An­ter­gos 17.8.....................

A might­ily re­lieved Jonni Bid­well dis­cov­ers that Arch Linux and a con­ve­nient, out-of-the-box setup ex­pe­ri­ence aren’t mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

A slick setup ex­pe­ri­ence wows a not-eas­i­ly­im­pressed Jonni Bid­well, who finds lots to like in this clever take on Arch Linux.

Not one but two Arch-based dis­tros this month. Arch purists may cry foul at their pure dis­tro be­ing cor­rupted with such frip­peries as an in­staller (the awe­some Cnchi) and a se­lec­tion of desk­top en­vi­ron­ments, it’s not the Arch way, af­ter all. But vanilla Arch is still there for those peo­ple, and An­ter­gos, and a grow­ing num­ber of other dis­tros, are there for those who would like to har­ness the power of Arch but would rather not spend three days set­ting it up.

An­ter­gos is part of the sec­ond wave of Arch-based dis­tros, first ap­pear­ing as Cin­narch in 2012. Back then, Cin­na­mon was rather tricky to use any­where other than its na­tive Linux Mint, and it was es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult to make it play nice with the shiny new GTK li­braries found in the Arch re­pos. So Cin­narch switched to Gnome re­branded it­self An­ter­gos (a Gali­cian word mean­ing ‘an­ces­tors’), and the rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Nowa­days, Cin­na­mon is more por­ta­ble and nicely pack­aged in the Arch re­pos and it, or Gnome (the de­fault), KDE, Mate, Open­box or Xfce, can be cho­sen straight from the in­staller. A spar­tan ‘Base’ ses­sion, with no desk­top, is also avail­able, for those want­ing some­thing a lit­tle closer to the Arch ex­pe­ri­ence.

Once you’ve cho­sen your desk­top poi­son, Cnchi of­fers to set up Arch User Repos­i­tory (AUR) sup­port, Blue­tooth, print­ers, Flash ( noooo–Ed), LTS ker­nels and a few oth­ers. AUR sup­port is a nice touch, be­cause the process for boot­strap­ping an out-of-repo pack­age man­ager, such as Yaourt, is con­vo­luted and con­fus­ing to the unini­ti­ated.

Play time!

Steam and PlayOnLinux are bun­dled to­gether in Cnchi, which is slightly con­fus­ing be­cause they don’t nec­es­sar­ily com­ple­ment each other; games played via the lat­ter may re­quire the Win­dows ver­sion of the for­mer. So users who are in­ter­ested in a straight­for­ward method of in­stalling Steam are lum­bered with a Wine in­stal­la­tion they may never use. This aside, An­ter­gos is a great choice for a gam­ing dis­tro ( gamin­’s Liam Dawe says so), and as with NetRun­ner Rolling any gam­ing prob­lems you en­counter have prob­a­bly been en­coun­tered and solved some­where in the Arch ecosys­tem.

The par­ti­tion­ing util­ity en­ables LVM or ZFS to be set up in one click, in ad­di­tion to of­fer­ing an ad­vanced op­tion for those users who know what they want. There’s also a handy check­box to put /home on an­other par­ti­tion. Which­ever desk­top en­vi­ron­ment you choose, you’ll find it set up and look­ing de­light­ful. There’s a great se­lec­tion of desk­top wall­pa­pers, and win­dows and icons use the bold and mod­ern Nu­mix Frost theme. Com­bined with all the shiny new pack­ages you’ll be the envy of your Ubuntu-us­ing co­horts.

De­spite ev­ery­thing be­ing nicely pre­sented and ready to go, An­ter­gos is still very much Arch Linux un­der the hood, and uses Arch’s re­pos un­der the hood. As soon as new pack­ages hit the Arch re­pos, they’re avail­able in An­ter­gos. There’s a sep­a­rate An­ter­gos repos­i­tory for its cus­tomised pack­ages and high level ad­di­tions. This in­cludes some stuff pre­built from the AUR too, such as Dropbox and the Widevine DRM plugin, so you can watch Net­flix in Chromium with­out hav­ing to install Chrome.

An­ter­gos’ uses the Pa­mac fron­tend for man­ag­ing pack­ages, which is to Arch’s pac­man what Sy­nap­tic is to Apt. This makes all pack­age-re­lated busi­ness much less daunt­ing, al­low­ing one-click sys­tem up­grades so ev­ery­thing can be kept fresh.

Cin­na­mon looks ev­ery bit as good on An­ter­gos as it does on Mint, but we doubt that the world is ready for more wob­bly win­dows.

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