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Finally stopped distro hopping... I think

Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
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August 12, 2010 12:31:48 PM

I've been distro hopping for the last 6 months or so, installing distros for anywhere between 5 minutes and a couple of days. Most of the time I ran into an annoying little quirk that just made me try another distro to see if the quirk was "fixed" there. Often it was, but there'd be a different one I'd have to deal with. I've run Linux Mint more than most distros but Mint 9 has got alot of the Ubuntu 10.04 "patches" that screw up usability in order to make things just how Kommandant Shuttleworth likes them (not talking about the button positions).

So I've settled on Arch. I've installed it a couple of times but have only got it working once. I really like pacman and the AUR/ABS. It's also nice to have a distro that isn't overly tied to one DE. The only real pain is working without network-manager (during and just after installation). I rely on 802.11g with WPA2 so I need to manually configure wpa_supplicant. The first time I spent 1-1.5 hours trying to work it out but now that I have the config (which is actually rather simple) on my flash drive I just need to copy it to /etc before configuring the network at the start of the installation and I'm set. The only thing can't work out is why I lose my connection after several minutes. I'm not exactly sure how dhcpcd works but it seems that by default it doesn't re-lease my IP address after the expiry time, so I need to kill and restart the daemon so I can access the repos again. A minor inconvenience but I wish I knew how to avoid needing to do that.

Fortunately I don't mind editing config files, else I'd probably burst an aneurysm using Arch.
August 13, 2010 2:09:23 AM

Arch is definitely my favorite from what I've tried. I learned a few things about Linux in general after installing it.
August 13, 2010 2:23:52 PM

I've still been too afraid to try Arch/Gentoo and the like, but I swear I will one day :D  My laptop is in desperate need of a Windoze Purge, so maybe I'll get adventurous :p 
Related resources
August 14, 2010 2:29:58 AM

Arch has excellent documentation for the most part so if you follow it then it's fairly straight-forward. There's a couple of times where you wonder why they told you to add something to xyz.conf earlier on and then further down they say that you should probably get rid of it and put in something else instead. Gentoo is just too time-consuming.
August 14, 2010 4:43:52 AM

Is it faster at making connections than network-manager? I've found that network-manager (with network-manager-applet installed as well) takes a while to connect, and my session is up and running well before it is done. I've even allowed the connection to be usable by everyone so that it doesn't need to wait for me to login (although I auto-login). While this makes it faster, it's still pretty slow.

On a side note: does GNOME still require hal in order to auto-mount devices or is this now handled by udev as well? hal still gets included as a dependency. I think network-manager has it as a dependency too.
August 14, 2010 3:35:33 PM

Arch is a good choice for desktop/laptop.

I'm running freebsd, openbsd or maybe debian for server.

You should try configuring the wireless using wpa_supplicant only, it is not that hard. And ... use Awesome.
August 15, 2010 3:15:36 AM

I would use wpa_supplicant if I knew how to get dhcpcd to re-lease my IP address :??:  I have looked at awesome and am eager to try it at some point. I've never used a tiling WM.
August 16, 2010 3:30:08 PM

randomizer read man page for dhcpd:
Quote:

dhcpcd -n
-n
Sends SIGALRM signal to the dhcpcd process that is currently running which forces dhcpcd to try to renew the lease. If dhcpcd is not running the flag is ignored and dhcpcd follows the normal startup procedure.
August 17, 2010 2:17:02 AM

I should have known that the man pages would have something in there :)  That's fine for avoiding the need to kill dhcpcd but how do I get it to renew before the lease expires each time using wpa_supplicant? This is what network-manager does (and wicd too I guess). Do these programs simply run "dhcpcd -n" periodically?

I don't have access to any Linux rig to keep reading through the man pages at the moment.
August 17, 2010 6:12:48 AM

randomizer said:
I don't have access to any Linux rig to keep reading through the man pages at the moment.

Here you go.
August 17, 2010 9:32:22 AM

That's handy, thanks :D 
August 17, 2010 9:21:53 PM

I have run numerous distros and I like 2 for the following reasons.

OpenSuse is a solid, very workable distro as Yast implements a "control panel" feel capable of doing Anything on the computer. Gotta love KDE though.

Main site is OpenSUSE.org

Gentoo. As Daunting as Gentoo is for a new linux user, it is basically your own build. It is YOU who does all the selection. It's just building what you have and want together that can be the hassle, but with the most rewards. KDE/Gnome with integrations and the shell YOU feel is most beneficial with the Desktop environment YOU like most. yeah, Gentoo is top dog in my opinion.

Gentoo's main site is Gentoo.org
August 17, 2010 10:21:12 PM

Hmmm Arch is nice, but not if you don't have either A) extra space/computer to tinker with or B)time. Just my personal opinion, I really enjoyed Arch buuuut I've always tailored whatever disto I use to my tastes anyways. On laptop builds I usually went with Ubuntu or Crunchbang, but I recently tried Jolicloud (deriv of Ubuntu) and I am extremely impressed, although it is made for netbooks it isn't gimped like a lot of netbook distros are. Desktop speaking, I don't really know what distro I could stay with. Top 3 would probably be Sabayon, Crunchbang, and Linux Mint KDE.


Peppermint OS is my next test, however, and looks AMAZING
August 17, 2010 11:51:15 PM

Welcome to Arch! :) 
August 18, 2010 12:32:38 AM

longlivelinux90 said:
I have run numerous distros and I like 2 for the following reasons.

OpenSuse is a solid, very workable distro as Yast implements a "control panel" feel capable of doing Anything on the computer. Gotta love KDE though.

Main site is OpenSUSE.org

Gentoo. As Daunting as Gentoo is for a new linux user, it is basically your own build. It is YOU who does all the selection. It's just building what you have and want together that can be the hassle, but with the most rewards. KDE/Gnome with integrations and the shell YOU feel is most beneficial with the Desktop environment YOU like most. yeah, Gentoo is top dog in my opinion.

Gentoo's main site is Gentoo.org

OpenSUSE always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't really like Zypper, it's just too slow and clunky. I've never been able to find my way around their GUI front-end to the package manger either. APT is ok, but the only advantage it really has over pacman is the ability to handle wildcards. It's much slower and it doesn't handle orphans very well. Sure there's "apt-get autoremove" but it's dangerous. I ran it once and I knew it was going to remove alot (didn't care as I was experimenting) but I swear it nuked 50% of the software on my system and left me with almost nothing. I haven't really used Yum enough to comment on it.

As far as Gentoo goes, I just don't have that much time. :) 
August 18, 2010 3:59:37 AM

:(  you bashed my system. with any linux distro, it takes some time and experimenting to really get what you want. I like kde more than gnome. I like yast as a control panel system. and i like zypper because of the ease of use with alt+f2. oh well. I have Windull 7 and opensuse on this system. but im hardly on windows.
August 18, 2010 6:12:24 AM

To each their own. I've tried OpenSUSE over and over and it just doesn't work for me. It's not just the package manager... I just don't like it for some reason. But then everyone loves Ubuntu and i don't like that either so maybe I'm the problem :D 
August 18, 2010 6:15:12 AM

randomizer said:
To each their own. I've tried OpenSUSE over and over and it just doesn't work for me. It's not just the package manager... I just don't like it for some reason. But then everyone loves Ubuntu and i don't like that either so maybe I'm the problem :D 


Well, its all personal opinion. Good luck with arch! Just stop hopping and tweak the os til its what u want. They all have to be tweaked.
August 18, 2010 7:17:11 AM

I hear raving reviews about openSUSE all the time, but like Randomizer, I just don't like it as a whole. Nothing wrong with the distro itself, there's just a multitude of small things that add up into an overall dislike for me.

I'm using Ubuntu right now on my Desktop, but just because I NEEDED to get rid of Windows, and that was the one distro I had the most experience with. I can't decide between Arch and Gentoo for my laptop, everyone seems to be completely split down the middle as to which is "superior".
August 18, 2010 1:12:14 PM

i don't mind openSUSE or ubuntu, i prefer Arch linux or Linux From Scratch

randomizer, i went through a time of switching between distros before i finally found one that i just love (Arch Linux), though doing a LFS build is kind of nice to do as well
August 18, 2010 1:16:51 PM

The gains from compiling from source don't outweigh the order of magnitude increase in setup time IMO. I've compiled several commonly used programs from source, as well as my kernel (multiple times), and the difference between custom compiled and generic, pre-compiled binaries is practically margin of error when benchmarking. I'm sure if i was benchmarking the "right" thing I might find a difference, but so far the largest difference I've seen was around 4% when comparing a generic x86, non-pre-emptive kernel with a timer frequency of 100Hz vs a kernel compiled with march=core2, fully pre-emptive and timer frequency of 1000Hz.
August 18, 2010 1:27:38 PM

On another note, I'm having alot of "fun" getting Arch to work with my Ralink RT2860 wireless NIC in my netbook. I'm trying it out with wicd instead of network-manager. I've had some luck getting it to work with my WPA2-PSK network but the real test is my university's WPA-Enterprise network. I have spent hours in Ubuntu (which I removed today in favour of Arch) trying to get a working connection using both network-manager and plain Jane wpa_supplicant. It just gets disconnected each time it attempts to authenticate. Network-manager would probably have worked great if it wasn't for the fact that the network uses two CA certificates, while nm only supports one.
August 18, 2010 1:31:00 PM

randomizer said:
The gains from compiling from source don't outweigh the order of magnitude increase in setup time IMO. I've compiled several commonly used programs from source, as well as my kernel (multiple times), and the difference between custom compiled and generic, pre-compiled binaries is practically margin of error when benchmarking. I'm sure if i was benchmarking the "right" thing I might find a difference, but so far the largest difference I've seen was around 4% when comparing a generic x86, non-pre-emptive kernel with a timer frequency of 100Hz vs a kernel compiled with march=core2, fully pre-emptive and timer frequency of 1000Hz.


i know, but still is a fun exercise on setting up linux

randomizer said:
On another note, I'm having alot of "fun" getting Arch to work with my Ralink RT2860 wireless NIC in my netbook. I'm trying it out with wicd instead of network-manager. I've had some luck getting it to work with my WPA2-PSK network but the real test is my university's WPA-Enterprise network. I have spent hours in Ubuntu (which I removed today in favour of Arch) trying to get a working connection using both network-manager and plain Jane wpa_supplicant. It just gets disconnected each time it attempts to authenticate. Network-manager would probably have worked great if it wasn't for the fact that the network uses two CA certificates, while nm only supports one.


yeah, Arch sometimes has some issues with hardware and WPA2, though i usually find a way of fixing it
August 18, 2010 1:42:39 PM

The driver isn't included with the kernel so I needed to get it plus the firmware from the AUR. That was a bit of voodoo in itself because the firmware had been updated by Ralink but the PKGBUILD was out of date (the directory structure had all changed). I had to find the older fimware version so I could build the package. The thing is working now, I'm just having issues getting it to connect to WPA-Enterprise networks. But as I said, I had the same problem when running Ubuntu 10.04 which included the drivers with the kernel.
August 19, 2010 3:41:46 AM

My wiireless driver actually just got included in the past kernel or two, but before that I was in the same boat, wpa2 just wasn't happening. I finally had to settle on ndiswrapper and a wep home network :( 

Minus that though, theonly problem I have ever had with arch was with ati gpus, which is hardly out of the ordinary :-P

Best of luck getting everything set up!
August 19, 2010 12:47:11 PM

I think I've just about given up getting the wireless to work. If I can find out what was added to the Ubuntu kernel to make it work I could be in luck. I've compiled a custom kernel for my netbook with the staging driver modules included and they run fine, but the wireless still doesn't work. I think I need the firmware as well but I can't imagine this was included with Ubuntu since it's proprietary. :??: 

EDIT: Oh blast, from the looks of it Ralink only support WPA-Enterprise on Windows anyway. No Linux or OSX support (well that was the case in 2008 anyway, maybe newer drivers work with it... sort-of-kinda). So while I could potentially get it to work at home eventually I'm SOL for university. ndiswrapper isn't much help either because the Windows driver package is just an installer and includes no INF. :fou: 
August 19, 2010 12:56:11 PM

Some distros are definitely more wireless friendly than others. Mandriva installed like a dream on my laptop and the wireless just worked (well, I had to type in the WPA key, but apart from that). OpenSUSE on the same laptop - no go. After messing about I finally got it working, but definitely not an out-of-the-box experience.
August 19, 2010 1:00:23 PM

I don't really understand how a distro can be more or less wireless-friendly unless it includes more/different things in the kernel. I know that Ubuntu ships everything, the kitchen sink and the leaky bathtub with the kernel so somewhere in that mess must be what I'm looking for. I doubt there is anything in userspace that is going to make a difference.
August 23, 2010 6:46:30 AM

I managed to get Arch installed with Xorg and Gnome tonight in Virtual Box, finally. Heh. It's pretty interesting so far, haven't really had a lot of time to get familiar yet. I'm quite fond of Pacman, I know that much :) 
August 23, 2010 7:50:28 AM

Install pacman-color from the AUR and bind it to a "pacman" alias so you get a coloured output :) 
August 23, 2010 5:17:05 PM

randomizer said:
Install pacman-color from the AUR and bind it to a "pacman" alias so you get a coloured output :) 


Ooh, fancy. I'll have to do that :D 

EDIT: I downloaded the Pacman package, extracted it, ./configure - make - make install, that all went fine. How do I bind it to the Pacman alias though? Can't seem to find it on Google. :( 
August 23, 2010 9:53:11 PM

Add to your ~/.bashrc:

alias pacman='pacman-color' (or whatever the command is).

Also, you should be able to get it from the Arch User Repository (AUR) instead of compiling it from source:
http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Arch_User_Repositor...

This provides the benefits that pacman can easily manage it along with its dependencies, and if you are using a AUR helper (such as packer: http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=33378), then you can use that to keep all the programs installed from the AUR up to date, just like you would use pacman for the core/extra/community packages.

Enjoy.
August 23, 2010 11:37:04 PM

Yeah, I kind of noticed the AUR after I already had things compiled and installed. I know for next time at least :) 

I'm a bit confused here as to what I do with this file, where it goes, etc. I have come to the conclusion that I have to make it myself, as I can't seem to find it anywhere. Next thing I'm unsure about is where it goes (I'm a noob, don't laugh :lol: ). I just opened a terminal, stayed in the home directory, an entered "nano .bashrc". I added "alias pacman='pacman-color', saved and exited. Pacman looks no different, so I'm assuming I did something wrong :) 
August 23, 2010 11:46:30 PM

You are correct that you have to make it yourself :)  The system loads the .bashrc file when you first login. You can either log out and log back in, or run the command:

  1. source ~\.bashrc


to manually load it (if I'm not mistaken).
August 24, 2010 12:07:41 AM

Well, the reason the .bashrc wasn't working was because I didn't log out; so thanks for that. The reason pacman-color wasn't working was due to the fact that I apparently lack the ability to pay attention :D  I installed pacman... again... instead of installing pacman-color. Sigh. All working now, thanks for the help :) 

EDIT: Heh, sorry for the threadjack :D 
August 24, 2010 2:06:04 PM

randomizer said:
I've been distro hopping for the last 6 months or so, installing distros for anywhere between 5 minutes and a couple of days. Most of the time I ran into an annoying little quirk that just made me try another distro to see if the quirk was "fixed" there. Often it was, but there'd be a different one I'd have to deal with. I've run Linux Mint more than most distros but Mint 9 has got alot of the Ubuntu 10.04 "patches" that screw up usability in order to make things just how Kommandant Shuttleworth likes them (not talking about the button positions).

So I've settled on Arch. I've installed it a couple of times but have only got it working once. I really like pacman and the AUR/ABS. It's also nice to have a distro that isn't overly tied to one DE. The only real pain is working without network-manager (during and just after installation). I rely on 802.11g with WPA2 so I need to manually configure wpa_supplicant. The first time I spent 1-1.5 hours trying to work it out but now that I have the config (which is actually rather simple) on my flash drive I just need to copy it to /etc before configuring the network at the start of the installation and I'm set. The only thing can't work out is why I lose my connection after several minutes. I'm not exactly sure how dhcpcd works but it seems that by default it doesn't re-lease my IP address after the expiry time, so I need to kill and restart the daemon so I can access the repos again. A minor inconvenience but I wish I knew how to avoid needing to do that.

Fortunately I don't mind editing config files, else I'd probably burst an aneurysm using Arch.


Why distro hop?...just install all of them lol. Use virtualization.
I use windows 7 as my host OS, and I virtualize Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, PC OS, Mandriva, opensolaris, winxp, winvista. A virtual machine takes a fraction of the time to install, and its easier/faster to work with. So my final question is, why not install, arch...and all the other ones you like and use them for different things that you need, if one distro can't do something you need, fire up the other virtual machine with the other OS and use that.
August 24, 2010 2:15:18 PM

I've already gone through the VM phase. I usually whack the ISO in a VM for 20 minutes or so to see if it's even worth bothering with, or to test out beta/alpha releases (which are most certainly not worth bothering with for a host installation). I had about 15 VMs at one stage, some of which were barely even started, others which I had used for several hours.
!