Antergos Linux - newbies beware!


#1

Antergos is an interesting Linux distribution project with a serious marketing problem. One might say that the way they present themselves is seriously misleading. You see, in their marketing material Antergos uses slogans such as for everyone and simple. The truth is just about the opposite.

What is it?

Antergos is a derivate of Arch Linux, which aims to remain 100% compatible with the upstream and is using Arch package repositories directly. Antergos is often compared to Manjaro, being both based on Arch, but the usage of repositories is a significant difference in their way of working. In practice Antergos is an Arch Linux live DVD, equipped with a user friendly installer to deliver a pre-configured desktop environment. I am writing this running an installation based on Antergos 2015.09.13 and Gnome desktop, with all the updates installed.

Nice looking Antergos Gnome desktop. Installed last night - first updates already rolling in.

What is the problem?

As you can see, Antergos installation, like the installer live session, looks quite good with latest Gnome, flat Numix theming and a calm wallpaper. The installation process is very simple and nearly identical to what you’ll find in Ubuntu releases. This combined with the marketing slogans gives you the idea that this is some new Ubuntu killer suitable everyone, but that is not the case.

  • Antergos is using Arch Linux repositories, which means that it is a rolling release with updates delivered very frequently (read: daily). Arch users are expected to follow Arch news communication regarding potential system break downs and how to fix them if problems occur. Although breaks do not happen frequently, they do happen - it depends a lot on your system and configuration.
  • Arch Linux delivers the very latest software available and some times this means bleeding edge.
  • Stability comes with age. Truly stable distributions like CentOS/RedHat, Debian Stable or Ubuntu LTS have their release cycles counted in years. Arch Linux is updated constantly.
  • Antergos itself is still under heavy development. The 2015.09.13 is actually the first Antergos release that has been able to install a working system on my super Linux compatible Thinkpad X301. Even this has some quirks straight after installation:
  • The login screen has a huge input lag for some reason. It is difficult to type the password, although it does work.
  • Some Gnome visual elements appear broken.
  • Keyboard layout not configured correctly

The Antergos obviosuly also shares the usual Arch benefits, like the rolling release model (always up-to-date, no need to reinstall/upgrade to new releases), the AUR repository for community provided software packages, and of course the very latest versions of all the software that the open source Linux community has to offer. So if you know that you really need something new, like the latest Linux kernel, then Arch is the way to go.

Installing Google Chrome browser from the AUR repository

Conclusion

Antergos is a great project which offers a quick way to deploy an Arch Linux installation with sane and visually pleasing desktop defaults. It is a great way of testing our Arch or the latest available Linux software in general. However, it is not necessarily simple or for everyone. While the installation is easy enough even for a complete Linux newbie, if you run into an issue with it or after updates, some serious Linux competences may be needed to resolve. Arch Linux philosophy is to be technically simple, but this does not equal to being easy for the non-competent users. Installing Arch the Arch way gives you an opportunity to learn how the system is built and works and highly recommend this for anyone planning to use Arch as a production system. Yes, Arch indeed is suitable for production systems, but you need to know what you are doing.

For non-technical users looking for a simple Linux for everyone, I strongly recommend Ubuntu. If you are feeling adventurous, but still not ready for pure Arch, the Manjaro might be a better option. For everyone else who want to deploy Arch Linux as quickly as possible, the Antergos is definitely worth a look.