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#1 2013-11-23 09:49:25

minus
Member
Registered: 2007-12-20
Posts: 21

A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Hello Arch users,

I know that this forum is probably not the best place to ask a question like that but I'll try anyways:

I have been using Archlinux for more than 5 years and I really like the simplicity and the Arch philosophy. However, as I cannot afford to devote a lot of time to maintaining my work station (which Archlinux naturally requires if one relies on a bunch of AUR packages) I have swapped to OS X around a year ago. Please no OS X bashing here, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages which shall be discussed at another place.

I noticed that for certain tasks a proper Linux is still very handy. Up to now I was just using my former Archlinux notebook every now and then. This means that it occurs that I will not use my Linux box for a couple of months, possibly even a year. With that I get into trouble keeping my system up to date with the rolling release philosophy (due to the huge gaps between two consecutive updates).

So what I basically want is the Arch-experience without the rolling release feature. It appeared to me that there might possibly be some long-term archive available, where all packages are just available for a long time. If not, can you suggest any other distributions that require little maintenance and are as close to Arch as possible? I really do not want to miss pacman, however, if there is no other way I'd need to install some long-term support Ubuntu...

Thanks a lot

Last edited by minus (2013-11-23 09:50:05)

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#2 2013-11-23 12:10:24

Spider.007
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Registered: 2004-06-20
Posts: 1,143
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

If there is no other way I would install Mint instead wink I'm not sure what DE you used, but you might find something in https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ar … s_(Active) for a pacman-supporting distro

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#3 2013-11-23 13:25:05

Jristz
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From: America/Santiago
Registered: 2011-06-11
Posts: 921

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

ARM is up but again, yes the problem are the updates.
Chakra is rolling but they provide install CD more often and for every big KDE update.

As same as Arch...well, Pacman is arch so none is a 1:1 replacenment


Well, I suppose that this is somekind of signature, no?

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#4 2013-11-23 13:50:35

minus
Member
Registered: 2007-12-20
Posts: 21

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Spider.007 wrote:

If there is no other way I would install Mint instead wink I'm not sure what DE you used, but you might find something in https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ar … s_(Active) for a pacman-supporting distro

What's the reason you'd go for Mint instead of Ubuntu? I haven't used Ubuntu personally for a while, however, I have installed it on friends' computers who are not very affine to system administration. A thing I found really annoying was the Unity desktop environment, but with [K|X|..]ubuntu there are alternatives I guess.

On Arch I was not using a full desktop environment, I had a combination of i3, slim, and some panel (I think it was tint2 or pypanel) running.

Another thing I noticed when I compare OS X vs Linux is that to my experience the OS X Spotlight desktop search is superior to anything else - are there any well-working (fast, easy to use, search within documents) linux tools for that?

Jristz wrote:

ARM is up but again, yes the problem are the updates.

What are you referring to by "ARM"?

Having frequent install CDs is not much of a help really. I don't want to reinstall my system everytime I use it (assuming that I only use it only every 6 months or so).

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#5 2013-11-23 14:30:39

andjeng
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From: Indonesia
Registered: 2012-08-30
Posts: 146

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

minus wrote:
Spider.007 wrote:

If there is no other way I would install Mint instead wink I'm not sure what DE you used, but you might find something in https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ar … s_(Active) for a pacman-supporting distro

What's the reason you'd go for Mint instead of Ubuntu? I haven't used Ubuntu personally for a while, however, I have installed it on friends' computers who are not very affine to system administration. A thing I found really annoying was the Unity desktop environment, but with [K|X|..]ubuntu there are alternatives I guess.

On Arch I was not using a full desktop environment, I had a combination of i3, slim, and some panel (I think it was tint2 or pypanel) running.

Another thing I noticed when I compare OS X vs Linux is that to my experience the OS X Spotlight desktop search is superior to anything else - are there any well-working (fast, easy to use, search within documents) linux tools for that?

Jristz wrote:

ARM is up but again, yes the problem are the updates.

What are you referring to by "ARM"?

Having frequent install CDs is not much of a help really. I don't want to reinstall my system everytime I use it (assuming that I only use it only every 6 months or so).

ARM = https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ar … ck_Machine


just looking around. wink

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#6 2013-11-23 15:04:50

vostok4
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Registered: 2010-12-16
Posts: 61

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Why not just not update if everything is "working as intended"? You'll be on old versions of software in a LTS distro anyways, just resist the itch to pacman -Syu whenever you wake up. If its a personal notebook you probably don't have to be on the latest security fixes as you probably aren't running world-facing network services etc. Unless you are, in which case disregard this.

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#7 2013-11-23 15:18:49

ANOKNUSA
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Registered: 2010-10-22
Posts: 2,141

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

minus wrote:

I noticed that for certain tasks a proper Linux is still very handy... So what I basically want is the Arch-experience without the rolling release feature.

Then you'll need to ask yourself what tasks you need Linux for, and you think the "Arch-experience" is.  The absolute closest thing you'll find that offers hands-off stability is FreeBSD, which has its own (possibly problematic?) Linux compatibility layer if you absolutely must use a Linux kernel or GNU utilities. In the Linux ecosystem, the closest things you'll find are Gentoo and CRUX, with CRUX being very, very similar. Of course, Gentoo is a rolling-release system, CRUX is a partial rolling-release system, and the Darwin project was "forked" from BSD and utilizes BSD utilities anyway.

I don't want to reinstall my system everytime I use it (assuming that I only use it only every 6 months or so).

6 months being the typical release cycle for most major distributions...  For those with a longer support cycle, any search engine can help you out.

Another thing I noticed when I compare OS X vs Linux is that to my experience the OS X Spotlight desktop search is superior to anything else - are there any well-working (fast, easy to use, search within documents) linux tools for that?

I'd strongly recommend reading *nix/OS X ranter enthusiast Alex Payne's blog post about "Everything Buckets." Nothing can substitute a well-organized filesystem; if you can't find something you read (or typed) on your own disk, then it's time for some spring cleaning.

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#8 2013-11-23 18:02:21

drcouzelis
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From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,471
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

The reason (my opinion) to use Linux Mint over Ubuntu is that Ubuntu is setup to be as easy to use as allowed by law. Conversely, Linux Mint is configured to be as easy to use possible, period. This is especially noticeable with things like Flash, codec support, and DVD playback. You install Linux Mint and that's it, it's ready to be used.

Ubuntu used to have the advantage of being more popular, and therefore easy to get help for, but Linux Mint is currently incredibly popular, so that's not an issue.

...I'm not sure what you're looking for in a Linux distribution without getting more information. Here is a list of Linux distributions based on Arch Linux.

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#9 2013-11-23 18:19:53

teateawhy
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From: GER
Registered: 2012-03-05
Posts: 1,048
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

minus wrote:

So what I basically want is the Arch-experience without the rolling release feature.

debian comes to my mind.
The other suggestions, not so much, they are far away from arch.

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#10 2013-11-23 19:24:11

minus
Member
Registered: 2007-12-20
Posts: 21

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Thanks for every single reply. It seems I am slowly approaching my best-fit distro smile

@andjeng:
ARM sounds interesting, but two potential problems come to my mind: 1) as described in the wiki, the original ARM has already been closed, if that happens again I won't have a repository and a lot of maintenance work is to be issued. 2) If I will just set my mirrorlist to a fixed date I will not be able to get any security updates (also, see my reply to vostok4).

@vostok4:
The problem is that packages in AUR usually require the latest versions of some libraries, so just not applying updates is not possible (that was my first go when I replaced my Arch notebook with a Mac, now it is still being unused as Arch does not work anymore and I don't want to bother fixing the outdated system).

@ANOKNUSA:
The tasks I need linux for can be anything, such as being able to read/write/format/re-partition any of my old harddrives or using/compiling software that is available for linux only (or is more stable on linux).
What I mean by "Arch-experience" is that I can use a simple and powerful package manager like pacman and I can find nearly every thinkable package in AUR (if not, I can create it on my own without a lot of trouble due to the makepkg system). Furthermore, I enjoy(ed) the simplicity (a single configuration file rc.conf where I could configure most of the general system settings, at least before the move to systemd has been carried out, which I dislike as I never had the patience to learn systemd and get the hang of it). When Arch was my only system I also liked that the installation has created a naked linux on my drive that I needed to put clothes on. I guess with converting to a casual linux user I now prefer something that is already ready to use (but I still want to be able to change the clothes).

I will have a look at CRUX and Darwin as you have suggested.

I agree that a well-organised filesystem is very important. However, even if one applies the theory meticulously (which I usually don't as I have other priorities when working), the possibility of opening a file without having to click through the folders in a file explorer (or typing the filepath in the terminal) has eased my workflow. I will read your link after I have posted this, though.

@drcouzelis:
I have had a look at the Arch-based distros but I think none of them are really what I want (which is a LTS version of Archlinux smile ). I think I might try out a LTS Mint as soon as I have assembled my new computer.

@teateawhy:
I have not used Debian yet, but as far as I understand the release cycles are quite short and there is no LTS of particular releases. In your opinion, why is Debian closer to Arch than the other suggestions?

Last edited by minus (2013-11-23 22:06:04)

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#11 2013-11-23 20:49:50

teateawhy
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From: GER
Registered: 2012-03-05
Posts: 1,048
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

minus wrote:

I have not used Debian yet, but as far as I understand the release cycles are quite short

haha

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#12 2013-11-24 11:07:35

Spider.007
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Registered: 2004-06-20
Posts: 1,143
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

minus wrote:
Spider.007 wrote:

If there is no other way I would install Mint instead wink I'm not sure what DE you used, but you might find something in https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ar … s_(Active) for a pacman-supporting distro

What's the reason you'd go for Mint instead of Ubuntu? I haven't used Ubuntu personally for a while, however, I have installed it on friends' computers who are not very affine to system administration. A thing I found really annoying was the Unity desktop environment, but with [K|X|..]ubuntu there are alternatives I guess.

Unity would be the reason I'd go for Mint wink Also; I'm not too fond of the recent Mir development that's happening.

Another thing I noticed when I compare OS X vs Linux is that to my experience the OS X Spotlight desktop search is superior to anything else - are there any well-working (fast, easy to use, search within documents) linux tools for that?

Well it was you who said both systems have their advantages and disadvantages which shall be discussed at another place. and I agree with that wink Also, that question has nothing to do with the distro you choose as this search-tool would simply be an application within that distro.

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#13 2013-11-24 11:58:29

blackout23
Member
Registered: 2011-11-16
Posts: 780

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Anyone ever used Frugalware? From what I know it uses a forked version of pacman and have two branches -current (daily updates) and -stable (6 month updates).

From reading their docs (http://frugalware.org/docs) it also seems to be centered around being comfortable with the terminal. I don't think the software availability is as good as on Arch with good repos and AUR, though.

What also comes to mind when you talk about rc.conf (even though learning basic systemd takes 3 minutes maximum not kidding) is Slackware. I haven't used Slackware but from what I have read they have something similar to the AUR (http://slackbuilds.org/) and a single config file (Arch never had a single config file, really) and focus on being a simple and minimalist distro. I often hear people say that it is the most UNIX like distro. Their releases also seem to be very stable, they just released Slackware 14.1.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slackware

Last edited by blackout23 (2013-11-24 12:44:51)

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#14 2013-11-24 13:54:49

x33a
Forum Moderator
Registered: 2009-08-15
Posts: 3,336
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

teateawhy wrote:
minus wrote:

I have not used Debian yet, but as far as I understand the release cycles are quite short

haha

mPqZlxq.gif

@ minus, in case you are wondering why we are laughing, take a look here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian#Timeline

and also here:

https://wiki.debian.org/DebianReleases

In your opinion, why is Debian closer to Arch than the other suggestions?

In my opinion, Debian is almost the opposite of Arch. But if you want a stable and low maintenance system, Debian is one of the best.

Debian is one of the most conservative (slow to pick up new changes) distro. But they backport security fixes.

As for finding an Arch-like alternative, but with low maintenance, I am afraid there isn't one. Maybe Manjaro comes somewhat close to that description, but even that is semi rolling if not as fast as Arch.

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#15 2013-11-24 15:14:41

fsckd
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Registered: 2009-06-15
Posts: 3,548

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

If you go with Debian use net install.

Moving from Arch Discussion to GNU/Linux Discussion.


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#16 2013-11-24 16:03:35

graysky
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From: /run/user/1000
Registered: 2008-12-01
Posts: 8,518
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Debian doesn't use systemd to my knowledge.  If that is a negative, keep looking.


CPU-optimized Linux-ck packages @ Repo-ck  • AUR packagesZsh and other configs

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#17 2013-11-24 19:22:11

mianka
Member
From: BE LEUVEN
Registered: 2006-05-30
Posts: 208

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

My experiences over the last year.

I started using both Debian and Fedora.

Both are good distro's.

I use Debian stable for my "production" machines as it guarantees the maximum stability with a minimum of breakage without to much fuzz (read configuration),but even Debian has hiccups from time to time and looks more like an antquity store (programwise).Testing is more modern but a bit less stable;for non-critical machines it is good enough.

Fedora is also a good distro , but wait to use the newest one until it has ripened  as the brand new one tends to limb now and then; and do not use an old one as it has more than 500 updates for the moment.

I stay away from *buntus and derivatives as they have too much own interpretation of debian and or linux and tend to leave out programs of their repo's.

I use now 1 machine with Debian stable,2 with debian testing and two with Arch, all of them with KDE desktop.

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#18 2013-11-24 19:54:11

bgc1954
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From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 2006-03-14
Posts: 1,119

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

If you do consider Linux Mint, perhaps try the Debian version which is likely the best of both worlds.  Debian is like Arch in the fact that it is a rolling release and you aren't constantly burning dvd's or using usb sticks to reinstall with each new release, besides they do tend to take forever to release every stable release but you don't have to reinstall it evey time.  I have been using Debian for years as it was one of the original linuxes I started with.  Arch has been my main distro for quite awhile now but I still have a Debian Mint and Debian stable on partitions on my desktop box.  Like others have mentioned, Debian isn't at the forefront of the newest programs but is still very useable.


Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils ... - Louis Hector Berlioz

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#19 2013-11-25 05:11:21

x33a
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Registered: 2009-08-15
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Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

bgc1954 wrote:

Debian is like Arch in the fact that it is a rolling release

Debian is not rolling release.

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#20 2013-11-25 05:18:33

sitquietly
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From: Moscow, Tennessee
Registered: 2010-07-12
Posts: 216

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

minus wrote:

..... If not, can you suggest any other distributions that require little maintenance and are as close to Arch as possible? I really do not want to miss pacman, however, if there is no other way I'd need to install some long-term support Ubuntu...

I went through a similar search in trying to put a distro on my wife's computer that I would be able to administer without re-learning everything and that would be stable for her minimal needs (but with good security updates).  I looked at and tested at least briefly on real installs everything from Frugalware to Manjaro to Calculate to Funtoo to Sabayon to Fedora to Debian Stable, and finally to OpenSUSE 13.1.  They're all good of course but I did run into frustrations on everything, except OpenSUSE KDE. Even Debian Stable had a problem freezing with Gnome 3.4.

Her computer is running perfectly for her with OS 13.1 and I find it easy to administer because everything I need to setup and control, from firewall to printer and user accounts, is quite easily accessible through the Yast control center.  Things I found nice about OpenSUSE were that I like their deliberate planning and development model (I read the dev mailing lists for several distros since I maintain an Arch-derived distro of my own), a huge number of packages are supported and easily discovered from a web interface at software.opensuse.org, the release will be supported for 3 years, the quality is high.  She loves the green gecko big_smile

p.s. I was a salesman for Apple for 2 years and exceeded my sales target of doubling sales at my store in one year.  I always kept x11 and KDE installed on one of my demo units (which I kept hidden from my supervisors of course) so that I could show Linux geeks that the Mac was really Unix underneath and could run Linux s/w alongside MacOS.  Of course I recommend running Linux on its own hardware under a Linux distro since you need more that a nice demo smile

Last edited by sitquietly (2013-11-25 05:24:07)

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#21 2013-11-25 05:41:40

fasza2mobile
Member
Registered: 2013-11-03
Posts: 29

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

x33a wrote:
bgc1954 wrote:

Debian is like Arch in the fact that it is a rolling release

Debian is not rolling release.

He probably meant Mint Debian Edition which IS a rolling release distro.

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#22 2013-11-25 05:49:38

anonymous_user
Member
Registered: 2009-08-28
Posts: 3,058

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

fasza2mobile wrote:
x33a wrote:
bgc1954 wrote:

Debian is like Arch in the fact that it is a rolling release

Debian is not rolling release.

He probably meant Mint Debian Edition which IS a rolling release distro.

Well its semi-rolling:

3. What is a semi-rolling distribution?

Updates are constantly fed to Debian Testing, where users experience frequent regressions but also frequent bug fixes and improvements. LMDE receives "Update Packs" which are tested snapshots of Debian Testing. Users can experience a more stable system thanks to update packs, or switch their sources to follow Testing, or even Unstable, directly to get more frequent updates.

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#23 2013-11-25 06:02:31

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,929

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

Well, I can safely say, Gentoo is not for you smile .  I love Gentoo, but chose Arch because it is so darn easy to maintain. 

So, let me ask.  Are you considering moving from Arch because of the time required to maintain it?

Let us define the coefficient of effort to maintain an OS as 1.00 for Microsoft Windows, how would you rate Arch Linux?  Gentoo?  Ubuntu?  What is your threshold beyond which it is too much effort?

BTW, for me:

Windows 1.00    (Baseline effort to maintain a clean system)
Arch 0.25  (How long does it take to run Pacman?)
Gentoo 0.50  (Ignoring, compile time a lot of time is spent dealing with 'use' flag conflicts at upgrade time)
Ubuntu 0.40 (One must determine how it works under the hood when there is a problem.  What is going on behind the curtain?)
Slackware 0.30 (It has been a while, but IIRC, there was a lot of dependency hell)

Last edited by ewaller (2013-11-25 06:03:40)


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#24 2013-11-26 03:39:27

cfr
Member
From: Cymru
Registered: 2011-11-27
Posts: 5,662

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

@ewaller,
But if I used Arch every few months or once a year, it would be much more trouble. Either boot up all the time just to update or see everything break just when I need the system. Since I use it all the time, it is easy. If I used it rarely, it would be hard.

@OP,
Think twice before installing something like spotlight on an older system. I spent a great deal of time trying to properly kill spotlight on my Mac because it simply brought the machine to a halt. It uses a lot of resources. (It came with my Mac's OS but I guess it was ahead of the capacity of the hardware.)

By the way, what exactly can't you do on OS X that you can do on a Linux box? I'm just curious as I'm finding it hard to think of anything which is not just Linux specific.


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#25 2013-11-26 10:38:52

nomorewindows
Member
Registered: 2010-04-03
Posts: 3,003

Re: A long-time Arch user is looking for an alternative

cfr wrote:

By the way, what exactly can't you do on OS X that you can do on a Linux box? I'm just curious as I'm finding it hard to think of anything which is not just Linux specific.

OS X is just FreeBSD or so I'm told.  Maybe OP wants ArchBSD?

ewaller wrote:

Let us define the coefficient of effort to maintain

Don't you mean the coefficient of friction (more the engineering term), as opposed to coefficient of effort (more the governmental standard)?
Government machinery is what allows 10 men to do the work of 1.  I guess it could go either way.


I may have to CONSOLE you about your usage of ridiculously easy graphical interfaces...
Look ma, no mouse.

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