Arch Linux Review

Peter Kitson

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Sample Chapter From Arch Linux Review
     Copyright © Jon Kent in Linux Magazine

If you’re looking for a fast, stable system without the GUI goo, try Arch Linux.

The recent emphasis of the Linux community has been on desktop distros that make it easy to install and configure the system without ven-turing beyond the GUI. Despite the suc-cess of these beginner-friendly systems, a significant segment of the Linux popu-lation prefers a simpler approach. These back-to-basics users want clarity, stabil-ity, and speed, and they do not care about the proliferation of redundant tools and glossy configuration helpers that populate the GUI-based systems. In the past, no-frills Linux users gravitated to systems such as Slackware, Gentoo, or Debian, but another back-to-basics distro is gaining favor among the Linux faithful: Arch Linux.

Arch Linux [1] was started by Judd Vinet in 2001 when he discovered that he couldn’t find any other distribution that met his ideals. Arch has taken ideas from Debian, Gentoo and Slackware, and has gradually evolved into a simple, powerful, and stable distribution with an active user and developer population.

Arch provides few configuration tools and is not designed for users who are new to Linux. The Arch philosophy is to keep the user close to the underlying system. Users are expected to tinker di-rectly with configuration files (like in the old days). But Arch also provides some advantages over other simplicity distros such as Slackware, including hotplug in-novations and a more versatile package management system. Also, because Arch is specifically optimized for the i686 chip, it offers performance benefits over distros designed for a broader range of architec-tures. Fans of Arch say it pro-vides “…the stability and simplicity of Slackware and the speed of Gentoo [2].” The box titled “Arch on Arch” gives an indication of how the Arch developers compare their own product with other distributions.