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#1 2003-08-12 23:39:41

dp
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From: Zürich, Switzerland
Registered: 2003-05-27
Posts: 3,363
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PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

This is a try to summarize the pros and cons of archlinux in one place, to have an overview.
Keep posts as simple as possible (because it can become easily 4 pages if anyone quotes anyone else to say that this is right or not) --- feel free to add "entries"

[+] means "PRO", [-] means "CONTRA" and [0] means "only note"

#######################################################
Summary:
#######################################################

[+]:  optimized i686-distro
[+]:  free
[+]:[pacman]:  Systemupgrade is one command 'pacman -Suy'
[+]:[pacman]:  Dependency-control
[+]:[pacman]:  no X needed
[+]:[abs]:  need to write the building-function only once ... building another version of a package is extremly easy
[+]:[abs]:  you can build the packages on your machine with one command
[+]:  up-to-date packages
[+]:  fully customizable
[+]:  newbies have to learn some basics to use the power behind a real linux-station ([-] this takes some time :-) )
[+]:  lilo or grub as bootmanager
[+]:  the people behind are gentle, motivated and able
[+]:  big package-repository; slowly but steadily growing --- separated in official, unofficial and unstable
[+]:  51 games :-)
[+]:  newest kde, gnome, OpenOffice, Abiword, wine ...
[+]  It takes less than 20 minutes to get a fully functional system rather than 5+ days like some other distros
[+]  no internet requied during CD-Installation / no CD-Drive requied during FTP-Installation
[+]  perfect to learn linux on it

[0]:[pacman]:  needs fast internet-connection to stay always up-to-date easily
[0]:  not really popular, because not known
[0]:  Documentation in developement --- usable

[-]:  some conflicts because of using the newest libs (gcc 3.3.1 ...)

#######################################################


The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed.

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#2 2003-08-13 00:10:49

jlvsimoes
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From: portugal
Registered: 2002-12-23
Posts: 392
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

[-]: newbies have to learn some basics to use the power behind a real linux-station
i see this as a PRO splanatios is self evident


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#3 2003-08-13 00:56:53

terrapin
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From: Lockport, IL
Registered: 2003-08-06
Posts: 104

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

[+] It takes less than 20 minutes to get a fully functional system rather than 5+ days like some other distros *cough* Gentoo *cough*.

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#4 2003-08-13 01:00:58

contrasutra
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From: New Jersey
Registered: 2003-07-26
Posts: 507

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

[-]:[pacman]: needs fast internet-connection to stay always up-to-date easily

I have dialup, and I have had no problems. Honestly, its not like Gentoo where you have to download loads during installation.


"Contrary to popular belief, penguins are not the salvation of modern technology.  Neither do they throw parties for the urban proletariat."

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#5 2003-08-13 05:44:12

sarah31
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From: Middle of Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 2,975
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Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

dp wrote:

[-]:[pacman]:  needs fast internet-connection to stay always up-to-date easily ([+] but no internet requied during CD-Installation)

actually this can be said of ANY dependency solving distro. debian, gentoo, etc are all the same and it always mystifies me when some dialup users say this. i would think that doing regular upgrades would help greatly in this matter considering large size packages are rare and infrequently upgraded pacman -Syu twice to three times a week should keep upgrades short.

[-]:  not really popular, because not known

well imho this is both a pro and a con. and something that partially falls on the shoulders of users as well. people listen more when non-developers promote a distro. gentoo got big via word of mouth (and alot of FUD).

[-]:  some conflicts because of using the newest libs

con with any distro that uses the most recent stable packages. it is indeed something most of us can live with as it is rare to have our most usefull applications hosed.


AKA uknowme

I am not your friend

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#6 2003-08-13 18:07:01

apeiro
Daddy
From: Victoria, BC, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-12
Posts: 771
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

[-]: some conflicts because of using the newest libs

Speaking of which, please don't be shy about letting us know (forum, bugtracker) which packages break after a major upgrade like gcc.  It's the quickest way for us to isolate and fix these problems.

nice thread, btw...

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#7 2003-08-13 21:28:57

beniro
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From: St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Registered: 2002-12-31
Posts: 312

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

Not to offend, cuz Arch is my favorite distro and I could go on and on with [+]'s all day, but...

How about:

[-]: Underdeveloped documentation.
[-]: Lack of newbie-friendly features.

Okok...I know the docs are being worked on, and I hope they're as awesome as the rest of the distro soon...they still need attention, though.

Secondly, I know that newbies aren't the focus of Arch, but IMO, Arch has a solid base that would have the ability to conquer the world if it could get on users' desktops worldwide.  I kinda think better docs will help, and eventually, it will become clear if more work needs to be done to provide configurators, GUI's etc. for newbies...I guess the great thing about open source projects is that needs tend to get filled.

Long live Arch.  smile

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#8 2003-08-13 22:01:29

tyme
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From: PA
Registered: 2003-06-12
Posts: 139
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

[+]: lack of newbie-friendly features ;-)

that's the point of arch.  if people want an easy to install distro, they should go elsewhere ;-)  it doesn't matter what they use as long as it's linux...and maybe eventually they'll learn enough to try out arch.

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#9 2003-08-13 23:57:30

jlvsimoes
Member
From: portugal
Registered: 2002-12-23
Posts: 392
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

im no guru as people mai have noticed but this is a
easy to install distro i startded using redhat 5.2 and i like text mode instalers simple efective


-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
Version: 3.1
GU/ d- s: a- C L U P+ L+++ E--- W+
N 0+ K- W-- !O !M V-- PS+ PE- V++ PGP T 5 Z+ R* TV+ B+
DI-- D- G-- e-- h! r++ z+ z*
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------

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#10 2003-08-14 00:24:10

dp
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From: Zürich, Switzerland
Registered: 2003-05-27
Posts: 3,363
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

tyme wrote:

[+]: lack of newbie-friendly features ;-)

right, but i dont like this terminology: i think it's the other way: pacman is for me the best newbie-friendly program i know --- it is essential for the system and as a arch-user you have to learn how to use it ... while learning this, you learn also using other tools and the shell ... and so on

-> a newbie-not-friendly program is actually a package-manager with a nice GUI, that you can use also without any experience in computers (learn how to move a mouse and to click ... voilà you can install a linux-station) ... the problems the users have then are like: "How can i remove root from the system? the name of this user is so strange, and why is it installed on MY system???" -> they have no idea what a linux is, but they want to use it -> if you had to add a package using "su" and then "pacman -S" ... you at least got an idea (reading the man) what the basics are

[+]: lack of newbie-not-friendly features

because if you are a linux-newbie, i hope you want to learn something about it


The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed.

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#11 2003-08-14 02:36:29

scottro
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From: NYC
Registered: 2002-10-11
Posts: 452
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

RedHat might be an interesting example here.  Newbie friendly (although one could argue that the syntax of RPM is a bit arcane to the newcomer) but the trouble is that it often doesn't work well.

Sarah isn't fond of Gentoo, but I think, more than hype, the reasons it took off were its welcoming attitude on IRC and mailing lists to newcomers (though we people who played with it in the beginning would send private emails to each other saying, "Sheesh--remember when all the questions were from people who at least read the FAQ?") and perhaps most importantly, the excellent documentation.  I think that, more than anything else, is what brought it to its current level of popularity .

Also, though I haven't tried doing it this way, they now have release platforms that install quickly.

Arch strikes me as more similar to Debian than anything else--another binary package manager that works.  I keep thinking that I would like to write an installation guide for the newcomer that goes into detail as much as Gentoo's does, but don't have the energy.  Take a look at their installation guide--they explain disk partitioning in detail, networking, etc. 

I keep thinking perhaps Arch's slogan should be something like "Debian on Steroids." As we know, Deb Stable often means very old versions of packages. 

We need input from newcomers--a mentor of mine once said to a newcomer on a mailing list, once you figure this out, write it down for the next person.  If the guru writes, he skips things
that are obvious to him, that aren't to the newcomer.  For instance, I maintain a faq for a few linux newbie lists.  (If anyone is interested, it's a http://home.nyc.rr.com/computertaijutsu/linfaq.html )  I finally broke down and added a question about the command line--because it kept coming up from the novices--we say, at a command prompt type.... but, the newcomer doesn't even know how to get to the command prompt.

More "newbie friendly" features would probably add bloat, such as is found in things like RH and MD--I'm not putting down either of those distros, they do what they plan to do well.

I think I've already gone on too long with this post.

Scott

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#12 2003-08-14 02:54:30

contrasutra
Member
From: New Jersey
Registered: 2003-07-26
Posts: 507

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

I dont think we should make the documentation that basic (ie.What is a command line?), thought I applaud you for making a FAQ for those kinds of things.

I mean, Arch really is for the experienced user. You dont have to be a guru (god knows im not), but you had to have used Linux before.

I vote for More documentation too. Id be glad to help out where I can. I know I had a few "quirks" when installing and setting up, and I had to get help on IRC. it'd be nice if I knew about this before hand.


"Contrary to popular belief, penguins are not the salvation of modern technology.  Neither do they throw parties for the urban proletariat."

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#13 2003-08-14 03:09:24

scottro
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From: NYC
Registered: 2002-10-11
Posts: 452
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

I suppose it depends upon the aim. Gentoo also doesn't give that info (what is a command line) but they do go into the details of some things that we--not necessarily gurus, but folks who have played with various things--take for granted, e.g. disk partitioning (as mentioned in my earlier post)

I think that playing with Gentoo, again thanks to its excellent documentation, made many beginners more experienced--its' not really a simple install.

(That is not to say that the Arch IRC and mailing lists are not friendly to newcomers--they are, and people like Sarah, who give a ton of effort to advocacy have my admiration )

The what is a command line is, as I said, for a faq for several mailing lists that have a large amount of newcomers.  I used to think that it was too ridiculous a question to put, but finally gave up after seeing it have to answered time and time again.  smile

BTW, FreeBSD now has a RTFM port--it will search man and possibly info pages for a command. My friend Josh has always suggested that one link man to RTFM, but....

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#14 2003-08-14 16:04:05

beniro
Member
From: St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Registered: 2002-12-31
Posts: 312

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

I think I acknowledged some of the reasons for avoiding too many newbie-friendly features in Arch...

If done well, though, newbie-friendly features shouldn't add any bloat, just make the process of administrating your system more transparent.  They can be included as an option only.  During install you could have options for "Suggest Hardware config" or "Install GUIs" or something along those lines...

Let me reiterate what I said before a bit more clearly: I don't think that the development team should spend their time on this.  If newbie-centric apps are needed, the community will respond accordingly.  Amlug has already brought us some great newbie tools and those should eventually help bring more users to Arch Linux.  I'm so insitent about this newbie thing because Linux is no longer a nerd OS, it's a legitimate desktop option, and Arch is, IMO, a class act out of all distros.

For now, the best thing for newbies (and for everyone) is to get better documentation, but a lack of newbie utilities can't be considered a positive thing as long as said utilities are integrated into Arch in a way that keeps the experienced users happy.  Poorly made newbie utilities would be a tragedy, though.  smile

---edit---

LEt me just make it clear that I understand that Arch is not a newbie-oriented Distro and that I believe it should not abandon those roots.  I think there's a way to reconcile newbie-friendliness with  guru-friendliness, although I haven't really seen it done in a distro yet.

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#15 2003-08-14 16:14:45

beniro
Member
From: St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Registered: 2002-12-31
Posts: 312

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

dp wrote:

[+]: lack of newbie-not-friendly features

because if you are a linux-newbie, i hope you want to learn something about it

Well put, dp.  I fell in love with Arch for this very reason.  After spending a couple of weeks on a variety of distros (Redhats 7.3, 8.0, Mandrake 8.1, Libranet 2.2), I found Arch and it ALLOWED me to learn so much more than these other distros.  Arch IS very user-friendly.  smile

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#16 2003-08-14 17:38:00

sarah31
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From: Middle of Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 2,975
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

beniro wrote:
dp wrote:

[+]: lack of newbie-not-friendly features

because if you are a linux-newbie, i hope you want to learn something about it

Well put, dp.  I fell in love with Arch for this very reason.  After spending a couple of weeks on a variety of distros (Redhats 7.3, 8.0, Mandrake 8.1, Libranet 2.2), I found Arch and it ALLOWED me to learn so much more than these other distros.  Arch IS very user-friendly.  smile

hmm this would be contrary to your concept of "user-friendly", no?

personally i think no guis in install is manditory. as in not even an option. guis beyond the standrard ncurses interface serve no benefit. as for -newbie friendly in the installer .... i believe hwd will be included in future installers.

as for auto admin tools....i don't like them. linux is not designed to be user friendly. i think there is no benefit in producing more individuals that want purely point and click. changing oses is supposed to have a learning curve and point and click definitely slows the learning curve. why? because it WILL fail at some point or there may be some time where one will need to know where the actual file is or something along those lines. since point and click shields you from this when the time comes the user will require the time of others or needlessly pay money to have a "problem" fixed.

in other words the more one is sheltered from the system the less they learn the less they learn of the system the less they will be forced to learn about their computer. this all leads to the user wasting their time and money or someone elses time.

i know alot of people don't want to have to learn anything about their computer or their OS but that is just plain stupid i think. you need to know a little something about most other tools you use in order to use them properly and safely. point and click is like a self hammering hammer .... a waste.

EDIT: i used to be very opposite of this opinion before i used arch. but being "forced" to learn more has been very helpful for me and others.


AKA uknowme

I am not your friend

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#17 2003-08-14 19:55:10

beniro
Member
From: St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Registered: 2002-12-31
Posts: 312

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

sarah31 wrote:
beniro wrote:
dp wrote:

[+]: lack of newbie-not-friendly features

because if you are a linux-newbie, i hope you want to learn something about it

Well put, dp.  I fell in love with Arch for this very reason.  After spending a couple of weeks on a variety of distros (Redhats 7.3, 8.0, Mandrake 8.1, Libranet 2.2), I found Arch and it ALLOWED me to learn so much more than these other distros.  Arch IS very user-friendly.  smile

hmm this would be contrary to your concept of "user-friendly", no?

[cutcutcut]

i know alot of people don't want to have to learn anything about their computer or their OS but that is just plain stupid i think. you need to know a little something about most other tools you use in order to use them properly and safely. point and click is like a self hammering hammer .... a waste.

EDIT: i used to be very opposite of this opinion before i used arch. but being "forced" to learn more has been very helpful for me and others.

Against my concept of "user-friendly"?  No.  I think that Arch Linux is extremely user-friendly, but not so newbie-friendly.  Arch, as you say, has "forced" me to learn alot, and enabled me to do so by being simple and transparent; things work as they say they do, without to many surprises, but they are not self-explanatory, which is what a newbie requires.

Now, let me clarify: I wasn't suggesting an actual GUI install.  I think Arch's current install (while imperfect) is much better than, say, Redhat's.  Any user should be able to navigate the menus easily and make the choices that need to be made.  I am against a GUI installer for the forseeable future as well.  I was referring to including an option for HWD (which you say will be included in the future, so scratch that) and an option to install GUIs for sysadmin (like one for pacman, etc.).

It seems your against this on the basis that it would impede learning a bit...well...Is the Arch Linux goal to educate about Linux?  I mean, I think that it's possible that a better goal might be to spread the USE of Linux, which might be facilitated by including some admin tools.  Only as an option.  People who want to learn will, and people who don't will only become frustrated and abandon ship.

I would worry more about impeding the spread of what I consider to be an incredibly powerful, flexible computing platform, one that is quite user-friendly and potentially quite newbie-friendly...  smile

Okokok...all that being said, I understand exactly what you're saying and can appreciate your view and desire to preserve Arch as "unspoiled" in a certain sense.  Definitely a valid point.

So, before any of this newbie stuff is truly considered, I think we can all agree that the Docs should be polished to a healthy glow.  smile

P.S. Sarah, I though you had retired from the AL team, but I'm glad to see you around the forums just as much as ever!  smile

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#18 2003-08-14 20:31:42

apeiro
Daddy
From: Victoria, BC, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-12
Posts: 771
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

dp, beniro: I'm glad you've used Arch to improve your linux knowledge along the way.  As I stated in the About page on the site, that was one of the strengths I saw in Arch as it started to mature: a less-intimidating, simple setup that lets the user see what's really going on.

And I agreed with what you said, beniro.  The core development of Arch Linux will not be providing any "newbie-friendly" GUIs/utilities at any time in the near future.  If the community deems this necessary, then the community will provide the appropriate tools, as rasat and AMLUG have shown us.

We humble developers will continue to provide Arch as a solid base for everyone and anyone.  If you guys want to make it pretty, give 'er.   smile

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#19 2003-11-06 09:18:00

Guest
Guest

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

The only thing that I complain of ArchLinux is that pacman doesn't support
proxy and there is absolutely no way to make it support proxy since it is
statically linked.

#20 2003-11-06 15:03:15

_JeffG_
Member
Registered: 2003-08-04
Posts: 61
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

Well, this thread started out as listing [+], [-] stuff.  Like always things turned into newbie this and newbie that.  So, I am going to put my 2 cents in here too.

I have been using Linux and FreeBSD for several years now.  My opinion is that strong documentation makes something newbie friendly.  However, we have the chicken and egg syndrome here.  There are 2 ways to seek out documentation.  From within the system and from outside the system.

Since I have been using FreeBSD for the last couple years, I like it.  I then discovered Arch very recently.  I liked what I have seen so far knowing that the system is still young though.

However, the issue of newbies also has 2 ways to rectify it.  1. Keep things dumbed down and have disasters. 2. Document well and point people to that documentation and others.

So, I will quote the default /etc/motd from FreeBSD as an example that makes a system newbie-friendly without altering the system behaviour.  Now, if the system behaviour is wacko to begin with then it will be hard to learn.  Yet, if it is consistant and has good documentation and that can be found locally on the system (think just after install and you can not get your network up or somehting) and docs on the web.

So, here is the quote:

Last login: Sat Nov  1 12:54:00 2003 from 10.0.0.100
Copyright (c) 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
        The Regents of the University of California.  All rights reserved.

FreeBSD 4.9-RELEASE (CUSTOM) #1: Thu Oct 30 21:23:17 EST 2003

Welcome to FreeBSD!

Before seeking technical support, please use the following resources:

o  Security advisories and updated errata information for all releases are
   at http://www.FreeBSD.org/releases/ - always consult the ERRATA section
   for your release first as it's updated frequently.

o  The Handbook and FAQ documents are at http://www.FreeBSD.org/ and,
   along with the mailing lists, can be searched by going to
   http://www.FreeBSD.org/search/.  If the doc distribution has
   been installed, they're also available formatted in /usr/share/doc.

If you still have a question or problem, please take the output of
`uname -a', along with any relevant error messages, and email it
as a question to the questions@FreeBSD.org mailing list.  If you are
unfamiliar with FreeBSD's directory layout, please refer to the hier(7)
man page.  If you are not familiar with man pages, type `man man'.

You may also use /stand/sysinstall to re-enter the installation and
configuration utility.  Edit /etc/motd to change this login announcement.

So there is my $0.02 on the subject.  Keep up the good work.

Jeff - running Arch Linux on his desktop machine

P.S. I am not saying that his is the only thing that would make a system newbie-friendly.  However, it does give that welcoming feeling and warm fuzzies so those who do run into a road block should be reminded of where to go for help.

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#21 2003-11-06 16:24:01

sarah31
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From: Middle of Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 2,975
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

good up to date accurate documantation goes a very long way to newbie friendly. just take a look at gentoo, if one has patience then even a newcomer would be able to get it up and running without much difficulty


AKA uknowme

I am not your friend

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#22 2003-11-07 03:01:37

tsykoduk
Member
From: A Chair
Registered: 2003-10-31
Posts: 48
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

I found Arch a while ago - and like some of the others I had been using Other Distros (RedHat, SuSE) for about 2 or 3 years. So, in that two or three years me being me, I had learned the command line and several other things very well. I could use rpm and many of the CL tools.. However I never understood what was under the hood.

Along comes Arch - I will be honest - the speed thing got me (I am a speed freak). After the install, I noticed a few things that I did not like. So I busted open VI and started tearing apart the config files.

Then I reinstalled  big_smile. But the moral of this story is that now I understand what I screwed up - when I did that with RH or SuSE I was mistifyed.

I see Huge potental for Arch - things like running it on a corprate network, having Pacman croned out and pointing at a local update server. Have the packages arranged like KDE or GNOME, so you install arch, pacman base, then cad or word processing. Who needs ghost?

Anyways, I will stop rambling here... just to say - good job guys and thanks!

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#23 2003-11-19 00:01:11

Guest
Guest

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

[-] Some packages not built well...

*duck*

But seriously, I do find some packages not properly researched.  Shadow Suite, for example, didn't include vigr and had some other problems.  Yes, I did point that out like a good little user...  That is probably my biggest complaint with Arch (Getting better by the day of course).

#24 2003-11-19 18:47:41

jlvsimoes
Member
From: portugal
Registered: 2002-12-23
Posts: 392
Website

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

hum i dont realy think that some stuff that does not compile, is related directly to archlinux .
Example i have been trying to compile emu-tools and of course that it does not compile not on arch not on any system " it must be patched with patches that fix some stuff on multiple files " so in this case . the fact that it does not compile is not even arch related .
but if i was not aware of the need to patch i'd say that it was arch fault , and its not
so
+ arch
- bad coded softh


-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
Version: 3.1
GU/ d- s: a- C L U P+ L+++ E--- W+
N 0+ K- W-- !O !M V-- PS+ PE- V++ PGP T 5 Z+ R* TV+ B+
DI-- D- G-- e-- h! r++ z+ z*
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------

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#25 2003-11-19 19:14:42

kakabaratruskia
Member
From: Santiago, Chile
Registered: 2003-08-24
Posts: 596

Re: PROS and CONS of ArchLinux

Pros:
+ Best distro out there.
+ Best linux community.

Cons:
- I'm not the best linux user.


And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They're all resting down in Cornwall
writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
of the Boy Scout Manual.

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