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KEY FEATURES Arch Linux is an independent lightweight i686-optimized community distribution for intermediate and advanced GNU/Linux users who aren't afraid of the command line. It offers great flexibility and control over what software you want to have on your system and how you want it configured. Like Slackware, it follows the "keep it simple" philosophy and is very fast to boot and run. Arch used to be known as MudkipOS.
Supported architectures i686, x86-64
Minimal hardware requirements 160 MB RAM
Installer - overall (4) Installer is very similar to Slackware, but requires even more experience and know-how. Upon installation, the system configuration files are offered for manual editing, although default settings are already present and will work in most cases.
Package selection (6) Packages are selected one by one.
Predefined package groups (6) Base system and others.
Expert mode install (5) Only expert mode available. However, another virtual terminal can be used to run links and view the Beginner's Guide.
Graphical installer (0) Only text-mode dialog boxes, ncurses based.
Installer speed (8) It depends from the amount of software selected, but generally fast.
Graphical system management (0) By default there are no graphical configuration programs for Arch.
Console-based system management (6) No, except vi, emacs, nano etc.. Configuration is done by editing files directly, which are organized following the KISS philosophy. in some ways, especially loading modules and starting services on boot are much easier with single /etc/rc.conf file that take care most startup stuffs
Number of packages (7) There is overall a growing number of Arch packages, probably in line with what is available for Slackware, sufficient for a normal user. However, there is *a lot* more of PKGBUILD's available in a so called "AUR" repository, files similar to Gentoo ebuilds used by the Arch Build System for compiling packages from source. An easy to use command line tool is available for fetching and executing compilation of those, called aurbuild.
Package management, automatic dependency resolving (8) Yes, Pacman (Arch package manager) handles dependencies well. Even if you install from source, dependencies are being resolved within PKGBUILD's (much like in Gentoo ebuilds).
Graphical package management tools (4) There are optional graphical front ends to Pacman, but they have to be installed first (not included). A good example is Jacman, written in java, maintained by the community.
System boot-up speed (8) It is definitely one of the fastest booting distributions around, and optimization is easy for experienced users as well.
System responsiveness (8) Very good due to many optimizations.
Popularity (5) It's currently 16th on Distrowatch, but its popularity seems to be rising, especially among Slackware and Gentoo users. It is quite established among experienced users.
Security focus (4) It lags behind likes of Slackware and Debian in this respect. Arch is a "bleeding edge" distribution more than anything else and security should be on the average GNU/Linux level. Since it lays a lot of flexibility towards the user, a big part of security is really up to the user/administrator.
Stability and maturity (3) It is a "bleeding edge" distribution so some things could break here and there. It again depends on your choices. It is overall a fairly young distribution founded in 2002.
Does the installer support multiple languages? (0) English only.
Is the system localized after installation? (4) No, it needs to be done manually after installation.
Is manual system localization easy? (9) Pretty easy and standard using configuration files editing.
Support for restricted formats (6) Proprietary audio/video codecs are available in the default repositories. Proprietary software such as Sun Java and Adobe Acrobat is also available in the default repositories.
Sagem DSL modem support (0) ?
Alcatel DSL modem support (6) ?
ISDN support (0) ?
Wireless support (7) Ndiswrapper is downloadable with Pacman, no compilation required. Proprietary drivers for some models (e.g. Intel ipw3945 wifi) is available in the default repositories.

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