I recently did some major software updates on my computer.
Arch Linux has changed a lot in recent months. These are not small updates. These are updates that, if I mess up, may result in my computer not booting, losing personal data files, or me not being able to watch Doctor Who. Spoiler: Everything went perfectly smoothly, my computer runs much better now, and I’m in the middle of watching episodes of the fifth Doctor.
The first thing I did was update the Arch Linux configuration files. In the past, configuration was done almost entirely in /etc/rc.conf. Now it’s done in separate files. For example, the hostname is now set in the /etc/hostname file (SUCH AN EASY OPERATING SYSTEM).
I really enjoyed updating the configuration files. Everything is documented very simply in the man page for “archlinux”. And the best part is, now my computer runs so much more smoothly, especially the Firefox startup time.
A couple days later, I replaced my init system, sysvinit, with systemd. After learning more about each, I find systemd to be quite simple and easy to use. The upgrade process is very clearly documented on the Arch Linux wiki. I haven’t done any formal tests, but it seems like my computer now boots much more quickly.
Next, I decided it was time to change the file system on my two Linux partitions from Ext3 to Ext4. Why? Because Ext4 is newer! I don’t really understand the technical reasons why Ext4 is better, but whatever. It takes a lot less time now to run fsck, so that’s nice.
My other two partitions still have the Be File System on them.
Finally, I updated my bootloader from GRUB legacy to GRUB2. Doing this one made my palms sweat. Once again I used the information in the Arch Linux wiki. Unfortunately, it was a little confusing, and required me to make some choices about how to install it. I decided to go with a very simple traditional BIOS installation to the MBR. So now I use GRUB2, which works fine, instead of GRUB legacy, which worked fine. But now my Arch Linux installation is little more future proof.
…And that’s it! My computer is running quite well. My next goal is to cleanup any files scattered around the operating system. I’ll do this by running the script that tells me about any files that aren’t owned by the package manager. The ones that are unused I’ll delete, and the ones that are used I’ll add documentation for. You know, things like what the file does and which application uses it.
I also need to do some things to cleanup my webserver. My iptables configuration works, but I don’t really understand why, and that scares me. I also need to clean up my webserver software.
It’s been three years since I installed Arch Linux, and it’s been a great experience. Going through the occasional big Arch Linux updates sure beats my old method of updating Linux, by reinstalling the entire operating system every few months.