• Setup & use on recent hardware: Antergos & Linux vs Windows/(Mac)

    Disclaimer: This is a (too) long post, my (obviously) opinion but if can it save time and sweat to new Linux users it will be worth it! Please no hostile answers if you do not agree, I am not an Antergos fanboy but this post is just my experience of linux distro hoping spanning over 15 years.

    Note: Arch by itself is not included in this round up because I never installed it but obviously Antergos/Manjaro benefit from it. I have tried Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Manjaro, Antergos, Skylinux, Opensuse (superficially some time ago), Kali and Debian (very superficially)

    Requirements/limitations: I have one intel I7 6700K/Nvidia GTX1060 laptop (Clevo based P750DM2 from Metabox) and multiple AMD Ryzen 1st/2nd generation desktops but my main one is an AMD Ryzen 2600X/X370/Nvidia GTX1060. Some PCs are in in dual boot with Win10. I do not have any Mac so in this regard I will be passing on what an IT professional owning some has told me. I use Cinnamon. I want updated software and a large software base installed because I am looking at doing some (web) development. I would say I have an average knowledge of Linux.

    1. Hardware compatibility
    (Mac?) > Windows > Antergos=Manjaro > or = to every other distros.
    Mac being a closed hardware/software system leads the pack, period. Windows does quite well as it has the widest users base making harware manufacturers worth their investment in drivers but maybe because of something like the law of diminishing returns it has not been getting better in this area as opposed to Linux distros which have made a huge progress in getting workable device drivers for the past 2 to 4 years. There is this special issue with video drivers and linux (open vs proprietary ones) that can make installers/linux distro (e.g. Fedora, Unbuntu, debian etc…) unstable/freezing/crashing or unable to wake up from suspend/hibernation states etc…, in my case i need(ed) proprietay Nvidia drivers to make it work, Antergos/Manjaro do this very well out of the box. Some linux gurus are going to straight away argue that this not a distro issue but a kernel one and this is generally true but i have tried debian and RedHat derivatives using the same kernel and having different issues because of how the installer is scripted.

    2. Installer stability
    (Mac?) > Manjaro> Windows = most linux distros > Antergos.
    Sorry guys, I am yet to find a Linux installer software crashing randomly that ofen, not to mention I had to burn a DVD to install Antergos on my Laptop because it could not enumerate the USB ports. I know it is in Beta version and you get warned beforehand but potential users need to know this and that is somehow the type of comment you can find online. Some debugging may be needed with Antergos installer but what it installs it does it well except ZFS.

    3. Installer options/ease of use (free vs proprietary video drivers, packages repositories, pre-installed applications, choice of LTS Kernel, disk partitioning, and formatting, Grub location etc…)
    Antergos>Manjaro>most other Linux distros>>Windows>(?Mac)
    Antergos offers all the options listed above between brackets, even ZFS (never worked for me though). That saves so much time: select what you want and do something else for the one to 2 hours of setup time. A counter example: Ubuntu has often been struggling with GRUB installation among other things.

    4. Package management/repositories/applications base
    Antergos>Manjaro>most other distro>Windows
    Although Windows users can access more applications than everyone else, the installation process (not to mention the potential cost of buying some apps) is not always that simple and there is a reason behind MS moving towards their App store like linux and Apple. Antergos has access to timely-updated-dependency-checked-huge-Arch/AUR repositories within the add/remove software app. There is very rarely the need to chase packages, PPAs and the like as well as missing DLL online with their security and upating related risk/concerns. After Antergos installation I stacked 3 GB of apps to install in a row and after answering a few questions Add/Remove software did everything without me sticking to my chair. Try to do so with Ubuntu: the add/remove software app. does not allow you to preselect packages and install them in bulk. It will often crash over 5 - 10 packages in the pipeline. You have to do this with Synaptic but the ergonomy is not as good as with the Add/Remove app.

    5. Stability and updating process
    (Mac?)> Antergos=Manjaro>Mint>Windows>Fedora>Ubuntu
    Once again this is not a general debate, I know for instance that debian stable is very stable. This is about rolling against versioning updating process and its consequences on stability. As my IT friend says: “Mac never crashes”. On the other hand for instance Windows 10 1900build update managed to corrupt one of my laptop’s SSD because it tried too many times to update unsuccessfully. In contrast, you control if and when the updating process takes places in linux. Unfortunately and too often in my experience full version updating has always been risky, with Ubuntu for instance, and lately with Fedora. Having a more unified repository system with good dependency check and incremental updates does minimize the risks of issues, it has been my experience and makes sense.

    Finally and this is probably the main bias of this post, only time will tell if in the long ruin Antergos lives to this reputation as i have not been using it long enough. Feel free to post constructive comments that will help potential users to decide whether to choose Antergos keeping in mind the above-mentioned requirements and limitations.

  • Your review is very fair and clear, I have absolutely no comment on that, in fact I liked it very much.

    The focus of your review is mainly between Windows 10 and Linux, because of your experience, and I think that is the best comparison to make.
    It’s true that Macos is rock solid and top notch, but Apple has a relatively easy job to accomplish that, because of the small amount of types in hardware they have to design the OS for and if the hardware is older than 5 years (this I didn’t check accurately, but I think I’m close with that number) they have the power to leave those out of the update equation.
    Windows 10 and Linux have to deal with lots of different hardware configurations and that makes the job more difficult and as you can tell from your experience, this doesn’t sail smooth on every system.

    Unfortunately, you’ve experienced a lot of hickups and frustrating errors during the installation proces, Cnchi had some major changes in the last three months and they didn’t work properly. The devs, in that period, tried to fix one issue, but another one arose and so on. Cnchi is still under development, but the recent big problems got fixed. Last weekend I’ve installed Antergos on a friend’s 10 year old intel based laptop that now is serving as a learning/playing computer for his eight year old daughter and the proces went without any problems.
    AMD makes great products and you get a lot of power for a more friendly price, but you have to keep in mind that the vast majority of machines available are shipped with Intel and, in general, Antergos installations sail fine on those. I’m not saying AMD doesn’t work, but you have to keep your mind and focus a bit more on installing Antergos.
    AMD improved their Linux compatibility a lot the last couple of years, but in my opinion, like Cnchi, this proces is still ongoing and hickups occur from both ends of the line.

    As for your final question: Why Antergos?
    In comparison with distro’s like Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Manjaro it doesn’t offer you an out of the box experience and the “app store” (Pamac) doesn’t look appealing to a lot of people, in fact it doesn’t make sense because of the lack of missing categories like audio/video, productivity and internet, the Gnome software center does a better job with that. Also there’s larger risk that an update breaks a certain functionality or even break the system. If it does you have to dive into the terminal with horrifying command lines.
    Now you must think I’m bashing Antergos down and I’m desperately keeping you of from here, that’s not the fact, so here comes the good stuff:

    • With Antergos you can choose from 10 different desktop environments within one installer, without the hassle of doing it the Arch way.
    • All desktop environments are shipped with the most necessary apps, so you’re system isn’t cluttered and bloated with software you’re not going to use. You decide what you install and you will notice that in the system performance.
    • Arch and other rolling relaese distro’s have the reputation that it will break after updates. I can tell from my experience that breaking packages or systems is a rare thing. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but maybe once or twice a year, most of the updates sail smoothly. I also have to say that most breakages are caused by tinkering the system, if you don’t do that (and non-technical users will not) you have a good running system.
      Updating the system once a week give less problems and check the forum daily, if there’s a problem, a member will always post it. Also: Make full backups, this is mandatory for any system you work with, so Antergos isn’t unique on that one.
      In addition you can install Timeshift, this is an app that makes snaphots from your system. In case of breakage you can easily install it back by starting up the ISO, install it and it will find and install your snapshot backup, before the breakage, so you can start further investigating what went wrong.
    • Like I said earlier when in that rare occasion you encounter a problem, you have to dive into the terminal. Now in order to solve a certain problem you have to go the forum and see if another member encountered the same, if not ask for help and there’s always someone who will help you over here, without burning you down. The Antergos community is really friendly.
      I wrote earlier about horrific terminal commands, but when you’re guided into them with the help of a or multiple forum members, you will discover that Arch commands are easy and compact i.c.w. Ubuntu for example.
      Just an example updating the system:
      Ubuntu: sudo apt-get update && sudo app-get upgrade
      Arch: sudo pacman -Syu
    • Pamac: I must admit for a newbie this one is hard to defend, it isn’t intuitive and it requires some learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it saves you the hassle from using terminal commands and it gives you the tool to find anything in one place, instead of all over the internet.
    • The advantage of having a rolling system is that you don’t miss out on new features and improvements, they roll along while you’re using the system.
      Most people get used to certain ways a system looks and works, if change happens all at once on all areas, people tend to get in panic mode (Where’s the audio setting, I can’t find the clock etc.) with rolling release these changes will happen gradually, so there’s a lower learning curve in adapting the change.
    • When you use Antergos you will not only have a great and customisable system to your needs, but every day you’ll discover and learn how your computer works, instead of seeing it as a click and pop device that does things by magic. In the long run it will take away the misunderstanding and fear you might have with computers and you’ll understand that, like everything and everyone in life, things happen for a reason and there’s almost always a solution.

    I think I summed up the most important parts on why you should pick Antergos over any out of the box experience distro.

  • Thanks for this straight to the point and dispassionate post. As a side note I cannot correct some of the typos in my first post because the “akismet.com” screening software of this forum flagged it as a spam 😏

    My interest in Antergos goes beyond a simple computer hobby, it is a practical, financial and “philosophical” one : I am looking at learning (mostly web) development, have been using mostly Linux based distros as a day to day platform for the past couple of years for practical, privacy and low-cost reasons. Currently on top of the 2 above mentioned computers, I am setting up an HTPC and will be doing the same with an all purpose home server, all AMD ryzen based. That means I need to dedicate my spare time to do so and as little about tweaking all my OSs. Having one and the same deployed everywhere should save time. That explains why a distro like Antergos stands out of the OS crowd for me.

    Regardings your specific points’ Bryanpwo, we are on the same page, so just a bit of clarification:

    • I hads no issues with cinchi with the 2 ryzen PCs (installations went smoothly) in contrast to my only intel based (laptop) with many random crashes, USB ports not recognized and LVM partitioning failling.
    • ZFS partitioning did not work either on install, but I am mostly looking at it for my data discs on the server so not a big deal for now. Having said so, offering this option on a distro “for everyone” is really appealing.
    • What about having in the settings (like manjaro) the possibility to choose video and CPU firmware/drivers as well as Kernels?
    • I cannot concur more about the rolling vs version updating, I used manjaro for 2 years with little hiccup and never had a full upgrade in other distros not either crashing in the middle of it or having issue down the track. I you want as much stability and up-to-date system, rolling distros is likely the best choice. Arch is a very well documented distro, it never failled me when it came to troubleshooting.
    • Last point about Apple, I do agree with what you said and my (very little) experience of Macs was that they were quite slow.
  • @leo67
    In regards of your kernel and hardware suggestion; this could make it easier, but I don’t think it fits in the vision of the developers, Antergos offers just enough to get started on Arch and, this is the most important reason, Antergos is maintained by three or four people, I believe Manjaro has a lot more. Also, just having the option of the current kernel and LTS kernel, makes everything easier. You don’t have to be reminded that so and so kernel is EOL, the system takes care of that automatically. As for the video/cpu drivers for AMD, they are shipped with the new kernel, since AMD officially supports the open source drivers. The only “hassle” is for Nvidia cards, but Antergos also took care of that, granted you have to use the terminal to enable it, but the job is’nt that hard to do and very well documented in the wiki.

    I have just a question, pure out of interest, how do AMD Ryzen CPU’s perform on Linux? I’m considering to buy a machine shipped with one and when I watch and read reviews about them (all of them running Windows 10) the main complaint is that the fans turn on very often and very loud. Is that also the case running Linux?

    (p.s. I’ve liked your post, so the screenng software doesn’t mark your post as spam anymore, so you can have full acces to the forum tools)

  • @Bryanpwo
    About your question and to be honest I have not pushed any of my Ryzen based PCs very high so far although I live in a tropical area (25-35 degrees today for instance). You can get some reviews on phoronix about ryzen 1 and 2 CPUs compared to I7 and in terms of temperature they fared quite well. That really depends on the number of cores, frequency, die (14 nm ryzen 1, 12 nm ryzen 2), type of applications (games vs encoding for instance) and my favorite (kind of obsession as I hate noise) the type of cooling/case you have. Most of my ryzens have a TPD max of 65 watts (1700/2400G/1600) except my desktop with a 90 watts (2600X). The latter one has an internal water cooling but only a 12 cm fan blowing heat to the outside. The 1700 is under my TV in a HTPC case with no case fan and I barely hear it when I browse and watch/stream TV with just an AMD stock fan. Unless you have a very well ventilated case, don’t go for the 125 watts versions (2700X from memory) because I used to have a AMD 3850 with this TDP and using the same water cooling currently on the 2600X, but in a big well ventilated (6x12 cm fan) case, and when rising in CPU load the 2x12 cm fans of the watercooling were quite noisy. Having lived in Europe before coming to Oz I know that you don’t get that often very high temps but my advice still stands ☺

  • Thanks for your reply and great advice. My curiousity only grew more for it, my interest lies in the 1900 or the 1700 series, so it’s good to hear that the fan noise is on a normal level.

  • @Bryanpwo
    The 1700 is an interesting choice (note, I edited my post, the 1900 is part of threadripper family, I meant 1700), as the price has dropped since the release of the 2700, I got mine from a demo PC and it will be used for video encoding/decoding (I don’t really play much) where its 8 cores are a plus.

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