On to the Arch Review
But the real reason that you are here is to read a review of the Arch Linux system, right? Well, here we go.
Installation – The version I installed is 2007.08 ISO, or “Don't Panic" (which I thought was aptly named for me, as I had no clue about the program!). When you boot the CD, it will go into an installation/recovery system, and you simply type /arch/setup and then the installer will pop up. I was actually surprised at how easy the installer was, even though I am by no means a Linux expert – now don't get me wrong, I did get lost a couple of times and have to stop and go back. Those who are more experienced with Linux will have a much easier time. There is an official installation guide that can also help you through the process that was easy to use as well, and helped me a lot. To get a base system installed, configure the kernel, and then install Grub, it took me about 20-25 minutes – which isn't that bad for a beginner.
Configuration – After the installation is complete, you only get a Linux prompt. There are no instructions here. I jumped back online and found the wiki for the program, located at https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Main_Page, and found the information that I needed to install X.org, nVidia drivers and Gnome (these were the most popular programs that I found were installed on Arch after I did some research online about it, which is why I chose these three programs – but there are tons of them out there that you can choose from). Pacman makes it easy to fetch the packages and make any configuration changes, and it was only about 10 minutes before I was able to start up Gnome. Since Arch isn't as graphics based as other programs, the desktop that you have is pretty basic without any flashy items. But, there are tons of programs that you can install (such as Gnome-Look.org, conky, and Compiz-Fusion to make it more pleasing to the eye as it is in no way nice to look at right now the way I have it, at least for me).
Once I got those downloaded and configured, I was then able to go in and get some other programs with pacman and install them on Arch as well. There are so many different programs, like Flash player, that you can install by simply using the pacman repositories and then installing them using the “pacman -S package" command. Even I was able to understand this and install some of the normal drivers and other programs that I like – so it has to be pretty user friendly.
Overall, the configuration took me around 45 minutes to get everything set up the way I wanted it, as I had to go back to the wiki a couple of times for some help.
My Opinion - While I am not familiar with distribution systems, I found that Arch was actually really fast and easy to use once it was configured the way that I liked it, and I was able to get in and play with it a bit. You do want to make sure that you configure it exactly to the hardware that you have on your computer so that you don't bog the program down or install stuff that you don't need. So, for those that are more familiar with Linux than I am – you are sure to find Arch Linux one easy program to use. If I found it pretty easy to use as a beginner, then I know that it will be simple and easy for other Linux users to install and work with. So, for those out there who are considering Arch Linux, I would easily give it a solid 4 out of 5 – and you might even rank it higher than that.