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New series: Archlinux tools

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michuk's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-20

Welcome back!

I'm writing to introduce a new series of articles. This time this will be "Archlinux tools" introducing original software developed for Archlinux distribution. Here is the first short article about Pacman: http://polishlinux.org/linux/arch/archlinux-tools-pacman/

Keep track of our RSS channel since we are going to publish another article about AUR and yaourt.

Also, if you use Archlinux and would like to write an article to be included in the series, feel free to drop me a node via e-mail or jabber:

Hope you like the new series!

Cheers!
Borys

PS. I would also like to thank our 3 proof-reades: Jake, Fred and Chad for their enornous support. You gave a new quality to the PolishLinux articles. Thanks!!!

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
I don't mean to start a

I don't mean to start a distro war here, but... here's what I would write in an article about archlinux.

I use archlinux, used to love it, but not so much anymore. Why?

- I recently had to reinstall it because of a disk crash, and the current installer seems to be broken. Take an unexotic computer, install archlinux with a configuration that is as default as possible... and the combination won't boot! Fortunately the "fallback initrd" will boot, but then after the first upgrade the default initrd will boot but the fallback won't... WEIRD!

- A few times already, an upgrade of the kernel caused my system not to boot anymore or become weird in other ways.

- One time now a kernel module package was upgraded to a new kernel version while that newer kernel wasn't available yet. It was only acerhk, which caused a little weirdness but nothing too serious, but... imagine this happening to a kernel module you really need.

All of the above means the archlinux developers need to be more careful with the kernel and related packages. In the past I didn't have any problems with archlinux, I think the problems started this year.

If anyone is going to use archlinux for a production system, please add this line to /etc/pacman.conf below [options]:

IgnorePkg = kernel26 somekernelmodule someotherkernelrelatedpackage

Where the last two "packages" should be replaced by all kernel-related stuff that is on your system. This way you won't be surprised by a broken kernel or kernel module hiding between a long list of other upgrades. You will still be told about these "ignored package upgrades", so you can upgrade those packages explicitly through pacman -S package.

For kernel package upgrades, note the package version number. For example in "2.6.23.1-3", this is 3. If it is 1, then it is advisable to wait a few days before installing the upgrade. On the other hand, if only the package version number is different from the kernel you have installed (ie 2.6.23.1-4 vs 2.6.23.1-3), and you're not having any problems, it is wiser not to upgrade the kernel at all. An upgrade that fixes archlinux-specific problems that you're not having isn't worth the risk.

If you still end up with a broken system, note previous versions of packages are kept in /var/cache/pacman/pkg/ - until you clean them out with pacman -Scc, that is. So don't run that command unless you are sure networking and pacman work proprely Sticking out tongue .

The archlinux utilities are fantastic, and I would love to see more distributions based on them.

I should add that almost all archlinux kernel upgrades are completely problem-free. But "almost all" isn't good enough if you have to do serious work. So use the problem prevention strategy described above, or use a different distro.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Arch is a nice distribution

Arch is a nice distribution mainly because of its simplicity approach and unique tools, but it is a high-maintenance distribution which you really have to pay attention to if you don't want to just end up one morning not being able to boot and not having an idea why. It's not for people who want everything simply work with no questions asked and no intervention needed. Now, as Taco said, it seems it has gotten only more unstable..

One distro that comes to mind which uses some Arch tools is Frugalware which aims to be a bit more user friendly.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
Actually, I never had any

Actually, I never had any trouble whatsoever with archlinux upgrades until they got careless with kernels. So I wouldn't call it high maintenance. Getting some packages to work properly always was a lot more work than it would be on a "click to install" type distro.

By the way, I have a sourcemage iso sitting on my disk, waiting for me to find some time to switch Smiling . Now that is a distribution with impressive tools!

michuk's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-20
Archlinux tools: AUR

You already know Pacman, the Archlinux software manager. Now it’s time to meet AUR and yaourt, the extra tools that can bring a fistful of apps on your desktop within just a few console commands. This article is part of the “Arch tools” series on polishlinux.org.

And here's the link: