Exploring Arch derivatives Antergos and Manjaro

User Packages

You install packages from the Arch user repository with yaourt – the graphical package managers also use this tool internally. Yaourt – as well as the alternative AUR clients – run without root privileges as a general rule, because the tool builds the packages from source code in userspace and only requires root privileges to actually install. The syntax is largely identical to calling pacman; in everyday use, yaourt is a synonym for pacman. (See also the "Caution!" box.)

Caution!

When you install AUR packages, yaourt offers to Edit PKGBUILD. [Y/n] ('A' to abort) – that is, to view and edit the PKGBUILD file of each installed package. You will want to make use of this opportunity! AUR is very open, and everyone can post their own software there without major obstacles, although the risk of malware spreading through AUR is always present. Therefore, always at least check the source =… line to see whether it loads the source code or program packages from a legitimate source.

Yaourt is pretty much fault tolerant. For example, you just need to specify part of the package name to find the appropriate package. Alternatively, you can also enter part of the short description to find a package (Listing 1). On the other hand, this process often returns a large number of hits, making for a fairly cluttered list.

Listing 1

Finding a Package

 

The three lines at the end of the command output prompt you to select one or more packages for the install. You can enter individual packages separated by space characters as in 1 3 17 or specify a contiguous number range as in 22-35. Hitting Return without specifying a number or pressing Ctrl+C exits the program without installing an AUR package.

In addition to yaourt, you'll find a slew of other utilities for AUR: aurpac, packer, aura, and pacaur are just a few of the helpers listed in the Arch wiki [13]. We recommend pacaur [14]: This AUR helper uses the Pacman syntax like yaourt, but it shows you all of the PKGBUILD files at once in advance, rather than revealing them bit by bit like yaourt. Thus, you can install larger packages with many dependencies in the background, without having to constantly respond to prompts.

In case of problems, you can also install packages manually from AUR. After downloading and extracting, for example, to /usr/local/src/, change to the newly created directory. Often a special directory named builds/ is created first. Using makepkg -s should now compile the package. In this way, you can examine any errors occurring during the build process.

The command automatically resolves dependencies – provided the Manjaro/Arch packages exist for it. If they are missing from the official repositories, then the build script resorts to the AUR packages. As a result, makepkg generates a package that can be added to the system with pacman -U <package>.xz. Alternatively, you can compile and install using makepkg -i.

Hardware to Go!

After successfully installing the system and the most important software, you need to talk the hardware installed in your computer into running with Arch Linux and its derivatives – if this does not happen automatically. Arch really shows its class when it comes to difficult hardware. Indeed, this should be no challenge with the current kernel, but the devil is in the details.

If the graphics card is successfully detected during the system installation, the graphical tools of each installed desktop environment are available for this. However, what if the problems start with the graphics card? The distributions do not install VESA modules as a stopgap for the X server. If the screen at the start of the graphical user interface remains black, you need to install the xf86-video-vesa package manually.

You then need to configure the X server manually: Running Xorg -configure as root creates an xorg.conf.new configuration file, which you can test using Xorg -config xorg.conf.new. If this works, you can call the display manager (MDM for Manjaro). For more tips relating to X.org and its configuration, see the Manjaro wiki [15].

Printers, scanners, or webcams should install without much effort. The hardware support for these devices is in the hands of the kernel, and CUPS for printers. All this is brand new in Arch and its derivatives, and the hardware support is accordingly comprehensive. You can either use the CUPS web front end to set up your printer on http://localhost:631 or access the printer settings in the desktop environment.

Generally, the Arch Linux wiki [16] is a very good port of call for hardware problems; you will often find useful information in wikis of other distributions that can be transferred to Arch, and thus to Manjaro or Antergos.

Conclusions

Arch is one of the fastest Linux variants, and the rolling release system means Arch Linux and its derivatives are always up to date. Some minor flaws still tarnish the overall good impression. For example, hardware detection is not necessarily better compared with Ubuntu or Fedora – once in a while, you have to help the hardware with an entry in /etc/modprobe.d/.

Both Antergos and Manjaro complement Arch Linux. Graphical installation routines and user-friendly tools in the Arch derivatives significantly minimize the barriers that make setting up Arch seem too complicated for less experienced users.

Figure 7: Manjaro has its own tools for detecting the hardware installed in the system.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

SINGLE ISSUES
 
SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
TABLET & SMARTPHONE APPS
Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

comments powered by Disqus

Direct Download

Read full article as PDF:

Price $2.95

News