When using small distros

When not using one of the top-5 distros today (ubuntu, fc, suse, mdk, debian), it has it’s ups and downs. I like Arch Linux because it’s fast, uses less RAM, it’s clean and it’s Slackware-like simple. But on the other side, by being a small distro means that it doesn’t have enough maintainers, some (standard) features are to be supported or not depending on the maintainers’ whim, plus some stuff are not setup’ed by default (so the user has to do some initial manual work to make the OS a usable modern desktop).

I believe that GnuCash 2.x is a major OSS application and there should be an official package for it, mostly because it requires some patching in order to work on Arch Linux properly. If it was a straight compile, I wouldn’t have made the feature request. But it isn’t. Additionally, the “community packages” are unmaintained and the GnuCash people themselves suggest that users should not try to build it themselves because it’s a pain in the rear to do so properly (they fully recognize this). The verdict was that Arch won’t create packages for it because there is no one who wants to maintain it in the Arch Linux team. Great, just great.

Despite this blow I will stay with Arch because I can build Gnucash myself and apply the patches needed. I evaluate how much simplicity and speed means to me compared to the lack of packages and added conveniences, and then I make my choice. But I never suggest this distro (or Gentoo, or even Debian for that matter) to newbies. For users who need added conveniences, Ubuntu is the best choice right now (with FC6/SuSE close behind).

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Ludovic wrote on October 31st, 2006 at 9:54 AM PST:

Why don’t you maintain it ?

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on October 31st, 2006 at 10:22 AM PST:

Because it requires frequent Guile-related patches, and I don’t know anything about Guile. It’s one thing applying existing patches and another to figure out yourself what’s wrong and create the patches.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on October 31st, 2006 at 10:54 AM PST:

Luis, please make a bug report about this on Arch’s bugzilla.

Luis wrote on October 31st, 2006 at 11:21 AM PST:

I agree with you. Testing Ubuntu these days and seeing how easy it is I was wondering if I should switch from Arch. Just this morning I had to figure out what was wrong with my Arch install and Yahoo Mail’s fonts since a previous upgrade. I first thought it was Yahoo’s fault, but since they work fine in Ubuntu I realised it’s an Arch problem. Looking at Ubuntu’s /etc/fonts/conf.d I found I was missing in Arch the no-bitmaps.conf symlink to /etc/fonts/conf.avail, so I created it and everything is fine again. With Arch you always have to be doing these kind of small fixes, while in Ubuntu others do it for you.

However, I know that I would get frustrated sooner or later with Ubuntu (for example, if I have to compile something), so I’ll stay with Arch. There’s never a perfect solution, so we have to choose. It’s just the way life works.

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