Sunday, September 15, 2013

Antergos 2013.08.20 GNOME Review: Most efficient GNOME 3.8 Distro I have used

Antergos started life in 2012 as Cinnarch, offering Cinnamon desktop with Arch Linux. It changed to Antergos after the developers opted for GNOME 3 as the default desktop and retained Cinnamon along with Openbox, Razor-qt and XFCE as the other DEs in offer. It has the same rolling release development model as the parent Arch Linux. Given I never liked Cinnamon, I didn't try out Cinnarch.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
An opportunity came this week when one of my friends bought a Lenovo Essential B490 laptop with the following specs
Laptop: Lenovo Essential B490
Processor: Core i5 (3rd gen.), 2.6 Ghz, Cache 3 MB
HDD: 500 GB, 7200 RPM
System Architecture: 64-bit

It didn't had any OS when my friend bought it. He wanted me to install Windows 7 (64-bit) along with a GNOME 3 Linux OS. He previously was using Ubuntu GNOME that I installed on his another laptop. These days I have developed more liking for Arch Linux over my long time favorite Debian/Ubuntu based distros. So among other GNOME 3 based distros to experiment with, I chose Antergos, whose latest release came on 20th August 2013.

The release note of Antergos 2013.08.20 states of a lot about the Openbox spin, may be I'll check it some other time. This time my focus was on GNOME.
We are glad to announce the release of Antergos 2013.08.20 with a lot of improvements in the installation process for you to enjoy your system from the start. This new release comes after several months' working mostly on our graphical installer Cnchi and on Remendo. Openbox has been included as an option to be installed along with GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, Razor-qt or Base. You will end up with a lightweight desktop, while having up to date software. The software included with Openbox was chosen to be in the line of the Openbox spirit.
Before installing on my friend's laptop, I tried it out on my Asus K54C with Core i3 2.2 Ghz processor & 2 GB DDR3 RAM laptop. I created a live USB of Antergos 32-bit ISO with Unetbootin. The live USB worked after making one change - the sysconfig.cfg file requires to be replaced, as instructed in the Arch wiki.

The distro booted up nicely on my Asus K54C with GNOME 3.8 desktop. Post live boot I did installation on a 12 GB HDD partition. Antergos 2013.08.20 ships with Linux kernel 3.10.0 and GNOME 3.8.4. Files 3.8.4 is the default file manager.

Antergos has both command line (CLI) and graphical installer options. Graphical one is in alpha stage and may have some bugs. 

From Antergos 2013.08.20
Still I tried the graphical installer for both the laptops and Antergos installed successfully.  The steps are usual and similar to the one in Ubuntu: Selection of language, location, option to install third party software (codecs primarily), desktop preference (GNOME, Cinnamon, Openbox, Razor-qt, Xfce or no DE), time zone, keyboard layout, and user ID details. It is easy and fast.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
Antergos with GNOME 3.8.4 has a very professional appeal.The subtle black shadow (similar to the glow one sees in KDE 4.*) makes the DE very appealing.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
The animation effects are subtle and not distracting. The GNOME dash is faster in 3.8 and favorite applications are actually helpful, in otherwise lame design. The keyboard shortcuts are really helpful to launch dash, hide applications, etc. 

From Antergos 2013.08.20
GNOME 3.8 supports right click on the desktop to change wallpapers. Good to see some common sense back to the previously unintuitive GNOME 3. I found 3.8 to be best of the 3.* series and it is becoming better with every release. 
From Antergos 2013.08.20

Antergos has some cool wallpapers pre-installed and the good thing is that they all gel well with the default theme. 
From Antergos 2013.08.20

Overall, I was quite happy with the look and feel of Antergos GNOME. Starting from the boot splash to the application interfaces, Antergos sports a more refined look than Manjaro. However, in Antergos GNOME, the empty desktop was a bit bland for me and I decorated it with a simple conky. I mixed and match some conky codes to create this one and it still requires some work - on every computer it will show "Core i5" with 4 processors! So, please ignore that part in the conky.

Hardware Recognition
In both the computers, wifi, lan, sound card and display worked perfect to my relief. Even touchpad's vertical scroll worked, only I had to manually adjust the single tap and double tap functionalities. In some distros, the configurations are automatically set but not in Antergos. Otherwise, hardware recognition is pretty good.

Antergos basically provides the shell with limited set of applications, namely:
  • Office: LibreOffice 4.1 installer, Document viewer
  • Internet: Chromium 29 browser, Empathy, Transmission, Hotot Gtk3
  • Graphics: Shotwell Photo Manager
  • Multimedia: Xnoise, Xfbirn
  • Accessories: Archive manager, Calculator, Screenshot, Terminal, Gedit
Chromium is the default browser and comes with Adobe flash plugin. I could watch YouTube right after installation.
From Antergos 2013.08.20

Hotot is another application I liked. It is basically a twitter client and helps in social networking. 

From Antergos 2013.08.20
For social networking, GNOME 3.8 has online accounts in Settings Manager where I could integrate my Gmail, Facebook and Windows Live accounts. Twitter is not there and good that the developers have provided Hotot client for the same.
From Antergos 2013.08.20
From Antergos 2013.08.20

There is no office application by default. Good that the developers have provided LibreOffice installer which makes life easy for absolute novices to Arch Linux. It just takes few clicks to install LibreOffice 4.1.
From Antergos 2013.08.20
From Antergos 2013.08.20

Antergos sources applications from Arch and AUR repos. PacmanXG 4.14.13 is the default GUI to access and download applications, though it is in beta stage. It is supposed to sync both Arch and AUR repos (via yaourt) but in both the installations, it wasn't able to sync AUR repos for me.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
From Antergos 2013.08.20
Default repos synced were: antergos, community, core and extra. From these 4 repos, I could install most of the applications I was looking for like Firefox, Skype, VLC 2.0.8, PlayonLinux & Wine, etc.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
However, I needed Google Chrome which was not there in the Arch repos but required to be downloaded from AUR repos. I could directly add the AUR repo (Archlinuxfr) from Settings -> pacman.conf, without requiring to hit the terminal. 
From Antergos 2013.08.20

Additionally, PacmanXG offers options to modify the mirrorlist, check the logs and change yaourt settings.

I guess those who are expert in Arch won't care much about PacmanXG but for users who are relatively new, I believe, they will find PacmanXG very helpful. Though PacmanXG is still in beta stage and there are some bugs (like AUR repos not synchronizing), but it shows a lot of promise in making Arch package management relatively easy even for Arch newbies.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I could not synchronize AUR repos by default. I manually added Archlinuxfr repo and using yaourt in terminal downloaded Google Chrome. 

One thing surprising is that when I typed
yaourt -S google-chrome

it threw errors that yaourt is not installed. It was a bit surprising to me as the

So, I had to install yaourt via terminal:
sudo pacman -S yaourt

and then installed google-chrome using yaourt.

One benefit that Google Chrome gives over Chromium is support for the latest Adobe flash plugin (11.8). Other Linux browsers support the old plugin (11.2) which may not be supported by Adobe in future.

From Antergos 2013.08.20
From Antergos 2013.08.20
Among the 32-bit GNOME 3 distros I have used in 2012-13, Antergos recorded the lowest CPU and RAM utilization among the stock GNOME 3 distros. At steady state, it takes only 207 MB RAM and 1-10% CPU utilization to boot the default desktop environment on Asus K54C. Even on Lenovo, I got similar performance.

Operating System Size of ISO Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU Usage RAM usage Size of installation
Zorin OS 7 1.5 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.6 3.8.0 1-10% 195 MB 8.60 GB
Antergos 2013.08.20 671 MB Arch GNOME 3.8.4 '3.10.0 1-10% 207 MB 3.6 GB
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS 693 MB Ubuntu Unity 5 3.5.0 1-10% 230 MB
Pear OS 6 862 MB Ubuntu Pear Aurora 1.0.5 3.2.0 1-5% 235 MB
ROSA 2012 Fresh Gnome 1.1 GB Mandriva Gnome 3.6.2 3.6.10 1-10% 235 MB
Linux Deepin 12.12.1 1.2 GB Ubuntu GNOME 3.8 3.8.0 1-10% 240 MB 4.0 GB
Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS 741 MB Ubuntu Unity 5.20.0 3.8.0 1-10% 250 MB 3.06 GB
Elementary OS Beta 1 651 MB Ubuntu Pantheon 3.2.0 1-5% 270 MB
LuninuX 12.10 1500 MB Ubuntu Gnome 3.6 with Docky 3.5.0 1-5% 280 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 730 MB Ubuntu Unity 5 3.2.0 1-10% 280 MB
Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome 1 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.8 3.8.0 1-10% 280 MB
Fedora 17 Gnome 677 MB Fedora Gnome 3.4.1 3.3.4 1-10% 296 MB
Fedora 19 GNOME 964 MB Fedora GNOME 3.8 3.9.8 1-10% 297 MB 3.28 GB
Zorin 6 Core 1.4 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 3.2.0 1-10% 300 MB
Fedora 18 Gnome 932 MB Fedora Gnome 3.6.2 3.7.2 1-10% 310 MB
OpenSUSE 12.2 Gnome 704 MB OpenSUSE Gnome 3.4.2 3.4.6 1-10% 310 MB
Ubuntu 13.04 835 MB Ubuntu Unity 7 3.8.0 1-10% 320 MB 4.98 GB
Pinguy OS 12.04 1.8 GB Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 3.2.0 1-5% 325 MB
Elementary OS 0.2 (64-bit) 728 MB Ubuntu Pantheon 3.2.0 1-5% 340 MB 2.87 GB
Sabayon 13.08 GNOME 1.8 GB Gentoo GNOME 3.8.3 3.10.0 1-10% 363 MB 6.13 GB
Ubuntu 12.10 790 MB Ubuntu Unity 6 3.5.0 1-10% 412 MB

Numbers aside, on a decently powered machine, Antergos offer very good performance and is smooth to use. In my 4 days of usage, I found it to be very stable. Also, Antergos is not a space hogger and the OS takes only 3.6 GB space on HDD (before installing all those apps I mentioned).

Between Manjaro and Antergos
Definitely Manjaro is ahead in terms of simplifying Arch Linux but I can see a lot of promise in Antergos. Manjaro doesn't have a package management tool like PacmanXG. I guess, both the Arch based distros and relatively new. Both have their plus points and at this stage it is too early to compare.

I can safely say that this is the best GNOME 3.8 distro I have used in terms of performance. Antergos has definitely taken a significant step ahead in simplifying Arch Linux and it's PacmanXG, though in beta stage, shows the intent clearly. I installed Antergos on a Lenovo and it gave performance way better than any other GNOME 3.8 distro I tried. Windows 8, of course, is way-way behind if I talk just of performance.

I never liked GNOME 3 and very rarely test or review a Linux distro with GNOME 3 but good that I checked a few on friend's insistence. I found Antergos and it is definitely going to one of my production systems.

You can download Antergos 2013.08.20 32 and 64 bit versions from here.


  1. does Antergos consume a lot of laptop's battery and produce a lot of heat ?

    1. If you are worried about heat and battery, install TLP from AUR, also make sure you have all the drivers installed. If you have nvidia or amd card, make sure their drivers are installed as well as Bumblebee.

    2. Right. If the correct graphic card drivers are installed, like any other Linux, even Antergos should not produce a lot of heat. On the laptops I checked, Antergos was decent with batteries.


    3. Hi Tika:

      To be specific, first check your graphic card by running the following command in terminal:
      # lspci -k | grep -A 2 -i "VGA"

      For Intel graphics, the drivers are already available in Antergos. If you have AMD Radeon / Nvidia, you need to install appropriate drivers to avoid heating.

      For AMD Radeon drivers, please follow this link of Arch wiki:

      For Nvidia:

      Please let me know if you face any issue with installing graphic card drivers.


  2. fuduntu was great distro but now i get confused between pear os and elementary os ? which should i choose ? for now i am using crunchbang linux but i want to move on because sometimes it has driver issue although it is amazing os. pear os or elementary os??

    1. Hi Arpit:

      I like elementary more because of its simplicity and intuitiveness. However, Pear OS is more MacOSX type and has a lot of special effects. How powerful is your laptop/computer? I am asking this because you are running Crunchbang which I associate typically with low powered machines. Openbox does wonders to low powered machines but is not easy to configure like a KDE or GNOME or even an XFCE.


  3. In the past I have tried a couple of distributions that try to make Arch more user friendly, but, with all due respect to developers, I am not sure the concept makes sense long-term. Arch is a rolling release. Things WILL break occasionally. Even Arch wiki freely acknowledges that. If a user is looking for a newbie-friendly distro he or she is not likely to have the knowledge or the inclination to fix things that got broken after updates. The kind of user that likes to do that will most likely prefer Arch straight anyway. Just my opinion...

    1. I agree with you. Even in my limited experience with Arch distros like Archbang, Bridge Linux, etc., eventually something broke or the other post update. However, Manjaro is possibly less aggressive in rolling out updates and provides more stable releases without going for bleeding edge. Manjaro has been good to me for last few months :). Lets see how long it takes to break.


  4. Installed Antergos and I am pleasantly surprised. As a long time Debian/Debian based system user I am a little out of my element here but will learn. Pacman, to me, is a game, and time will tell if I like it as much as apt-get. One thing your right about though is this Gnome presentation is gorgeous. Fast and efficient. Running two identical computers, one with Ubuntu Gnome and the other with Antergos and there is a response difference with certain activities. Haven't played with Fedora to really compare Gnome because I'd rather try my luck at navigating a field full of antipersonnel mines than do battle with rpm's.

    1. Antergos is faster than any of the GNOME 3.* distros I have used. Great that you liked it!

  5. When I was using, I never used yaourt and I preferred using packer. It might be just because of remembering the command name easily.