A visit with Arch

Arch LinuxOriginally I installed Arch over the Crux installation on my Thinkpad because I needed some sort of outside reference as to why I kept seeing noise floor calibration errors with my ath_5k-driven wireless card.

So in that sense, the little experiment was a success — my network will freeze at inopportune times, usually with heavy torrent traffic or prolonged CPU stress. More than that I still don’t know, but it’s enough information to let me troubleshoot the wireless card. And that was the original goal.

On the other hand, this brief return to Arch on this machine has been a mixed blessing. I did, as I have mourned repeatedly, lose about half of the music I have downloaded from Jamendo to bizarre filesystem errors apparently brought on by sharing the home directory between installations. And a few DVD rips, although in retrospect, that was hardly a real loss.

What’s been more interesting is that I find my Crux systems to be preferable to an identical system built in Arch. True, it takes about a twentieth of the time to put it together as the Crux system, but in the end it’s … not the same.

These days that machine has run completely without X — sometimes without even so much as accessing the xorg repository for Crux. Freeing myself from that has proven to be a huge improvement in the general state of household affairs. 😉 I can’t do quite the same thing with Arch now though; there are interrelationships for some programs that require X libraries. As a result, I see that I occasionally pull in packages from X that I otherwise wouldn’t, in Crux.

As an example, vim (not vi, which can be included at installation time), has dependencies that seem to come from the xorg department. Similarly, the “official” version of the Terminus font from the community repository requires some X11 trappings, which I can rather easily avoid in Crux. fbida is another; I couldn’t get fim to install from AUR.

Not that it’s a big deal. And I can always use the roundabout way of customizing my Arch system, editing the PKGBUILD files to exclude the stuff I don’t want — like a version of MPlayer that only works with the framebuffer driver — and get the “same” results as I do in Crux.

But that’s the reason I drifted away from Arch in the first place: If I’m going to spend time rebuilding software to suit my preferences, I might as well be using a source-based distro, and not rebuilding a binary one. 😐

I had a few other hiccups — installation added the ftp.archlinux.org repository by default. That would be okay except it ignores me after accessing it a few times, which makes upgrades and new software installation take longer than necessary. I also asked the boot menu for a no-SATA, hdX-labeled legacy system, but all my drives are assigned sdX-series names. And of course, there was that block error message on reboot. And I seem to have to manually start my wireless network, which might just be a change in the configuration.

But on the other hand, there are a lot of things I like better about it. It’s much easier to set up your rc.conf file in the installation process. And when I had problems accessing files on one mirror, it was an easy matter to switch mirrors and get the files I needed to finish installation.

And maybe best of all, most of the initial number-crunching with mkinitcpio seems to be delayed until after the system configuration is finished. I don’t remember if it was the Don’t Panic release or another, but one of those used to grind through mkinitcpio twice. A bit annoying, that was.

About the only remaining point I should mention, which isn’t Arch’s fault at all, is that the siliconmotion driver still spatters gunk all over my screen, which says to me that even though the server and the driver are holding hands again, they’re definitely not on speaking terms. So I am officially missing nothing by sticking to the framebuffer and thumbing my nose at X, etc.

All the same I’ll be heading back to Crux in a little bit. I have a system I like a certain way, without the extra baggage and re-building. You still can’t beat Arch for a fast, ground-level custom system, but I need a finer degree of control at this point in my Linux experience, and I think Crux is where I want to be right now.


15 thoughts on “A visit with Arch

  1. J

    I drifted from Arch to Crux a few years ago before my computer died.. when I originally got back into Linux a few weeks ago I looked at Crux and was sad to see the state it was in.

    I’m sticking with Arch for the time being because I’m honestly not very sure if Crux will be alive this time next year.

    1. chexmix

      I’d be interested in more details, since I’ve been considering trying out CRUX. What saddened you about it? I’ve gotten the impression it’s always been kind of a quiet distro with a smallish audience.

    2. armornick

      Well, I don’t think CRUX is going to die any time soon. But if it does, there are some alternatives available. One of the most interesting I’ve found is Source Mage (sourcemage.org). It’s a source-based linux that can best be described as an easy version of Linux From Scratch. Best of all is when you install applications: it asks you confirmation for every optional dependency, though there’s probably a way to turn that off.
      It’s a bit too hardcore for me, but it’s probably the closest thing to a CRUX alternative.

  2. Ali Gunduz

    On an unrelated note, I have just realized how much more eye pleasing it is to use xlinks2 rather than any other x based browser. I won’t deny that other more “sophisticated” browsers like IceCat or Epiphany or Kazehakase have more improved functionalites, and they are good too. But it is certainly a real pleasure to browse with xlinks2 for solely “reading stuff”.

    Oh and, yes, I’m a links (no, not links2) man when it comes to console browsers.


  3. Ali Gunduz

    Aaaand, I have just noticed another nifty use for xlinks2 🙂

    I can use it to view images on console mode even when there’s x running on “tty7” while feh is giving me “Can’t open X display. It *is* running, yeah?” error.

  4. sertse

    xlinks2 graphical browser can be run in framebuffer, so it’s right that X isn’t running. 🙂

    I still prefer elinks on console though, particularly when images aren’t especially important. fbi can be launched from elinks if I want to specifiy open any images…

  5. Pingback: Links 14/05/2009: Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha; Solar-powered Sub-notebooks Run GNU/Linux | Boycott Novell

  6. viletimes

    J, if you’re going to try to convince folks that *any* linux distro has “one foot in the grave”, whether it be CRUX, Source Mage, or any other for that matter, you had best provide some facts. Otherwise, someone might trot you out and expose you for the piss-poor troll that you truly are.

    I would never dream of doing such a thing of course, but others far less well-mannered than I might.

    More facts, less FUD. A credo to live by.

    1. J

      I was going to pull some info from the Crux website but it wouldn’t even load.. checked with http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com and it is down.. heh.

      Losing your main contributor of code and resources is enough to make any distro suffer a substantial blow.

      You’re being entirely too defensive, I love Crux.

      1. armornick

        Hmmm, you might be right after all. However, someone will probably take over eventually. And there are still other alternatives. Think OneBase Linux, Lunar Linux, LFS, or Gentoo (if you really have to 😉 )

      2. chexmix

        Hmm …. http://crux.nu worked for me yesterday when I was looking at it, and it works today.

        Also, I was logged into the #crux IRC channel yesterday. Judging by the archives, there isn’t a LOT of activity there, but when there is it is focused on the distro. Didn’t feel dead to me. Just my 2c.

        1. armornick

          The good thing with source-based distros is that it doesn’t take much to install apps (and a new kernel) without the support of the official maintainers. For isntance, the pkgfiles of CURX are very easy to make so except for Xorg or a DE you don’t need much effort to write one.

  7. Andrew

    I must agree, CRUX has the best response of any distro I’ve used. It’s package management system is very simple and easy to work with. I really don’t find any truth in its “one foot in the grave” – it’s still alive and doing well.

  8. Pingback: s5h.net » Blog Archive » Hacker-friendly Slackware is Still Good, Arch Explored

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