Arch Linux

Infobox OS

developer = Aaron Griffin
family = Linux
supported_platforms = i686, x86-64, PowerPC (unofficial)
source_model = Open source
working_state = Current
latest_release_version = 2008.06 (Overlord)
latest_release_date = 24 June 2008
kernel_type = Monolithic
license = Various
website =

Arch Linux (or "Arch") is an independently developedClarifyme|date=October 2008 operating system intended to be lightweight and simple. [ [ ArchWiki :: Beginners Guide - ArchWiki ] ] The design approach of the development team focuses on "simplicity", elegance, code correctness and minimalism. [ [ The Arch Way] ] "Simplicity", according to Arch, is defined as "...without unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications.." and is defined from a developer standpoint, rather than a user standpoint. [ [ Archway ] ]

Inspired by CRUX, another minimalist distribution, Judd Vinet started Arch Linux in March 2002. Vinet led the project until 1 October 2007, when he stepped down due to lack of time, transferring control of the project to Aaron Griffin. [ [ Arch Linux Forums / Arch Leadership ] ] The "Arch" in Arch Linux is pronounced [ɑːrtʃ] or [aːtʃ] (as in" archer" or" parchment"). [ [ [arch Pronnounciation of our beloved distribution's name ] ]

Design and principles

Arch is largely based around binary packages. Packages are targeted for i686 and x86-64 microprocessors to assist performance on modern hardware. A ports/ebuild-like system is also provided for automated source compilation, known as the ABS (Arch Build System).

The Arch focus on simplicity and economy for developers means, among other things, that the main effort in assisting the user is not expended in crafting GUI configuration tools - the package manager, for example, does not have an official graphical frontend - but making well-annotated configuration files and extensive use of shell scripts [] .Fact|date=October 2008 This has earned it a reputation as a distribution for "intermediate and advanced GNU/Linux users who aren't afraid of the command line" [] .

init framework

Arch uses a BSD-style init framework, a tradeoff of flexibility for simplicity. It also includes and permits use of System V runlevels and the inittab file, but there is little differentiation between runlevels. This is due to the fact that the modules and daemons loaded at startup are arranged very simply as arrays in the central configuration file, /etc/rc.conf, as opposed to System V's system of a directory for each runlevel containing a numbered symbolic link for each daemon.Clarifyme|date=October 2008"See init for more detail on the differences between the two systems."


The Arch Linux website supplies both CD (ISO) and USB (IMG) images for ease of use. In keeping with the Arch commitment to the KISS principle, the Arch Linux installer is simply a shell script using dialog for user interaction and generally reputed to be quite fastFact|date=October 2008 (~ 10-15 minutes). The slim default install provides only a base GNU/Linux environment, including the GNU toolchain, the Linux kernel, a few extra modules and libraries, and the bash shell. [ [ ArchWiki :: Beginners Guide - ArchWiki ] ] Further system customization and expansion (adding additional software such as a window manager, desktop environment, etc.) must be done manually, installing packages downloaded from online repositories. Arch is therefore generally considered somewhat long to install, in comparison to other operating systems. [ [ Wordpress :: Arch 2008.06 Review] ]

Package management


All packages are managed using the Pacman package manager, which handles package installation, upgrades, removal, downgrades, database queriesClarifyme|date=October 2008 and features automatic dependency resolution. The packages for Arch Linux are obtained from the Arch Linux package tree and are optimized for either i686 or x86-64 architectures. Arch Linux is primarily based on binary packages in the tar.gz format for installation speed.


Currently there are four official repositories:

* "core", which contains all the packages needed to set up a base system
* "extra", which holds packages not required for the base system, including desktop environments and programs
* "testing", a special repository, with packages that are candidates for the "core" or "extra" repositories.
* "community", which contains packages built and voted on by the community; includes packages that have sufficient votes and have been adopted by a "trusted user".

The Unstable repository was dropped in July 2008 and most of the packages moved to other repositories. [] . In addition to the official repositories there are a number of unofficial user repositories (PUR), though the role of these is limited due the availability of the AUR.Fact|date=October 2008


ABS is a ports-like source packaging system which compiles source tarballs into binary packages, that are installed via Pacman. [ [ ArchWiki :: ABS - The Arch Build System - ArchWiki ] ] ABS provides a directory tree of shell scripts called PKGBUILDS, which enable any and all official Arch packages to be customized and compiled. Rebuilding the entire system using modified compiler flags is also supported by ABS. The ABS makepkg tool can be used to create custom .pkg.tar.gz packages from third-party sources. The resulting packages are also cleanly installable and trackable via pacman.


In addition to the repositories, the Arch Linux User-community Repository (AUR) provides user-made PKGBUILD scripts for packages not included in the repositories. The PKGBUILD scripts simplify building from source by explicitly listing and checking for dependencies and configuring the install to match the Arch architecture. The scripts are available for download on the web site but programs such as "yaourt" can further streamline the downloading and building process. A tool such as "Yaourt" that searches and downloads PKGBUILD scripts and runs them automatically will not be included in the official repositories. [] The AUR provides the community with packages that are not included in the repositories. Reasons include:
* Obscurity. The software is simply not popular enough to warrant inclusion.Fact|date=October 2008
* License issues. Software that cannot be redistributed, but is free to use, can be included in the AUR since all that is hosted by the Archlinux web site is a shell script that downloads the actual software from elsewhere. Examples include proprietary freeware such as Google Earth and RealPlayer.
* Modified official packages. The AUR also contains many variations on the official packaging as well as beta versions of software that is contained within the repositories as stable releases.

PKGBUILDS for any software can be contributed by ordinary users and any PKGBUILD that is not confined to the AUR for policy reasons can be voted into the community repos, a major reason for Arch Linux gaining a reputation as a democratic distribution [] .Fact|date=October 2008 Though the AUR is considered unsupported and users are encouraged to check the building process themselves to ensure against malicious scripting, the AUR is policed by the maintainers of the community packages, the "trusted users".Fact|date=October 2008


"Rolling releases"

Unlike major distributions such as Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and others, Arch Linux does not schedule releases for specific dates but uses a "rolling release" system, with new packages provided daily. Its package management permits users to keep systems up-to-date easily. [ [ - Arch Linux Review ] ] Rather than encouraging users to move between discrete releases, Arch Linux releases are simply snapshots of the current set of packages, sometimes with revised installation software. Therefore it makes no difference from which snapshot Arch gets installed if updates are installed afterwards. As of September 2008, the latest image is 2008.06 ("Overlord"), dated 24 June 2008.

Release history

Live Arch environments

The offical Arch install media presents the user with a basic Arch system replete with standard CLI tools from which the installer can be run. For the user who wishes to have access to a full GUI without or before installing, live CDs have been developed:
* [ Archie] - Uses the Xfce desktop
* FaunOS - Uses the KDE desktop
* [ Arch Live] - Uses the Lxde desktop by default with archiso-live version

See also


External links

* [ Website]
* [ Arch Linux PPC]
* [ A collection of Arch Linux books for free download]
* [ Interview with Judd Vinet about Arch Linux]
* " [ The Big Arch Linux Interview] ", an interview with most of the Arch Linux developer team

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