Reasons to install and not to install Arch Linux


I am Arch Linux fan. Recently, I discovered a distro, Fuduntu, which stated that it is optimised for laptop and netbook use. This increases my interest due to battery draining problem for my old netbook. Though my old netbook was installed with Arch Linux using LXDE, the battery can only last for only 1 hour. That is why, I think I am going to switch to Fuduntu. However, after installation of Fuduntu, then I found some problems like missing the packages FreeFileSync and VisualBoyAdvance, and also failed to install Wine because of dependencies error. This made me regret to uninstall Arch Linux from my netbook, because installing Arch Linux is really exhaustive.

When I wanted to re-install Arch Linux to my netbook, to made it easy, I tried to install ArchBang. However, at the unsquashfs stage, there was something like kernel panic. Finally, I give up ArchBang and install in the proper way with Arch Linux.

I found that Fuduntu contains a package Jupiter Applet. So, I tried to install it in my netbook hopefully make the battery last longer.

I always think which distro is better. Now, I have some conclusions why I am Arch Linux supporter. The following are the reasons to install and not to install Arch Linux.

Reasons not to install Arch Linux

  • Your computer does not work.
  • You don’t like command-line, or you don’t have good typing skill, or you hate typing.
  • You have the problem with network connection. You don’t have wired network connection, and the wireless device is incompatible to the Arch Linux installation LiveCD, make you impossible to install Arch Linux.
  • You don’t know any or only know little about commands such as: cd, mount, pwd, ls, less, cat, nano, vi, …
  • You don’t want to spend any time to customize your OS.
  • You don’t want to waste your time to install.
  • You don’t want to waste your time learn to install.
  • You only want GUI installation.
  • You want something pleasant to see after installation, such as beautiful wallpaper, cute icons, awesome cursors, interesting boot splash, user friendly themes, attractive animation effects, etc.

Reasons to install Arch Linux

  • You don’t have any problems with the reasons above.
  • You want to use the latest packages as soon as they are released.
  • You want to try out a lot of packages, such as Ubuntu One, FreeFileSync, XnViewMP, …
  • You want to try out different DE (desktop environment) or WM (windows manager) with only one OS: Xfce4, GNOME3, KDE, LXDE, OpenBox, and may be other experimental DEs.
  • *You want to create your own packages easily from any source.
  • You want your computer OS has a lot of possibilities to do anything.
  • You want to learn more about Linux or computer.

Yes, create own packages (refers to *). I tried to create debian packages before. Comparing to makepkg and PKGBUILD, it is too troublesome. The beauty of Arch Linux is simplifying a lot of works. Not in the way that simplifies the works for the end users by complicating the works of the developers. It makes the developers’ work much more easy, to deploy the packages, no need spending too much time on the GUI, because most of the things are bash scripts. For the end users, what they need is to read the documents and follow some commands. Yet the commands are also simplified just like installing the packages with makepkg, installing the OS with pacstrap.


Firefox or Chromium (Google Chrome)

Yes, again web browser. I am using Firefox. Only sometimes Chromium (Google Chrome). Mainly Firefox. If someone ask me, which one I choose, I definitely answer Firefox. But, if someone ask me, which one I prefer, then it will be difficult to answer.

Firstly, I would like to go through why I choose Firefox as my primary web browser.

Because of DownThemAll. There is no alternative extension in Google Chrome like DownThemAll. Why I like DownThemAll so much? I use DownThemAll with GreaseMonkey to download my favourite mangas (comics). This is something Google Chrome still cannot do it, based on my current knowledge. GreaseMonkey generates the links, right-click, then I DownThemAll.

Another two addons, DownloadHelper and FlashGot. Both of them allows me to download any online video or audio streaming. Google Chrome doesn’t have this type of extension.

Actually, all of these limitations of Google Chrome are because of extension API restriction. That is why, there is no similar replacement for DownThemAll, DownloadHelper and FlashGot. However, I wonder why there is no one uses NPAPI to build the similar extension in Google Chrome.

Next advantage of Firefox is the bookmarks. The best feature I like is the tagging feature. This help me to search my unorganised bookmarks easier. I know, Google Chrome uses a different approach to solve this problem. Google Chrome is more to cloud computing and searching algorithm, it solves the problem by using Google Bookmark search. This is something I don’t like, without internet connection, Google Chrome can done less thing than Firefox. (You might said, without internet connection, your web-browser can do nothing, yet I can said, I can still do the web development without proper internet connection, or manage my bookmarks when I don’t have internet connection.)

Then, if I definitely choose Firefox over Google Chrome, why do I need to post this blog? Sure, there is some beauty about Google Chrome which always makes me to consider to switch to it. Firstly, its interface is really clean and simple. The interface make me feel more to the webpage instead of web-browser. Firefox makes me feel that I am using Firefox; Google Chrome makes me feel that I am visiting the websites.

Secondly, for the developers, creating extension using Google Chrome is super easy comparing creating a Firefox addon. Firefox addon needs to follow a lot of convention and using XUL, which is not easy to learn (for me). It needs to create “chrome.manifest”, “install.rdf”, and so on. The documentation is also not very good (I personally feel).

Thirdly, Google Chrome has Chrome Web Store, this is something which Firefox lacks of. But even if there exists Mozilla Web Store, I will not prefer it, unless the Mozilla Web Store is a superset of Chrome Web Store, then I may like it.

Then, there are several other reasons, such as Google Chrome open and close is faster than Firefox. Though Firefox startup is far more better than its older version, it is still slower than Google Chrome. And if closing the Firefox, then you want to start the Firefox again, you need to wait a while. Besides that, enable or disable the addons needs to restart Firefox also. May be this is the price paid for the good addons like DownThemAll, FlashGot and DownloadHelper.

A review on several Linux major distribution with LiveCD

Use Arch Linux quite a while, I like the “pacman” command-line, simple and easy installing packages. Then I think about the other package managers such as deb with aptitude, rpm with yum or zypper or urpmi, how will they look like? Because of this, I tried several LiveCDs/LiveDVDs with VirtualBox: LinuxMint 13, Ubuntu 12.04, Fedora 17, OpenSUSE 12.1, Debian 6.0, CentOS 6.2, PCLinuxOS 2012.02, and Mageia 2.

I didn’t go through all the distribution thoroughly, just tried the installation, a web-browser, and the package manager.

PCLinuxOS and Mageia are using KDE. Both requires quite higher resources especially for the video memory in VirtualBox. For me, both are similar. Only difference is the package manager, PCLinuxOS uses aptitude but with rpm packages. Mageia uses urpmi.

Then Fedora and OpenSUSE, both are using GNOME3. It is also require more video memory, however, if memory not sufficient, it allows using GNOME Fallback. That is why I like Gtk+, but not GNOME3. With 256M memory and 32M video memory, OpenSUSE will fallback, but Fedora will not. For me, both Fedora and OpenSUSE are also similar. The only difference is the package manager, Fedora uses yum and OpenSUSE uses zypper.

Actually, Ubuntu is also similar to Fedora and OpenSUSE, the differences are using Unity instead of GNOME3 and the package manager is aptitude. I said similar to Fedora and OpenSUSE is because of the similarity of Unity and GNOME3. The package manager is totally different because it is debian-based.

I also tried CentOS. I feel comfortable with the desktop environment, because it is using GNOME2. However, I cannot get the GNOME3 with the repositories. So, I cannot use the latest packages.

Next, Debian. For me, it is the worst among what I tried. The reason is because of Iceweasel. If Iceweasel is as latest as Firefox, I might consider it. Yet, the version of Iceweasel is 3.5.16 in Debian 6.

Then, the best is LinuxMint. Because it uses Mate as the desktop environment. In the usability perspective, Mate is more preferable, because I need to open a lot of applications when I do my work.

As a conclusion, for me, LinuxMint > Ubuntu > Fedora OR OpenSUSE > CentOS > Mageia OR PCLinuxOS > Debian. However, the best of the best is Arch Linux that I am using.

GNOME3 still not satisfying

I am still currently using Xfce4. I tried GNOME3 sometimes after some updates released. However, GNOME3 is still not satisfying. There are a lot problems. The new interface can be learnt, but the problems are not the interface problem.

The following list is the problems I faced:

  1. ibus can be added to the notification area with ibus-gjs, but after installing ibus-gjs and restart GNOME3, ibus doesn’t start as expected.
  2. Toolbar problem. In evince (I haven’t tried others), if add a button to the toolbar, I cannot remove that button anymore.
  3. If the network connection is disabled, eg, Wired network is disabled, I cannot change the options. I can only change the options for those which is connected.
  4. When changing the options of Wired network for all users, there is no authentication prompt, thus, I cannot change any options.
  5. Keyboard shortcut problem with Windows key (Mod4). Cannot work properly.

The only feature I like in GNOME3 is the aero snap feature. But there is nothing more.

GNOME Commander for Ubuntu

When I was using Windows to manage my files, I always open a lot of windows to move my files. Even the window is already open, I will open a new window.  Because it is difficult for me to find the opened windows. And my taskbar will full of tasks.

So, I tried to find a Windows Explorer replacement. Tried all the best free file managers by Gizmo’s Freeware. Then, only FreeCommander fulfils my needs. There is no need to open a lot of windows.

Moving to Ubuntu, Nautilus is the default file manager of Ubuntu. I face the same problem as using Windows. So, the software similar to FreeCommander on GNOME based OS is GNOME Commander. It is very useful.

However, I just found that delete files using GNOME Commander does not move the file to Trash. This is a drawback.

Review of Wubi input method and Cangjie input method

I learnt Cangjie input method before. Difficult to learn, difficult to memorize. Give up finally. Cangjie input is target on Traditional Chinese characters.

Recently, I tried Wubi input method, which is target on Simplified Chinese characters. Compare to Cangjie, it is easier to learn, easier to memorize. Not because the poem, but the rule of stroke layout on the keyboard is systematic. And I am learning Wubi 86 version.

So, using these input method, I can type the Chinese character without knowing how to pronounce the word. It is an alternative input method I think I need to learn.

If you are interested, visit this link to learn:

My favourite Thunderbird add-ons

Since I tried on Evolution of Ubuntu, an email client just like Microsoft Outlook, with PIM (Personal Information Manager) features, allows using IMAP, and allows synchronization. I really like it. So I tried to install Evolution for Windows. However, Evolution for Windows cannot work properly on Windows 7. Then, I need to switch back to Thunderbird. Since I like the feature of PIM and the synchronization with GMail and Google Calendar, I have installed following add-ons: