[Rant] Design reasons in arch linux that just annoy me


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n_K

No disto is perfect, I've been using arch for a number of years now and generally find it to be quite good, but for a rolling release distro that claims to be for power users and for system reconfiguration and the like, there are some things in it that really ###### me off and I just feel like getting them off my chest:

  1. The pkgbuild system: I actually like how the system works, generally, but if you want to change how things are configured there's some scenarios where you're stuffed;
    1. Static packages: The great thing about the pkgbuild system is you can edit your /etc/makepkg.conf file and stop it removing the static library (.a) files from packages and just build them... Right, RIGHT!? Wrong. Each package's pkgbuild generally includes '--disable-static' lines in the configure, heck glibc removes all .a files in it's package part of the build script. If rules were followed and none of this bad behavior happened in pkgbuild files then it'd be great but this really annoys the heck out of me.
    2. Building packages not cleaning up after themselves: so you're trying to build a package from source and it's failing multiple times, it also so happens you're patching files in the pkgbuild... Each time you try to recompile you get the interactive patch come up saying a change has already been applied do you want to remove it. Either the patch should be reverted if an src folder is detected or (and I don't know why it doesn't do this) the src directory should be cleared first
    3. "Invalid PGP key": Whilst trying to build packages with a fresh install using pkgbuild, half the time it download and gives an error saying the PGP key isn't valid (needs a .sig or whatnot file in the pkgbuild). I understand why this might be useful to some people, but if I want to recompile a package from a pkgbuild I've downloaded off the arch site, why should I have to go in, manually remove the .sig file and the MD5/SHA checksums for it?
    4. Missing dependencies: This is generally only an issue with the AUR, but a large number of pkgbuilds are actually missing dependencies required to build them in the pkgconfigs. Surely there must be a better way to generate the require dependencies...
    5. Overwriting files: I like how you can specify some files when building packages that the user can change which won't be overwritten, however it'd be nice if you could apply that globally to a system. Audio support in kde5 for example, like gnome3 kde decided to remove a fundamental feature allowing you to specify what the volume step would be, (sigh, every time I see a group do this I really do get a mental image of sheep just jumping around underground having absolutely no idea what they're doing), so you have to manually change a file and reboot - great it works! Only when you update the package, it goes back to the default of 10 steps, so then you have to go search what file it was, go and edit it and reboot - this is a hassle.
  2. Packages pulling x11/mesa dependencies in for no reason: x11/mesa is absolutely not needed on a server, it's a complete waste of space and inefficiency in libraries/programs, but as time goes on more and more packages have just had mesa added as a dependency - I'm really not sure why. If I go to my server and try to update (it's running a very old release of arch) it wants to download over a gig of mesa crap which has been pulled in by an update to a package I have installed.
  3. Syslinux install script: I like the syslinux install script, but surely it wouldn't help to, gosh I don't know, not automatically have "root=/dev/sda3" in the command line? I've never installed arch linux to /dev/sda3, it should instead see what the mounted drive is or (preferably) use the UUID.
  4. The documentation: the wiki can be a great source of knowledge, but there's also some incredibly outdated information there too, some pages for example still refer to openrc which was removed... I can't even remember how many years ago.
  5. Removal of ifconfig in default install: yes net-tools is old and outdated, but it's simple, powerful and easy to use. I can setup or change my network configuration in a matter of seconds, compared to ip which is just an un-intuitive mess. Every other distro I've seen still included net-tools by default except arch, and if you install arch, reboot having forgotten to install net-tools then it's a pita to try and work out how to use ip - some great guides on the internet but for that you need an active network device....

 

Anyone else got similar nagging issues with arch?

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simonlang

hmmm.... my first question would be, did you ever rise these concerns/thoughts in the arch forums? ... now i am not a long time arch user yet, but running it since a bit over a month so i hope i will become one and maybe then i can give you a better opinion, however:

 

point 1.3:  when i was a long time *ubuntu user, this happend to me as well. i always had to manually import and install the keys. annoying? yes.  typical for arch only? no.

 

point 1.4:  also, missing dependencies are not typical for arch and considering the greatness of AUR, it's just more likely to encounter them. however: file a bug report and usually, the problem is solved soon.

 

point 4: the wiki is not done by a company, but by users. you are free to participate there and write, add, remove, update stuff. i don't think its fair to complain here, especially not if you consider how large and deep the arch wiki is. a bit ago, when i was still using kubuntu, a problem with some dependencies occured (point 1.4) soon i found the missing dependency and i thought it was important so i updated the ubuntu wiki (german one). job done.  really: expecting others to do the job for you is maybe not the best approach in the open source world.  if you want this, maybe better run windows. :p 

 

 

personal issues: there have been 2 so far. one minor dependency issue with a package which was due to being upgraded from AUR via yaourt but could not. i found the reason, filed a bug report and the maintainer promised to fix it and did.

one big issue which nearly brought me away from arch, however the issue was so great that so many people had it and it was fixed very soon, something with the latest nvidia driver.

 

yep, arch is not perfect, but neither OS is.  to give a final verdict, i haven't used it long ennough yet, but so far i see more advantages than disadvantages. also, if you really have issues, don't complain in some forums, it usually does not really help,  but go talk directly to the developers or package maintainers. if your concerns are valid they are usually the first ones to listen and fix stuff for you. or see it that way: at least you can participate and improve things with active feedback which is not possible (and sometimes i think not wished) with other OS. 

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simplezz

Honestly I find PKGBUILD to be an excellent format. I haven't encountered anything that I'd deem an annoyance so far.

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n_K
On 2/16/2016 at 4:22 PM, simplezz said:

Honestly I find PKGBUILD to be an excellent format. I haven't encountered anything that I'd deem an annoyance so far.

For general purpose use-case it's fine (if you don't encounter package building errors), it only becomes a nuisance if you are making/editing packages or they fail to build or you're trying to do something that isn't a 'most users' use-case.

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Xilo

Most of your complaints come from the open source nature of PKGBUILDS. It's easy for anyone to create and upload one.

 

I've honestly never seen the missing dependency issue.

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Torolol

yea the x11 referencing is annoying,

very likely the package was being developed for/tested on desktop and not server, then badly ported/packaged for server.

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