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#1 2005-04-15 06:05:05

dtw
Forum Fellow
From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,431
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Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

This is insane!

Are linux users all obsessed with installion and distro-hopping?

You only install once - you might use it for the rest of your life?

Does the installtion process go a long way towards defining a distro?

Arch doesn't fit this paradigm.

What is a distro - is Arch a "distro"

Imagine if windows judged by how easy it is to install (maybe it is come to think of it)

Arch's strength lies in the long run and maintainability - which makes logical sense and is as it should be

We see loads of "make the installation easier" feedback - this often comes from "newbies"

I'd like to put together a review of Arch by people who actually use it and how it helps them achieve real goals - not in the way i see a lot of comments about gentoo "it makes my system so much faster" etc.

would anyone like to contribute?

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#2 2005-04-15 06:36:52

cactus
Taco Eater
From: t͈̫̹ͨa͖͕͎̱͈ͨ͆ć̥̖̝o̫̫̼s͈̭̱̞͍̃!̰
Registered: 2004-05-25
Posts: 4,615
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Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

Sounds like a good idea dibble. It would be nice to have a different viewpoint, not so focused on install alone.

I think people tend to harp on it, because that is the "first impression". I think it falls under the "don't judge a book by its cover" in this case..


"Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept." -- Postel's Law
"tacos" -- Cactus' Law
"t̥͍͎̪̪͗a̴̻̩͈͚ͨc̠o̩̙͈ͫͅs͙͎̙͊ ͔͇̫̜t͎̳̀a̜̞̗ͩc̗͍͚o̲̯̿s̖̣̤̙͌ ̖̜̈ț̰̫͓ạ̪͖̳c̲͎͕̰̯̃̈o͉ͅs̪ͪ ̜̻̖̜͕" -- -̖͚̫̙̓-̺̠͇ͤ̃ ̜̪̜ͯZ͔̗̭̞ͪA̝͈̙͖̩L͉̠̺͓G̙̞̦͖O̳̗͍

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#3 2005-04-15 06:50:20

dtw
Forum Fellow
From: UK
Registered: 2004-08-03
Posts: 4,431
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Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

what i am imagining is something like....

i was setting up a wireless network at home - i needed this and this, i found this and this on the wiki, i had problems with this and ....

you get the idea.

it sounds a bit like testimonials but it doesn't have to have that reviewer tone - just what you did and how you did the Arch Way

will it catch on?

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#4 2005-04-15 06:58:40

cactus
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From: t͈̫̹ͨa͖͕͎̱͈ͨ͆ć̥̖̝o̫̫̼s͈̭̱̞͍̃!̰
Registered: 2004-05-25
Posts: 4,615
Website

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

I think people would find that more of a how-to, useful in its own right no doubt. I think when speaking of a "review", people are looking at getting a general "feel"  for a distribution through the pen of another.

I think something more along the lines of "a year/month/day in the life of an archlinux user", as apposed to just "install and first hour or so", would be cool. big_smile


"Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept." -- Postel's Law
"tacos" -- Cactus' Law
"t̥͍͎̪̪͗a̴̻̩͈͚ͨc̠o̩̙͈ͫͅs͙͎̙͊ ͔͇̫̜t͎̳̀a̜̞̗ͩc̗͍͚o̲̯̿s̖̣̤̙͌ ̖̜̈ț̰̫͓ạ̪͖̳c̲͎͕̰̯̃̈o͉ͅs̪ͪ ̜̻̖̜͕" -- -̖͚̫̙̓-̺̠͇ͤ̃ ̜̪̜ͯZ͔̗̭̞ͪA̝͈̙͖̩L͉̠̺͓G̙̞̦͖O̳̗͍

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#5 2005-04-15 10:49:05

Kern
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2005-02-09
Posts: 460

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

This is insane!
Are linux users all obsessed with installion and distro-hopping?

Nah, its a just transitional stage, notorious for those with the loud voices.

It starts as a Linux newbie, often after the Windows experience.
Needs lots of handholding and an easy install. Tell a few friends that actually know what linux is. quietly.
Wary of asking questions let alone making comment stage.

The middle bit, trying every new flavour of this wonderful icecream.
Little handholding, lots of tinkering, comparing and reviewing, telling everyone how good/bad/indifferent their distro is.
The Reviewers seem to be eternally stuck here.
Loud mouth stage.

End bit, realising what qualities they require from a distro, and settling on a favourite. Only change if true advantage is offered by another distro.
Quiet bloke, pipe and slippers, mow the grass occasionaly stage..

I'd like to put together a review of Arch by people who actually use it and how it helps them achieve real goals - not in the way i see a lot of comments about gentoo "it makes my system so much faster" etc.
would anyone like to contribute?

Having just recently installed Arch, and starting a small Technical services type of business venture, the Arch PC is the Main PC.

Contribute ? erm, guardedly  yes. maybe like Cactus suggestion "a day in the life of"  scenario.

Sounds good, but then would it not be more of a Package review ? i needed to do this, Pacman -S package / downloaded xyz.tar.gz and then installed, configured and used it. Same as Redhat / Windows etc warts and all.

Maybe this is why the reviews are based on the install process and initial configs of external hardware, and updates.
It's personalised to the distro, has a short reporting cycle and after that not that diffferent between distros. is it ?

What about a collection of testimonials, that arent just a "praise arch for it is Good"  but, "i use arch and continue to use arch on these grounds" type of thing.

Dunno about the "how" but i think your right. needs a new approach to reviews for sure.

my 2 cents for what its worth hmm

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#6 2005-04-26 19:08:49

deft
Member
Registered: 2005-03-14
Posts: 79

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

That's a straightforward one to answer Dibble - because many if not most reviewers have a relatively shallow understanding of the distro that they're reviewing............ - one of the "easy" parts that they do know well is the install process - (it's easy to write down a step-by-step breakdown of any distro install) - for example, I could write down a good step-by-step guide to installing Arch - however, off the top of my head, I couldn't write a comprehensive and in-depth review of ABS etc (with some months of reading and doing I possibly could, but you get my drift).

So to summarise, I'd hazard a guess that most reviewers have a relatively shallow understanding of the distro that theyre reviewing, and hence they concentrate on the easy, accesible and superficial aspects of the distro (like the install process).

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#7 2005-04-26 19:52:50

shadowhand
Member
From: MN, USA
Registered: 2004-02-19
Posts: 1,142
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Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

Some distros, such as Gentoo, need to have a lengthy description of the install process since it's rather involved and somewhat convoluted. But a distro such as Arch has several installation methods, as I just found out. (I just installed Arch to a new hard drive by using

pacman -Sy -r /mnt/newarch packages

and it worked wonderfully.

I think that for many people, installation is the hardest thing to do (with the "let the distro do everything for you" distros at least) so a lot of the review focus is on installation.


·¬»· i am shadowhand, powered by webfaction

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#8 2005-04-26 20:12:37

johnisevil
Member
From: Hamilton, ON Canada
Registered: 2003-08-07
Posts: 221
Website

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

Are linux users all obsessed with installion and distro-hopping?

Yes.  On here, other forums, IRC, etc. you hear about people installing new distros all the time.  Look at the number of distros that people have used.  I've been using linux for almost 10 years and I've only used 5 different distros.  A few of those were to try out, but I've used the others full time.  People can and have doubled or tripled that number in months.

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#9 2005-04-26 20:24:40

MillTek
Member
Registered: 2005-01-30
Posts: 442

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

Hi Dibble,
I've thought about this issue several times since joining/starting Arch. (Usually when I see a 'can we improve the instal?'l thread.) Some of the answers given above are very good but here's my $.02.

Most noobs, when transferring from Windows, are faced with realistic choices for the first time. They have control over pretty much every aspect of what goes where during the install. The only way to make it easier for them is to 'default' everything - take over the entire hard drive, install vast amounts of software and show pretty pictures while doing it.  (Maybe even force them to re-boot fifty times as well - LOL!!)

For folks with prior linux experience I am more mystified. I hopped around a lot before finding Arch. The Arch install is really much easier than most.  The only 'difficulty' I had was in picking the packages that would be installed. It is the only distro that gave me this choice so I was surprised - that's all.

If Pacman has a problem is that it's so easy. There was an initial expectation on my part that it would be harder. I've d'led hundreds of packages since and never once had a fail.

Even the dreaded Nvidia drivers which cause such really extreme grief in other distros have been updated twice with no problems.

That's the main reason I stay with Arch. Yes it's fast but it also works and works well. I no longer have to d/l a 653Mb CD image to get the latest kernel. Just every couple of days I do a pacman -Suy and it all happens.

If I were to take a shot at a one line answer to your question I would say that overall Arch is so easy and efficient that the reviewers and noobs feel they have to 'pick' on something - and that something is inevitably the install.  I think that even if the install was made much prettier (pictures etc.) they'd next complain about the quality of the graphics.  Reviewer have to whine about something.

As far as desktop OS technology goes, Arch has, IMOH, achieved the  status of being so good that you no longer have to think about using it. Just like a light switch on the wall.

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#10 2005-04-26 20:51:51

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

MillTek wrote:

Most noobs, when transferring from Windows, are faced with realistic choices for the first time. They have control over pretty much every aspect of what goes where during the install.

Yes good point - I was trying to think about the install in terms of Windows... and here's what I decided:

Most newbs have never installed windows, and if they did, it was automated to the point where they don't remember it (does anyone recall the hassle of installing Windows 95? ugh!).

A fact people disregard is that the "installation" process for Windows is text based.  Yeah it's got a loop that displays images while it copies all its files, but the user interaction is limited to text - that is, until the configuration, which goes like : "Pick your timezone....do you have a network?.....please wait 35 minutes until install completes"

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#11 2005-04-26 22:27:58

DarkPath
Member
Registered: 2004-11-15
Posts: 50

Re: Why are distro reviews all based on the install process?

I'd be willing to contribute to this, but I'd have to think about what problems I've really had to go about solving the "Arch Way"... see, a lot of the problems I had at first were relatively easy and quick fixes so I don't remember them much. wink

Installation processes are sometimes good to get a general feel for a distro before you delve into it. For example, Windows barely has any user interaction... and, of course, Windows also doesn't have the configurability of Linux. Windows does so much transparrently to the user, which mimics the install process. For Arch, you're already hand-configuring your files before you actually boot into your install! This mimics Arch perfectly in that you should know what you're doing (or learn pretty quick wink) but you have an amazing level of configurability for your environment.

I was distro-hopping for a while before I found Arch... didn't actually even USE Linux that much because it just wasn't as entertaining after I had it installed. Like with Fedora for example- I install everything through their nice graphical installer, get into the actual OS, and most things just work. I have no real idea where my config files are stored or, if a problem came up, I didn't really know where to look. Also, I hit a snag with the RPM package system because Fedora always seemed to use their own little versions of everything. Sometimes, programs I'd want to install off the net (distributed in RPM formats) would have some version conflicts because of Fedora's versioning scheme. Oh, and the updater with Fedora.. I don't recall the name, but it was buggy as hell and I hated it.

After a while, I gave Slackware a try. It's installation process was without all the bells and flair of the Fedora install, but I absolutely loved it. It just felt so... simple and intuitive. I knew what was being installed; I knew where it was being installed. For a while, I thought Slackware would be the last distro I ever needed to install. I think the package management finally got to me, so I decided to give this new "i686 Optimised" distro a try. I figured 'why not, seems like a decent distro.' Wow, I was just amazed by it all after I installed. The install process gave me about the same feeling as Slackware, but it was a little more guided in that it had me edit the config files to be specific for my system. I absolutely loved Arch Linux after I had it installed and I haven't looked back.

I mentioned someone in the Arch Linux IRC channel that while Fedora and other big distros have a lot to offer, they're more of a package deal... you install one thing, you've installed almost everything. Whereas Arch is more like a framework... you install the base system and just kinda go from there. If you want a graphical interface, pacman -Sy xorg. If you want Gnome, KDE, XFCE, or whatever... pacman -S <the package or group>. It's just that easy. The hard part, getting everything installed and orgazised is pretty much taken care of by pacman, which is great. From there, it's up to me, the user, to get it really configured and working the way I want. This is why I'd bet that for people's personal computers at least, there are no two installs of Arch that are the same. Fedora, SUSE, Mandrake, etc... they all feel like the distro came out of a cookie cutter. Arch just has a different feel, like you really did something to get where you are with it.

...
Well, that seemed to turn more into a big post praising Arch... but I think it was on-topic near the start. wink Just want to give the Arch developers and the Arch community a big thanks though!

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