So now that I have installed Arch Linux I think it is only right that I review how it went. Do it.
First things first of course I downloaded and burned the CD in the library. My computer was technically out and I honestly didn’t want to learn how to burn an iso through the command line. That was easy enough I just downloaded the bigger install CD for AMD64 ver. 0.7.2 “gimmick.” Speaking of which I’d love to be the guy who gets to decide which stupid name I want to call the next release. Can you see me? “Lets call it blueberry guy! ‘Cause I like blueberry pie!” … Anyway.
My first several attempts at the install went poorly. I’m not used to dealing with cfdisk though a lot of people swear by fdisk suites me much better. Somehow I find it simpler to use. Maybe thats because when I was first learning Linux the guide I used from a guy named Grogan recommended fdisk and used it in his unoffical guide. All of you Slackware fans remember that site don’t you? You should. Moving on I could not for the life of me decide how I wanted to partition my drive. So after several lame attempts I just went with what ever Arch thought I should do and let Arch do all the work for me. Bad idea! Much like most distributions with said feature, Arch uses a very simple, yet in my own opinion, very lame partition layout. It gives you a boot partition thats roughly 32Mb and is ext2 format. It gave me, if I remember correctly, 256Mb (maybe 512?) of swap, and naturally the rest was all one big happy partition that doubled as my root and my home and everything else you need for a Linux install. As I have become fond of doing recently, I will hearken back to the days of the TV show In Living Color, “hated it!”
With that layout I finally decided just to continue on. I didn’t really care much at that point so I moved on installed nothing but the base layout. Which, I might add, is an awfully large base, I mean really, who do they think they’re kidding? If you can’t tell by now, for Arch to be the Gentoo of the binary distros, it sure does a lot of things I wouldn’t expect it to do. Which is my biggest pet-peeve with Arch at the moment. Ah so I continued on to the next step which was working on your config files. For some reason ver. 0.7.2 “gimmick” didn’t like my hard drive set up even though it picked it out. It didn’t recognize my any of hard drive partitions on my fstab. So I dumbly assumed they didn’t need to be there and continued on. Installed Grub, check the setup they gave me for my menu.lst and rebooted. It gave me a pretty little splash screen and then naturally failed to boot. So I checked out my problem and went online. I came back with my Gentoo liveCD *evil grin* filled out my missing parts of the fstab and tried again. Nope still failed to boot. I came back with my Gentoo liveCD and changed something in the menu.lst. Apparently the installer chooses between two different intrid images for you when it installs Grub for you. The guy on the Arch forums told who ever that the installer choose the wrong one for him. Since he had the same error I took his advice. After rebooting, Arch failed to boot for a third time. Although his advice wasn’t all bad, it did make farther than before, but it still failed fairly early in the process.
At this point I’m steaming mad. For I can tell it was the installer that was screwing me over. Things like picking between intrid images are something thats totally out of my control. How am I supposed to know that? They didn’t exactly give me a choice much less tell me the other existed or the difference between. So anyway I decided at that point the current install I had was for the birds. It only takes about 10-15 mins to get Arch installed so that you can start installing stuff so I just decided I reinstall from scratch. This time using MY partitioning scheme. Don’t get me wrong here! My scheme I’m sure isn’t perfect. Its not the scheme to end all schemes, but its my favorite. Its been the one I’ve use since leaving Slackware. I think it has its advantages. With that said, I partitioned the way I liked it. Setup the file systems I wanted to setup, and then did a network install instead of a disk install. I was hoping at this point that with the latest packages off of the server maybe I could at least get a system that booted. After that everything went smoothly. Oddly enough even though Arch couldn’t’ read its own partitions that it setup, it recognized mine during the network install. I rebooted and it worked! Something to note though. I downloaded 0.7.2 but upon rebooting I was greeted with a welcome message that said welcome to Arch Linux ver. 0.8 vodoo. I assume that was due to the network install. I’ll let that remain as a tip to anyone installing Arch. If you don’t download the new vodoo install CDs then do the network install and let my misery be a warning so that you don’t have to go through the same dumb crap I did. Using the network install and installing version 0.8 I was actually very pleased with the install process. The 0.7.2 install is for the birds though.
My final thoughts on Arch Linux? Its nice, not awsome, or great, but nice.
Pacman is very fast yes, but also not the brightest package manager yet. Its probably faster than apt or yum if you want a comparison to other binary package managers. That being said pacman is still very young and doesn’t do everything it should it. Config files are still the bane of pacman as far as I’m concerned. Though I have experienced it yet, having pacman automatically overwrite config files that aren’t on the “Don’t overwrite” list is going to be a pain. That, in my opinion, is a desperatly needed feature. Portage, despite its short comings, is in my opinion very good about config files. Not to mention it comes with at least one tool in order to help you update them. Without this feature pacman is nice, but not the greatest ever made like many Arch users will tell you.
If you can install Slackware you can install Arch. If you can setup Slackware you can setup Arch. If you want my honest opinion, it is probably more difficult to install and setup Slackware than it is Arch. On the other hand if your coming from Gentoo expecting to be able to all of this customization. Plan to be disappointed. There really isn’t that much to do. Nothing more than would you could do if you installed Slackware. If Pat wrote a package manager, it would probably be similar to pacman. So imagine using Slackware current and having pacman instead of slapt-get or swaret. That is Arch Linux in a nutshell.
Now having set myself up for nasty amounts of flame. I’m going to go browse the Arch forums *evil grin.* If you get the chance, try Arch its fun. I’ll probably end up dual booting it with Gentoo.
Enjoy the Penguins!