Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Arch Linux Revisited

I tried to use Arch Linux back in 2007 (0.8 through 2007.08). Somehow I did not use it often and then a system update (pacman -Syu) would ask for large amount of updates and the mirror is not that fast (no Singapore mirror). So I did not tried it with the current Acer desktop.

I am trying out some small installations using LXDE and XFCE (4.60 was just out). I tried them on a minimum Ubuntu 8.10 installation and it did not work well even though they
both work fine with a normal Ubuntu 8.10 installation. It is said that minimum Arch installation works fine with LXDE and XFCE. So I decided to revisit Arch Linux.

The basic Arch installation using the USB flash disk image is quite fast. Basic setup is fine with editing a few configuration files with nano. The beginner's guide and other Arch Wiki pages are really helpful.

After the initial setup, I got LXDE and XFCE basically working. Still I got no sound. Then I decided to try out Gnome first to see if I am missing something and used Shaman. Shaman is far away from the smoothness of Synaptic used in Ubuntu. I think it has a long way to go. Gnome is basically working as well. But still I got no sound.

Then I installed pulseaudio to help to solve the sound problem. Unfortunate it is broken: libcap updates broke pulseaudio.

Rebuilding pulseaudio with the fantastic ABS system does not help with the sound issue as well. The device is listed, the mixer is fine, there is just no sound from any applications. I like the abs system, kind of like the FreeBSD ports system. It is actually quite easy to rebuild a package.

Turns out it is because of the old TV card (Compro Videomate X50) which is not working under Linux (but fine under Windows Vista) . After disable the loading of that module (cx88xx), the sound is working. Take note I do not need to do this in Ubuntu or Fedora. This is strange.

iBus was not working initially. With the help of Google, it turns out that I need to update ~/.profile instead of ~/.bashrc with ibus settings. This is another strange thing.
export GTK_IM_MODULE=ibus
export XMODIFIERS=@im=ibus
export QT_IM_MODULE=ibus

I am happy with Arch after these initial problems. Arch Linux seems to be faster in Gnome, LXDE and XFCE than under Ubuntu 8.10. Maybe it is less polluted now since less pplications have been installed. The next step may be to remove major part of Gnome and see if I can survive under XFCE and LXDE.

So Arch Linux is more difficult than Ubuntu (which normally just works). But it does have some advantages since I learned quite a bit with the settings. LXDE may be similar.


solarwind said...

Glad to hear that this worked out for you. Note that you can fine tune your rc.conf for super fast boot speeds. For example, you can put an "@" in front of the network daemon to start it up in the background so it wont be sitting there trying to use dhcp and waste time. There are a lot of little tweaks like this that you can do to make things boot up really fast. Also consider the "slim" login manager rather than KDM or GDM or whatever else. It looks nice and it's fast.

Xiaofan Chen said...

Yes I have put "@" sign for some of the daemons but not the network daemon yet. I will try that. Thanks. I am now using gdm. I will try slim later.