Apparently there are some misgivings in the Arch community about the existence of ArchBang. Basically that section of the community feels ArchBang might attract a more Ubuntu-like crowd of users that is not willing to learn and configure their system the way you would have to do with Arch Linux, people looking for the easy way in. People on the Arch Linux forum professing to run ArchBang are, apparently, directed to go away and use the appropriate forum.
I can't say that I would absolutely disagree with this approach because ArchBang is a different project and has its own infrastructure and forums. However, a little civility and lending a hand from one Linux user to another can go a long way, as long as the question is not too specific to the live CD/USB. At the end of the day it's almost the same system, with ArchBang just being a customized image. I would also raise the point that ArchBang does by no means give you a full install the way Ubuntu does and there are still plenty of things left to set up the same you do in Arch, for example pacman configuration, modules to load, wireless and networking, inserting a hook to enable hibernation to work and recompiling initrd, and other things.
None of this has affected me and are purely my personal thoughts on the subject when I read about it. I don't even have an account on the Arch Linux forum and only registered on the ArchBang forum but never posted. There simply was no need to, everything worked fine and is running stable and rock-solid to this day, and all the questions one could have are already answered on the Arch Wiki, which is all a person should ever need to configure an Arch-based system. It is well known and no exaggeration to say that the documentation in Arch Linux is great. Any prospective user only needs to search the wiki and will find their answer. Looking to install GNOME or KDE on top of Openbox in ArchBang? There are step by step guides on how to do this in Arch for these and others, and they apply to ArchBang just the same.
So, were there any serious problems I ran into over the last year? Not at all, a couple of issues arose but I would not call them problems.
1.) The Broadcom wireless driver from AUR had to be recompiled after every major kernel upgrade, that is going from 2.6.35 to 2.6.36 to 2.6.37 and so on. No need for this with minor upgrades in version numbers. This is pretty much the same with all other distributions as well, unless you are using dkms, and that is not always doing it all for you either. In Fedora and Scientific Linux it still required manual intervention from me.
2.) Trying to install the Chromium browser gave a libpng error for a while. Later releases of ArchBang switched to Chromium by default, but 2010.09 still came with Namoroka/Firefox. They obviously came with the right library that wasn't yet present in Arch and was outdated in the Arch User Repository. This is now resolved in main line Arch and I installed Chromium without difficulties around two months ago.
3.) Upgrading Wicd in late April landed me with the error described here. It got resolved just as suggested there. A good example of why it is a good idea not to apply every update straight away. Let others take the plunge, and there will already be a solution to your problem if things go wrong.
4.) On a multi-boot system new installations of other distributions often like to format swap, in which case the UUID changes every time and your Arch system becomes unable to find the swap partition due to changed ID so hibernate stops working. Best to enter an old fashioned /dev/sdaX in fstab instead.
And that's it. As you can see, no breakage at all for a year, no serious problems, not even problems to speak of. Some of this may be attributed to not using one of the major desktop environments, thereby keeping it simple and keeping dependencies to a minimum. And it got even faster over time, using ~10 MB resources less now on startup.
I added Xfce and Window Maker to this Openbox base. At the time of the great switch over from Gtk2 to Gtk3 I removed most GNOME dependent applications like Galculator (or was it Gnome Calculator tool?) and replaced it with Speedcrunch and Evince with ePDFviewer. Now there are only two GNOME applications on my system, one of them Palimpsest disk tool, which strictly speaking are not needed because some of their functionality is duplicated elsewhere. These are exempted from upgrading in pacman.conf, simply because they then look better integrated with the other Gtk2 applications. This is purely a visual preference.
|Openbox, Tint2 panel and the Tilda drop down terminal running htop|
Currently I'm fully updated to before the 3.0 kernel hit. It's quite important to stress that you don't have to update as soon as something new is in the repositories. As an administrator of your computer it is your choice to shape your system, and you can exempt applications and libraries from upgrading or not upgrade/update at all for a while if happy with the status quo. Arch Linux does not offer security advisories because supposedly this is already taken care of with the rolling release model providing new packages on a more or less constant basis. Therefor if you choose not to do a full update for a while it's a good idea to keep track of vulnerabilities in older packages. However, as I'm not running a server and only a desktop system with no network services and no open ports the risk of not keeping fully up to date at all times is quite low. And on a rolling system like Arch most packages are not issued to close security holes, but are simply a new version of the package which often introduce new bugs. Thus a full update may close as many bugs as it creates new ones. It's up to you as administrator to make that choice.
Some concerns voiced about Arch Linux often relate to package signing, or lack thereof in the repositories. Everybody who wanted to but so far felt they cannot use Arch due to lack of perceived security and the possibility of packages being tampered with will be happy to know that package AND repository signing will be implemented with pacman-4.0.
Rolling with Arch Linux can provide you with a full, up-to-date and even cutting edge system if you so wish, and ArchBang as a base install can be a shortcut to quickly getting a usable system with a relatively minimal graphical environment upon which you can then build like you would otherwise. There is not much point using it over the Arch install images if having Openbox as window manager is not your cup of tea, but at least it would give you X and a workable desktop to continue from. I happen to like the Openbox implementation and look in earlier releases, so ArchBang for me is a great choice.
Paired with the latest stable Slackware for the occasions where you just want to be sure that nothing important is going to change this has got to be the perfect combination for a dual boot linux setup.