• My mis-adventures with pure Arch

    So as I got ready to convert another PC in my house from Windows to Antergos, I paused for a moment. I thought, “Maybe I should give pure Arch a shot?” The last time I did that, I’m embarrassed to admit this but, I remember booting the live Arch ISO and being dumped out to a terminal. I was thinking, “where the heck is the GUI installer?” I quickly discovered that the Arch ISO does exactly this. Dumps you out to terminal and puts you in complete control. COMPLETE. The reason this was so jarring to me is, after trying practically every distro under the sun (and all of them having GUI installers that after the OS was installed and you rebooted, you were dumped into a pretty GUI (Cinnamon, KDE, Gnome, etc.)), I was dumbfounded why Arch (for as popular as it is) didn’t offer some sort of basic installer and the option to guide you through installing xorg and a desktop manager of your choice. I guess this is what makes Arch so… Arch.

    So with that … I present to you, my decent into chaos …

    For attempt # 1 at installing Arch, I opened up a 2nd terminal and used the ALT-Arrow key and brought up the ReadMe/Install notes text file included with the distro in another terminal and carried out the steps it guides you through. I’m not the quickest typist in the world so after about 30-45 minutes, I issued the reboot command and … I killed Arch. It wouldn’t boot. I forget the exact error but I think that either I missed it or the included setup txt file isn’t very clear about the need to install a bootloader. I figured Arch would do this logical (to me) step with one of the commands I type but nope. No biggie., my fault. I should have realized at no point in that text file (again, unless I missed it) there’s mention of the need to install something like Grub. How can a Linux distro boot without a bootloader? It can’t. Guess I should have caught that. (I’m a newb though, don’t forget that!)

    Attempt # 2, I reset the SSD I was using (fdisk) and this time, I had my iPad with me and followed along the the official Arch setup wiki. I repeated all my steps (making sure to install Grub this time!) and rebooted and… dead. When I issued the ‘grub-install’ command, I used /dev/sda1 instead of /dev/sda. Again, human error on my part. I didn’t know how to recovered from that so reboot and fdisk to start again! :)

    Attempt # 3, re-did all the commands, issue my reboot and… I WAS ABLE TO BOOT ARCH!!! At this point I was doing mental back-flips sitting in awe that I was able to read a guide and install Arch! lol But seriously, I was pleased that so far, everything worked right. Then it was time to tackle installing xorg, proprietary Nvidia drivers and Cinnamon… so I could get my fancy GUI! And this… is where … things went to crap.

    Before doing anything I quickly realized that even though the Arch setup identified my network card and was able to retrieve packages from the repositories, after that part of the setup was done and I rebooted, Arch decided that if I wanted to use my network card I’d have to enable it first. (To me… this is just beyond stupid. Yeah, yeah, “the Arch install lets you configure every aspect of your system from the ground up.” But come on!! So after 15-20 minutes of Googling, I finally stumbled upon the command to enable the DHCP service for my interface and network connectivity was restored!

    Next up, time to install Cinnamon…

    Since I couldn’t find a step-by-step guide on the Arch wiki for installing Cinnamon. I was forced to cobble the steps together via YouTube and various web sites. I succeeded in installing xorg (and all companion programs), my Nvidia drivers and Cinnamon. But now what do I do? I rebooted and figured Cinnamon would just auto-magically load. It didn’t. On the Arch wiki, it mentions editing ~/.xinitrc and adding a line so you can start Cinnamon manually. I want Cinnamon to start at boot though? Over the next 30 minutes, I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything that helped me.

    At this point, from the first, few failed attempts of the install failures to not being able to get Cinnamon to run at boot, I’m about 6 hours into this madness. I was thinking… even if I get this PC running with pure Arch, God help me if I ever need to blow the install away and reload from scratch because I messed something up and couldn’t recover from it. Will I be facing another multi-hour install process?

    This is when I reached for the Antergos live USB image and trashed the remnants of the Arch install and installed Antergos.

    I love the stability that you can get with a Debian based distro but it really bothers me that the packages quickly stagnate after a few months and it can be a couple of years before you get new versions of programs. And when a new version comes along, it’s always recommended to backup your drive and install a fresh copy. Case in point, Mint. I really like Linux Mint. On one of my PCs, been using Mint 18.3 for a very long time. Now that 19 is out, while you can technically do an upgrade, officially, it’s recommended to wipe your drive and install a fresh copy. I know they offer security updates for 2 more years with Mint 18.3 but then what? Wipe/install 19 and a couple years later, rinse-repeat? Having to wipe out my drive every couple of years kinda sorta sucks.

    This is where a rolling distro, Antergos, fits in perfectly! (And also, the Manjaro numbers on Distrowatch seem WAY to high. I think they’re gaming the system with their first place position. :) )

    In closing, I’m happy that the folks behind Antergos can provide us with a GUI installer for Arch. Your work is greatly appreciated! To the Arch folks that might read this, I think it’s time some of your minds come together and develop some super basic GUI (or text) based installer for Arch and automate the install process. I can’t think of a single, good reason why I needed to go in and type a command to enable the DHCP service for my network card… that was used to pull down packages. Working during setup and not working after I’ve booted into Arch is (to me) really, really dumb. But I guess this is the purpose of Antergos, to bring Arch to the masses.

  • Wow! What an amazing and inspiring story for the need of Antergos! Thank you so much, as I am sure this will be really encouraging to the @developers for sure :) . And if you think about it, you know how hard it was to get ONE system to mostly work with Arch? Imagine having to worry about getting EVERYONE in the whole WORLD’s systems working on Arch!!! That’s what the Antergos developers are trying to do. In the background, Cnchi is really inputing all those commands that you would otherwise need to do by hand. So when people complain that their specific hardware or driver is causing them problems, I still find it incredible that Antergos can work for so many people. For the great majority of us, it’s a life saver.

    So 3 cheers to the amazing Antergos team!!!

  • Way back in time Archlinux have a basic menu driven installer, but as they choose to be “The Developer Linux” they start doing it the way it is now.

    And also you have learned a lot abot how the system is working on your attempt to get pure Arch installed ;)

    Archlinux is, and never will be what a Desktop Distro is called today, it is a basic very stable and up to date kernel system to do what ever you want to do, and using one of the popular Desktop environments is only one part of it.

  • @RoadHazard’s post brought back nightmares of my vain attempts with Arch several years ago. I’d spend a day or two at a time trying to get the (expletives deleted) thing to work. This went on for a couple of years (I can be somewhat stubborn and it had become personal). Sometimes I’d try in a VM, sometimes on some spare bare metal, but the results were always the same – an empty six-pack and flying keyboards. And failure.

    When I accidentally discovered Antergos some months ago, I almost automatically gave it a pass due my experiences with Arch and an almost equally futile attempt with Manjaro a year or so ago. Fortunately, I was sufficiently bored that afternoon… and that original “experiment” is still running on my poor abused laptop (it’s had almost everything on it at one time or another) and is my daily driver.

    My thanks to the @developers for all their hard work and to the mods on this forum for proving that the “Arch Way” is NOT the only way and actually helping us to learn what we need to know.

  • Good description! I was in a similar situation :).

    I do consider myself somewhat technical, having worked as a developer for 20+ years. Arch looked really interesting and I heard a lot of good about it. I tried following the instructions, and it went so-so. First time I forgot something important apparently (drivers or hardware incompatibility), next time I got it to boot at least. I have been a fan of Deepin DE for a while so tried installing that on top of pure arch… It was a hassle. Sure all the base packages installed, but it was like tons of services and dependencies were missing. It worked, but pretty much everything was broken.

    I thought about giving up on Arch but found Antergos that has a gui installer with Deepin. Thought it’s worth giving it a try, and it worked really well out of the box. Sure, some minor fixes / tweaking but nowhere near where I was in my own arch install.

    Super happy with the distro at least, the software update with AUR and antergos repos are so sweet. Before I had to add PPA’s and crypto keys and whatnot all the time, now I can basically just click to install anything without hassle. In that sense the build in “Add / Remove Software” app and pacman are way ahead of the competition.

    Stopped distro hopping now, I might ofc try something else but it would probably just be Antergos with another DE in that case, feels too good to leave this distro :)

  • Well, Arch is a wonderful OS with even more wonderful Wiki, and I would never ever change it to any other. However, building own system on the basis of vanilla Arch and, for instance, Openbox, as my current setup, is a toy for geeks, and has nothing to do with a system addressed to the wide audience. I mean: some people can make their own environment, tailored exactly to their needs, but it’ll forever stay a niche configuration of a niche OS. This has little to do with raising awareness about Linux, regardless of what they say.

    Example: Yesterday my wife needed to mark a place on a picture shared on Facebook and post the picture again. It took me 5 seconds to prepare what she needed:


    I tried to reproduce the same on Chrome OS she uses, but given up after 15 minutes.

    Conclusion: limiting access to the great and free software written for Linux to the bunch of people capable of installing Arch is a mistake. We can discuss if Antergos needs own meta-packages and stuff, but this is definitely the way to go.

arch52 pure2 mis-adventures1 Posts 6Views 744
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