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, buy 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.