I used Arch Linux from 2004 to 2006 with pleasure, with my company we also founded the Arch Linux Italian Community (managed by us ’till 2007, now it’s managed by the community itself) because we really loved this distro. In 2006 I decided to switch to Ubuntu because I switched to a laptop and I needed an easy wireless configuration and an easier printer configuration ’cause I was moving from office to office every day… but that’s another story.
Today I decided to give Arch a try to see what’s happened in these 2 years (actually I’m not in love with Ubuntu anymore, I can’t understand why but it’s far to be “stable” on my machines…) and also because I always liked the rolling release philosophy but AFAIK there’s no big distro using that (Arch apart).
1 – installation
The ISOs available on arch’s website are quite old, the latest is 2007.08-2, I think it’s time for an update. Anyway that’s not a big problem because I downloaded the FTP installer thus every package is downloaded from the Internet.
Here come the first real pain: the FTP installer ISO can’t install because of an annoying bug due to the updated pacman formats (actually it was easy to fix but they really need to release a working ISO).
2 – installing a graphic environment
I’m a gnome addicted thus I went into the newly installed system and typed the “pacman -Sy xorg xf86-video-ati gnome gdm”, waited a bit and then tried to configure X following the arch’s guide (note: I think that guide is definitively too long but let’s go ahead). None of the methods in the guide worked completely, hwd (which seems something old to me but maybe I’m wrong) printed out a bunch of errord, “X -configure” did not detect my resolution (1280×800, quite default on laptops), xf86config is terrible and I don’t want to see it ’till the end of the days.
The result is that I had to configure some things manually editing the xorg.conf…
3 – sound
Logging into gnome I found that sound wasn’t working (the volume applet was throwing an error about no devices found) thus I installed the whole gnome-extras metapackage which contains the gnome-audio. Anyway nothing. Ok, I didn’t take time to read a guide about audio while I should.
4 – wi-fi
I really need wi-fi, I saw that arch’s NetworkManager package was quite old so I decided to try wicd, installed it but nothing, it keep saying that I’ve no wireless card. Again, I didn’t take time to read a guide about wi-fi while I should.
5 – fonts
On my laptop the gnome’s fonts were horrible thus I looked for documentation and I found this arch’s fonts guide but… when I saw that I had to remove packages and install other ones from AUR I quit.
6 – conclusion
Arch needs more time and love than what I could give her today but it seemed to me that it has not evolved too much in the latest years and it should definitively be easier to setup, let me say KISS also for users and not only for the distro itself :-)
I’m sure the distro is great but I can’t take all that effort to configure it to have a decent desktop, I’m really sorry to say that and I don’t know no one to be offended by my words.
Did someone ever created a newbie friendly auto-configuring live-cd based on arch? I think it would rock! (I’m so sorry I really have no time to work on that)