What’s up world? So at the beginning of this month I mentioned two very nice Linux distros, but since then I’ve discovered another, and trust me this one’s a good one. Thanks to This Week in Linux I discovered Arch Linux, which I am actually using right now to write this post.
You’ll remember that I talked about Gentoo, which is a great and very powerful distribution, but building everything from source can take forever. Arch is much like Gentoo in the sense that you don’t start out with much and have the ability to get into the guts of the OS, but unlike Gentoo Arch’s package manager, Pacman uses binaries! Yay! And let me tell you, Pacman is fast. It’s fast at fetching packages, it’s fast at installing packages. I daresay it is faster than APT.
Pacman does not build from source, but Arch does have a feature, much like Portage that fetches and compiles Pacman packages from source, called the Arch Build System, or ABS. I have not really used this feature yet though.
Pacman does have a lot of packages, but if you can’t find a specific package there is always the AUR, or Arch User Repository, which contains config files that one can download to automatically fetch and build packages from source. For example, with the help of the AUR I was able to get the pre-released version of 64-bit Flash Player, completely painlessly.
Arch is certainly a lot easier to set up than Gentoo as well. With the combination of excellent documentation and user friendly tools, such as Netcfg Arch Linux is a lot less painful than Gentoo to manage. I’ve been able to get X working with my NVIDIA card, install GNOME, set up wireless (surprisingly easily), and even enable Compiz Fusion.
After just a few days I am settling in to Arch Linux. It is a very powerful operating system, but at the same time very manageable. And with its rolling release system you’ll always be up-to-date. There are just so many advantages it has over other distros that I am seriously considering switching to Arch permanently.