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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
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Arch linux (http://archlinux.org) is an i686 optimized distribution. It has a package system (pacman/abs) that works with binary/source packages and takes care of the dependencies. You can update your entire distro+all packages with a single command. It's not for people who just want a working distro, but for people that want to tweak their os and have the fastest and most up to date system they can get!
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10
Fast, very clean, very good package management, good response from the developers if there are problems
The documentation is a bit too basic, sometimes packages are updated TOO fast so they give problems (like with gcc3.3)
The best way to post the positive points is by taking the description from their site (www.archlinux.org) - I've put my comment on each paragraph
Arch Linux is a general purpose linux distribution that can be molded to do just about anything. It is fast, lightweight, flexible, and most of the parts under the hood are quite simple to understand and tweak, which can make it a good distro to "learn the ropes" on. We do not provide any configuration helper utilities (ie, you won't find linuxconf in here) so you will quickly become very proficient at configuring your system from the shell commandline.
The big distros always tend to have 1 or more little issues that can't be easily solved, like a keyboard or mouse not working, cd-writer not found,... With ArchLinux you know what's going on, you've manually configured the system and compiled the kernel especially for your hardware. This increases speed and makes sure everything on your box is working as it should be, optimized for your system only.
Arch Linux uses i686-optimized packages which gives us improved performance over some of our i386-optimized cousins. This means that Arch Linux will only run on a Pentium II processor or higher. We try to stay fairly bleeding edge, and typically have the latest stable versions of software.
In general this is true, but some (hardly used) packages are really old and should be updated. There are not nearly as much precompiled packages for Archlinux as other distributions, but more and more applications are included every day now. Arch is still a fairly new distribution so you can't blame them :) The important packages are all there.
A problem is that they sometimes include a new package that breaks other packages. Once they put gcc3.3 in it, OpenOffice wouldn't work, the kernel wouldn't compile without changing some files,... This is not AL's fault but is caused by the stricter gcc. But I feel that AL shouldn't have included it so fast.
Arch Linux uses the Pacman package manager, which couples a simple binary package format with an easy-to-use build system, allowing the users to easily manage and customize their packages, whether they be official Arch packages or the user's own homegrown ones. The repository system allows users to build and maintain their own custom package repositories, which encourages community growth and contribution.
Pacman can keep a system up to date by synchronizing package lists with the master server, making it a breeze for the security-conscious system administrator to maintain. This server/client model also allows you to download/install packages with a simple command, complete with all required dependencies (similar to Debian's apt-get).
You can start by downloading the AL 0.1 version and end up with the latest version (0.5 atm) by just issuing 1 command! And it does not require an age of compiling like eg gentoo but you've got your new, updated system within minutes.
Arch's official package set is fairly streamlined, but we account for this with a larger, more complete "unofficial" repository that contains a lot of the stuff that never made it into our main package set. This repository is constantly growing with the help of packages submitted from our strong community.
Arch Linux does not provide any official support, but you will find a lot of helpful people on our IRC channel and on our user forums. Chances are that some other Archer has had the same problem/question as you and it's already been answered. Ask around!
This is very true, there are always developers around in the channel (freenode.net #archlinux) and the forum is a great help too!
The documentation is too basic imho, but I'm sure that'll change too
Arch Linux uses a "rolling release" system which works like this: We have two symbolic releases at any given time, Current and Stable. The Current release is always pointing to the latest and greatest packages. As soon as a package is updated it is part of the Current release, so this is one to follow if you want to stay very up to date. The Stable release follows the semi-regular snapshot releases and does not move until the next snapshot/iso has been released. For example, the Stable release will point to all packages on the 0.4 ISO until we release 0.5; then Stable will point to 0.5 packages. This is useful if you only want to update your system when a new release is available.
So, to sum up: Arch Linux is a workhorse distribution designed to fit the needs of the competent linux user. We strive to make it both powerful and easy to manage, making it an ideal distro for servers and workstations. Take it in any direction you like.
I've been running it for quite some time now and I'm very happy with it. I ran gentoo before but that became unstable and I hated the compile time. Arch is VERY stable, very fast and already very mature for being a version 0.5!
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 8
AMAZING package tool, i686 optimized, nice package selection in CD and repositories
some needless configuration, a few things "dont work"
OK. I have a love/hate relationship with Arch. I came from Slackware, but I moved to Arch because I needed a good package system.
So the arch install is basically the same as Slackwares. Except for two nice touches.
1. Dependancy checking.- While ive never had dependancy problems during the install, its nice to know you wont miss a necessary file.
2. "console". You get a nice functioning system when you pop the CD in. So it makes a GREAT rescue disc because you can mount your drives and edit configs, delete files, etc. It saved one of my other distros. :-)
So you get through the install. Its nice and logical, though a complete newb might have problems.
You then get loaded into a VERY light system. IE, your sound card, NIC, video card and basically every other piece of hardware but Harddrive and Mobo.
So make sure you know your hardware VERY well (ie. what modules you need). If you know this, its *usually* a matter of adding the modules to the /etc/rc.conf or /etc/modules.conf file.
Now, I did have a problem loading my sound module (emu10k1 for SB Audigy). The module from the kernel wasn't built right. So I had to rebuild ALSA to get it working.
That brings me to three points.
1. ABS. Its a "Ports" like system. Every package in the repositories also has a PKGBUILD file. This is a script that will download,compile,configure,and install the package. So if for some reason the binary doesnt work (like in my case), its just a matter of "makepkg".
2. The developers are really helpful. Just a quick pop into the #Archlinux IRC room, and they helped me solve my problems.
3. Get HOTPLUG. It will save you the work of loading all the little modules that you need. when you install the system and update your pacman lists. do "pacman -S hotplug". Then, when its installed, add "hotplug" to the daemons section of "/etc/rc.conf". This may very well solve your module problems.
So I got my modules loaded, worked through the XFree86 config (hint: there is no /dev/mouse, because Arch uses DevFS) and ive got a system.
So now that my systems up and running, its amazing. everything is so fast, and ive never seen a "lighter", yet full featured system. My memory was at 120MB and 15 Processes, even with XFCE4 loaded. Even slackware wasnt this good.
1. Manual configuration of Network is kind of stupid. I mean, Slackwares "netconfig" works great, and theres really no advantage of setting it up by hand.
2. Package tools. PACMAN (binary package manager) works perfect. It does what it says, it updates and installs just like it should. And the package repositories are surprisingly large for the age of this distro.
ABS (the source manager) is just as easy. just do "makepkg" in the ABS directory (eg. /usr/abs/unstabl/xfce4).
3. READ THE DOCS. Theres lots of new stuff here. Make sure you get aquainted with it. This distro is NOT for newbs. People who have used Gentoo, Debian. Slackware, etc should be fine.
This is the BIGGEST problem. You cant just compile something using the normal (./configure,make,makeinstall). You HAVE to make a package out of the file. For normal stuff, this isnt too hard, but for more complicated things, it can be a BIG pain.
The advantage of this is that EVERYTHING is in the database, so all your dependancies always get solved. and the PKGBUILD file you use to make the package is pretty easy.
PS. If you make packages, be sure to upload them to ftp.archlinux.org/incoming so others can use it.
I definitly recommend this distro for people with TIME.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9
Fast, works well, not bloated
takes a while to configure and setup
Arch linux is a lot like Gentoo in the way it performs because a lot of the excess packages that other distros install by default are omitted. Installing Arch linux is like getting a custom tailored suit, it takes time, but the end result is much better.
Pacman (the package utility) is really easy to use, and everything just seems to "work", I mean, no realy hangups or hassles. The packages packages are hardly ever broken, less so than Debian -testing, so I was very pleased with this.
I think this distro is the second best I've experienced, Gentoo being the first. It is fast, easy to customize, and everything works surprisingly smoothly.