ArchBang Linux Review
ArchBang is a simple GNU/Linux distribution, which provides you with a lightweight Arch Linux system combined with the Openbox Window Manager. Suitable for both desktop and portable systems – It is fast, stable, and always up to date. (Source: ArchBang front page)
I like fast, stable and up to date distros. But of course most of them say that.
You can customise your install to suit your needs, and draw on the vast resources & knowledge of the Arch Linux community. The download page has links to both 32 & 64 bit versions, bootable as a live CD / USB – allowing you to easily test it out before doing a full install. (Source: ArchBang front page)
Still, nothing new here, but I like the developer’s attitude. He’s polite.
Try it out now, we’re sure you’ll be amazed by what ArchBang Linux has to offer! (Source: ArchBang front page)
You bet I will mate!
From the name, and the fact that it’s using the Openbox Window Manager I will assume that it’s trying to be a CrunchBang-like distro based on Arch Linux. I find this to be both interesting and smart, since Arch is a Rolling release, therefore your install will always be up to date and the code implemented in Arch is rather interestingly stated:
“The design approach of the development team focuses on simplicity, elegance, code correctness and minimalism”.
Downloading the distro is a slight pain. Easy enough to do it, just click the link:
But – at least in my case – it was painfully slow (200kb/s on a 7MB/sec connection) and with no torrent alternative I just had to endure it (couldn’t find a torrent file on http://www.tuxdistro.com/ or http://linuxtracker.org/ either).
Also I would like to note that the ArchBang website itself doesn’t contain that much documentation, but this is because all the documentation you need is on http://www.archlinux.org/
Off an ISO file in a VirtualBox machine its boot time is about 11 seconds. Graphically, it looks great, but that’s a very subjective opinion. To me it looks like how a UNIX system should look like if it had a GUI.
To install the distro you simply click on the screen and select Install, which is the first option on the menu.
The installation process resembles the one of Slackware a little bit, but it’s nowhere near as complex, thank god: A console-based menu where you have to select the options to prepare your machine for the install and to do the actual install (like hard disk preparation – I went with manual partitioning, install system, configure system and so on).
A word of caution: Go through every step of the installation and read all the messages carefully, otherwise you’ll end up like me installing the damn thing 3 times until getting it to work.
Once the installer finishes copying the files, a configuration script will be run. This configuration script helps ALSA identify your hardware and… well that’s all it did for me in the virtual machine. On a physical machine it might do a tad more.
After that you only need to got through the configure system option and install the bootloader (that’s GRUB) and you’re done.
At the configure system stage, don’t forget to set your username and password and the password of the root, otherwise you won’t be able to log in.
Everything becomes just a tad annoying at this point. If you want to install virtual box guest additions it is recommended that you first upgrade the system. When you try to upgrade the system you get a dependency error generated by the aufs2 package. To fix it apparently you must run
pacman -R aufs2
Which removes the package, allowing you to upgrade so that you may install the tools afterwards. The upgrade, at the time of writing was 300 megs… so that took a while.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Arch (including ArchBang) is not made to be a user-friendly Linux but more of a challenge.
32 minutes later…
Still upgrading… Let’s talk about the applications! You get basically everything you need for a standard OS: Text editor, Gimp, Media Player, Web Browser (Chromium in fact, I find this to be a plus since I’ve grown to hate FireFox over the years. It’s like they lost focus on speed and simplicity) Torrent Downloader, Word processor and even a SpreadSheet application.
The Openbox GUI is, of course, highly configurable, tweaking everything from the wallpaper to the menu style and colours.
If you want a distro that’s closer to UNIX than Windows (with graphical applications as well) give this a try, but don’t expect to get it working out of the box. It’s made in such a way that it will give you a few headaches to get up and running. If you enjoy a good challenge it will not disappoint you.