Cinnarch is dead -- long live Antergos!

Arch Linux is considered by many to be the Linux expert's OS of choice. As you may or may not know, Arch Linux is a very robust rolling-release OS with bleeding edge (yet stable) packages. Arch has a really large and knowledgeable community. However, there is a price to pay to join this elite club of Linux users -- a terrifyingly hard command line installer.

Truth be told, Arch is not that difficult too install (even though it has that reputation), as long as you print out detailed instructions and follow them step by step. Unfortunately, many people do not have the time and patience for such a project. Some advanced Linux users (such as myself) just want an easy to install distro because we simply do not have the time. However, we also want to enjoy the benefits of Arch. Cinnarch was a Linux distro born to solve this dilemma.

Cinnarch combined the rock solid base of Arch Linux with an easy to use installer and used Linux Mint’s Gnome3 fork desktop environment called Cinnamon (get it? Cinnamon + Arch = Cinnarch). Cinnamon itself was a solution to another dilemma; users that hated Gnome3.

Unfortunately, as Cinnamon forked way too far from Gnome, it became too difficult and cumbersome to maintain for Arch Linux. So, ironically, Cinnarch decided to drop Cinnamon for Gnome3. Naming a distro after the desktop environment proved to be foolish and shortsighted. It made no sense to continue to call the distro "Cinnarch".

And so, Antergos is born…

Installation

The first public release of Antergos was announced on 12 May and is available now for download (version 2013.04.11). Being a huge fan of Arch and Gnome 3, I had to test it, so I quickly downloaded the ISO and began the install.

The first thing you are presented with is an option to run a live session, a Command Line install or a Graphical install. I always prefer to install from within a live environment so I can play around during the install.

Once booted to the live session desktop, I launched the Antergos graphical installer dubbed "Cnchi". I was blown away by the polish and simplicity of Cnchi. I was given the option to install the following desktop environments:

  • Gnome3
  • Cinnamon
  • XFCE
  • Razor-qt

I am a huge Gnome fan so I installed Gnome3. The rest of the setup was as expected for Gnome. I set up my profile and disks and was on my way.

Software

I was very happy to see that Antergos was using Gnome 3.8.1. Many distros are still on Gnome 3.4 and 3.6. A quick "uname –r" in Terminal showed that Kernel 3.9.2 was already installed -- impressive. Antergos provides a fair amount of default software but here are some of the major examples:

  • Chromium as the default web browser
  • Xnoise for music
  • Empathy for chat
  • Shotwell for photo management.

These are all great choices. Curiously, there was no office suite provided. Typically, if a Gnome-based distro doesn't supply Libreoffice, they at least supply Abiword. Strangely, there was no email client installed either (Thunderbird? Evolution?).

Lack of Libreoffice gave me a great opportunity to use "PackmanXG", which is Antergos' choice of package management software. Ubuntu users may be in shock to see packages listed by their name only. Despite the lack of graphics, PackmanXG is very robust and easy to use. There was a plethora of packages available to the user. In particular, I was very impressed with the Arch Linux Libreoffice installer. It gave me a straightforward way to choose the aspects of Libreoffice that I wanted. It even let me choose Gnome vs. KDE integration.

Conclusion

Antergos is a distro that is great for both Linux beginners and Linux experts. You have stability and updated packages backed by a great community with a very easy and polished graphical installer. My only suggestion to the developers would be to include Libreoffice (Office Suite) and Evolution (email client). This will create a better out-of-the-box user experience, which is important for broader adoption. This is definitely a distro to keep an eye on and a candidate to become the definitive Gnome3 distro. In that regard, Fedora, you are on notice.

Photo Credit: Fer Gregory/Shutterstock

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