Table of Contents
My limited background in this field #
I’m no cyber security professional or hacker (dark or light sided) so take anything I say with a healthy does of scepticism. I have used Arch for a couple of years (this is the time I think I am contractually obliged to state “I use Arch by the way”) and previously tried out Backtrack/Kali and recently ParrotOS which I did not get along with.
My thoughts on BlackArch #
I get the feeling the pros don’t use these distros, they probably have a regular VM and install their tools as required, although since BlackArch is a repository, you could just have a nice clean Arch install and add whatever you want. The reason I say this is that a full install of BlackArch takes up oer 50GiB of disk space. It’s chock-full of apps, Arch is no way that large on a clean install.
The next thing you notice is the window managers rather than fully blown desktop environments. I’ve tried using sway before and it was good but I reverted back to Gnome as there were issues with just a few apps and I eventually got sick of compromising to run a minimal setup. Out of the box, the window managers I’ve tried so far (Fluxbox and Awesome) are customised but still brutally bare. If you aren’t used to them it’s going to be a bit of a shock. Still, if you want lightweight to give your work the maximum power but still need a UI, this is what you are going to have to get used to.
I do think that you will become much more proficient at fixing issues with linux at the command line if you stick with a window manager UI solution, as the widgets and settings apps just aren’t there.
There probably are apps you can get to simplify it via a UI but it might be better to just embrace the CLI. When everything goes to shit you’ll be dropping down to the CLI to fix it in most cases, get comfy with it as quickly as you can.
Upgrading packages is/was a nightmare, so much so I gave up on the CD full install and re-installed from the minimal
I’m revisting this post after a while (as you’ll see in a little bit), for some reason I thought back in February that this list of mirror servers was important?!
Server = https://mirror.osbeck.com/archlinux/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://mirror.f4st.host/archlinux/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://archlinux.mailtunnel.eu/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://america.mirror.pkgbuild.com/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://lon.mirror.rackspace.com/archlinux/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://mirror.bakerserver.space/Arch/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://www.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.archlinux.org/$repo/os/$arch
Server = https://mirror.wormhole.eu/archlinux/$repo/os/$arch
Reflections from 9 months on #
I completely gave up on it, I love my vanilla Arch install, it’s been pretty stable for the most part (NVidia drivers and one dodgy update aside that needed me to switch over to the stable kernel to fix). The BlackArch VM (from back in Feb 2022) however was a mess, pacman couldn’t upgrade the system as so many packages were in conflict with one another, once I started to diagnose what was stopping it I just decided it was going to be too much effort required on something that was just a trial. Trial over due to failure.
Maybe I’ll revisit it again in the future, but for now I’m happy enough on my Kali VM, getting to grips with the hacking of CTFs rather than the OS install. I don’t envy the distro makers, keeping packages compatible in a rolling distribution seems like it would require full time work and who has time for that.