I’ve been using Archlinux on my two Thinkpads here for quite some time now. Its generally been OK. It’s quite quick and configurable without forcing Gnome or KDE in your face. It has a package manager and everything seems to be compiled for i686 or better. One of the reasons I started using it was that I had read it was like slackware with a package manager.
But one thing that’s really annoyed me with it is the enormous quantity of updates. They have a rolling update model, so they don’t have major releases … you just keep on updating to the current packages. Most packages are very very recent. Almost too recent. Now, I don’t auto update generally, but from time to time I’ll run :
Before it installs anything it always tells me how much stuff it’s about to download. Most of the time this figure seems to be over 100MB. I know ADSL is fast but I always think “What is this 100MB going to do for me”. This morning, after not updating for a while (though I had updated some packages individually in teh past few weeks), I did the ‘pacman -Syu’ again and it told me it wanted to download 333MB. That is just plain sad. I noticed openoffice was in the list of updates, so I deleted it (I never used it). Ran pacman again and this time it wanted 240MB of updates. I reluctantly said Yes and did the updates. Interestingly, things like glibc, gtk and xorg were in the list. All huge packages … which if you understand the build structure of a linux distro … you’ll know that these sorts of things underly a lot of other packages.
So what did I get after the updates .. exactly the same … except I can’t seem to run a lot of jpeg viewers. Most of them seem to hang now. I’ve been trawling the archlinux forums for someone with similar probs and I can’t really find anything useful.
What I really want is archlinux but only with security updates. I’ve been looking but I can’t find anything like that. I could go back to slackware … but I’d really miss the package manager.
So, as a quick comparison, I’ve put Kubuntu on a spare partition on my T42. I’ll see how it goes. Ubuntu/Kubuntu is meant to be a faster i686 distro, it’s got a decent package manager, but its got a clunky old startup system … and probably tries to be too user friendly for my liking. I’ll see how it goes.