Saturday, June 13, 2009

Migration to Arch

The other day I did a dd to my hard drive, and my Crunchbang install got completely wiped out. To the point where the computer refused to boot. The positive side to this story is that I had been thinking about migrating my netbook back over to Arch Linux, and the massive trashing gave me the perfect excuse to do this...

I had used Arch in the past as both a desktop OS and a server OS, after I had moved away from Slackware and before I really understood how nice package managers are. It's lean, mean, lightning fast, and a LOT of work, but I felt like it was more rewarding than working with Slackware (really only because Slackware was my first distro, so I didn't have a very solid understanding of what the hell I was doing). Crunchbang is a beautiful, solid OS to be sure, but I decided it was high time I moved to something even more lightweight for my netbook.

So, I'm currently running Arch Linux with the slick tiling window manager Xmonad (the WM I heard about through my new favorite webcomic, GeekHero :)). It took about 2 days total to get it set up 100% how I want it, and now I have a netbook that boots up and is ready to use in under a minute. Firefox, Evolution, and Audacious are basically the only non-CLI programs I use (I really can't use CLI web-anything), which isn't a fun thing for Linux newbies, but I enjoy quite a makes the mouse completely optional outside of these programs, which in turn makes use much more efficient and significantly less frustrating (relying on the mouse is definitely an exercise in frustration).

The best part about the Eee is the extremely generic chipset for everything, which means that all drivers needed are already built into the 2.6 kernel, no extra configuration needed. My main recommendation is, of course, regarding the wireless management: installing the NetworkManager (the same one used in Crunchbang!) is absolutely worth it. Other small, but extremely useful additions were Xmobar, a wonderful little status bar application designed for integration with Xmonad; trayer, exclusively to display the little nm-applet in the corner; and feh, for desktop wallpapers. This article was extremely helpful in getting this all set up.

Now, if only I could find a good replacement Twitter/ status client...