December 10, 2008

Arch Linux rocks!

Some weeks ago, I switched from Ubuntu Linux to Arch Linux as my primary OS for my Desktop PC. Why did I switch? I have the feeling that Ubuntu gets slower and more bloated in every new version. I don't know why, but I don't like it anymore.

I've read some positive comments about Arch on reddit... so I tried it out. The Beginners Guide is a good starting point. After two or three month with Arch Linux, I just have three words: I love it.

Here are some points I like about Arch:
  • The Arch Way is the right way to do it. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
  • The package management with pacman is faster than dpkg and you can easily create your own packages with makepkg.
  • Incremental updates! You never have to wait six month just to get a newer version of some software from your distribution. Arch updates its stable tree continuously, so you just have to do "sudo pacman -Syu" and the chances are high, that you get new software every one or two days. Today I got the current git version which was officially released two days ago. How long do you have to wait to get the current git version into stable Ubuntu? You have to wait for the next Ubuntu version till the next year. Sure, you could compile git yourself or download the package from other sources, but the Arch way feels so much better.
  • The boot process is different from Debian based distributions. You have a single /etc/rc.conf file, and there you have also the daemons that start at boot time on a single line in the file, and you can change this very easily... If you prefix a daemon there with an @ sign, the daemon starts in parallel, so you can decrease your boot up time very easily. I'm starting my network connection daemon in parallel, so while it's working out its DHCP stuff, the rest of the system just goes on. That works really well.
  • Arch has a great community.
  • With the ArchLinux User-community Repository (AUR), you can get additional packages which are not in the official distribution, maybe applied with some patches. Yesterday, I've installed urxvt with 256 color support and fontfix-patch applied from an AUR package.
Let me tell you my experience with this great package management: Some weeks ago Gimp 2.6 was released. What did I do? I've created my own PKGFILE for Gimp 2.6. A PKGFILE is a build instruction for a software package, very similar to ebuild files from Gentoo Linux or ports files from FreeBSD. So I've created the simple PKGFILE for Gimp 2.6, ran makepkg and installed the resulting package via pacman.

Now, that's nothing special. But what really surprised me was, that four or five days later, Gimp 2.6 was in the official stable tree of Arch Linux. I did my daily "sudo pacman -Syu" and what happened? It updated my self created Gimp 2.6 package with the newer Gimp 2.6 version from the Arch stable repository! That absoluttely rocks! My own packages integrate itself into the update system! That's possible because you supply version informations in the PKGFILE.

Today I had the same situation with Python: Some days ago, Python 3 has been released. So, I've created a PKGFILE and build my own package. Today, I did my "sudo pacman -Syu" to update my packages and boom: My python3 package got updated by the python3 package from the stable arch tree! Arch Linux rocks!

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