Arch Linux 2020 – what’s there to be happy about?

Posted on January 3, 2020 by fungalnet

Happy new year facebook fans and Arch friends (friends of who? we don’t know, not us, not on facebook, not in the past and not in the future, but you must have friends amongst yourselves).

Some of you may have taken the previous post about abandoning Arch as a joke, since most of what we do recently is promote Obarun, an Arch based distribution with s6 and 66 init and service management. When we published that article we knew nothing of what Hyperbola was planning to do (we assume it was discussed within the community) or whether they were going to give-in to the pressure and incorporate arch’s pacman and packaging methodology change into their distribution. (Note: Hyperbola may be based on Arch but has its own separate repositories and rebuilds everything on their own to ensure everything is Free). All of their free packages, as far as we can tell are still compressed with xz. The bomb was set and it will go off soon (in open/free software tradition of timing kind of soon). Hyperbola is not just leaving Arch, it is leaving linux, for FreeBSD. But this is not about hyperbola, it is about Arch…. or skip to here if you are in a rush!

Back in May 2019 (specifically May 10th 2019 according to our records or at least between the last edition of 4.20.13 and the first edition of 5.0.1) linux-ck switched its packaging from xz compression to zstd. Did users take notice? Were they notified of such change, and was pacman capable of installing such packages? Ofcourse, linux-ck kernels are not official linux kernels and you can either get them by building them from AUR or directly as binaries from their own repository, repo-ck. In either case it is arch’s pacman that will have to decompress those zstd binaries and install the package. What’s the big deal with linux-ck ? 1, custom made kernels for different families of processors making the kernel leaner (scraping unnecessary fat of the kernel dedicated to foreign to your architecture modules). The eternal bug of linux-ck remains today! They claim it is oriented for desktop use because for sure it is not for console use, unless your fingers can hit and retract keys at bullet speed strokes or at 300ms you get zzzzz instead of just z. It is a big deal, if your X session is failing and you are trying to repair things to get to X. So now we have 2 reasons to drop linux-ck. But, this article is not about linux-ck, it is about Arch! Linux-ck just made the move faster than arch who proposed it.

Well come on then, get to the point, we are getting tired of reading already!

Real story begins here:

Ok, ok, ok!! Like we said about linux-ck … Got ya, you skipped endif do loop!

Seriously, if you are not on the bad habit of constantly deleting you cache and not having local versions to revert to previous editions when necessary, especially when you lost your network connection because of an upgrade, look at your cache :

% ls -Altr /var/cache/pacman/pkg

What do you see? Notice a difference? less .xz packages and signatures and more .zst (zstd compressed archived packaging) lately. They are supposed to be beneficial to you, they compress faster on their side, and decompress faster on your side, hence faster overall, right? Not! How big are those packages? They are bigger, a little bigger but bigger. So the slower your connection is the slower the overall procedure becomes. Do Canadians and “other N,Americans and Western Europeans” care? Not a bit, never did, never will. That’s a given. Do university students and faculty of the remaining world care, having the fastest internet connections in each particular country? Same. Does it matter? If you reject the popular NSA, MI5, Mossad model of social control, and coincidentally you reject facebook and other “serving” services, it does matter. It matters to freedom. If arch developers don’t buy into the criticism and condemnation of social networks employing evil-like intrusive closed and non-free code, then our trust with their judgement is at stake.

Ok, ok, ok, numbers, rational arguments and no more talking:

If you have MATE as your desktop you probably have engrampa by default as your archiving de/compressing Gui. Run engrampa on those late new zstd compressed packages to see their contents.

% ls -AlSr /var/cache/pacman/pkg/*zst

Take linux-lts-headers for example (versions -92 and -91):

% engrampa /var/cache/pacman/pkg/linux-lts-4.19.92-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.zst

!!Aaahh, ok doesn’t work, it doesn’t read .zst . Not yet anyhow. So install xarchiver.

Yes, you can decompress and extract a tar using xz or zstd directly, you don’t need a gui. If you can, fine, skip a couple of steps, but the article is for all users, and all users can use a gui, we hope.

% mkdir /tmp/xz % mkdir /tmp/zst % xarchiver -x /tmp/zst/ /var/cache/pacman/pkg/linux-lts-headers-4.19.92-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.zst % xarchiver -x /tmp/xz/ /var/cache/pacman/pkg/linux-lts-headers-4.19.91-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz


% xarchiver /var/cache/pacman/pkg/linux-lts-headers-4.19.91-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

to see the contents of the kernel package. Check the size, then switch and look at the other one.

See how much faster zstd is than xz? Really, you did see that difference? How old and slow can your computer be to perceive the difference? Slower than those mega servers processing Arch packages and spreading them to mirrors, right? (a package is compressed at an arch builder server and sent to its primary repository, then, this package is copied through the network through 50-100 mirrors?) So, now think of the motives to make such a change , the claimed benefits in terms of numbers, the claimed deficiencies in terms of numbers, and the question of trusting facebook from spreading their “coding ethics” around the Open Software world.

How large are the contents of /tmp/zst and how large are the contents /tmp/xz?

Ahhh… ./xz/ is larger than ./zst/ , so we picked a bad example, something that was slightly bigger was compressed to something slightly smaller, but the small->big->small is faster than the bigger->smaller->bigger ? Whoop …. SHIT … DO!!! The different in uncompressed size is due to the two consecutive editions, 4.19.91 is slightly bigger than 4.19.92, but xz made it smaller than the smaller tar for 92 that zstd was used for. Let’s say that this blink of an eye is 35% of your daily upgrade volume, So that blink of an eye difference times 3 is the benefit of rejecting half a century proven algorithm over a very controversial source of code, very new to open and free software.

Now you are fed facebook compressed and decompressed binary code. Don’t you love “development”?

Happy f( U niversity of C alifornia)king new year Archers! Now if I publish this on/ I will get 50 downvotes in the first 15′ because people there will defend Arch no matter what the content is to anyone criticizing a practice, and there will be many irrational responses that one has to confront on irrational grounds, because you can’t discuss rationally with the irrational. After all, an IBM/RH distribution with a facebook feeder of binaries is only “dangerous” if you make a moral choice against the “technium”.

Facebook is a corporation that has undeniably contributed more to open and free software, more than any other large multinational corporation in the industry. NOT!! Even MS, IBM, HP, Oracle, even Google, have contributed more than facebook. Don’t forget, IBM brought you systemd, silly! At least they have contributed a free open compression algorithm, that’s something. And Arch rushed to incorporate it into its most essential piece of homegrown software, pacman.

About Hyperbola: despite of disliking the BSD world, we may have to eventually become more familiar with it as healthier. On the other hand we have Trident moving from FreeBSD to Void-Linux and it is bringing the zfs technology with it for which many people find many good things to say about. But void is not arch, void had the capability to use zstd longer than arch (xbps did over pacman) but chooses not to use it yet. So, we shall see how things evolve, but at least some things are evolving, while everything else is being static, and maybe stale. Like Debian styled daemonocracy. Someone open a window and let some sunlight into that cellar. Put a facemask on, get a bleach and ammonia spray ready and start spraying.


Some are wondering why we are not publishing more frequently. It is not that we don’t want to, or have little to talk about, but there is not much happening apart of 66 development to be happy about. It is very gloomy and quiet. Very few people voicing their criticism and concerns, and in that peaceful aerie environment lots of quiet bad things are happening. The nice thing about s6/66 is that it is so portable. You just pick the distribution and install it and work with it despite of the init/service management system the distribution has picked. Is that unix-like freedom? That is exactly it. I wish pacman was that portable or I wish I could write a front end for xbps that makes xbps as user friendly as pacman. But is it worth anyone’s time to go through such trouble only to find out that Void decided to use zstd for its packaging?

So here we are making everyone’s new year happier and brighter. The future is here! Hohoho… hooo… hoo…!! 2020 is a nice round number …. but it feels like the 1950s, the US 1950s. If you get my drift. Time to go underground while people are getting dumber and dumber. See all the zombies around you communicating only through a touch screen gadget they pay for dearly every few months, or as often as they drop it or get it wet? Dare to speak to them about open and free software, or really anything that may appear political to them. What percentage are running Void on those gadgets? Infinitesimal! Some intellectuals have talked about “the age of agony”. Yes, 2020, a year deeper in the age of agony.

Sorry, I wish there were more positive things to talk about.

If there was a growing instead of a shrinking number of concerned people and would engage in discussion on how to protest certain changes that seem to take freedoms away from all of us, maybe the future wouldn’t look so f( U niversity of C alifornia)king gloomy.



zstd or zstandard pacman and zstd announcement

1984 by George Orwell

1984 update – not compressed with zstd



I get a headache even trying to read this. :tired_face: What are they trying to say?


@ricklinux, they are saying that zstd was rammed down our throats and we love it because we don’t take the time to care.

Increase transparency amongst the team by doing regular general status reports is on the wishlist for general leadership from the Arch Conference notes. At least it’s recognized and is a work in progress.

Wow … all that nonsense written to make that point. I couldn’t even read it. I don’t even know how to describe it? I would never read something written this way more than once if at all. I only skimmed through this because of the way it is written and i could hardly do that. I went to the original site and i would never bother reading anything there written like this. :nauseated_face:

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Like Ricklinux, I lost interest after reading a couple of lines.

These noisemakers often do any thorough research, when I started to research Zstd my head was spinning after a couple of articles.

Sure, I understand the strong opinions about it, but the Linux world is changing and it isn’t run by the Stallmans of this world anymore. I know that there’s a group that takes issue by this but this new movement that is gaining in the Linux community is taking Linux to the other level and yes they are privacy aware.

In my opinion, it’s those people who are preventing Linux from uniting the system in its own community.


Bryan, I think @sothis6881 is on the right track. Many people feel that Linux is being changed by committee in some backroom with little regard to user input. For example: Gnome changes - take it or leave, Arch zst is the new standard - take it or leave, … Communication and transparency go a long way in dispelling these concerns. Also Zstandard was developed by Facebook, the devil incarnate.

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Surprisingly, this very article (the original from was in the main feed of my news application earlier today.

I once thought about installing Obarum and never did, at that time I subscribed and well I always get emails on the subject, this one was yesterday.

Zstandard was and is an open-source project, After the original developer released its first version Facebook hired him to develop it further.

The version used by Opensuse and Arch is the open source version of it.
Now you can debate about whether the Linux community should or should not embrace this piece of code but the hard fact remains that this developer got the rare opportunity to create a good piece of open-source software and got paid for it.

Reiser is still used in the Linux world and who shouts about the shame of its creator?


I’m not advocating not using open source software based on the creator/creator’s organization, but merely pointing out that human nature plays a big role determining good or bad feelings. I downloaded the source just to look at the license. zstd has a BSD license that is short and sweet: the source code is free, you can modify it and use it as long as you give Facebook credit for the original, Facebook prefers that your use is nice and friendly, and BTW if your creation with zstd destroys your family business and/or escapes into the world and destroys half the population, Facebook is not responsible.


I don’t have a problem with zstd as far as the software goes and i know the story about the developer and he was hired by Facebook and all that. I do have a problem with Facebook though. :smirk: Not a fan! I was just saying the way the article was written is terrible. Very difficult to force my self to even read it. I believe in open source development and i think it’s true innovation at work. Without it we wouldn’t have had Linux! We would be paying for Lindows!!! :face_vomiting:

3 sentence summary:

Some of you may have taken the previous post about abandoning Arch as a joke, since most of what we do recently is promote Obarun, an Arch based distribution with s6 and 66 init and service management.

See how much faster zstd is than xz? Really, you did see that difference? How old and slow can your computer be to perceive the difference? Slower than those mega servers processing Arch packages and spreading them to mirrors, right? So, now think of the motives to make such a change , the claimed benefits in terms of numbers, the claimed deficiencies in terms of numbers, and the question of trusting facebook from spreading their “Coding ethics” around the Open Software world.

Void is not arch, void had the capability to use zstd longer than arch but chooses not to use it yet.

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Arch Linux 2020 - There’s plenty to be happy about. We have EndeavourOS! I don’t want to go back to being a distro hopper! :wink:


“Don’t use ZFS. It’s that simple. It was always more of a buzzword than anything else, I feel, and the licensing issues just make it a non-starter for me.”

Linus Torvalds

Yeah, he doesn’t want anything to do with ZFS …

The Zst is objectively better. But sure, fork Arch if you don’t like it.
That’s how Linux works and that’s why it never will beat Windows.

@Bryanpwo is correct. It is perhaps a hard to swallow pill, but without forced change Linux will never be more than a hobby project for the few .

(Also if you think Facebook is the Evil Incarnate you definitely is living in a Western democracy with no real problems).

Not sure if this is an argument either, he refuses to use Debian.

Linux already beats Windows. Most of the people out there have just been brainwashed to use Windows by marketing. A lot of people don’t even know what Linux is or they think it’s Ubuntu if they ever heard of it and the rest think it’s Android. Linux needs to be on the desktop. It’s on mine! :grin:

Your definition of “beating” is not the commonly known one. It doesn’t matter if it’s better (it arguable isn’t, other than on a pure technical level, since for the common user both Windows and Mac are way WAY easier to install and maintain).
It also lacks compability still.
And the most important part: “Beating” is market share only. Again, being “better” is irrelevant. Betamax lost to VHS because it was never adapted. So, it got beat. Minidisk lost to CD because Sony was idiotic.
Linux is losing on workstations because of all those factors. It is difficult. It lacks vital hardware and software support. Many parts of it is truly still technological inferior (font rendering, screen tearing… etc).

Again, < 1% of Windows 7 users will actually switch to Linux. Because they don’t care. Have they been using Windows 7 up until now they most likely are so computer illiterate that they just continue to run W7 until their computer break, and then get one with W10 and run that one for 11 years until THAT one breaks.

But the point here is the initial rant. I can summarize the whole state of the Linux community, and this specific linked article as such: