My first impression of the Arch Linux web site is the spartan or minimal nature of the site. That is refreshing. For example, the installation guide is a dramatically bland looking html page, http://archlinux.org/static/docs/arch-install-guide.txt. However, the words and instruction are top notch. I won't try to recreate the howto, I only want to share my experience.
I downloaded the version .8 voodoo ftp iso, burn a disk and booted by old Athlon XP to the CD-ROM.
All my previous linux installations had been using very newbie friendly distros like PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu so not being presented with a "X" type GUI for the install felt a little rogue. I carefully read through the instructions presented to me via the root shell and selected /etc/install (or whatever it was).
I then started following the installation steps. Arch found my keyboard fine and the appeared find my network card and configure DHCP.
Next I partioned and formatted the 10GB hard drive using all the defaults except for file system. The default was ext2 but I chose ext3. I only chose this fs since I think ext3 is newer...I'll have to check that. Anyway, partining and formatting went witout a hitch.
Now when I tried to select packages, Arch couldn't contact the ftp server. I went back to the configure network step and did a manual configuration. I used another computer on my network to verify the gateway, netmask and dns IP address. Then I picked an arbitrary number of 192.168.1.10 for the arch machines address. This did the trick, I was able to select an ftp site and start downloading packages.
I downloaded and installed all packages in the BASE catagory. This download tool about a half hour on my DSL line Arch reported the install was fine. I also chose to install vim as my text editor.
This is what I will like about Arch. The installer gave me the option of installing either vim or nano. Both are tiny, powerfull editors that would normally just both be installed by default since they are so small and nifty. Not here, I get to controll what I install, but I'm also not compiling everything from source.
I then configured the system by accepting all the defaults and moved to downloading the Kernel. Next I installed GRUB, rebooted and ... oops, forgo to remove the CD-ROM. I pulled out the CD-ROM and booted again, viola, all appeared fine.
My first action at the command line was to login as root and create a new user per best practice. I logged off root and back in as me.
So, I thought "Wow, that was easy!" Well it was easy, it just didn't work completely.
Now I can't ping my router. This seemed weird since just a minute ago I downloaded over 100MB of files. It turns out that my network configuration during install didn't propagate to the hard drive config files. I'll have to edit the /etc/rc.conf file to set up the network. This shouldn't be a huge deal, but it's after midnight and I'm tired.
The good news is that Arch Linux is completely installed using only 622 MB.
Next...configure my network.