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Kudos to Namib Linux for Making Arch Approachable

By Jack M. Germain LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Feb 13, 2018 5:00 AM PT

Kudos to Namib Linux for Making Arch Approachable

Namib is an ideal Linux distro for anyone who wants to ease into the Arch approach to computing.

Namib is a newcomer -- the third and current release (version 17.11) arrived late last year. However, it makes up for its lack of age by its performance. Namib makes Arch simple.

Surprisingly very user-friendly as well as compatible with older computers, Namib also is very stable.

Since Namib is based on the Arch philosophy, it uses rolling releases so you do not have to reinstall the entire operating system every time a major update occurs. The Pacman package manager handles new system components along with security and application updates automatically.

Namib is very up to date.

A New Face for Arch

This little-known distro is developed and maintained by Meerkat Software based in Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand. It supports English and French.

Namib is a fully functional OS out of the box. The rolling releases give you cutting-edge software with ease-of-use and accessibility.

I often do not recommend Arch Linux or its derivative distros to unseasoned users. It is not worth the frustration and hassle in overcoming installation troubles to get started. That difficulty comes from a pervasive insistence by the pure Arch developers to rely on command line installation routines and specialized installer scripts rather than graphical interfaces.

Some Arch communities are changing, however. I was impressed with recent efforts by developers of ArchMerge Linux and Anarchy Linux to make Arch more suitable for newcomers as well as veteran Linux users unfamiliar with Arch.

Now Namib Linux takes the simplicity goal a big step closer to install-and-go simple.

Namib Linux screen shot
The Firefox Web browser, MATE desktop, and an all-inclusive Control Center bring together everything you need for a pleasant experience with Namib Linux's simpler approach to the Arch ecosystem.

Getting Namib Ready

Two things help Namib part simplify the path to using Arch. One is the live session setup with Calamares installer. The other is the MATE desktop.

Arch Linux offerings are designed to start with a bare-bones system. You can add software you want rather than ignore the bloat or remove what you do not want.

Most traditional Arch Linux options merely let you burn the downloaded ISO file to DVD to use as an installation medium. They usually do not boot your computer into a standalone demo mode. Arch Linux also is infamous for its troublesome installation and configuring processes.

This new class of Arch Linux Simplified is changing that approach. Namib loads smoothly from the DVD into a fully functional live session. It also puts an open window on the screen to continue with the installation process. Just click the cancel button to remain in live session.

When you are satisfied that Namib works with your hardware and accepts your wireless connection, click the desktop icon to begin the fully automated installation.

What's Inside

Arch distros for the most part are designed for users to build themselves by manually adding a wide variety of applications from Arch repositories.

However, Namib Linux gives you more preinstalled software.

Included are the expected MATE accessories for handling file archiving chores, calculator, search and the Pluma clip manager. Also part of the stock software library is Eye of MATE Image Viewer, GIMP image editor and LibreOffice suite. Sound and Video tools include Brasero, GNOME MPV, mpv Media Player and Rythmbox.

The Namib developers stocked the distro with specialized tools that, along with the MATE control panel, take all of the mystery out of running the OS. They also built in preinstalled codecs to play multimedia files and for automatic installation of the necessary software for your hardware, such as graphics drivers.

System Tools

One of the strong points with the MATE desktop is the placement of most controls and settings in one location. Just look in the main menu for the Control Center app to configure personalized system settings.

Besides desktop settings, you will find essential admin and hardware settings there. Look in the Preferences category of the main menu for additional controls specific to the Arch environment.

Namib includes support for the easy installation and use of multiple kernels. A plus is access to the Arch User Repository for applications desirable for more experienced users.

Look and Feel

The MATE desktop has the appearance of classic Windows 7. A panel bar sits across the bottom of the screen. A menu button is at the far left. The right side of the panel holds the notifications area.

Right-click on an application listed in the main menu to place a shortcut on the favorites list or the desktop. Right-click on the panel to add applets to it and modify the panel's properties. Right-click on the desktop to create folders and launchers, create a document, open a terminal, or adjust some details on the desktop.

MATE is a good desktop for new users. It also is a good choice to help you get comfortable with Arch fast.

Bottom Line

Why use Arch? It is a technically better Linux OS family line. However, that gain is offset by the technical expertise requirements for installation and maintenance of the Arch system.

I found Namib Linux to offer the ease and convenience of systems built around the Debian Linux family.

Hopefully Namib will offer one or two additional desktop environments. That would make the distro more appealing to users looking for something new.

Still, like everything else about Namib, MATE just works. This new distro is definitely worth a try.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you'd like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Please email your ideas to me, and I'll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software. Email Jack.

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What should be done about UFOs?
World governments should cooperate to address a potential planetary threat.
The DoD should investigate -- they could signal a hostile nation's tech advances.
The government should reveal what it already knows.
The government probably has good reasons for secrecy and should be trusted on this.
Wealthy corporate space-age visionaries should take the lead.
Nothing. Studying UFOs is a waste of resources.
Keep the stories coming. People love conspiracy theories, and it's fun to speculate.
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