Part 2 of my Probook 4540s hackintosh install post deals with installing Linux in more detail.
I have been using Linux since about 1995 on a regular basis and in that time I’ve gone from Slackware -> Redhat -> SuSE -> Gentoo -> Ubuntu. My intention was to create a triple boot machine with Windows 7, Linux and MacOS so having installed Windows I set about installing a linux distribution.
Since I’ve been using the latest version of Ubuntu I’ve been less and less impressed with it. I don’t like the Unity interface which was introduced a cople of years ago so I always install Gnome and use that, but I’ve noticed a tendancy for the system load to rise to huge values at start up. I had assumed that was related to a particular application, but when I first installed Ubuntu 13.04 on this laptop exactly the same thing happened. So I started looking at different distributions.
My main requirements are for a configurable system with a good package manager. I have had problems in the past with the redhat RPM system used by redhat (now fedora) and SuSE, and the reason I left gentoo was that the ports based system they use started to have dependency resolution issues. The ubuntu/debian apt-get system has been fantastic so I initially looked at both debian and linux mint but I felt I wanted to try something completly different so I went with Arch Linux instead.
Arch linux is a minimalist distribution which allows you to set up a system with only the software you want installed and nothing else. You get no bloat, no extra packages etc. just the packages you decide you need. It has an excellent package management system called pacman and has nearly every piece of software imaginable available. It also has a very good community behind it which makes lots of additional packages available via an alternative package managements system called yaourt. The install process is a bit long winded because there is no hand holding or graphical helper application. You start with a CD which is downloaded and burn and then carry out the system configuration yourself from the terminal, setting up the network, disk partitioning, mounting of drives, chrooting into the system and running the install. It reminded me a lot of a gentoo install, although it is a binary based system rather than source based so you don’t need to compile your own packages.
I’ve been vary happy with Arch linux so far; There is excellent documentation on the Arch Linux site and virtually all the hardware is supported. The only issue I had has been with the laptop brightness control which doesn’t work. I’m sure I should be able to sort that out eventually however. Configuration is certainly more involved than with a distribution like Ubuntu, but it’s not that hard once you get used to the way Arch works.
One of the big advantages of Arch Linux is the fact that it’s a rolling release, which means that in contrast to most distributions which have a new version released every few months, Arch is kept ‘always up to date’. At any point you can bring your install up to the latest version by simply running sudo pacman -Syu. This does a complete system upgrade, downloading and installing any packages which have been updated since you last ran the command. I tend to run this everyday to keep the command quite short to run.
Next I’ll post a more detailed description of the issues I had installing OS-X and getting a boot loader to work in efi mode.