Arch Linux on EEE PC: Prelude

I’m a long-time (as in since the Motorola 68030 and System 7 days) Mac user and currently own a PowerBook G4 going on it’s fifth year. However, I’ve been following the emergence of netbooks heralded by the EEE PC with a fair amount of interest and in November finally bought myself an EEE PC 900HA (which I may do a mini-review of some day).

I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of having Windows XP on it but I do live with Windows everyday at work, and given that I spend most of my time in a web browser or terminal window I figured it wouldn’t matter too much. I also told myself I’d install Linux on it fairly immediately. Well, now it’s February. I’ve been putting off the Linux install, struggling along with Cygwin instead. I’d have to say the upside of this was that I’ve had two months to try out Google Chrome. My impression is that Google got a lot of things right and managed to streamline the browsing experience quite a bit; now I’m not at all so content with Firefox and Safari…

Anyway, back on topic, today I decided to take some time to get Linux on the EEE PC. I’ve been deliberating for some time which distro to use; on the one hand there’s Ubuntu which I imagine is friendly as can be and probably a great distro all over, on the other hand I’m eager to try using xmonad as my window manager and drawn towards choosing a similarly bare bones distro to run it on. I’ve finally settled on the latter with Arch Linux; the main selling points, in my perception, being:

  • Excellent Haskell support.
  • The rolling release system.
  • The package system. I’ve had a good experience with MacPorts, and Arch Linux’s pacman/ABS appears to be similar.
  • The bare-bonesiness. If nothing else I hope to learn quite a bit from installing and configuring Arch Linux. I also imagine that by limiting the installation to what I use and need there’ll be less noise and more signal when I inevitably have to trouble-shoot something.

I’m working my way through the installation process as I type, and it is indeed a rather arduous process. The Beginners Guide to installing and configuring Arch Linux prints to a hefty 53 pages, not counting the 18 page appendix.

Vanguard rocket explodes, December 1957

Ouch! It would appear I just screwed up by hitting the ESC key at an inopportune moment in the installer (my motor memory must have thought I was in vi). This appears to have bypassed steps which the guide prefaces by repeated italicized notes regarding their importance. Oh well, I guess that’s as good an excuse as any to cut off this post early and go to bed.

At a later date I’ll comment in more detail on the installation experience; what confused me, what worked, and what didn’t.

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