Antergos – A Beginner-Friendly Arch-Based Distro

Antergos - A Beginner Friendly Arch Based Distro

Antergos is an Arch Linux-based distribution featuring a live environment and a user-friendly graphical installer. It aims to provide a pre-configured Arch environment “for everyone” with sane defaults which is easy to install and use, yet retains the flexibility and features of Arch Linux. According to Wikipedia, “The Galician word Antergos (meaning: ancestors) was chosen ‘to link the past with the present.’ ”

Arch Linux is a unique lightweight Linux distribution that claims to be simple and versatile. While truly flexible and capable of adapting to the user’s needs, Arch Linux is not a beginner friendly distro. To install it, one needs to go through a tedious installation process where the system files will have to be copied manually, all configuration files manually edited, etc.

However difficult it might seem to set it up, Arch Linux is an excellent distribution that offers more versatility and flexibility than most mainstream Linux flavours, and while “The Arch Way” claims to aim for simplicity, to the inexperienced user Arch Linux might just look like the ultimate in difficulty.

If you wanted a graphical installer for Arch, the best choice would be a derivative system. While there are other Arch derivatives, Antergos made installing and using the Arch system probably the easiest of them all.

Antergos currently makes 32 bit and 64 bit versions available for download. After you’ve downloaded the preferred image and prepared the installation media (instructions for creating a live USB image can be found on the Antergos website), you can boot right into a live environment.

antegros-liveboot

You will be greeted with a custom themed LightDM screen.

antegros-desktop-manager

The desktop is set to a random wallpaper. If you prefer using the same one at every session, you can change this from the upper right menu. This will be retained for your session.

antegros-change-wallpaper

If you are lost on where to click next, the clock in the middle will soon start to wobble, indicating that you should interact with it. If you click the clock you will be presented with the list of available users, except for live environment where only one user is available, of course:

antegros-desktop-manager-clicked

After logging in you will find Antergos’ default DE, GNOME 3.16, with some custom theme and a special icon set, called Numix, which looks quite nice.

antegros-livedesktop

You will soon be asked if you would like to “Try Anergos” or “Install it.” If you click “Try,” you can play around with the live environment. You can of course access the installer at any time later. If you click Install, Antergos’s custom installer called Cnchi starts. It is a python application, currently under active development (and still in beta).

antegros-installer-prompt

As the greeter screen warns us, Cnchi still has some features missing such as properly handling “RAID, btrfs subvolumes and other advanced setups.”

antegros-chnchi

After testing, Cnchi has proven to be rather stable and functions well, if somewhat slowly. It looks very similar to your usual installers, but some features seem to have been improved. Selecting the location is easier by selecting the zone followed by the proper location selected from drop-down lists.

antegros-chnchi-region

Choosing the Desktop Environment is simple and straightforward, and you get a decent list of choices right out of the box, but some like KDE 4 are slightly outdated however.

antegros-chnchi-de

The (DE specific) features selection screen shows next. Here you can turn some system features/software on/off. AUR (the Arch User Repository) which offers third-party applications submitted by the Arch community can also be enabled from here.

antegros-chnchi-de-features

Next you will see the usual disk management steps

antegros-chnchi-disks

followed by simple user setup,

antegros-chnchi-user

neither of which are noteworthy on their own, but for an Arch Linux-based distro, these steps are way easier than expected. The installer will then continue with downloading and installing files, which can take a surprisingly long time for some reason.

antegros-chnchi-installslow

After the installation finishes, you will boot into the DE chosen at install time. The default Gnome 3.16 looks nice with the Numix icon theme, but there is nothing extraordinary about it.

antegros-main-desktop

What is more interesting is the ease in getting here. The installation process was that of a user-friendly distro, yet we gain the full stack of Arch goodness in the end. Antergos also delivers some basic software that will allow you to use your machine out of the box without feeling bloated.

antegros-apps-1

antegros-apps-2

For easy package management, Antergos offers “pacmac,” a graphical front-end to Arch Linux’s pacman package manager which looks a little like synaptic.

antegros-pacmac

Antergos runs smoothly and without major glitches. It boots fast and “just works,” which is in line with what the distro aims to offer and definitely a nice thing to have on an Arch-like system.

Antergos’ motto is simply that it is for “everyone,” and the distro achieves this promise without an effort. It brings “the Arch way” to your desktop with ease, and even for inexperienced, or totally new, Linux users, it offers a taste of Arch Linux and a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a fantastic base distro with a more gradual approach than jumping straight into a manual installation. Antergos is highly recommended as a daily driver for the average user or as a learning environment for everyone who is serious about learning more about Linux.

14 comments

    • Igazán nincs mit, én köszönöm. / No problem at all, I thank you. :)

      (Are you connected with thr distro in any way, or just liked the article?)

  1. The easiest best way for anyone fearful of Arch to get into it, you get cutting edge minus all the apprehension. Once you go through using it, then you can even try out pure Arch after getting familiar with all the commands, file installation and structure.

  2. Thanks for spreading the word about Antergos. We appreciate it :) One thing I want to mention is that the ISO should automatically login to the GNOME session without presenting the greeter. It seems you have stumbled across a new bug in the ISO. If you could let me know what type of system was used so I can try to reproduce the issue that would be great. Thanks again!

    • Hi Dustin,

      First thing first, thank you guys for creating such an awesome system!

      Yes, I also found it strange that you’d see the greeter in a live environment, yet I can confirm, this happened multiple times, so not an isolated issue.

      The setup used was a Virtualbox VM (4.3.28) with the following setup:

      System:

      2048MB RAM
      PIIX Chipset
      I/O APIC and UTC clock enabled,
      Hardware EFI disabled

      4 CPUs with PAE/NX enabled

      VT-x/AMD-V acceleration and nested paging enabled

      Display: 1 monitor with 128 MB virtual Video memory and 3D acceleration enabled

      Audio left at default settings (PulseAudio/ ICH AC97)
      Network : NAT w/default settings.

      No shared folders.

      Host had extensions 4.3.28 installed.

      (The VBox ran on a custom built system 8GB DDR3, AMD 8120 CPU, but this should not be as much relevant)

      I cannot reproduce the issue with Virtualbox 5, having left VM settings untouched (plus KVM paravirtualization enabled). unfortunately I have no VM log to send you, I use the same VM for testing systems, it must have been long overwritten.

      Hope this helps. :)

  3. You can’t really say ‘Cnchi has proven to be rather stable and functions well’, because I saw many users (including me) complained the installation in official forum & IRC. Sometimes it just stuck there when downloading a random package from the internet, and you waste a lot of time for waiting it. I remembered that I wasted almost 2 days installing Antergos, after 2 fail installation, in my third attempts, I manually update the installer & repo in CLI before installation and it finally works.

    • Well, for me it did prove to be most stable, and I encountered no problems. Cnchi being a work in progress (and in beta, which was mentioned above), it is expected to have glitches, yet I’ve found none. As you mentioned, upgrading the installer solved your problem. I worked with a fresh ISO image, not sure if yours was more dated?

      All in all for me it has proven to be stable and functional. This is of course my own subjective experience, but of course that that is the scope of the article, although I could have said, “your mileage may vary”.

      Anyway, I’m sure it was worth the effort, Antergos is a great OS. :)

    • OK, TBH, there was one minor problem, downloading packages was slow, but this is not necessarily Cnchi’s fault.

      • OK, I just realised that was the same thing you’ve been talking about. many, I’m unfocused today. So in that case, you are right, there is one glitch. I took it my internet was slow (I have a bad connection sometimes). Still I maintain my view, it is worth he effort. :)

  4. Thank you for the introduction to Arch through Antergos! I have been a long-time user of Debian and Ubuntu based distros, being somewhat intimidated by the Arch setup process. However, coming from the world of mini iso installs, I found Antergos to be delightful during installation. I liked the choice of system features during installation and it went smoothly and quickly with no hangups or delays. The desktop is simple but elegant(GNOME) and it runs smooth and fast on my old Dell Studio laptop. I especially like that Chromium comes as the default browser. Looking forward to “getting into” the “Arch way” with this fantastic system! Thanks again!

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