update : arch + new hardware
so recently, like 2 weeks ago, i received my first ever computer. its an asus vivobook; i opted for the 14 inch model with the i7 and mx 150, and this is by far the most powerful computer i have had the pleasure of using.
out of the box the boot speed [ into windows ] was really really fast. it takes a little longer than 5 seconds or so for the login screen to appear. i assume this speed is due to the ssd. in order to cut costs [ and believe me when i tell you i got this laptop for a killer price ], i decided to go with a 256 gb ssd as my sole storage device. storage isn't much of a problem for me considering that i don't really have a lot of huge files. most of my data is text, images and music, the latter of which takes the most space, so i'm hoping i won't get into a situation where i require additional storage, but if i do, then i have access to a few 1tb hdds and can obtain them with relative ease.
the first thing i did, as any other self respecting linux enthusiast would do with a new device, was to boot into a bootable drive and try and keep windows as far as possible. i've been using ubuntu for well over a decade now, and while its a super stable distro that "just works", i feel like i've grown too used to it. and when something becomes familiar it tends to become boring.
thus, in an attempt to try something new [ and potentially make my life way more difficult ] , i decided to give arch a try.
i'm a long time lurker on various linux customisation and ricing forums, notably r/unixporn, and i've been very impressed by some of the setups posted there, a significant number of which used arch, which piqued my interest, cos you can pretty much do the same thing on any other distro. so i did some digging and was very interested in the whole barebones approach arch provides. its the equivalent of being handed just an axe to build your cabin. this approach gives one better control of the system [ i think. idrk. i feel like this whole thing is an excercise in being pretensious, to gain the right to say "btw i use arch". relevant meme ], like i get to choose which wood to choose and how i want my cabin to look. i am completely responsible for my system, and there is something very nice about that. if something goes wrong then its my fault, and similarly if something works then its cos i set it up properly. i can't really explain it better than that. theres a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that accompanies doing stuff that way.
the thing about arch however is that the installation process is a bitch. its not really. but kinda. i've been using the really amazing gui installer that ubuntu provides for a long time [ i can already hear hardcore linux gurus grunt ]. in the past, on like three occasions i had to install ubuntu server, so i did have some experience with a similar process, not that it helped me in anyway as i had forgotten most of the tricky bits.
tbh configuration of this type is actually fun; it gets frustrating at times, but in the end, its worth it [ i guess xD ]. its akin to a puzzle or a game lol. [ "being a sysadmin is no joke, boy ! treat the installation process with respect, for it is pure and san!" ]
the asus vivobook s14 s410un doesn't come with an ethernet port, which is a shame tbh. while i believe that going forward we need to get rid of older connection ports, we shouldn't do away with wired interfaces entirely. the reason i'm bitching about the lack of ethernet port is that without an ethernet port, i had to use wifi to get internet working, and i had to jump through circles to get wifi working. i tried the wpa_supplicant method, and apparently wifi key and passphrase are two different things ? or whatever ? idk. on ubuntu nmcli is installed by default, which makes life soo much easier. that being said, typing scan in wpa_cli and seeing the list of wifi networks pop up was hugely satisfying.
arch is fun. so basically, the installer contains an iso of arch with a few packages. you partition your system and choose the required partition and then you chroot into it and then install the system using a package manager command. crazy lol. don't even get me started on worrying about drivers or problems with outdated pgp keys. luckily tho, i didn't run into any 'serious' problems.
so i did that, but ended up forgetting to configure grub and other boot stuff. in addition to this the laptop had uefi, whatever the fuck thats supposed to mean. i get that its similar to bios ? idk ? i didn't have the patience to read up on this. note that it took me like 4 days to actually install the damn thing. the fact i couldn't boot into it was frustrating in the most unbelievable manner.
grudgingly and with much shame i accepted defeat and redid the installation process using archfi, which is this script that launches an installer of sorts. super helpful. still disappointing that i couldn't complete the last few steps manually [ very audible grunt from the linux gods judging me. i have failed all of you ]. i mean i had everything set up. the damn thing just didn't boot lol. the problem here was that i really wanted to dual boot my system, cause as much as i hated windows i just *know* there'll be a time where i'll need it for some damn task or the other. better have windows and not need it than not have it and need it. its okay as long as you hate the fuck out of it.
oh and i discovered that wifi-menu exists. which is similar to nmcli, so connecting to wifi isn't that big of a problem. and besides i can always tether it to my phone and have it act as a wired network. [ cos wifi-menu stops working at the most inconvenient times lololol ]. all i want to know is why i didn't think of this before getting my hands dirty with wpa_supplicant.
so yeah. after a week of getting my muggy hands on this sweet, sweet computer, i am proud to say that arch is installed. [ "the damage has been done" ]
i've always wanted to try a tiling WM, and dwm looked pretty neat, so i installed dwm [ impulsive decisions that inevitably end in failure ftw ]. its going to take me some time to get used to it. i'm far too used to xfce and lxde. its like wearing a new pair of shoes when you're far too familiar to an older pair, its going to take some time to adjust before i can run again :)
i still haven't gotten things setup properly yet. its only a matter of time ik. i believe that one's productivity is limited by the interface they use, and i plan on taking some time to make sure things are exactly how i want them to be.
i feel there needs to be research in this field, measuring user efficiency with respect to user interface. i'm sure the findings would be significant. i'm sure we waste ridiculous amounts of time dealing with inefficient interfaces.
once i get my ideal setup [ or something close enough to it, anyways. perfection being unattainable and all ] , i hope to be more productive and get more stuff done.
another thing that shocks me about this laptop is the form factor. i am amazed that this tiny thing is as powerful as it is. the idea that it packs 8 gigs of memory is something that amazes me. i feel we take these things for granted lol. its amazing just how powerful this is. [ i'm a simple man. if it can ave more than 50 firefox tabs open then its fine ]. i was expecting it to be *slightly* lighter, but no complaints ! this is still super super portable. this has been a huuuge upgrade for me. and yet, in certain aspects it feels like a downgrade. the 14 inch screen seems insufficient compared to my desktop's 21 inch monitor. the small size also means that i have to make certain sacrifices with regards to the keyboard. i miss using a mechanical keyboard. also i need to use modifiers to access home, pg up, pg down, end, insert; 5 keys i use often to make things easier for myself. the delete key and backspace are really close to the power button, so its very possible to hit the power button accidentally [ yes, being the idiot i am, i have indeed performed this folly on multiple occasions. time to remap the keys lol ]. oh, and caps lock doesn't have an indicator. wtf. backlit keyboard ? yes. indicator ? no ?? lel it doesn't make sense. i don't really like the colors of this laptop. its this crappy golden color that makes me want to puke. will probably get a skin or sand the paint off and repaint it. idk.
but yeah. overall i'm happy with this machine. arch so far has been very good. dwm is also pretty interesting. can't wait to actually start using this properly.
oh, and btw, i use arch. xD