation. I first printed out the (rather short) documentation. Following the docs is easy and in almost no time I had arch on the 'puter. To my mind, the installation is not really that hard, I find the method for Arch and Slack easier to use (and customize) than, for example, Mandrake. After installation and the creation of a user account, I updated the system:

Quite easy really : pacman -Syu

And it did its thing.
Editing /etc/rc.conf for dhcp access and to start samba and cups, was about the only configuration I had to do for essential things to run.

Sound was also easy. Alsa had been updated in my initial system upgrade, and I am running the 2.6 kernel, so my sound chip (stock on the TP 600X), was supported with the cs46xx drivers. Anyway, it took me a few minutes to locate the files to modify and that worked.
By the way there is complete documentation on how to configure sound on the archlinux wiki...just search for Alsa.

So everything was working fine and I really like it.

As an academic I need Fortran support in my gcc compilers. This is not present in the packaged gcc for arch. I had to compile and install gcc for myself. This is not a problem, but somewhat strange. That done, all was well.

As to performance, well the fact that the packages are compiled for i686 acrhitecture should mean that they run better than the old Slackware 9.0 packages on my cumputer. There has been little, if any observable improvement on my system, so I will have to wait and see. However, using pacman is easy so I will stick with Arch for a while.

The only real thing left for me to try is to Gentoofy my system, but patience has never been one of my many failings, so I don't know when I'll get to that.
Old 06-09-2004, 12:38 AM   #7
Registered: Feb 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS
Posts: 99

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: pacman, fast, easy package creation
Cons: initial install can be hard for newbies

I was using slackware on my computer for a while now and then I heard about arch linux. I liked the fact that it was i686 optimized and pacman looked really nice. So I tested it on a laptop for a while and then I went and installed it on the my main server.

Knowing the initial install was going to be a little difficult, and still having slackware on the server, I went though all the config files and printed out absolutely everything I thought i would need.

The basic install was about as simple as slack. It's the post config that can be a little difficult. For example, it didn't see the module for my network card. but after some searching around in the modules directories I found those and got it setup.

Once I got on to the network I was able to try the main selling point of arch, pacman, and man does it live up to the hype. After synching the databases it downloaded updates at around 350 to 400k/sec on my cable modem. Even the latest kernel version. Very impressed with it. The config file is well thought out and you can exclude files or packages from getting updated (for example, you self-compile the kernel). Installing kde (on the laptop) was as simple as pacman -S kde and all the libs and extra stuff was downloaded and installed in no time.

Also making your own packages is not difficult either. There's just one config file that you give it where to download the source at, and what the dependencies are (they include an app that finds that for you). then type makepkg and voila you have your own package that you can contribute. I've even made my own repository so that when anything gets updated, anyone that has me added to their list will get the updates along with everything else.

Although there are a few little qwerks about the filesystem, it still follows the basic layout. the /etc system looks different from others. for example the rc.local and stuff are on in /etc and not /etc/rc.d like most others. /etc/rc.d is reserverd for daemons.

If you're looking to learn linux I'd go with slackware. but after you learn linux, then arch is here for you. Brain dead installs and upgrades, speeds slightly better that slackware, and the opportunity to be in on a fairly new distro.
Old 06-11-2004, 03:59 AM   #8
Registered: Jan 2004
Posts: 5

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 7

Pros: Simple and lightweight
Cons: package policy

Arch linux is a nice simple distro with an easy package management. The install process is quite simple, but knowledge of yor hardware components is required - not much hardware detection here ;-)

The configuration is simple. Most system config. is done by editing /etc/rc.config (language, fonts, time, etc.)

Installing and updating software is also quite easy with the 'packman' program. I have found most of the apps I need in the package database.

The "not-so-nice" things:

I personaly don't like packages in /opt - keep it in /usr, and config in /etc.

Packages are not always so true to the "policy". Some packages have to many dependencies. Example:
I need the telnet command, so I install netkit-telnet package. But i depends on xinetd! I don't whan't a telnet server, just the telnet command for testing.

But overall it's a nice distro - I would recomend it to anyone who would like to learn a bit more about linux.
But personaly I'll stick to my crux linux [-:

Old 08-04-2004, 04:50 AM   #9
Registered: Jul 2004
Posts: 62

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Would you recommend the product? no | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 5

Pros: very pretty, quick
Cons: Wipes all drives to install somehow onto every single one

Well I had been installing several linux distros because I wanted a distro that could play divx, mp3 and easily install new software. Then I came across Arch. I had 2 hard drives with 7 partitions a 15 gig linux partition a 2gig linux swap and some fat32 partitions. The option was use whats available. WRONG..... it formated all of my hard drives. Installed a 500 meg swap partition on one drive and installed the program on the 120 gig drive.

I freaked out... then I recovered what I could of my massive anime collection. Installed a 200 gig drive to hold it all on. Then I removed all but the 80 gig drive and tried toreinstall.... hey that will work with windows but screw it linux still formated all of my hard drives. And this time it did not even give me any options.

So great system if you do want to keep your old system files.
Old 08-10-2004, 05:45 PM   #10
Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: Arch
Posts: 1,380

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Brilliant user base, excellent support, and to many to list
Cons: none IMHO

Well, I have been using linux for a while now on a couple of computers. I started with Mandrake, then went to redhat, off to Lorma, stopped by slack for a while but I kept reading great things about this distro Arch. Well, I stopped by the arch site and thought i would download it and give it a try. I would have to say, the install was about as easy as any other i have done. The documentation available at the site is great. Arch was installed and running within 15 mins or so.
I read some other reviews posted here and wonder if some of these people even know what Arch Linux is. The support for Arch is far superior to any i have ever seen. I wonder if some of the people in the arch irc channels are actually human and questions are often answered immediately.
Another comment about not enough packages, it doesn't take a genius to create your own packages to install on arch. Again the documentation covers this extensively.
PS. Always back up before any install
I would have to say, Arch is a great distro for anyone and if you can read then it is not too difficult to install and maintain. If you cannot read, then A.) how did you post your review and B.) maybe arch isn't for you.
Old 09-03-2004, 09:53 PM   #11
Registered: Mar 2004
Posts: 2

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9


Arch is like a breath of fresh air as far as certain Linux distributions go.

To configure you distro you ONLY NEED ONE FILE!


Everything at boottime can be accomplished here in this single file. You don't even have to mess with modprobe.conf if you don't want to.

Pacman is what apt-get should be in my opinion. For all you extreme power users there is an AMAZINGLY flexible way to build your own packages called ABS or Arch Build System.

The only shortcoming of the install I've found has been that sometimes Grub will install and sometimes it won't. Other than that the install procedure is straightforward and quite simple. Its just not Mandrake simple.

To make things easier, if your network is up and running...

you can type "pacman -S hwd" as root and download the same hardware detection program that knoppix uses. It will even generate a simple xorg.conf file for you.

I'd say the biggest problem would be that the distro's user base is still small, so really obscure stuff has no package on their database. But for the packages that are out there... they are updated regularly and they are all hosted on fast fast pipes. The archWiki has tons of useful information even if you have to sift through it a bunch... it just needs to be reorganized. The user forum is pretty good as well...

I'd say the main downfall for Arch is that official documentation is kind of lagging compared to many other distro's... but the wiki pretty much takes care of anything that you need. I feel that this distro truly feels like an OSS distribution. Its VERY clear that you can just download it and have fun no strings attached...



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