Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Come on in the Water's Fine

Filed under

Ark Linux 2005.2 rc3 was released a day or two ago and offered the new KDE 3.5 beta2 packages. I was interested in taking a look. After some doing I have an Ark install and am suffering from mixed feelings.

The install was almost a deal breaker. I wanted to install Ark Linux on my /dev/hda12 partition so I boot up an unique looking graphical environment that asked me for my Language, Keyboard, and Timezone, to which I answered. Then next was "what type of install?" On my main harddrive I have a bsd partition on hda1 and hda2 is an extended filesystem with many linux partitions mostly of ext3 and reiserfs. My choices during that attempt were Express and Expert. The others were grayed out. Express clearly states it will take over the whole drive so I most assuredly didn't want that one, and "expert" is usually the classification I pick anyway. Well, I don't know what I was doing wrong, but I just could not find where to set /dev/hda12 as "/". I thought I was and yet the next screen would always say it was installing on /dev/hda5 (the first linux partition on disc). I don't know, I've been installing various Linuxes for over 5 years now, and I just couldn't figure that one out. If anyone knows where I went wrong, please sing out. So anyway, I hooked up this other old Maxtor 10 gig harddrive that someone recently gave me. It consisted of a fat16 and two ntfs filesystems. I booted up the install disc and just pressed Express and whoopee, we were on our way. It did its thing and offered to let me play tetris. I passed on that as I figured it'd just slow down the install, but how nice of it to offer.

After a little while I got a message to let it reboot and I did. A nice splash/progress screen displayed for me while the system booted. It's a lovely seascape looking off a cliff on a beautiful sunny day. That was an unique start up I thought. It was accompanied by a rather tasteful progress bar. My first boot was a total lockup. It had detected my nvidia 6800 chipset and set "nv" as the driver. With no root accessibility until you get into the graphical user environment, init 3 was useless. I fortunately had a livecd hanging around, so I booted it and edited the xorg.conf file for vesa. That got me in.

The next boot I was auto-logged into kde. A KDE 3.5 no less.

KDE 3.5 has been covered basically in one of my SUSE stories, but this version seemed more like KDE default. SUSE had put in their various custom touches. This implementation of it seemed rather nice as well. It was fast and pretty and stable. Ark adds a few of their own customized graphics to the mix, uses the plastic windec and features the redglass cursor theme. I don't know if it's a KDE issue or an Ark issue, but system sound didn't work in KDE, until I configured them to use "play" instead of arts.

Ark has a strange philosophy on root and even its regular user account. I had been to their site earlier and read how to get back the usual functionality of root by using the konsole in the superuser mode provided in the menu and re-set the root password. Not a difficult task for someone who had seen the documentation.

Speaking of documentation, I had also seen where Ark provides nvidia drivers and their suggested procedure. Ark uses apt-get and a KDE-centric version of synaptic call kynaptic. They suggest using apt-get at the commandline for installing those drivers and I did as documented. apt-get update; apt-get install nvidia; nvidia-enable. The drivers were installed, but I think there was some niggle with the nvidia-enable step. Seems the xorg.conf file wasn't edited properly. The Load "glx" had been added back but the Driver was still listed as vesa. The xorg.conf.nvidia-enable was a mirror copy of the original xorg.conf. I edited it for nvidia and checked for a modprobe/modules.conf type file. I found a /etc/modprobe.conf file that did have some nvidia configuration at the end. Upon reboot I did get X, but it was still using vesa. I rechecked my xorg file to assure my changes were saved, they were. Then I checked lsmod to see if the nvidia drivers were loaded, they weren't. Well, I cheated and just put /sbin/modprobe nvidia in the /etc/rc.local file. Next reboot all was well.

Ark's claim to fame is their gorgeous Mission Control. Much like Mandriva's, SUSE's, or PCLOS's Control Center, it can help the user configure their system. It has hardware configuration modules and links to kynaptic and many other kcontrol modules for configuring your desktop.


As stated previously, Ark uses apt-get to install and uninstall its rpm packages. The kynaptic front-end is tidy and uncluttered, yet attractive and functional. I tested it with several packages and it worked as advertised. In fact, Ark comes with some of their software repositories already setup. That's a really convenient touch.


Ark delivers a 2.6.14 kernel and of course KDE 3.5 beta2. X is version (6.9.0 RC 0) from 01 August 2005 + cvs. That nv bug is still present in this release, but hopefully they'll update to the newer cvs where it's fixed before final. They state on their site that they will be including KDE 3.5 final and will be releasing their full version at about the same time as KDE's release. Gcc isn't installed by default, but 3.4.5 version is available through apt-get/kynaptic. The kernel source is available as well. Ark ships with an 2.0beta that functioned really well. Xawtv and firefox are available through apt-get, but xmms isn't.

Ark doesn't come with a lot of extra goodies either. I couldn't watch simple mpegs from gamespot (the sound worked tho) while java and flash tests didn't work. However, flash is available through apt-get and there are docs on how to install/enable it as well as java on their wiki doc site: Enable Flash. Using Java.


Their site states:

Ark Linux is designed to:

  • be easy to learn and use

  • include all tools and applications the typical desktop user will need
  • be a technically sane development environment

It might be easy to install for someone who only has windows installed, but for someone with other systems they'd like to retain, ease of use is not how I'd describe it. After system install the nvidia driver installation doesn't go smoothly either. Those points aside, the rest is a breeze.

I think the all-the-tools-needed statement might not be entirely true as well. Where as all the KDE applications are available as well as OpenOffice, aren't browser plugins pretty much typical?

Technically sane development environment? There is no gcc installed by default. I guess if someone was gonna develop they'd know how to install it. They further claim "An extra highlight for developers is the addition of a compiler for the D programming language." I've never actually met anyone that uses that. Have you?

All in all, it's has some issues that make it not ideal for everyone. Once installed, it's a nice system. Good looks, adequate speed, and stable performance were delivered, but I'm not sure they meet all their claims. It's a fairly good foundation, but it would take some work to make myself at home.

Full rpmlist.
More Screenshots.

More in Tux Machines


  • Managing OpenStack with Open Source Tools
    Day 2 operations are still dominated by manual and custom individual scripts devised by system administrators. Automation is needed by enterprises. Based on the above analysis, Ansible is a leading open source project with a high number contributions and a diverse community of contributions. Thus Ansible is a well supported and popular open source tool to orchestrate and manage OpenStack.
  • Databricks Weaves Deep Learning into Cloud-Based Spark Platform
    Databricks, a company founded by the creators of the popular open-source Big Data processing engine Apache Spark, is a firm that we've been paying close attention to here at OStatic. We're fans of the company's online courses on Spark, and we recently caught up with Kavitha Mariappan, who is Vice President of Marketing at the company, for a guest post on open source tools and data science. Now, Databricks has announced the addition of deep learning support to its cloud-based Apache Spark platform. The company says this enhancement adds GPU support and integrates popular deep learning libraries to the Databricks' big data platform, extending its capabilities to enable the rapid development of deep learning models. "Data scientists looking to combine deep learning with big data -- whether it's recognizing handwriting, translating speech between languages, or distinguishing between malignant and benign tumors -- can now utilize Databricks for every stage of their workflow, from data wrangling to model tuning," the company reports, adding "Databricks is the first to integrate these diverse workloads in a fast, secure, and easy-to-use Apache Spark platform in the cloud."
  • OpenStack Building the Cloud for the Next 50 Years (and Beyond)
    Two OpenStack Foundation executives talk about what has gone wrong, what has gone right and what's next for the open-source cloud. BARCELONA, Spain—When OpenStack got started in 2010, it was a relatively small effort with only two companies involved. Over the last six years, that situation has changed dramatically with OpenStack now powering telecom, retail and scientific cloud computing platforms for some of the largest organizations in the world.
  • The Myth of the Root Cause: How Complex Web Systems Fail
    Complex systems are intrinsically hazardous systems. While most web systems fortunately don’t put our lives at risk, failures can have serious consequences. Thus, we put countermeasures in place — backup systems, monitoring, DDoS protection, playbooks, GameDay exercises, etc. These measures are intended to provide a series of overlapping protections. Most failure trajectories are successfully blocked by these defenses, or by the system operators themselves.
  • How to assess the benefits of SDN in your network
    Software-defined networking has matured from a science experiment into deployable, enterprise-ready technology in the last several years, with vendors from Big Switch Networks and Pica8 to Hewlett Packard Enterprise and VMware offering services for different use cases. Still, Nemertes Research's 2016 Cloud and Data Center Benchmark survey found a little more than 9% of organizations now deploying SDN in production.

Security News

  • GNU Tar "Pointy Feather" Vulnerability Disclosed (CVE-2016-6321)
    Last week was the disclosure of the Linux kernel's Dirty COW vulnerability while the latest high-profile open-source project going public with a new security CVE is GNU's Tar. Tar CVE-2016-6321 is also called POINTYFEATHER according to the security researchers. The GNU Pointy Feather vulnerability comes down to a pathname bypass on the Tar extraction process. Regardless of the path-name(s) specified on the command-line, the attack allows for file and directory overwrite attacks using specially crafted tar archives.
  • Let’s Encrypt and The Ford Foundation Aim To Create a More Inclusive Web
    Let’s Encrypt was awarded a grant from The Ford Foundation as part of its efforts to financially support its growing operations. This is the first grant that has been awarded to the young nonprofit, a Linux Foundation project which provides free, automated and open SSL certificates to more than 13 million fully-qualified domain names (FQDNs). The grant will help Let’s Encrypt make several improvements, including increased capacity to issue and manage certificates. It also covers costs of work recently done to add support for Internationalized Domain Name certificates. “The people and organizations that Ford Foundation serves often find themselves on the short end of the stick when fighting for change using systems we take for granted, like the Internet,” Michael Brennan, Internet Freedom Program Officer at Ford Foundation, said. “Initiatives like Let’s Encrypt help ensure that all people have the opportunity to leverage the Internet as a force for change.”
  • How security flaws work: SQL injection
    Thirty-one-year-old Laurie Love is currently staring down the possibility of 99 years in prison. After being extradited to the US recently, he stands accused of attacking systems belonging to the US government. The attack was allegedly part of the #OpLastResort hack in 2013, which targeted the US Army, the US Federal Reserve, the FBI, NASA, and the Missile Defense Agency in retaliation over the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz as the hacktivist infamously awaited trial.
  • How To Build A Strong Security Awareness Program
    At the Security Awareness Summit this August in San Francisco, a video clip was shown that highlights the need to develop holistic security awareness. The segment showed an employee being interviewed as a subject matter expert in his office cubicle. Unfortunately, all his usernames and passwords were on sticky notes behind him, facing the camera and audience for all to see. I bring this story up not to pick on this poor chap but to highlight the fact that security awareness is about human behavior, first and foremost. Understand that point and you are well on your way to building a more secure culture and organization. My work as director of the Security Awareness Training program at the SANS Institute affords me a view across hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of employees trying to build a more secure workforce and society. As we near the end of this year's National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are two tips to incorporate robust security awareness training into your organization and daily work.

What comes after ‘iptables’? It’s successor, of course: `nftables`

Nftables is a new packet classification framework that aims to replace the existing iptables, ip6tables, arptables and ebtables facilities. It aims to resolve a lot of limitations that exist in the venerable ip/ip6tables tools. The most notable capabilities that nftables offers over the old iptables are: Read more

Linux 4.8.5

I'm announcing the release of the 4.8.5 kernel. All users of the 4.8 kernel series must upgrade. The updated 4.8.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-4.8.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser: Read more Also: Linux 4.4.28