I wiped two machines yesterday. I've been experimentally running Ubuntu on the aforementioned two machines to see partially what all the fuss was about and for laziness/lack of a better option after deciding that Sabayon and, more importantly, what it was based on, my old pal Gentoo, was a nightmarish mess for my admittedly strange requirements. I need a combination of fairly cutting edge software without a lot of breakage. That used to be Gentoo but it really isn't anymore.
I've dragged my feet while hearing people praise Arch endlessly. In fact one of the reasons that it took me so long to take a real stab at using it is that I was so tired of seeing comments that proposed an Arch install as the solution to any problem. That insistence that Brand X is the panacea for all that ails you is quite possibly the most annoying form of 'advocacy' ever especially since it typically comes from people who read forum posts and don't actually use much of the software they're loudly cheering for. Grumble, grumble, grumble...
Relentless bitterness aside, I installed Arch on two different machines. One is a generic P4 Dell box that I had sitting around and the other was my fairly new Lenovo Ideapad Y530. The impetus was the announcement of a release on Distrowatch that mentioned some refinements to the installer and other goodies so it seemed like a good time to take another stab at getting it up and running. I'm actually having a pretty hard time remembering what exactly fouled up attempted installs in the past and it might have been little more than seeing another shiny object that distracted me before I could get the machine configured and doing most of what I need it to do. For all I know it could just be a generalized reaction to people yelling in comments about the superiority of the Arch model. Who cares? Given that admission of terrible installation memory, the install was pretty smooth and didn't cause the brain damage that it is often criticized for. I've done Stage 1 Gentoo installations which is a little like DIY dentistry so editing a well commented configuration file or two didn't seem inordinately terrible.
One small stumble for me post-core install was the lack of a reminder that you need to add a regular user via adduser before being a huge idiot and configuring GDM as a daemon and then forgetting that you need to Ctrl-Alt-F1 in order to get a console login. I had a moment of panic when a couple of quick three finger salutes wouldn't kill GDM and let me create a normal user. There is a very good reason that most installation routines at least make you consider creating a normal user before dumping you into userland without an account you can actually login with. This is pretty minor as I figured out how to overcome my own sloppiness in a few minutes. I would suggest, though, for installations that force you to make active choices during the course of the install, that the installation fatigued be given a few necessary prods that pretty much every proper installer (and I can't even ding Gentoo here because that installation routine was entirely manual and completely unforgiving once you left the chroot) at least presents as an option before shooing you out of it.
Other than very minor issues that I've completely forgotten (I don't remember many issues that weren't solved by a combination of adding a daemon/module or adding my account to a group) both installations have been painless affairs. The only issue that I had at all with the laptop was making sure that networkmanager was running instead of the vanilla network and then wireless configuration was all but finished. I live in Gnome these days so that probably aids in the simplification of boring and basic functionality related configuration but it still felt pretty slick.
Pacman is exactly what I want a package manager to be. It's pretty fast (after the initial sync) and has much of the missing functionality that always made me loathe emerge. There are a bunch of GUI front ends for pacman but I'm sticking with the cli version if only because the arguments aren't ridiculous and convoluted and dealing with the bulk of clicking all over some bizarre interface doesn't seem like a better option.
I'm very happy with how things are working overall even if I feel a little bit like a crusty curmudgeon trying to 'connect with the kids'. Ick.