Thursday, 8 April 2010

Distribution change

So far, I have tried various flavours of linux. I have tasted various desktop environments, stability policies, maintainance policies and packaging policies. I have tried KDE 3, KDE 4, GNOME, Enlightenment, XFCE. KDE 3 is undoubtedly "rock solid". GNOME is simple. XFCE is leaner GNOME. KDE 4 has slowed down with semantic desktop. However, much of the work is yet to be done to get back the old KDE feel. Enlightement is fast and stable; however the development is on. I like working in Enlightenment. However, I also have KDE 4.

Coming down to packaging, I have experienced .debs, .rpms and compressed source files. I also have rpm packaging experience. I would say all of them solve different purposes. They define (or may be match) the distro's policies and philosophies. For business oriented distros, rpms are a good choice. However, Debian's package management is also nice. It is a mark of their stability. Compressed source files however are the most flexible ones. Gentoo's packaging clearly reflects its philosophy of flexibility.

I had been running openSUSE for a long time now. Recently, I had decided to go for a change. I wanted to go for a rolling release as I wanted to keep at the edge of technology. Moreover, events like the okular problem inclined me towards rolling release distros.

The first option that came to my mind was Gentoo: its a lovely distro. However, I didn't have time for all the compilation so I thought of trying Arch. Distrowatch said its a lean distro that provides bleeding edge software. I downloaded the netinstall image and started my installation. After multiple Gentoo installs (successful ones), I was ready for it as soon as I had the image copied to my USB stick.

One common problem that I face while installing any distro is that my internet connection is PPPoE and not many people have it so its hard to find help regarding that. To add to it, I don't like to download unnecessary packages or large images. So, I spent some time trying to figure out how to connect during installation. Once that was done, I had a pretty smooth install. Arch linux is a nice experience. However, I miss Gentoo's community support on Arch. #gentoo is far more responsive and friendly than #archlinux. Interestingly, I solved Arch problems while talking at #gentoo.

I had KDE 4 installed on it. Then I moved on to get the latest svn snapshot of Enlightenment and installed it. Both are working fine. Arch's package management is not as flexible as portage in Gentoo. Also, sometimes you need to know your way around. For example, I had installed Ark on KDE; but was not able to unzip any of my .zip files. It was because I had installed zip with it; but not unzip. After installing unzip, its working fine.

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