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Arch Linux moves up to Linux 3.0

Aug 25, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

The Arch Linux team has released the first new all-in-one update for its minimalist, rolling-release Linux distribution in 15 months. The Arch Linux 2011.08.19 installation features support for Linux 3.0 and the syslinux bootloader, and offers experimental Btrfs and NILFS2 file-systems, and more flexible source-file selection, says the team.

Arch Linux is a rolling-release distro (as is Gentoo), making packages available to the distribution shortly after they are released upstream. Since Arch Linux doesn't draw attention to itself with release announcements, it's easy to forget about it.

Yet, since the last time we checked in on Arch Linux, the command-line driven distro has grown into a formidable contender. In fact, it is currently listed as the sixth most popular Linux distribution on DistroWatch over the last year, and fourth most popular in the last month, based on hits to its catalog of Linux distro profiles. (See farther below for more background on Arch Linux.)

Arch Linux

Source: DistroWatch

Most of the additions made available in the 2011.08.19 installation media had been gradually folded into the distribution since the last installation overhaul arrived in May 2010. But some, such as the Linux 3.0 support, are obviously brand new. In fact, Linux 3.0's arrival seems to have inspired the new installation release.

The previous version "yields broken installations if you do a netinstall," due to changes in Linux 3.0, explains Dieter Plaetinck in his announcement. Specifically, configuration formats have been changed to support Linux 3.0, as well as the latest rc.conf configuration file for Arch-specific settings.

Other major changes include support for the syslinux bootloader, in addition to the existing grub support. In addition, there are now experimental releases of the Btrfs and NILFS2 file-systems.

The AIF installation package is now said to make selecting source files more flexible by supporting multiple local and/or remote repos. Among other installation changes, descriptions are now shown when installing packages, and installations can now be run with debugging and logging enabled by default, says the team.

Meanwhile, changes to the bash-based "" UI framework include easier presentation of long checklists in CLI mode, says the team. In addition, initialization is now said to be more flexible.

The "Archiso" image builds, meanwhile, are marked by the inclusion of version 3.5.4 of the distro's "pacman" package manager. Other revisions include glibc 2.14, initscripts 2011.07.3, and netcfg 2.6.7, says the Arch Linux team. In addition, Arch Linux's mkinitcpio — a dynamic initramfs file-system creator — has been updated to 0.7.2.

One major overhaul is the swapping out of aufs2 for dm-snapshot, says the team. Other additions include full support for booting from custom USB media, new serial console support, and support for booting from memdisk. In addition, XZ compression has been added to SquashFS and initramfs file-systems, says the team.

Arch Linux background

Arch Linux is billed as a "simple, lightweight GNU/Linux distribution targeted at competent users." If this sounds somewhat paradoxical, it's obviously a paradox that does not trouble its growing legion of users. Yet make no doubt about it — while the elegant distro is paired down to essentials in many ways, this is a distro for advanced users who know their way around a command line interface (CLI).

Based in part on the minimalist CRUX distribution, Arch Linux was launched by Judd Vinet in March 2002, according to Wikipedia. The Arch Linux site itself offers a good overview of Arch basics, noting that the distribution is built around binary packages, which are compiled for i686 and x86_64 architectures.

The pacman package manager is promoted as being lightweight, with a minimal memory footprint. It lacks an official graphical front-end. Instead, users call upon configuration files and use shell scripts.

As the Arch website describes in a separate comparison of Arch with other distros, the distro is similar in many ways to the minimalist Slackware, in that both use BSD-style init scripts. In addition, the Arch Build System, billed as a ports-like system, as well as the AUR (Arch User Repository) collection of PKGBUILD build scripts submitted by users, have fairly close analogues in Slackware.


More information on the latest Arch Linux 2011.08.19 installation media release, with links to ISO downloads, may be found in the 2011.08.19 announcement.

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