Trying on Arch Linux


These days, I tried to install Arch Linux on VirtualBox. Though the installation steps are quite exhaustive, but after I run GNOME, the feeling is so good!

Features Linux Mint Ubuntu Arch Linux FreeBSD
Available packages with ISO image A lot, with proprietary software A lot, no proprietary software, need to download and install after OS installation Minimalist, need to download and install after OS installation A lot
Configuration needed after installation Little Little A lot A lot
Partition of installation Can be installed in logical partition Can be installed in logical partition Can be installed in logical partitioin Must be installed in primary partition
Init /etc/init.d/ /etc/init.d/ /etc/rc.conf /etc/rc.conf
DistroWatch ranking on 2011-03-22 #2 #1 #7 #15
Rolling release No No Yes No

I tried Arch Linux, because Lifehacker said,

Do dig into Arch Linux if you want to learn way more about Linux, get a system at just the right size and configuration for your needs, and want a crash course in how to tweak a Linux system for better performance.

I tried it. One of features I like is the configuration of the system initialization is using /etc/rc.conf, that is similar to FreeBSD. If comparing Arch Linux and FreeBSD, I will choose over Arch Linux because it can be installed on logical partition, which is important for multiple-boot computer and also multiple partitions hard drive.

However, the biggest drawback I found about Arch Linux is the installation of the packages. Since the ISO image for installation is minimalist, it does not contain any desktop environment like GNOME or KDE. Yet FreeBSD contains these packages with the ISO image. I don’t like this because I prefer “download once, install anywhere”. As a result, internet connection is a requirement for Arch Linux further installation.

If a computer does not have ethernet device, but wireless device, one can select “wireless_tools” during the installation of the package, if using Core Image CD installation. Since I am using VirtualBox, I cannot test the wireless device detection. But in my opinion, if the wireless device needs proprietary driver, that means wireless device is still unable to be used. Unlike Ubuntu or Linux Mint, even the wireless device is unable to be used after installation because of proprietary driver, the usb_modeswitch allows to use the USB 3G modem. Then using the USB 3G modem can download the proprietary wireless device driver. That means, Ubuntu and Linux Mint allows 3 options for internet connection after the installation of the CD.

Arch Linux requires the user to configure a lot of settings. But I feel that the steps of configuration are easier than FreeBSD. The wikis contain a lot of essential information.

One of the advantages of using Arch Linux over Ubuntu or Linux Mint is that Arch Linux is rolling release. For example, Firefox 4 is released, but it is not yet available in Ubuntu or Linux Mint repository. However, it is available in Arch Linux repository.

Currently, I am trying on Archiso, which is able to create Arch Linux LiveCD. I am planning to build a customized Arch Linux for installation, so that I can install all the packages I want without internet connection.

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