Switching to Arch – beginning of a new era
So, after using Ubuntu for 6 years, I got really tired of it. It is maybe the best GNU/Linux distribution for beginners, at least it maybe was a few years ago, but when you get in it deeper, at some point it won’t satisfy your needs. The same happened to me. I don’t know whether the new releases weren’t as good as they were back in the old days, or I was the one who changed, but I do know that I couldn’t learn that much from it in the last 1 or 2 years using it as I could when I switched from Windows XP to Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger).
These fancy new things like the Ubuntu software center are cool, the Unity is nice (lots of bugs, but nice), but I needed more. Not in user experience, but in new stuff to learn. In the last few years I almost never used Nautilus, it was easier to me just type ls in a terminal. So, after looking for the distribution satisfying all my needs and most perfect for me, I decided with Arch Linux. I couldn’t decide first, there was Slackware, Debian, Gentoo, Arch and much more. I don’t know why, the Slackware wasn’t really sympathetic to me. The Debian was too similar to Ubuntu in too many ways. Don’t get me wrong, I know both would be good for me to use, but so was Ubuntu. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to be forced to learn. Maybe the best would be to choose Gentoo if this was the primary objective. However, compiling stuff weekly would be a pain in the ass on my old shitty laptop (Celeron M 530 @ 1.73 GHz), The second thing was that I really liked this Arch way. This DIY-philosophy was really close to me. Distributing a complete, out-of-the-box operating system is just like Windows. Don’t get me wrong, again, I don’t have any problem with Windows or Microsoft either, just as Linus Torvalds said: the goals of Linux and Windows are simply so different.
So, enough of the reasons, I decided to install Arch. I invited a friend, who wanted to try Linux. I had some whiskey, he brought some beers and we began our Linux-install party. We both backed up our data to my girlfriend’s external hard drive, and installed our preferred distributions. He installed an Ubuntu, and I an Arch of course. I was a bit afraid of it (had to drink some courage in a form of whiskey), but when I started to install, almost all my fears were gone (I’m sure you all know the feeling of “did I back everything up?”). It was as straight-forward as the Unofficial Beginner’s Guide said on archlinux.org. That guide was a huge help, I read it twice before installing and consult it while installing.
First thing to do, of course, was partitioning. I have a 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue (bought long before the floods) in my laptop and 2 gigs of RAM, so I decided to put 30 gigs to / (root) partition, formatted to ext3 (maybe I should change it to ext4), 15 gigs to /var, formatted to ReiserFS, 2 gigs for swap and the space left to /home, formatted to ext3 (maybe I should change it to ext4 too), all primary partitions.
After booting to my brand new Arch installation, the first thing to do was to put the laptop on cable (didn’t want to play with WiFi stuff just yet), upgrade the system and install my stuff I needed, like xfce4, wicd, guake, mysql, postgresql with Pacman (the package manager in Arch) and other stuff by compiling it. I like Apache2 and PHP5 to be compiled by myself, it’s easier to configure, and on any distribution it’s just the same old stuff I’m used to (I’m a web developer).
So, I’m using Arch for 4 days now, and I’m really satisfied with it. I’m almost as newbie now as I was when I first met with Ubuntu, but I hope I can learn more than I learned with Ubuntu, and I hope I can share my experience with you on this very blog. This is just the beginning.