Through the times I have been using Linux, I have tried numerous of window managers. At first back when Gnome was not what it is today I was mainly fascinated by Enlightenment, however it was always too bloated and sluggish for the computers I tried to use Enlightenment on 10 years or so ago. As distributions started to cater to the desktop users and Gnome became the standard desktop environment for the installations of a desktop Linux distribution, I naturally was using Gnome because I found it sufficient for all my desktop needs.
Granted the Gnome desktop environment with all its bells and whistle is great for many users. As I first installed Archlinux on my desktop computer, I did of course think I wanted all the bells and whistles that the Gnome desktop environment and Ubuntu had previously provided me. The installation of Gnome on Archlinux is a long and arduous task and in the end the experience will not match the one which Ubuntu will give you as Ubuntu provided their own added spice to the desktop environment that does not come as standard with Gnome.
Now I am using Openbox and I am glad I left my Gnome days behind me. Openbox is easily configured and very fast. I pieces together different Openbox themes I found around the internet and for my desktop environment I use nothing but openbox, no panels, no taskbar, no icons, no filemanager, it is just plain simplicity and I have yet again control over my desktop. The computer is faster then ever before, so simple to configure that even a newly initiated computing geek could do it and by moving away from the GUI in favour of using the command line through a terminal, accessing files and executing programs are easier and takes less time then ever before.
My first experience of Linux was in 1997 when I first got my hands on Red Hat. My dad had bought Red Hat to use on the servers in his ISP business. I however tried to make it a usable desktop. Off course as I was a kid, linux at that time didn’t offer much of interest to me as games able to run natively was even less frequent than the situation is today. I moved through a lot of distributions throughout the years as I have been using Linux. SuSE, Mandrake, Fedora, Debian, Slackware and Ubuntu to just name a few. However in my opinion no one of these distribution and associated communities comes even close to the usability of the Archlinux distribution and the archlinux community offer. Previously to using Archlinux I was an active community member of Ubuntu. I liked Ubuntu because it offered the “no work required to use experience” that no other distribution could offer to the same degree. However as I became more involved and tried to interact with the Ubuntu community I felt like an alien amongst a corporate hierarchy and I constantly had to wipe and reinstall my system every 6 month as the new version was released.
A year ago I needed a linux distribution to install on my newly purchased mini-itx sized computer which I would be using as an HTPC. Ubuntu was obviously too bloated, I knew this because even on my laptop which was a lot more powerful then the Intel Atom processor on the mini-itx motherboard even though it was 5 years old, Ubuntu had become more sluggish by the years. I tried out slackware on a virtual machine but got quite frustrated by the inhospitality of the community, lack of documantation and no grand repositories of packages and package manager. A friendly soul suggested I try out Archlinux and so I did.
Now a year later, I completely replaced all my Ubuntu installations with Archlinux. My desktop, my laptop and my HTPC all are now running Archlinux. For your average computer geek Archlinux isn’t hard to install but it is helpful to have the beginners’ guide available while in the initial stages of the installation up to the point of where you got X.org running.
The wiki is very comphrensive and the community helpful and actively writes their own softwares, scripts, configurations, documentations which they share to their fullest capacity by the Archlinux User Repositories as well as giving a helping hand and interacts with to other users of Archlinux through the BBS and the IRC channel. If you decide to use Archlinux, consider to not be a simple leecher but contribute back the community in order to make your and everyone’s experience of using Archlinux the much better.