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A Week of Arch Linux

Discussion in 'General Linux Discussion' started by allenskd, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. allenskd

    allenskd Active Member

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    So, someone asked for my impressions of Arch Linux. I haven't used the distributions in years (4-5 years) and it was a distribution I had some problems getting along with mostly because how hostile the community was (or is) back then.

    When you use distributions like Gentoo, Arch Linux, Slackware you have to commit yourself into reading the documentation and little by little you become more experienced in linux. You also have to be aware of the responsibility of maintaining your operating system, this seems like a very endearing process but it sort of isn't.

    Community issues on each of those distributions I mentioned above aside. My first week of Arch Linux were really straightforward. The first thing I do every time I install a distribution is simple:

    - Configure my secondary data storage to be mounted automatically. It used to be a NTFS partition but as of last week I changed it to Ext4 for reasons that I will name here later on.

    - Install all the applications I use on a daily/weekly basis. (e.g mpd, cantata, gimp, browsers, thunderbird, etc etc)

    - Install all the 32bit libraries required to run WINE and other 32bit applications

    - Modify the Desktop Environment to my taste. Usually it's not that far from vanilla.

    - Install all developments tools I require to program. For example, I'm a web developer and I use python/django a lot. Sometimes PHP, sometimes Java, sometimes C#.

    - Install vim, because I've learned to love it. :p (in fact I wrote this post with Vim to keep a local copy of this post)

    As you see my desktop setup isn't complex, it's not out of this world. I use my desktop for casual usage, and I completely love it. So how does Arch Linux perform?

    I still haven't learned all pacman stuff. Normally, it takes a bit of time to adapt to a new distribution with a different package manager. That said, the installation of Arch Linux is rather simple and straightforward for me. Originally, I was planning to install Manjaro but its installer doesn't work well with my hardware so I said "screw that, I'm install Arch!".

    Once installed, I did the steps above. I proceeded to install kde full package (meta package) and xserver stuff. I went ahead and install the NVIDIA blobs from the repositories. After all that I decided to install PulseAudio, because regardless on how many people hate it PulseAudio is what keeps my sanity when handling application audio per volume and how amazing it is managing different streams per audio device.

    Daerandin, a member and staff in this forum once said to me that pulseaudio works flawlessly. Now, why would this matter you say? If you have noticed there are users wih a lot of audio problems when it comes to WINE. The infamous ALSA underrun problem that is.

    Arch Linux provides one hell of a pulseaudio binary as I have yet to run into audio problems. I would dare ask what the heck is going on with Debian pulseaudio, I don't know if it's patched or not but to run WINE games normally and not run into underruns has been a true bliss.

    So there you have it, I've had a better experience with ArchLinux's pulseaudio package than any debian-based distribution out there. Quite a mystery if you'd ask me.

    Arch Linux is very stable as in I've yet to run into a library or application causing problems. In the past I steered away from Arch Linux because it was quite the opposite, any upgrade broke my system super fast. Performance? The same as many distributions, I don't think this one will change much.

    As for the Hard Drive issue, there's a problem we need to be aware of using NTFS partitions on linux. It's a problem that goes under our radar most of the time because we aren't aware. Sometimes if there's a power outage then there might be data loss. The NTFS partition hardly recovers, sometimes it's not even related to the data loss and you can see various files getting corrupted and reaching 0 bytes. This is why I had to change from NTFS to EXT4. After I changed it the data loss and corruption stopped. Be wary of using NTFS partitions on prolonged time.

    AUR, a community driven repository has proven to be one of the most useful additions in Arch Linux. I've found it to be super handy when it comes to needing packages like emulators that aren't support in the main repos.

    Now the big question here: Would I recommend Arch Linux to someone?

    No. If the person is starting I think there are better suited distributions out there like OpenSUSE that will make the experience totally worth it. Now, if the person hungers to learn and is a developer, then I would say "go for Arch Linux".

    Let me be clear in one thing. Just because the user has technical knowledge or is a developer doesn't mean HE or SHE is expected to use an advanced linux distribution. I'd like to make this point crystal clear that every person has different priorities and his or her experience shouldn't be questioned just because the OS is a newbie friendly one. That type of mindset has to end.


    I hope you guys enjoyed the post. Let me know if you have any questions!
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  2. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    This was an interesting read.

    I completely agree that being an advanced user does not mean you have to use an advanced distro. For me, one of the big points with Arch is that I simply enjoy having to manage everything on my system. It is kind of a hobby on its own.

    I am a little obsessive about proper use of definitions so I just really have to point out that AUR is the community driven repository, where you actually build all packages from source using PGKBUILD files written by the person who uploaded a specific package to the AUR. yaourt is one such AUR package and it that automates the process of checking AUR packages for updates while also downloading and building packages automatically.

    Generally, using AUR helpers, such as yaourt is discouraged by the Arch community to newbies, at least until they know how to do it manually. Once doing it manually is a comfortable process, then such AUR helpers are handy as you are better prepared to handle any issues that might arise if for example yaourt fails to build a package. It is also highly recommended to still make sure to check the PKGBUILD file for malicious code since there is no screening process of any kind for uploading AUR packages. However, highly voted packages are generally considered trusted, the same as well known uploaders.

    Arch provides completely unpatched packages from upstream sources, unless it is absolutely required to avoid severe breakage. Debian is known for applying a lot of patching to their packages, and that pretty much goes for all distros that base themselves on Debian and their packages. Meaning that if you have a problem with some package in Arch, it is most likely an upstream bug and you should contact upstream developers.
  3. allenskd

    allenskd Active Member

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    You are correct! I wrote in yaourt because it's the command I mostly use, haha. Yea, it's AUR indeed.

    As for pulseaudio like I said it's been a bliss using it in Arch Linux. Probably one of the best experience a gamer could have playing with WINE too.

    I should also mention that I fixed the post and added bits related to the NTFS issue:


  4. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    Since NTFS is a proprietary file system, the Linux tools that let you write to NTFS still can't properly fix the file system in case of a problem since the inner workings of the file system are known only to the NTFS devs at Microsoft. If I need to share an external drive or USB storage with Windows, I format it with FAT32. If I have files that are larger than 4 Gb, I just split the files with 7zip.
  5. allenskd

    allenskd Active Member

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    I think it's time for me to get some coffee. I'm writing a lot of weird stuff...

    I can't go for FAT32 due to that... I place a lot of my Steam games on that HDD. I think people like me who just wanted to share his/her games with NTFS saw it like a great idea and it really worked well because the games I could run with WINE on linux I can run on Windows without any additional configuration.

    Sadly, the data loss and corruption kept getting worse and I didn't want to risk it. So I had to back up 800gb of data and then format the partition to ext4.
  6. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Steam games shouldn't be a problem on FAT32 because game files are normally not larger than 4GB. Unless they have zip/compressed files with game data in them. I rarely see this in game design. I know it happens, but it seems rare.
    I bet most of your games will fit on a FAT32 as long as you copy the game folders in the Steam/SteamApps/Common folder.

    Do you compress them yourself?
  7. allenskd

    allenskd Active Member

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    I don't use FAT32 because the HDD I use has more than just games. Videos, audio, virtual drives from Virtual Box... I could never justify FAT32...
  8. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Gotcha
    I'll remember to try ext4 next time I format an external hard drive.
    I have always used FAT32 because its Windows/Mac/Linux compatible, but now I mostly use it for Linux backups
  9. Aryvandaar

    Aryvandaar Active Member

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    XFS is my favoured filesystem in Linux. I use Fat32 on my external HDD because I use it on Windows as well.
  10. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    I only use my external on my Fedora server and Mint desktop. So ext should work, but if there is an instance where I might need it in Window$, this may be a problem... I'm not too worried about it

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