Review of Antergos Linux
2019 January 25

I've recently been running Antergos Linux a derivative of Arch Linux on my Thinkpad w540. I have to say that Antergos is a much better version of Arch and has some significant polish on the system, especially over many other much bigger distributions. I previously tried Arch in the past, but had to stop when updates kept breaking my system because I didn't update my machine often enough (It was at home while I was at college).

Installation

Installation of Antergos is very easy. It has a well supported GUI installer. It provides the ability to get setup very quickly. Most things are available in the image. The hardest part is finding the download button on their website. Remember to setup the network before you go and start the installer, this is a very important step. A lot of distributions seem to be mirroring your network settings from the live image to the installation. I think this is a very good change, as if an installer includes all this configuration, it's just a duplication of effort.

You can select many different desktop environments. I choose to use Gnome by default. The other options I saw available were xfce, kde, and deepin. I stuck with Gnome because that is what I know and I feel like it anticipates my wants and needs.

Desktop Experience

Antergos comes with a really nice default icon pack. It has some really nice designs. It also seems to apply to many of the packages I end up installing from the repositories beyond just the defaults included. The look and feel is very consistent.

I also like how they customized Gnome such that many of the resource hog processes are disabled. I'm looking at you tracker-fs. I rarely see the massive number of evolution processes that I would see on Fedora. This is a good thing, although I haven't setup any kind of calendar or mail sync on this installation.

Since Antergos is derived from Arch, you get the massive repositories plus the Arch user repository (AUR) where a lot of commercial software is easily available. It's also much easier to get software from the AUR, as I can install aurman directly from pacman instead of doing the git clone and makepkg dance. Aurman is very smart and deals with many of the issues I experienced in using makepkg. These issues applied especially to things like getting rstudio setup previously. I always had to build it from source, but now it seems not to be a real issue.

It also includes an installer to set up the Nvidia driver in the repositories complete with bumblebee. This made getting setup much easier than on other distributions. Although I still don't like Optimus, due to slow performance and being overall kind of shoddy. I would much rather have a direct connect than the overall power efficiency of Optimus.

Issues

I have experienced very few issues with Antergos so far (I've been using it for about 3 months now). Just the standard Arch issues (You've got to be careful with Java from experience setting up my Unifi controller). I haven't had any issues with docker except for some of containers being reverted to default. However, I'm pretty sure that's user error on my part.

The biggest issue I had was not installing bumblebee with my Nvidia drivers. If I don't install it, then the computer would not resume from sleep correctly.

The other major issue was that lightdm really didn't like my W540, in that it would regularly crash. However, all I had to do was replace it with GDM and I haven't had an issue since.

Conclusion

Overall, I find Antergos to be superior to most other distributions I've tried (I like it more than Fedora which was my go to for about 3 years). It has a nice well-customized desktop with well chosen defaults. The team who put it together really know what they are doing.

*****
Written by Henry J Schmale on 2019 January 25