My look at Arch Linux 0.2, 0.3, and 0.4
Posted Aug 1, 2003 13:12 UTC (Fri) by rabnud
Parent article: A Look at Arch Linux
I can only say that Arch is incredible!
Having used earlier releases Arch (0.2, 0.3, and 0.4), I have learned that this is a great distribution for someone...
-who has familiarity with command line configuration,
-whom also knows the locations of proper config files (some of this is addressed in their local docs),
-whom already knows all of the modules required for their system,
-whom already knows the various options which are required of their hardware and circumstances, and
-whom also has a reliable internet connection.
With Arch 0.4 (ISO file is <600 megs on CDR), I saw installation times well under 25 minutes on a 1 GHz Athlon ThunderBird with ATA66 hard disks, and their current latest 'full' 0.5 ISO file (<650 megs) still fits on a single CDR.
If package dependencies irk you and you -do- have a live internet connection, you're gonna love Arch! You can install and run a system which is as current as is humanly possible, within a few moments of installing it, no matter how old the 0.5 install CD may be. Just run 'pacman -Syu', and watch the OS do its stuff.
As a down side (in fact, I believe this is the -ONLY- downside which persists in 0.5 from what I saw in those earlier releases), Arch will suffer in the hands of any user who cannot, for whatever reason, offer a reliable, persistent, live internet connection to the Arch system when it is being upgraded.
For example: users who download from one location and transport the downloaded files to the Arch box via CD (e.g. a security sensitive situation or rural users who download after hours at work or from regions of the world where internet access is not possible, or where internet access is made via a different OS on the same PC) - these users will suffer with manually performing searches and downloads for all the dependant packages: 'pacman -S' needs persistent access to all the packages while the command is running, otherwise it will fail to effectively install the upgrades. Remember, the indicated situation has no live internet connection, so whatever -local- repository is being used, that repository must contain -all- the dependant packages, in order to succeed. This is not much different from other package management techniques such as RPM, tar.gz, etc.
Not a 'show stopper' - users can simply copy the resulting 'pacman -S' error output and take that with them to the site where they will actually download the packages - the output is presented in clear text, dumped to the console. I'm not certain if pacman has an option whereby the user can dump a list of dependencies required by a package: the various man pages for pacman have been unclear about how to generate such output (pacman has evolved with nearly every release of Arch). Also, consider the issue of tertiary package dependency: the package you need to download may in turn have its own dependencies but you will not know until you get the file to the location where you are installing hte package. This is only addressable in a live access environment, potentially leaving the user in a classic 'dependency ping-pong' mode for a short spell, just as presently the user might experience with RPM, tar.gz, debs, etc.
I've used a few distros, (RedHat, Slackware, Mandrakes galore), if you match their target audience, Arch will not disappoint you!
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