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Why I Fell in Love with Arch Linux (2015) (jonathas.com)
256 points by jonathasrr 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 281 comments

I fell in love with Arch, after having used Gentoo for years, and Debian before that.

The straightforwardness appealed to me, it's a binary distribution with a rolling release cycle and no custom-finagled packages.

But after a while, I got tired of manually configuring everything, doing all kinds of weird house-keeping and having to randomly boot from a USB stick to rescue my system from some update with untested consequences. And this was while running the supposedly "stable" update branch. I also got tired of the countless updates that required manual convoluted update procedures and Pacman tricks to function correctly.

Maybe this was because my install was relatively old, and thus had stuff like Pulseaudio and Systemd grafted on top of it, but I never had any issues immediately after those updates.

So around a year ago when Linux Mint 18 was released, I made the switch and I haven't looked back. I know it's a hackneyed phrase, but Everything. Just. Works. I have not had to do anything at all on my refurbed T420, I just installed it, and it just works, it's wonderful.

I cannot be arsed to mess around with configuration files and whatnot on my computers anymore, I have much more interesting things to do than mess around trying to keep my personal computer running correctly.

I was also a hardcore KDE-head for years, but Cinnamon has really grown on me. It does what I need, the way I want it (I grew up on Win9x, so that's the interface style I prefer), without getting bogged down in obscure configurations or arcane frameworks.

Maybe this all marks me as fallen from the ranks of the Linux cognoscenti, but I don't care. I just want to get on with my life. In the same way that I see a lot of people gush about Mac OS, Mint simply gets out of my way and lets me get on with stuff I actually want/need to do.

> Maybe this all marks me as fallen from the ranks of the Linux cognoscenti, but I don't care. I just want to get on with my life. In the same way that I see a lot of people gush about Mac OS, Mint simply gets out of my way and lets me get on with stuff I actually want/need to do.

Interesting -- this is what I would say about Arch. I switched to Arch right after the systemd transition, so I'm sure I missed a big opportunity for breakage. But in those four years I've barely had to think about system administration, beyond routinely running pacman -Syu. I used to have to do a fresh install every six months when a new Fedora would break everything. I don't think this makes me a member of the cognoscenti at all, and I think the whole "Arch is for the l33t" meme is wildly inaccurate. Arch is by far the easiest distro I've ever used.

> I switched to Arch right after the systemd transition, so I'm sure I missed a big opportunity for breakage.

I experienced that transition and while you had to read the wiki somewhat carefully, I remember being a bit 'disappointed' afterwards as to how smooth/uneventful it was, it sounded way more scary than it actually was.

Well, just yesterday, I had to go back a release from Ubuntu 17.04 to 16.04 because of some oscure DNS related systemd-resolved bug which I spent all day trying to fix.

Mind you, this bug has been under active discussion for a while now.

Since my 16.04 server is just a day old now, I'm thinking I'll bite the bullet and switch to a troublefree distro recommended in this thread.

(Not a Linux cognoscenti.)

Huh, I had to do the same thing yesterday. Interesting coincidence.

Did you add DNSSEC=no to /etc/systemd/resolved.conf? That fixed the problem I had yesterday, which is probably a different problem.

I did but that didn't work for me. Btw, were you on a Linode in a southern US city?

- I changed DNSSEC to NO.

- I had DNSmasq running which was apparently blocking systemd-resolved from binding to I first changed dnsmasq's port to 5300 from 53 and then killed dnsmasq but that didn't solve the issue either.

3. I manually linked resolv.conf to a non standard location which I hand edited to contain the name servers I wanted my server to use - didn't work.

> I switched to Arch right after the systemd transition, so I'm sure I missed a big opportunity for breakage.

I've had a server running for several years on Arch. The systemd transition wasn't bad. I didn't have any custom init scripts to migrate, so it was mostly update & reboot. Arch is a great install once and update forever system. I even migrated my install in-place from x86 to amd64 after upgrading the CPU. There's a wiki article for it! https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Migrating_between_archi...

> I even migrated my install in-place from x86 to amd64 after upgrading the CPU

My hat is off to you -- I would have guessed that wasn't possible!

I guess that's the magic of the Arch Wiki¹. Even if not using Arch I often find it far more useful and up-to-date than the wiki of my own distributions (Ubuntu and Manjaro).

[1]: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Migrating_between_archi...

I know what you mean. Hell, I've even used arch wiki for freebsd!

On a multiarch distro, like Exherbo or Debian, you can switch architectures by cross compiling for the target arch.

On Exherbo, after cross compiling, one only needs to change the /usr/host symlink and reboot.

I've done that a couple of times over the years, on Debian systems. Largely as a result of moving from UML->KVM.

This is roughly the guide I followed, which has existed for a good few years.


The systemd transition was literally hell and nearly broke me. Took me nearly a year to go back to Arch. But I came back for how easy I can modify aur packages and still have them versioned by pacman.

I agree, except for the installation. Manjaro I think would be a great compromise.

For those who don't know, Manjaro is a distro based on arch with a full graphical installer and such. Easy to install Arch.

The community editions are great as well, Manjaro with i3 is fantastic. If you like vim you will love a tilling window manager.

Personally, I prefer dealing with Arch's installation process to other distros. Most graphical installers I've used are extraordinarily inflexible with filesystem options, e.g. dual-booting with full-disk encryption or full-disk-encryption with a non-ext4 filesystem.

Absolutely, the Arch install process is really easy. If you can cook yourself dinner from a recipe, you can install Arch. Other distros try to hide the details and I find myself playing "second-guess the installer" because everything has been "helpfully" simplified.

Argh. I spent most of yesterday trying to set up a dual boot with Manjaro and nearly bricked my machine. It is really dependant on hardware I think.

Same! I've tried the community, kde, and xfce isos on a second drive and have yet to achieve a bootable system. I'll probably tinker with it a bit more this weekend since Manjaro sounds like the perfect distro for me, but I'm getting close to giving up :/

Installing Manjaro as a second OS and think bricking is a large possibility, I'd bet you have a UEFI install of Windows and used a crappy USB writer that doesn't allow for UEFI.

I thought Arch was easy, and then I tried an actual mature well thought out desktop distro ;-)

I tried Debian about a year ago hoping to share your insight, but I discovered that if I wanted to understand how to configure some piece of software, I had to look at both the Debian documentation and the upstream documentation for it, and I found that creating custom packages was harder, or at least harder to learn (when I made my first arch package, it took me less than an hour to figure out how ABS works, and packaging a deb seemed much more arcane). I stuck with it for a month, but ultimately found it to be an inferior experience.

That's one of the big selling points of Arch Linux for me, personally: They try their very best to avoid various custom patches, etc. This is probably also a big reason that the Arch Wiki is one of the greatest sources of information on configuring anything... for any distribution that doesn't fiddle too much with the upstream packages.

That's one of the reasons that I stick with the Ubuntu family. The community, and thus the support, is vast and easily discoverable.

If you're curious, I prefer Lubuntu.

I've used Arch since at least 2011 and I know exactly what you're talking about. When I first started using it, it had the stupid blue install script (pacstrap was it?).

Around that time, I had to reinstall arch ~4 times for some reason or another. It was not a great experience. It made me learn a lot of Linux stuff just to keep it up and hitting `pacman -Syyu` was always a scary thing to do. You could never hit yes to prompts without first going to archlinux.org first to make sure that there was no arcane ceremony to conduct before you upgraded your system (I probably know enough now that it would no longer be arcane, but, hey, we all have to start from nothing).

My experience since around 2014 has been drastically different. Things have been incredibly stable and I've never had to reinstall arch in the past 3 years. I don't really know what caused the change - maybe it was just maturity - but I do welcome it and working on arch has been amazing. I'm saying this not to convince you to go back, but to allay others' fears that Arch is unapproachable or impossible to deal with. At this point, it's still a hard Linux to work with, but it's no harder than any Linux in which you have to work on the command line.

I started using Arch sometime before you did, and had the exact same experience - Something happened between 2012 and 2014 that made Arch the most stable Linux distro I've ever used. Arguably more stable than Windows 10, depending on your opinions of Microsoft's execution of forced updates.

I honestly have this experience with plain Ubuntu, provided I wait at least a month to upgrade (my triple-monitor setup does not play well with brand new releases, but does fine soon after).

I have it running on two laptops (which I never have an issue upgrading) and my desktop and I almost never deal with maintenance, nor do I ever want to anymore.

I've considered Mint, but even just switching to another "Just Works" distro seems like more effort than I'm willing to commit to my desktop.

I'm sure Ubuntu delivers the same general experience, I just don't like Unity and what they've doing with their DEs in general.

Ubuntu MATE may be better for me, but I've found myself very comfortable with Cinnamon, so just like you I am not in a hurry to switch distros :-)

I've been giving Ubuntu MATE a try for a couple weeks, and with the "Redmond" panel style it's pretty much frictionless for me.

Same here with Ubuntu.

I started with Slackware 2.0 back in the day, used all major distros, had a FOSS zealot phase for a few years.

Now all my desktop devices run either Windows or Ubuntu.

I had a very similar experience running Arch on a desktop. After borking my system twice in a six month period during updates (which was admittedly my fault for not following pre-upgrade instructions to the letter) I decided that I'll stick to distros that take care of those details for me.

I felt and feel the same way about Arch. If you are still feeling slightly adventurous I would suggest you try manjaro. It seems to be Arch but with the Mint feel of it just working.

I've used Linux as my primary OS for ~17 years now (Mandrake->Debian->Gentoo->Arch->Mint with a few experiments here and there, eg. Fedora and Elementary). I have absolutely no desire for OS tinkering anymore.

I basically need a web browser and the desktop Spotify client. That takes care of ~95% of my computing needs these days.

Not saying you're wrong, just chipping in my opinion. I've been using it for about three years and in that time I've broke something when updating exactly once.

I've got around 1100 packages installed, so I'm not a really heavy or really light user.

Configuration wise, most of my stuff is stored in dotfiles and if I ever need to reinstall then I pull them down from github and I'm back where I was.

That said Mint is a wonderful OS and I can see the appeal.

This sounds suspiciously to me like "I rewrote my program in <x> new language and it was 20% faster and 200% easier!" in that yes, your new experience may be better, but that's not necessarily attributable to the new language/operating system, but instead that you just got rid of all the old cruft. It's entirely possible (and sounds to me likely, based on your story) that you could have just reinstalled Arch with the same positive effects.

Also, you may have lost features in the process. For example, if you rewrote your C program in Python, the code may be much cleaner, but also much slower. If you didn't need it to be fast in the first place, that might be a good compromise for you. If you did need speed, then making the Python program faster might require complicated work, like C FFI, and you might have been better off staying with the original C. Comparably, Arch's PKGBUILD makes packaging new programs very easy, whereas despite having spent a number of hours trying, I still do not understand Debian's packaging format(s). If you rarely use uncommon programs, that may not be an issue for you.

Sure, I could have reinstalled Arch, but 1) that sort of breaks the whole "install once, update forever" ideal many Arch proponents trot out, and 2) that would still require me to install everything manually, set up the base system manually, fiddle around with config files and so on.

In comparison, to install Mint, I popped in the USB stick, ran the installer and that was it. The most complicated thing was the partition manager, and only because I have four hard drives and a Windows partition to take into account.

And that was it, 20 minutes and I was up and running on a desktop with a browser, with automatic updates, and every driver working correctly.

That's what I want from my computer these days. I want it to work for me.

I'm not a kernel hacker, I'm not even a developer (aside from some monitoring scripts at work). I want my web browser and my media player and my various little utility apps. I have no desire to be a sysadmin, I've been there and done that, and now I find it a waste of time.

Funny you should mention Mint. For many years they have required that you do a re-install instead of a dist-upgrade. Even just this past year, that was the officially recommended course of action for going from Mint 17 to Mint 18.

> whereas despite having spent a number of hours trying, I still do not understand Debian's packaging format(s)

Debian's package format is really simple and well-designed. However, Debian's packaging process is really tedious and had an almost ceremonial feel to it when I tried it (coming from PKGBUILDs).

Shameless plug: If you just want to throw a bunch of files together into a package, you might be interested in my own https://github.com/holocm/holo-build .

Reinstalling arch Linux means that you have to reconfigure everything. Arch does not work right out of the box.

You can also keep your configs in git and just pull.

Because that's perfectly reasonable to expect. After all, everyone has a git repo, right?

Yeah, just do a "git init" and now you have one.

Oh okey, dropbox then? Do you mean we can not assume that arch users have a way to store away their config files?

How many arch users do you imagine don't have any git repos?

I didn't. I would wager most don't.

I did a reinstall recently of Arch and the only thing I did was to copy the user folder from my old computer to the new one. Everything worked out of the box.

You could always install Antergos. It's basically just Arch + sane defaults

>manual convoluted update procedures and Pacman tricks to function correctly

Maybe it's just me, but I've never had to do this once in the past two years (since I started using Arch). Literally every single update has been perfect.

Regarding Linux Mint, how do you feel about their issues surrounding timely delivery of security updates? https://www.infoworld.com/article/3182824/

Another problem with any Ubuntu-based distro is that packages in Universe don't receive security update support.

I don't see any issues there at all. The update manager specifically lets you choose your update strategy and tells you the risks/benefits of each choice. As far as receiving timely updates, they come straight from Ubuntu/Debian, so Mint is updated exactly as quickly as the mother distros.

I get that there is a lot of hate for Mint because it's not a h4rdc0re h4xx0r distro, but the accusations are simply baseless and often based more in personal convictions than anything else.

If you read the linked Reddit thread, in between the rapid haters, there are a couple of posts that lay it out in a very sensible way. Worst-case a Mint user is going to be a couple of days behind an Ubuntu user. Not exactly the end of the world. If ASAP updates are critical for your systems, you probably shouldn't be running a purely desktop-focused distro anyway.

> doing all kinds of weird house-keeping and having to randomly boot from a USB stick to rescue my system from some update with untested consequences

Weird! I ran dev versions of everything, updated once every couple days, and can only remember one time that I had to fix a catastrophic bug.

> But after a while, I got tired of manually configuring everything, doing all kinds of weird house-keeping and having to randomly boot from a USB stick to rescue my system from some update with untested consequences

Honestly, this was my experience in the first months with the distro, back in 2011, but then I started feeling like I 'know' Arch, like I understand how to use pacdiff, what news to pay attention to and what commands to run, as well as what not to forget to avoid trouble and honestly, it's been the most stable OS I've known.

So yes, there's a 'bump' you have to overcome with Arch, but once you 'get it', it becomes second nature.

I honestly cannot remember how long I had Arch installed on my main system, but I replaced it with Mint about a year ago, and I have files in my home folder dating back to 2007, so give or take around 9 years.

So I would definitely say I "got it", but I just couldn't be arsed to do it anymore. I'm not really into unpaid sysadmin work :-)

Yeah, sure, what I meant by 'get it' is not how long have you been using the system, (I still don't get Windows), but whether you connected with the way the developers meant it to be used, i.e. if it became second nature.

I am just sharing an experience that I had it similar, but not anymore, I definitely don't find it requiring sysadmin amount of work to maintain, my daily routine is: read archlinux.org, pacman -Syu, pacdiff, very occasional manual step that took me 5mins - I know it may not be like that for everyone, but not everybody also has the issues you described, is my point.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely get the Arch way of doing things, if that's what you like and how you want your system to work.

My daily routine was exactly the same as yours, except I experienced several boot-breaking errors over the years, where I had to spend hours getting my system running again. I consider that a waste of time.

In contrast, Mint takes care of itself, which leaves me to get on with my life in peace.

Sure, maybe I've just been lucky to not experience such bugs, but for me the benefit of rolling + latest packages is worth it.

The main reason I stay away from anything debian based these days is apt. I've been stuck in apt-hell a few too many times.

Antergos (arch-based) seems to be treating me well.

Personally, I have literally never had any issues with apt. Not when I ran straight Debian, not when I tried Ubuntu and not now with Mint.

I may not be stretching its capabilities quite as far as you may be doing, admittedly.

What do you refer to apt-hell exactly? I've been using Ubuntu for years, and I can't remember any problem with the package manager.

The apt-related annoyance is that some PPAs don't carry updated packages (for all the recent Ubuntu versions), but has nothing to do with apt itself.

Maybe you refer to distro upgrades? To be fair I have little experience with those, as I never upgrade, only perform fresh installs.

I was not able to update anything anymore due to some complex dependency problem that could not be resolved and seemed to be circular. This happened twice with Ubuntu and another debian-based distro.

Granted, I admit I mess around a bit with debian sources. I sometimes pin things, and often times pull packages from sid or unoffficial repos to get fresher versions.

With arch though, packages are always fresh, and the AUR has always worked well for me when I needed something not in the official repo. No issue so far.

> Granted, I admit I mess around a bit with debian sources. I sometimes pin things, and often times pull packages from sid or unoffficial repos to get fresher versions.

Found your problem.

Yup, another Antergos fan here. I started with vanilla arch, but like others, got tired of things constantly breaking and my system becoming unpredictable and possibly unstable after every update. I got tired of doing everything manually and wasting time making config files for the simplest of things.

I tried looking into other distros (mint, fedora, ubuntu) but always found myself missing the awesome power of the Aur. So Antergos is the perfect compromise. It's easy to install (no manual configuration required) and gives me access to the Aur.

Similar Mint fan. I used Arch for awhile, and enjoyed learning how FDE and other things work (because I had to), but it's nice not to have to.

My only concern with Mint is, what happens when Ubuntu goes away or becomes nonviable as a distro base?

Canonical seems intent on making Ubuntu cool in some area, and even more intent on monetizing Ubuntu, and there's a risk that their pivots, and forward and back steps, could cripple Ubuntu.

I have wondered about that, and I'm sure the Mint devs have a contingency plan in place (probably convert to being a properly Debian-based distro).

If they don't and Mint becomes unavailable or nonviable for some reason, I will find another distro similar to Mint, or simply go back to Debian proper.

I don't care much which distro I use, my important files are the same no matter which distro I use to access them.

Try NixOS.

The Wiki/Manual isn't quite there yet, but it's so manageable that that isn't important right away.

> having to randomly boot from a USB stick to rescue my system from some update with untested consequences.

Just imagine: Your OS broke after installing an update. You reboot, and pick the second to last GRUB/syslinux entry, and literally boot into the system you had before.

I am very similar. Love to thinker sometimes so early this year downloading and installing many of the top and some obscure distro's. Just sort of felt like going doing an a No-Windows 30 days.

Antergos (arch made easy) was one of the distro's I tried last and it stayed on my Asus netbook the longest. I was fairy impressed with Antergos as it installed nice and felt pretty quick. But then things got too manual for my tastes. I just wanted to install Brave Browser. The tgz package didn't run and I couldn't obviously use the deb or rpm version. It wasn't in the default software add/remove when I searched. So I was thrown to using the command line (yaourt) and researching it's commands to get the repository correct, download and install a browser I simply wanted to try that would be a download from website and install on Windows as well as the more popular linux distro's.

That was one. Then a week later a update knocked out my wifi. I had to again mess around with some command line fix that worked. The real kicker was when I had not touched the netbook in about a month and when I finally did, I did the routine Pacman -Syu. This I found out the hard way was supposed to not go more than a week or so of not doing. This wrecked the distro so bad I couldn't even get the GUI. That was enough tinkering for me with Arch. I don't have time to research that as I didn't care anymore. Formatted.

I was most impressed with PClinuxOS. I just worked and had pretty recent packages on a rolling release. Never had any breakage and it also held hand enough I never touched the command line (even to install Brave). OpenSUSE, Korora and KDE Neon all were also decent and feel I could have used them long term if forced to.

In the end of about two months, I just wanted to crawl back into my comfy Windows 7 world and get some work done again. Be able to use literally any software I want and not be confined to lesser quality alternatives. Not have updates kill my install. Etc. I seriously applaud all the coders and individuals dedicating their free time to open source and thank them for that, but I guess I am fine with proprietary closed source that I've grown up on since 1984.

> I did the routine Pacman -Syu. This I found out the hard way was supposed to not go more than a week or so of not doing. This wrecked the distro so bad I couldn't even get the GUI.

Wow. Would be really interesting to know what happened there exactly.

In 2016, I installed an Arch VM using an image from 2014. Against all odds, I could update it. I had to download a few packages (pacman and its dependencies) manually, verify the digests against the package cache on another machine, and install them. After that, `pacman -Sy archlinux-keyring && pacman -Su` just worked.

It's not exactly like Arch (there's no AUR and way less packages available) but Solus is another new Rolling Release distro, written from scratch, that is worth looking at these days.

From my 4 years with Mint on a light usage PC I can say is no better than a rolling release. The main difference is that you can be sure Mint will break after a version upgrade. Arch on the other hand will make you copy/paste wiki issue solutions after each update. Also there's systemd, netctl, choosing a DE, etc. Also there's no way to reliably do non-interactive updates on Arch because otherwise it's not secure enough (I guess?).

I've updated both my desktop and my laptop from 18 to 18.1 to 18.2 with absolutely no issues at all. Or are you talking about major versions?

Yep, though I've been upgrading that system since Mint 14 (with Cinnamon). Compared to Arch the maintenance cost is orders of magnitude lower. Compared to Ubuntu (2y, at work, upgraded from 16.04 LTS -> 16.10) it feels higher mainly because stuff is less tested and can also break with regular updates (unless they fixed their workflow to remedy that).

- For mortal-level usage -> Ubuntu

- For mortal-level usage when you don't like Ubuntu -> Mint

- For Linux junkies -> Arch

EDIT - formatting

>For mortal-level usage

I had to choose distro for my gf, so I'd looked for some newbie friendly. I'd installed ubuntu 16.04 in qemu and I found that gnome-software does not work properly: there are a few packages available to install from gui (no scribus, no emacs, no kicad etc). Literally a year passed since lt came out and it has such unacceptable issue for a newbie-friendly distro. Hopefully fedora just works.

Package availability issues -> there are PPA's for everything.

A less known thing about LTS releases is that the repos are smaller because of the testing they have to do to make it up to LTS standards.

Main reason I moved from 16.04 to 16.10.

I don't have direct experience with fedora but I heard that it's nice. Will have to try it someday ;).

>Package availability issues

It's not about availability, it's about possibility of installing packages that are in the main repo with the default software manager gui (gnome-software). In ubuntu lts I found no way to install scribus with gnome-software though it is in repository. This is just a bad quality of the distro itself and I wouldn't call suck behavior ``user friendly''


It's in the repo https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/scribus/1.4.6+dfsg-4 so your scenario should work.

In comparison arch: https://www.archlinux.org/packages/community/i686/scribus/

Fedora: https://apps.fedoraproject.org/packages/scribus

IIRC you have to enable multiverse repos in Ubuntu manually (doable with the GUI or somewhere in settings).

2017 will be the year of Linux on the desktop :P.

I fell in love with Arch about 5 years ago. I use it every day as my daily work machine: One of the best things about arch is its documentation - specifically its wiki. Arch lets you start off with a fairly simple installation, but you always have the option of moving off the beaten path and doing something different.

It's that flexibility which allows people to create arch installs with a very low memory footprint, or crazy-fast boot times, or bleeding-edge software.

Another part of Arch's allure is its overall simplicity: it is possible to learn how to administer the entire system within a day or two. The wiki makes it easy to read up and learn about how to configure a portion of your system should you want to, and the installation covers of your system covers most of the fundamentals anyway!

Pacman (and pacaur!) are great, and having the latest packages is also great (I've only needed to reinstall my Arch setup once in the 5+ years I've used it, by the way), but these days we have Docker and VMs which are fast and usable enough on commodity hardware that they can be used to safely compile and run custom packages if you really need them, so it's not quite as cool as it was back then, but having it integrated into your package management system (and getting updates from AUR maintainers on packages based on git clones!) is still very useful.

I usually describe Arch as the simplest possible binary distribution. It's just a thin layer (pacman mostly) on top of vanilla packages. This reduces complexity a lot. I understand most of what is going on in my install because I explicitly configured everything, and packages don't contain weird patches.

While I love Arch's ethos, I think the next step in distributions is to embrace declarative configuration, non-destructive actions and reproducible packages. NixOS & GuixSD provide this. And luckily there's still a lot of Arch ethos in their implementations. Namely, that your base system is totally barebones and you need to add (declare!) whatever you want to have.

Nix and Guix node packages are 8.2 and 8.1 respectively. Nix can't seem to find a couchdb package and guix is 1.6.1

Arch package have node 8.5.0 and couch is 2.1.0

When I read blogs about new software and I can't just packagemanager install/update it on I don't really see any more value than living on windows installing exe's from websites.

Every distro I've used except arch has a real case of documentation not living up to what's actually happening. I've used fedora a lot and it's sometimes hard to find current version docs. But what's worse it hard to know if 2+ versions ago docs are ok because that particular bit hasn't changed.

Nix has node 8.4 in its unstable channel, and it seems very easy to change[0].

I don't know about couch but it has 2.0 and the change to 2.1 shouldn't be big.

[0] https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/commit/c699694cbf4400480fe4...

Yes, with nixos it's easy and _safe_ to install packages from unstable while running a stable system as default (installing stuff never breaks your system).

There's also a fairly new feature called overlays which are used to fully track upstream releases (there's overlays available for rust and Firfox Nightly for instance).

Your criticism is valid, but only temporarily. Lack of the packages in those 2 (in particularly Nix) is because the distro is pretty new in comparison and the community is not nearly as big as the ones of major distros.

On the other end, Nix's way is obviously a future in terms of package-management systems in comparison to the package-managers of the past - to a degree that I haven't seen anyone who read the docs ([1]) saying anything negative about the core ideas - I'd imagine that most people get blown away and become converts.

[1] https://nixos.org/nixos/packages.html

> While I love Arch's ethos, I think the next step in distributions is to embrace declarative configuration, non-destructive actions and reproducible packages. NixOS & GuixSD provide this. And luckily there's still a lot of Arch ethos in their implementations. Namely, that your base system is totally barebones and you need to add (declare!) whatever you want to have.

Probably the only reason I haven't given NixOS a chance beyond fiddling with it for a day or two is that I can't run binaries that weren't built from nix packages. I understand that this is essentially the whole point of the distro, but there are some times when using a downloaded binary is essentially unavoidable for me, so I'd love to be able to just say "let me use this binary, and I'll accept the fact that it'll get removed if I ever rebuild my system from scratch or go back to a previous build (even one that was built after I installed it)". It's possible that this is feasible but I just don't know how to do it, but unfortunately it's somewhat of a dealbreaker for me.

>NixOS & GuixSD provide this.

Yes, as a decade+ user of Arch, these two are the only new distros that have made me consider switching, sort of waiting for some spare time (like a free weekend) to give each of them a try.

GuixSD is really easy to get up and running. Like 5 commands: start network, partition, start guix, edit configuration and install.

I find NixOS a bit less elegant, but it has many extra features.

Same here!

Arch and Debian are both working on reproducible packages, but Debian is much further along in that process.

Arch build scripts are great, insofar as the entire packaging steps are open source and standardized, which in theory should make reproducibility easier.

I agree that Nix and Guix are superior in concept, but they don't seem production-ready.

> Nix and Guix are superior in concept, but they don't seem production-ready.

FWIW I have been using Guix and GuixSD in production since 2014. I use Guix with a cluster of several hundred nodes and on countless workstations.

> the simplest possible

I find Slackware easier to install. (IMHO, it's the sanest distribution of all. I have used many of them but kept coming back to Slackware.)

Why do you prefer Slackware to Arch?

1) Absolute stability (in my experience).

2) No dependency hell (you do not install what you will never use; one could use pkgsrc, if desired).

3) Does not use the rolling release paradigm (with the need to stay up to date, more or less, in order to avoid breaking the system).

4) More minimalist, saner feel. (It has to be more minimalist, as the maintenance team is small.)

5) No systemd (so far; not that I care much, but still feels nice).

6) Good community support.


>Slackware is the sanest distribution of all

Are you a russian physicist?

Arch focuses on being easy to understand for someone doing something weird. This comes at some cost of ease of use, simply because making something easy to use probably means making things happen 'automagically'. Things that work automagically are very hard to understand.

"One of the best things about arch is its documentation - specifically its wiki."

I don't know how it is now, it's been about a year since I needed the Arch wiki, but back then it was stuffed full of outdated articles, which were useless or even counterproductive in the context of current package versions.

A few of those exist, almost everything has caught up to systemd now though. That's a common problem with wiki's, the Ubuntu one is abysmal.

The post is from 2015. Since then the abs tool has been deprecated (use asp from AUR instead) and the i686 version is nearing end of life and will be unsupported by November 2017. If you still need 32-bit Arch Linux, you can use archlinux32 [1].

1: https://archlinux32.org

abs has been deprecated, yes. But asp has been promoted to [extra]

thanks, I had no idea about this project

I'm a big fan of the Arch User Repository (AUR). But Arch itself takes too long to configure and breaks from time to time so I switched to Manjaro which is based on Arch but has its own repos with more config files already prepared for you. Also it's not rolling release but updates once a week which allows the maintainers to check for errors before they reach the users.

Because of the AUR I actually think Manjaro can be more user friendly than distros like Ubuntu. While using Ubuntu I remember constantly having to deal with PPAs which were broken/outdated after every update. On Manjaro I can just hit 'Install' in the GUI and don't have to worry about PPAs. I even found a package specific to my university that sets up the Wlan and other things. On Ubuntu finding such an unknown, rarely used package would be much harder.

Same thing with the rolling release breaking the system happens frequently with manjaro. The latest update broke my system for example. If you google "manjaro update system broken" you will see that this happens at least once a year which is not fun.

I've been a Linux user since early Slackware. Arch is the only distro I will recommend, and, contrary to its image as a tinkerer's distro, it's the only Linux install I've had that "just works" and works. Install once, and never again. Minimal, stable. Packages are updated promptly, and I never had a problem using user repo packages.

The biggest "just works" thing for me with Arch is that, because you configure everything yourself and set it up, you know what is in your system and how it's slotted together.

Less magic, when something goes wrong, you have an idea where to look.

It's obviously not going to be true for some, but for power users, it's surprisingly great. I've been on Arch for many years myself with the same story.

If you have to configure and set up everything yourself, it can not really be called 'just works'.

I'm definitely a fan of setting things up and diving into config myself, but let's be honest : Arch is not a 'Just works' distribution. Ubuntu could be considered one, maybe elementary as well

This "configure and set up everything yourself" bit is overstated.

It's not like Ubuntu, or similar batteries-included distros, doesn't require configuration and tweaking to get it your personal liking, anyway. And it's not like you cannot make choices during installation that affect the final state of your system. The difference between the Arch manual installation process and Ubuntu's is simply that you use a CLI and start a few scripts instead of pointing and clicking.

The amount of configuration necessary is exaggerated, probably by people that want to portray Arch as this expert-user distro. Once you've done e.g. "pacman -S gnome gnome-extra sddm && systemctl enable sddm", you can just boot into your graphical desktop and start using it just the same as Ubuntu, no extra configuration steps needed.

And, like I've said, for the nth time, use Arch-Anywhere to get a similar installation to that of Ubuntu.

I've been very impressed by Arch. Yes, it's a rolling release, so you have to update your system now and then, but this is a good thing--install once and run an up-to-date system for years on end. Unlike Ubuntu, which is outdated already on install, and if you want to upgrade, good luck with that process if you've installed a sundry of packages. Eventually, with an Ubuntu system, I've always started suffering from package-related problems, breakage, dependency issues, etc.

I won't detail all the problems I've had with other distros, suffice to say I've had none of those using Arch.

These supposed to "just work" distros haven't lived up to that in my experience.

"Yes, it's a rolling release, so you have to update your system now and then, but this is a good thing--install once and run an up-to-date system for years on end."

In my experience, this also lets the system collect all kinds of cruft over time, which can definitely impact stability and predictability when it comes to updates, unless you're extremely vigilant about housekeeping.

A pacman -Syu a day keeps the doctor away.

As long as you remember to check the website for manual intervention requirements....

Which is exactly my point.

Put off updating for a couple of weeks because you're got better things to do? You may end up borking your system unwittingly.

Not subscribed to the Arch news feed and intimately familiar with the packages installed on your system? You may end up borking your system unwittingly.

Arch is good for dedicated power users, who want to tinker around. But most of us just want to get stuff done, not mess with the OS.

Stop perpetuating this myth that you have to mess around and tinker to keep Arch in working condition. It's one update command, and it's not something you need to do daily. You can put it off for weeks, all that will happen is you'll have a bigger download.

I use Arch exactly because I want to get shit done. My way.

I ran Arch for ~9 years, and there were several cases of OS/boot-breaking updates, requiring me to boot from a USB stick and manually fix things when the updates decided to shit all over the system. Having to manually cross-reference an update list with a list of "oh damn, you need to do these manual steps or you'll break everything" errata from the Arch news feed is not my idea of a good time.

The only reason the Arch forums are so informative, is because people run into stupid issues on a regular basis.

Mint updates itself and gets out of my way. That makes it ideal for actually getting shit done.


Mint packages tend to be quite old, even older than Ubuntu. This is no good if you want to run close to, or, upstream versions, which Arch excels at. Of course, you can install software not using your package manager, but that defeats the point of having centralized package management in the first place and can cause problems.

I used to think I wanted the very latest version of every single application, not matter what.

These days, only Chrome, Spotify, Qbittorrent and a couple of others are the newest versions (through PPAs), everything else is just stock and works perfectly fine.

I'm not even talking about end-user applications. You have different needs as a developer. I need libraries and compilation chains to be up to date.

So you add backports or PPAs for those exact libraries.

Which, in the long run, and sometimes short term, causes problems.

Sorry, but that is exactly my experience. Over and over. Arch breaking every couple of weeks in a time consuming way. Maybe your setup is so minimal that you aren't affected? For me it was "oh my, what's broken now again?". This really hurts, if you're a freelancer and time is your own money and not your employer's.

As I said, it's a different definition of "just works" - obviously no non-technical person is going to run Arch - it's never going to be Ubuntu and it's not trying to be. I wasn't trying to make that claim.

As a power-user, Arch "just works" for me far more than other distros have, because I know the system and it's simple, I've never had a problem where I didn't have a handle on it.

I can affirm that. I don't understand how Arch gets this reputation for breaking during an upgrade. In the four years I've been using Arch on a variety of systems, I've never had anything break in a way that didn't have a trivial, obvious fix, and most of the time pacman points out potential problems during the upgrade. Arch has allowed me to spend way less time on system administration than I used to before I switched. Are people doing "sudo make install" or running binary driver installers as root? Or maybe it's because I switched right after the systemd transition and missed all the fun? Maybe I'm just lucky?

Do you understand the difference between Arch and distros like Debian? When GNOME ships a new version, it almost immediately hits the Pacman repos. Do that for every package and you're going to have integration issues. Your users also get to be the guinea pigs for new releases. Ship buggy packages and sooner or later your users' systems will install a critical package with bugs. This is why Arch gets "this reputation for breaking during an upgrade." And yes, you're just lucky. When I hear Arch users saying "it hasn't broken for me!" I hear "my girlfriend and I don't use protection, and she's never gotten pregnant!"

Right, this is what people always say about Arch. And yet, in practice, on a variety of hardware, I've had nary a problem in the four years I've been using it. Contrast this with big-release distros, where I've literally never had a successful upgrade between major versions. But maybe the key point is in your second sentence. I've never had a problem with Gnome breaking because I have no interest in running a DE, and even on those systems where I've got one installed, I boot to the console and start i3 or sway. If Gnome was broken, I'd never notice.

And this might be the key point: if a package like Gnome is broken, I personally blame the package rather than the OS. I don't see a GUI desktop as integral to the operating system, so when I say that Arch has been trouble-free, I mean that I'm always able to boot to a usable system console and get my work done. So that's my disclaimer, and probably the big reason people shouldn't use Arch: if you rely on a DE, and see the system as broken without one, you're probably going to experience way more breakage than I've reported.

Fair enough, every time I've used Arch I've gotten burned by an update 2-3 months in, ranging from annoyances to an unusable system. I like to think I'm pretty good with Linux having used it on the desktop and sysadmining for a long time, but I put Arch in the same category as Gentoo, cool but too finicky and fragile.

> it almost immediately hits the Pacman repos.

I tried Arch and it's not the case, my examples:

PostgreSQL: https://www.postgresql.org/docs/9.6/static/release-9-6-2.htm... 9.6.2 released 2017-02-09, in Arch repos - https://git.archlinux.org/svntogit/packages.git/log/trunk?h=... - almost a MONTH later. 9.6 released 2016-09-29, in Arch repos - 2016-10-29 (version 9.6.1, they skipped 9.6) - again, a MONTH later.

Had issues with outdated Node.js and some other package I can't recall.

To be honest, up to date packages for me were only available with brew in macOS.

There's a difference between running on the [testing] repos, which do what you say, and the regular default repos, which wait for packages to graduate from [testing] before rolling them out.

Only a small percentage of packages go through [testing]. Typically only when problems are expected. [community] and [extra] require no testing, just that the packager says "good enough for me." [core] is held to higher standards.

It's meant as in what packages go in, what DE you use, which mirrors do you pull in from etc. so that you know what is going on in your system, despite this, it still 'just works', that's the beauty of it.

I would call it 'just works as you spected' contrary to 'just works as someone else spected'. Neither is good or bad, it depends of what are you looking for.

Let me stress the "install once, and never again" part - this is why I'm using arch. It's the first (binary) distribution I tried that eight years down the line still works as well as the day I first installed it.

Have you ever tried NixOS?

Nix takes the clean install to an elegant extreme. You can totally break your install, and then boot the exact system you had before just by picking the GRUB entry. It's amazing.

You're recommending a rolling distro? I remember some people at work using Arch they did it for couple of month and then switch back to Ubuntu because random things would break afters updates, dhcp, printing, X server ect ...

Arch is great for home / hack stuff, for work you want something stable.

I have been using archlinux for close to a decade now. Updates were never a problem as much as people make it out to be. But even then I don't notice as many issues since I switched to an LTS kernel on my machines.

If your hardware is old enough, I recommend using the LTS kernel and kernel modules.

I'm running linux-lts on my kaby lake i7-7700k and it works fine. I haven't used linux-lts in the past, but I opted to do a ZFS on root install so I wanted it to be more stable.

In my experience this is no longer the case, anecdotal of course.

Seriously? Arch has always been "works now, breaks every couple of weeks in a spectacular and time consuming way" for me. It reminds me of my Gentoo days when I was a student and had time to burn on endless sessions of configurations and debugging. Every few years I let some avid fan convince me that it has gotten really better. Always ending in the same time consuming nightmare. When I was a freelancer, that time was precious, and I used Ubuntu on my laptop to have a modern and stable desktop. Sorry, but I can only shake my head in disbelief at the glowing praise I read here.

What exactly breaks for you every couple of weeks?

I used to love Arch wholeheartedly. The systemd transition left a bad taste in my mouth, and I haven't felt like I've had full control of my system since then, but I periodically try other Linux distributions but I always end up coming back to Arch. My experience with other distributions always goes something like this:

Oh this is nice and easy

Hm, there isn't a package for this thing I love. I guess I'll build it myself...

[Several hours pass]

Ok, looks like I just need to get XYZ working and I'm good, lemme google how to do that for this distro

It looks like this is automatically configured using some Windows-style control panel hidden somewhere. Google suggests seven different places I could look for this option, corresponding to previous versions of the distro...

Wouldn't editing a config in /etc/ be easier than this? I'm reinstalling Arch...

I'm with you.

I cut my teeth on Slackware, then Debian and was a happy Arch user for years up until the systemd transition. I'm negative on it in general, but the upgrade completely borked my system. For the life of me could not find a way to recover it. And I know my way around the system...

Switched to OpenBSD and haven't looked back since. There's not all that much to tweak, mainly because I'm always in console. If I need to browse websites I can use my company issued mbp or my ipad.

Have you tried Gentoo?

I switched from Arch to Gentoo a few years ago (before systemd was on the radar). After installation, which is admittedly more involved, I found it felt much the same as Arch for day-to-day usage. And, for all the possible criticisms of Gentoo, you'll definitely feel in full control of your system.

I recently installed Artix Linux[1] (Arch with openrc) on a spare hard drive on my laptop, and although the GUI installer gave me a few issues, installing manually from the text ISO as I would normally with Arch worked flawlessly, and I've yet to run into any issues with it. I'm working up the courage to switch to it as my main driver on my desktop.

[1]: http://www.artixlinux.org

So what is the issue with systemd? Any strictly better alternative out there?

Last time I did the research there wasn't a striiiictly better alternative to systemd, which is rather unfortunate. There are flame wars beyond number on the subject and I'd rather avoid starting another one. For my two cents: I don't like how it's gobbling up all the functionality that used to be owned by separately maintained and tried/tested processes, in a way that seems to limit my ability to put together a minimalistic system, and the developers' attitude toward security and how they've handled criticism is not so great. I'll use it, but I don't like it.

For me, there are ecosystem/adoption reasons for why any alternative is a tough sell - any distro basically has to have the startup system baked into their package manager, if you're going to be able to install packages that depend on daemons, etc. So if updated package availability is a concern (and it is for me), I need a popular enough distro. And basically all the popular distros use systemd. So unless I want to make some pretty big compromises or do a ton of work, I'm stuck with it.

There are alternatives.

* https://framagit.org/taca/archnosh

You can still use OpenRC. No support, but it might work.

The best feeling in the world is running `ps aux` on a fresh Arch installation and having the output all fit on half the screen, and you can precisely identify why every single thing line is there. And then having that still be true two months later.

Volunteer from Arch Linux here.

I ask this whenever a big thread comes up: are there any packages in the AUR that you'd really like to see be made into an official package?

Hi, Arch user here, thanks for your work.

I'd love to see VSCode[1] in the official repos, Atom is there and VSCode is arguably becoming even more popular now.

1 - https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/visual-studio-code

Hi, I'm the maintainer of that package! Unlike building from source [1], that package uses the official binary distribution and is not MIT licensed. So it might be a better idea to move the source build [1] to [community].

[1] https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/visual-studio-code-oss

Cool, yeah, definitely looks like a better package for inclusion. Thanks for maintaining the package!

Thank you for your work.

I'd really like to see the web server caddy included in official packages.

Another Arch user here - thanks for your work! A few packages that I'd like to see brought over from the AUR would be git-cola (Git GUI), corebird (Gtk Twitter app), and tilix (Gtk terminal with advanced features).

rcm, the dotfile manager! I use it get fresh systems going. FreeBSD and OpenBSD have a pkg/port, but neither Debian nor Arch currently have an official package.


Should also mention Blink, the softphone. Looks and works better than Linphone (in the offical repos) in my experience.



latte-dock(unknown for some people, but it's famous among KDE users)


qownnotes (one of the best FOSS Evernote alternatives)

google-drive-ocamlfuse: for simple fuse access to Google Drive

firefox-dev: as someone else has already mentioned Firefox Nightly



Doesn't look like this has been mentioned, but the package names in Arch are beautifully done. No more `libwhatever-2dev` or `whatever9.6-libs`. Just `whatever` and everything you need is installed. That package manager is also one of the fastest of all the distros I've tried.

I briefly considered Arch, a few years back that I was having a relationship crisis with my Fedora.

Unfortunately it was a no-go for me for the following reasons, but the situation may have been improved since then:

1) Back then it was only recently that they had instituted package signing and verification for their official packages. Ouch! That was something that most distros had for years back then. So security wasn't their primary concern.

2)There were 2 or 3 package managers. pacman was the one, don't remember the others and I didn't understand their purpose.

3)They were touting abundance of packages, but these were mostly AUR packages. AUR packages, back then at least, were completely unvetted, arbitrary packages provided by... anyone basically. And the official Arch documentation was crystal clear that they don't support them and that the user, individually, should inspect each one for their integrity or possible malicious intentions. Uh, no thanks.

Hope the situation has improved because I was planning to give it one more try at some point.

I think all of the 'other package managers' are just wrappers around pacman to give more functionality. I haven't seen any competing completely different package managers.

Packaging, yeah, some stuff is only AUR, but that's generally a better starting point than "well here is the source". In general, 99% of what I use is available in proper packages. Obviously that'll depend on what you use.

> generally a better starting point than "well here is the source"

Definitely not when it comes to security. We are talking about packages, which means even legit, well-intended programs can be weaponized by the packager.

That's a hell of an attack vector.

I meant more as in "as someone wanting to use something", rather than the security aspect.

Most AUR packages I have seen have been incredibly easy to read - if you really don't want to use them, it's still a good framework for making your own packages much more easily, so you can install from source without dumping unmanaged stuff into your system.

I think Debian has a better process in which they vet packagers. It's a bit more tedious but I'd put my trust more easily in such a system.

> Most AUR packages I have seen have been incredibly easy to read

It's not about quality, but rather more about quantity. I don't have the time to vet every package.

Vetting a package is as easy as reading through its PKGBUILD. Here's a sample one: https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/tree/PKGBUILD?h=pacau...

makepkg pulls source files and possibly patches, and then compiles them and installs them according to the instructions. It makes life simple.

like COPR in fedora or PPA in ubuntu surely

Which I haven't ever used because I never needed them? (Talking about COPR, I don't use ubuntu).

In contrast with AUR without which you don't have much of a useful desktop experience.

That's just not true. My desktop is Arch and I run maybe 5 or so AUR packages - and they are all for dev tools. You can definitely run a completely functional desktop without them.

Well then, that's what I wanted to hear.

Next thing would be for Arch to officially support SELinux and we're good to go :D

There is a policy where, if an AUR package gets popular enough (I think it is around 15 'votes' in favor), it is added to the official repository.

There are notable exceptions where the package license doesn't allow that. E.g. chrome (not chromium) spotify and dropbox.

I have been using Arch both for my work and private desktop for about ten years now. It is an absolute joy to work with. The biggest drawback is the very occasional breakage after doing a system upgrade. I would estimate such an upgrade breaks the system once or twice every year on average, although everything is much more stable for the last few years. I upgrade my system at least once per week.

Overall, highly recommended distribution, even for beginners, assuming you are willing to read and understand the excellent installation guide.

That's probably very system dependent and usage dependent. I've been running a desktop workstation with Arch for 11 years, and experienced serious breakage (kernel didn't boot) perhaps once and some annoyances a few times (systemd migration, freetype2 rendering changes, wayland becoming somehow default and being hard to change back to Xorg). The bulk of the issues is with a need to manually upgrade non-desktop software. (PostgreSQL migrations between major versions, that need to be planned more carefully, etc.) Pacdiff helps greatly here, for config updates, too.

Over 11 years I've done only one re-install when moving to SSD. (It was not really necessary, I could have just as well copied rootfs content over and be done with it. But I wanted a clean slate after 7 years or so.) No need for big upgrades is absolutely the biggest benefit of Arch Linux for me. Understanding and being able to fix stuff myself is another one. Close second is makepkg/PKGBUILDs being simplicity itself and a joy to work with. And then wiki/docs.

Though, I was a Slackware and Linux From Scratch user before Arch, so I might be blind to things that other people would call breakage. :]

Subscribe to the breakages mailing list and this will never happen again. Will get <10 emails a year.

Do you have a link? I could not find it here: https://lists.archlinux.org/listinfo/

>I’ve configured the compiler once to work in an optimized way for my specific CPU, then compiled all the LXDE packages from ABS and installed them. I noticed they were running a little bit faster after that.

I would love to hear about what configuring the compiler to work in an optimized way for your specific CPU entails.

In arch the compile flags are set in /etc/makepkg.conf.

Got my system compiled with

    CFLAGS="-march=native -O3 -flto -pipe -fstack-protector-strong --param=ssp-buffer-size=4"

    CXXFLAGS="-march=native -O3 -flto -pipe -fstack-protector-strong --param=ssp-buffer-size=4"




So how does this set of options tend to differ from those used by the guys who build the normal binary packages?

Default is

    CFLAGS="-march=x86-64 -mtune=generic -O2 -pipe -fstack-protector-strong -fno-plt"
    CXXFLAGS="-march=x86-64 -mtune=generic -O2 -pipe -fstack-protector-strong -fno-plt"
which ensure that it would still work with an AMD Athlon64 from 2003, but you don't get any "new" things such as SSE4, AVX, etc. unless the developer hand-codes specific cases for these CPUs.

They probably compile it with generic flags to support x86 or x64 for having more than a handful of package repositories for different architectures, as opposed to having hundreds / thousands of package repositories for every processor released out there. When a package is compiled down to your specific processor it is not guaranteed at all to run on another system. This is also done by people who use Gentoo as well as other source based distributions.

export CC=gcc -march=native

Can you explain?

Doesn't "-march=native" just set the target CPU architecture to be that of the host you're running on? Isn't that the default behaviour anyway?

I believe that by default, gcc is somewhat conservative with its target architecture, ignoring a few of the newest features in favour of better cross-system compatibility. With that flag, and possibly -mtune=native, you get the full power of your CPU back.

A lot of pros and cons thrown around here and there, with each of them having their merits. I like Arch because it lets me piece up the OS that I want to use.

Of course, it has its limits and it probably isn't 100% to your liking, but it's pretty much there, and the best thing is since I tweaked everything myself, I know what's wrong when things go wrong.

Like most people, I had my fair share of bad surprises after updates, but these errors don't go unnoticed and so far I am able to solve them all following the solutions posted in the forums, it's not that hard. Pacman also cache your old packages so downgrading is also relatively painless.

I recommend Arch to anyone who wants to get to know better how their computer works. Some of its shortcoming are annoying, yes, but not a dealbreaker IMO.

Been running Arch since March, and I have to say that, after years of trying Ubuntu/Debian/Fedora/openSUSE unsuccessfully, this is the one that finally made me switch to desktop Linux.

The documentation is the main advantage for me. The Arch Wiki is a real treasure trove. I have learned more about the internals of Linux in the past few months than I have in the few years before that. And that's coming from someone who did a full stage one Gentoo install back in 2007!

I was always very skeptical of rolling releases until I tried Arch. I always feared an "unstable" system. In practice, however, I never ran into many problems, and when I did, a full system upgrade a few days later usually fixed the issue. The maintainers are very reactive.

I fell out of love with Arch after the 3rd time I had to fix my system after an update (and this was NOT because I didn't read the release notes). I still very much like Arch's approach, but I'm a bit of a burnt child and won't use it on my main machine.

For beginners https://antergos.com/ is a clean version of Arch just with a simple installer. So you get all the benefits of Arch with no bloat (like Manjaro) and don't have to learn installing the OS manually.

I may try that next time. I'm a beginner and used https://arch-anywhere.org/ to install. It was as easy for me as installing Ubuntu.

I use, and have been very happy with, antergos. From install to a pleasantly configured GUI is very simple, and from there it's basically just another Arch machine with nice defaults.

What kind of bloat does Manjaro have?

Here is why I use Arch Linux:

(0) I'm somewhere at the middle in the spectrum between a noob and a power user. My parents think of me as the latter, but most technically competent people I've met think of me as the former.

(1) I'm lazy when it comes to computer stuff: If I'm given a bare-bones system, I won't bother installing and configuring more than is strictly necessary to start getting work done (not necessarily in the most efficient way). And conversely, if I'm given a bloated system, I won't bother removing what I don't need to use. Even worse, I often end up rationalizing that “I might need it someday”.

(2) I want stuff to both just work and be easy to understand. Alas, software that works automagically is usually complex, so a compromise is needed. The compromise I've settled for is that I'm willing to put just enough effort into learning from online guides and fora, so long as I'm not confronted with too much complexity. If I can't learn how to configure your software in 30 minutes, I won't use it. (The only exception is Emacs.)

Arch fits my needs pretty nicely: It provides good defaults for the low-level system stuff that I don't want to bother learning, and it provides no defaults whatsoever for the user-facing stuff that I do want to control.

So why exactly is Arch a better Linux distro compared with the rest ? There's no "sellingpoint" in the article except this "dig" at the other distros :

"apt-get dist-upgrade or something similar every 6 months or so (and risk breaking everything)"

For me, the biggest point in favor of Arch is that it is a binary distro that seems to be closest to "vanilla" - meaning that packages are generally built directly from upstream, without heavy distro-specific patchsets applied by maintainers. There's still plenty of patches, mind you, but they're usually there to ensure that it builds and installs correctly in Arch environment, not to change functionality.

I also find Pacman to be noticeably faster than all other binary package managers. I just did a full package upgrade on a laptop that hasn't been upgraded since the beginning of this year, and yet it was able to compute a (fairly lengthy) list of packages to upgrade faster than I could blink.

Making /usr/bin/python point to Python 3 doesn't sound very vanilla to me.

He defines 'vanilla' to mean 'build from upstream with little distro-specific changes'. So what does this have to do with making Python 3 the default python interpreter? I bet this symlink is not even part of the python source code; it's always a choice made by the distro maintainers.

Arch is known to be always cutting edge even if this sometimes means breaking stuff so this decision is not exactly surprising.

Removing an API that vast majority of Python programs were using (at that time), and replacing it with something incompatible is not a "little distro-specific change".

At the point where that was done, there was no formalized convention on it. Arch maintainers decided that it's preferable to default to the latest and greatest (which seems to be the general policy, and it meshes well with a bleeding-edge rolling release IMO). It was a mistake for Python specifically because of idiosyncrasies of Python 2 vs 3 story, and they have since corrected that mistake.

> So why exactly is Arch a better Linux distro compared with the rest ?

I've used a bunch of distros over the years, starting at Red Hat Linux 5.2 when I was a kid, Mandrake linux 7,8, Ubuntu from 8.04 to 12.04, Debian stable, testing, unstable, sid, and finally Arch.

Arch has been, by far, the most hassle-free when I see some software on the web and want to use it on my machine. Also the only one where I wasn't able to botch the system as to make it either unable to install any package or unbootable, while it happened quite often with Debian and Ubuntu.

AUR is fantastic, both as an user and a software author: it means that I just have to make a small script to make my software available easily to other arch users, vs the ungodly process to get a package into Debian and Ubuntu ; also I can be fairly confident that my users will always have a somewhat up-to-date version of my software.

Pacman installs stuff much faster than apt or yum in my experience; updates seem almost instantaneous. The best is that as a software developer you always get the most recent version of libraries and compilers: gcc 7.2, qt 5.9, etc. Likewise for desktop environments: KDE updates come very quickly.

Some packages also have "git" versions available on the AUR; for instance the creative coding toolkit openframeworks is available in the AUR both as the latest stable version, 0.9.8, released a year and so ago, and the latest nightly git version which has a lot of improvements. It's very useful if you report a bug in some software and the author fixes it in git master : means that you can often just do `yaourt -S software-i-use-git` and have it be recompiled automatically with the fix, vs trying to follow the build procedure yourself.

If you have a recent computer, older kernels and mesa sometimes don't cut it while in arch you get the latest stable kernel very shortly after its release.

It uses systemd meaning that the general system config is very simple.

In my opinion, the selling point is that arch requires you to take interest into how it works and some level of understanding of the major parts.

To get a working arch install you'll be taken through The Install Guide that summarises the steps necessary to have a base install with links to relevant specialised articles. Once you have a bootable system, they provide links for further customisation if your system.

The amazing thing is that by contrast to ubuntu et al. you're by default left with the strict minimal bootable linux system and anything else you want/need on your machine, it's explicitely your responsability to ensure proper operation (dependency versioning, program specific configuration and maintenance). It's fairly overwhelming initially, but the tools arch gives you to cope with the "it's your mess" are second to none (pacman/yaourt is amazing)

This is both the great strength and great weakness of Arch. I did use it for awhile but in the end I got tired of playing sys admin on my home machine.

The nature of the system is that updates can absolutely bork the system at any time so you have to keep up to date with potential issues before doing updates. Many other distros do this work for you so you only have to worry every couple of years (or six months if you want).

Don't get me wrong, Arch is great if you're willing to keep up the effort but it does require more attention than more mainstream distros.

Arch takes real care not to let the system bork at any time due to an update. There is a very clear caveat to that. Check the arch news site before you do a system update. About 4 times a year, they make a potentially braking change, and inform users of this via that site.

OpenSUSE has the option for slim installs, has a rolling release version and a LTS kernel version. I'm a big fan.

I have CentOS at work, with a couple Arch boxes that predate me. I do not agree with is statement, "updates never break anything". Ours have a history of breaking, which is why I assume they were abandoned, but we do run custom software.

You should quickly edit your comment s/yaourt/pacaur/g.

No one has recommended yaourt for years, but thanks to SEO I guess it still comes up https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/AUR_helpers#Comparison_...

Really? First time I hear of it being subpar. Fwiw, I've never had an issue with yaourt that wasn't pebkac

It's something you kinda have to try to actually feel the difference. I can tell you a few things I noticed after a few months of use:

-Pacman (their package manager) is amazing - and if you want to install community packages from the AUR[0], you can use yaourt (if they've got dependencies on other AUR packages), or just git clone the package and run makepkg -si

I've never had any problems with it, and I've messed around a lot with my system.

-No bloat at all, you'll learn a whole lot from setting up your own system

-No choices are made for you, it's yours and yours alone.

-It's actually surprisingly stable, though you should be careful before you upgrade.

-It's always bleeding edge (maybe not always a good thing, hence you have to think before upgrading packages)

I have to read the article now though.


Feels like it's great for hobbyists and enthusiasts. I use Ubuntu LTS as my primary desktop OS for work. It sounds like my work would slow down a lot if I had to worry about this other stuff all the time. Maybe I'll install it on an extra drive at some point and tinker with it.

"No bloat at all"

Is this really, honestly a problem anymore?

I'm running Linux Mint 18.2 on my 2011-vintage refurbed T420 (4GB RAM, 320GB old-fashioned hard drive) and it feels every bit as speedy as Arch on the same machine.

> pacman is amazing

From a user point of view, how would you notice this "amazingness"? Having used yum, dnf, zypper, apt-get, apt, emerge and also pacman for a while I only saw very superficial differences and maybe formatting. (packaging is different,yes, but usage? Also speed is apples to oranges and "pretty" output I don't really care for.)

> no bloat at all.

_Any distro_ does that. Either use the netinstall or open the archinstall guide and replace pacstrap by debootstrap. Heck, for opensuse you even get the full package manager during installation and can select/deselect any package you want. How is arch any different?

> surprisingly stable, though you should be careful before you upgrade.

So much less stable than, say, debian testing.

The rolling release model - you always have the latest stuff. Latest git, firefox, pidgin, all the latest released version of dev libraries and tools. The AUR is handy for installing proprietary stuff like google-chrome, hipchat, no-machine, or packaging up things you install outside Arch but need e.g. old free software that isn't in Arch.

Generally Arch doesn't patch upstream software unless it is absolutely necessary and they are keen to drop patches when an issue is fixed, so if you read on a project's website that the config file is in /etc/whatever.conf then it will be. In other distros they move stuff around in a more capricious way.

The dist-upgrade thing is also kinda true. It's not that it breaks everything - I use Ubuntu too, and I don't think I've ever had an upgrade break on me in 10+ years - but you need to set aside a few hours to upgrade the world each time. With a rolling release you can spread those few hours out over the 6 months. Just a few minutes a day or per week. Also, because you go from one release to the next, as the upstream developer envisioned, the compatibility of programs between versions tends to work out OK. Whereas in a longer-term release there can be big version jumps that the upstream dev did not really anticipate, causing things to break. For example, maybe some feature gets deprecated and there are some months were releases show a warning "hey, this feature is going away, do this other thing instead". You can sort it out early in Arch. But in another distro, you go from the release with a feature to a release without it, and no smooth transition between versions. And all at once, so "everything" breaks/changes that same day.

I have been an arch user for more than 10 years now and three things make the difference for me:

- a very mature community of users. The arch docs and forums are really good. If you ever have a problem, you'll find a solution in no more than a few clicks

- an extremely tidy package manager. The choice of packages is huge and - more importantly - creating and maintaining a package is extremely easy. Way easier than making .debs or .rpms

- it just works. I've used arch for more than a decade on all my machines, including servers. I never had major issues. Annoyances coming from upstream are unavoidable of course, but the distro is well organised that identify the problem and rolling back is super easy.

I hate the "it just works" marketing bs. Sounds exactly like Apple. It didn't work when I tried to update after being away for 3 months. It wouldn't even boot because they changed to systemd in the meantime. So it only works if you sink in significant time.

> I hate the "it just works" marketing bs. Sounds exactly like Apple. It didn't work when I tried to update after being away for 3 months

It does indeed 'just work', it only doesn't if you fail to understand what rolling release means. There is usually a painless way to upgrade even after a long time, you just have to use pacdiff and read archlinux.org a bit more carefully than if you update daily/weekly.

Also, how does Apple not 'just work'?*

* 'just works' refers to a general idea of it being in good working condition and not behaving unexpectedly, if you use it in a reasonable manner, it doesn't mean that every cranky misconfiguration of a tool you just came up with will somehow read you mind and deduce how you intend it to behave.

"Oh it just works, as long as you read the documentation before every update and follow the update news feed, which usually has a bunch of information on packages your either don't use or don't care about. And you may have to fix shit manually. So yeah, it Just Works."

With Mint (or Mac OS or Windows or Ubuntu), it updates automatically. Or if it doesn't, it flashes an icon, I click the icon, it updates for me.

That's what "it just works" means.

a. There's no need to 'read the documentation' before every update a quick glance at the news feed will do.

b. macOS doesn't track and update every package on your system.

c. in that sense, nothing just works, i.e. had to repair Windows after a botched MS update quite a few times and while macOS is not usually completely broken after significant updates, (it shouldn't, they control the hw), it tends to be broken in subtle and annoying ways nonetheless, 10.7 for example was particularly bad.

d. That Ubuntu just works is your experience, there are plenty of people who try it and it either cannot detect something, or the GPU driver is broken or Wifi doesn't work, (see the reports on that regarding 16.04 LTS) etc. so it is very subjective, but if you don't experience these issues with Ubuntu, it's great. All I'm saying is that it is the same way for Arch.

"a. There's no need to 'read the documentation' before every update a quick glance at the news feed will do."

That is part of the documentation. Users shouldn't have to subscribe to a news feeds in order to correctly update their systems. Do you subscribe to Microsoft's or Apple's update news feed? If you do, you're unlike 99.999% of users.

"b. macOS doesn't track and update every package on your system."

Mint does. Ubuntu does. A large number of other desktop-oriented distros do, without requiring their users to read news feeds for instructions on manual procedures.

"c. in that sense, nothing just works, i.e. had to repair Windows after a botched MS update quite a few times and while macOS is not usually completely broken after significant updates, (it shouldn't, they control the hw), it tends to be broken in subtle and annoying ways nonetheless, 10.7 for example was particularly bad."

Shit happens. Shit just seems to happen a lot more often on Arch (and Gentoo, for that matter).

"d. That Ubuntu just works is your experience, there are plenty of people who try it and it either cannot detect something, or the GPU driver is broken or Wifi doesn't work, (see the reports on that regarding 16.04 LTS) etc. so it is very subjective, but if you don't experience these issues with Ubuntu, it's great. All I'm saying is that it is the same way for Arch."

I used Arch for ~9 years. I've had systems where it worked fine, and systems that required a lot of fiddling to work.

In contrast, Mint and Ubuntu has worked flawlessly, on those same systems.

But the perception that "shit happens way more on Arch or Gentoo" is your subjective opinion, because that's how it happened to you, others see it differently, I still remember the very first Ubuntu I've tried (6.10) being garbage on my hw compared to Mandrake, but that didn't seem to be the case for a lot of people evidently since it became so popular.

There are a lot more updates on Arch that require manual actions to be taken in order to work correctly, when compared to Mint or Ubuntu.

Similarly, the config file merging process on Arch is basically 100% manual (I know pacdiff makes it a little easier, but still).

> There are a lot more updates on Arch that require manual actions to be taken in order to work correctly, when compared to Mint or Ubuntu.

There's more, but I don't think a lot more. Also, if the automatic config in Ubuntu fails you, it's a lot harder to get in and manually override their settings.

When's the last time you had to read documentation to update your Mac? To most people "it just works" means crash free and hassle free, i.e. your grandma can use it. I never said it was inappropriate for Apple, though it was often implied competetitors don't "just work".

It really does require you to be subscribed to the Arch news feed, in case any packages require special manual procedures to install correctly.

And don't wait too long between updates, because apparently some newer versions of packages don't know how to properly upgrade from older versions.

I do understand your point of view. Technology hardly ever "just works". Probably the only device that never went guru meditation on me is my microwave.

Having said this, when it comes to updates, archlinux is really orders of magnitudes more efficient than any other distro I have ever tried.

> So why exactly is Arch a better Linux distro compared with the rest

I'm a former Arch user, and I can't honestly think of any concrete reason that would matter to most people. In my case it was first and foremost a tinkering project, as Arch provides an easy and thoroughly documented way to assemble a bespoke Linux environment.

A more glib answer would be "because Arch gives you street cred without the hassle of Gentoo"

It's a system where you don't have a bunch of preinstalled bloatware you don't need, giving you a better idea of what is actually on your system, meaning also a better idea of how to tweak it or have an idea of what's going on if something unexpected happens.

The package manager is much simpler and more transparent than apt, i.e. it apt always felt like a more obfuscated package manager, it writes to files I don't know about on its own, processes various triggers etc. paceman can also do this, but it's PKGBUILD format is really straightforward text description on how to build and configure a package, giving you greater visibility as to what's going on.

Then there's the rolling release model, not having to reinstall is extremely nice.

Overall, it is just a very clean distort, where the tools are intuitive and transparent and you can administer the system as fast as you can type in just a few days.

Plus, the Arch Wiki is by far the best source on all things Linux.

Less "downstream" patches to packages than most other distros. This is consequence and a prerequisite of rolling release.

Debian-based distros can have quite a lot of downstream modifications, the OpenSSL random bug being the most infamous. A lot of this is due to having long term releases which causes the need to have new software work with old dependency libraries and vice versa.

And he didn't mention that in Arch a routine upgrade can break everything which rather doesn't happen in the release-based distros. It has happened to me more that once over the last 8 years. I still use it nevertheless, but it's definitely not for everyone.

This Never happened to me in 5 years of arch. I always considered this a hoax. How did Arch break?

To name a few: when systemd was introduced; when there were changes made to the file structure (moving everything to /usr); when kde4 was replaced with kde5. And there were more issues, I just don't remember all of them. Reading the news before the update could have helped sometimes but I don't do that every time I execute `pacman -Syu` for various reasons; and sometimes problems are unexpected or just bugs fixed on the next update.

I will second this, I faced these exact same issues, for the same reasons.

If you don't subscribe to the Arch news feed, you're taking a chance on every upgrade, that your system will not boot correctly.

Yeah but that's the point of Arch: teaching new blood to RTFM when it's patchday.

You can trivially fubar an arch install by updating your base install+user additions if you're not in the loop with the releases of whatever you installed.

That also makes it a bad distro to choose unless you want to be a hardcore sysadmin and micromanage your personal system.

That's generally what distro maintainers are supposed to minimize for the end users.

I see people recommending Arch for newbies, who maybe just want to dip their toes. They're figuratively thrown into the deep end, and I just don't think that's a particularly good idea for most people.

Yeah if you're looking for easy and risk free, yiu should stay with windows or mac. OTOH, if you want linux to stop being a black box, install arch. Just don't expect it to be your stable day to day workhorse with no effort.

I used Arch for ~9 years. I like it, but it absolutely isn't a good beginner distro, nor a good distro for people who just want to get on with life.

Mint (or Ubuntu) is a perfectly good alternative to Windows or Mac OS for an easy and "risk free" experience. Most people are perfectly satisfied with a black box OS.

Not that Mint has to be a black box at all. There's plenty of room for hacking around, if you're into that.

For me, a simple alert "Hey, this update can break things, do you know what you're doing?" in case of a risky update would be enough.

Which is what Mint does by default. It shows the update, but doesn't select it automatically.

I used Arch Linux around 4 years back. I did a routine upgrade and it broke my system.

What is this rolling release fiasco? Even Ubuntu, which I use now has a "release" (technically an pt-get upgrade), almost every other day. But I've never had it break my system. If you keep your Ubuntu updated a dist-upgrade works just fine.

I might try Arch again, but for now I'm sticking to Ubuntu.

No judgement, I've been in the same place.

What you describe sounds like the consequence of installing a lot of packages. Arch "prefers" when you strip it down to what you need, if only because that way you don't need to worry about too many version mismatches.

So if you actually try to use the system for more than a handful of things, it tends to break? That's not very reassuring.

You put it well in another thread with "it absolutely isn't [...] a good distro for people who just want to get on with life."

If you're looking for your computer to Just Work(tm) look elsewhere. However I stand by my comment about it being an outstanding learning tool for the curious & future sysadmins.

In years I might have had 3 breakage, it didn't feel like a specific issue because for instance ubuntu upgrade install didn't work well enough either.

Not really sure, I think the best Linux distort is whichever one you're the most comfortable and productive using. No need in forcing yourself to use a distro that gets in your way.

From my personal experience: upstream packages get updated a lot more frequently, even faster than in debian-testing repo.

Arch should probably be compared to Debian unstable, not testing. Testing can be pretty slow, especially close to the next stable release - and that's by design.

I like arch Linux, I just wish they had a simple installer -- these days I tend to have lots of vms hanging around, and I haven't found a super simple way of making a quick arch VM. There doesn't seem to be any official vagrant boxes for example.

I can believe the lack of a simple installer is what has kept the quality up -- it is a way of signalling users should be prepared to use the terminal.

Here you go: https://antergos.com/ In opposition to Manjaro (which is an Arch fork), Antergos is Arch + install GUI with default desktop env.

Thanks, I will give it a try!

Antergos[0] might be what you're looking for, never tried it myself though.


"Always Fresh. Never Frozen."

Sounds like a vegetables commercial :)

Please don't recommend Arch Anywhere. It uses an unsigned package repo as part of their install.

Only if you enable it; if it's the third party, Arch-Anywhere-specific stuff you're thinking of.

It's still unsigned. It's 2017. You are trying to run a software repository. It's plain lazyness on their part.

You can install it once and turn it into a snapshot. I don't see why you'd need an external tool for that.

Antergos dev here. Come give it a try, that's exactly what our initial goal was (in cinnarch). If you have any questions, or run into issues, please try out the forums or file an issue in Github. The community and devs are super helpful (excluding myself in that statement).

Arch Anywhere is a GUI installer: https://arch-anywhere.org/

Void Linux[1] has a lot of the upsides of Arch, and many general similarities. It feels "lighter", though, adopts LibreSSL by default, has a different package manager, and is systemd-free. Most of the Arch wiki (which is a great asset) is more directly applicable to it than to e.g. Debian.

[1]: https://voidlinux.eu

I love Arch, personally. Have been using it for quite a few years now as my desktop and love the rolling release paradigm.

That said, when setting up machines for others I pick the current LTS release of Kubuntu and install unattended-upgrades to ensure security updates get maintained. It provides a much better ongoing maintenance story for machines that are less "pets" and more "tools".


Due to a disk crash, I recently had to reinstall Arch for the first time in quite a few years. IMO the install process has become more opaque. I seem to remember the wiki use to have a newbie install guide which was really helpful and explained a lot of things as you go, or at least what the common practices were or the pros and cons of different options. That seems to be gone and anything that may be an opinion seems to be excised from any install instructions, and you're left to stumble around different pages a lot more, which is a bit of a shame.

I guess that's were arch anywhere and similar ones mentioned may have filled the gap. I will have to try them out.

In the old days I played with gentoo, linux-from-scratch, redhat, debain,ubuntu,slackware, even *BSDs...you name it. I was young and had time then. Nowadays I settle down on ubuntu for the desktop, Debian for the server. That's it. Good enough for everything I need, so I can focus more on the stuff I need develop instead. It is also easier to coordinate with teams.

I like Arch a lot, but these days, I prefer Debian.

That said, even if you don't use Arch, its wiki is a trove of information.

I'm personally quite in love with Arch on my Desktop machine.

It's an almost pure developer setup, I quite regularly install bleeding edge (-git from AUR) of various software, I tinker around. Arch makes that rather easy.

When something goes wrong, I can usually rather easily tell what just exploded, it's kind of like when you have build yourself a car and now you can tell by the hum of the engine how much oil it has.

Though there are some issues with it; most notably, I hold back the kernel for a long time because updating the kernel is always a bit of a hassle and sometimes you need manual interventions, which you can easily be notified of via email and RSS in advance.

On the other hand, my servers all run either CentOS7 or up-to-date Ubuntu Server installs, I'm not that in love with Arch.

I love Arch Linux. I'd say though there is a huge learning curve before you become comfortable/productive. However, in the end it's the most comfortable, because you are pretty aware how most things work, especially if you like to heavily customize things.

I also love Arch, the only thing off putting is how hard it its to realize full disc encryption. I used Arch Anywhere but it works only with when choosing bios emulation and full disc encryption didn't work, Antergos makes too many choices for me, the base Arch image is to much work to install (where I have Solus or Ubuntu running in 20 min).

I did like it better when they still had their own minimal installer. I don't mind installing X and a DE but setting up encryption and partitioning manually is too much for me.

I love it most that you can really do anything with Arch, the wiki is very very good on any subject. Any suggestions on good Arch installers that just give you a working encrypted system (like Arch Anywhere but working)?

I have this wiki page where I documented everything I did to setup my arch system. Disk encryption included: https://github.com/Noah-Huppert/.dotfiles/wiki/System-Instal...

Thanx, I will try and follow your steps. At the moment I'm having a short affair with Solus (Budgie although I prefer their Mate implementation I didn't get acpi working there) which may turn into a full relationship by the looks of things. But if she lets me down Arch is always there for me.

I run luks with dmcrypt on my home server and laptop, with zero issues. Was pretty easy to setup? Home server was a little more intensive as it has dmraid under dmcrypt.

Then again I did 'manual' installs without the GUI I hear they have now.

I was using Arch with bspwm for a few years, until ~a month ago when I wanted a clean system. But this time I wasn't up for the whole installation process. I know what I need, I know how to do it, and I can do it pretty fast. But it is still a lot, so this time I went with Antergos. I had this idea that using Arch with a minimal window manager and nothing more would keep me off distractions from annoying UI features, but it was a lot of work for very little reward. It is easier to just ignore what you dislike in gnome, I don't even think that I dislike anything about it anymore (compared to when I was new and came straight from OS X). Learnt a lot on the way though, totally worth it!

Why didn't you just use Arch-Anywhere? https://arch-anywhere.org/

Besides, the manual installation process of Arch does not consist of that many steps; it takes but a few minutes (perhaps not the first time). To shorten it further you can write your own installation script or use extant ones, of which there are many (Arch-Anywhere being one).

I harp on Arch-Anywhere because Antergos != Arch and Arch > Antergos and other derivations.

Maybe I'll try it next time. Not sure yet what Antergos will do for me, except the installer, but for this install, and so far, I'm happy with it. It's still mostly arch anyway.

It's not that it is too hard or takes very long time, but I still have to pull up my notes and do it.

Antergos IS Arch, depending on how you look at it. It's not like the Ubuntu->Debian relationship. Installing Antergos gives you a fully functional Arch install.

Antergos installs arch. It has a repo to provide certain packages that aren't provided by Arch repos.

Support I agree with. If you have a problem installing Antergos or one of its packages, ask us, not the arch forums.

I’ve really grown to like XFCE as a minimal, usable WM on top of Ubuntu if I want packages to work or Slackware if I want to pare down and tinker a bit

I fell in love with arch for a year. Then a system update broke glibc. Then I gave up. (2012)

Arch has my heart. It taught me everything I know about the various pieces under the hood that come together to make a desktop experience. I've tried many distributions over the years and Arch came out on top for me.

Ive gone through a lot of distros Mint, Ubtuntu, Debian, Fedora, mint (again), Debian (again), etc.

However, when I finally got to Arch I did so because I had no choice. I recently bought a new graphics card and it was the only one supporting many of the new features out of the box. The Linux kernel is always up-to-date, and I haven't had an upgrade problem in the 2 years I've been using it.

It's been interesting, because my second Debian computer which I keep around as a server has way more issues. It appears Arch supports more hardware, and in general (due to minimialist style) works a bit better on machines.

Idk just my two cents

Arch and Debian use the exact same kernel (Linux...), so they support the exact same hardware.

Except, Debian doesn't regularly release updates for theirs - where Arch is always up-to-date.

Debian backports has 4.12: https://packages.debian.org/search?keywords=kernel&searchon=...

Arch also has 4.12 and 4.13 in testing: https://www.archlinux.org/packages/?sort=&q=kernel&maintaine...

Doesn't seem like an appreciable difference.

Arch was my favorite distro for a long time. The Arch and Gentoo wikis are still my go-to for linux-related information.

Arch was my favorite distro right up until I installed NixOS. NixOS is the first distro that has truly innovated since Debian.

While I could maintain an Archlinux install for several years without much effort, I am guaranteed to be able to maintain my NixOS install longer than I could possibly want to. I am guaranteed a clean, working system. If something breaks, I need only reboot, and pick the last derivation in GRUB.

I have been running Arch for 9 months. The only re-install I had to do was when I wiped the drive completely to get rid of the Windows partition. I have been running that install for about 7 months now. I have not had a single breakage. Granted, I am probably a light user (XFCE, lots of Docker containers, a couple other small programs), but I have never had a breakage. I -Syu once a week or every other week.

> It just works and during all these years my system was never left broken after an update

I find that very hard to believe. While I am still running Arch (gotta love those shiny new features), updates did break something minor fairly frequently due to occasionally incompatible updates, e.g. a missing symbol in a shared object.

Luckily there was only one time where something major broke which took me a few hours to fix.

> updates did break something minor fairly frequently due to occasionally incompatible updates, e.g. a missing symbol in a shared object.

That should never happen with official packages and full updates. I've seen it happen maybe twice in 10 years and it was fixed within an hour.

If you shoot your foot off by performing a partial update (pacman -Sy foo bar baz) or forget to rebuild your AUR packages, then it might happen. But that is on you, not the distro.

I've been using Arch as my daily dev / personal machine for years now. No complaints, it just works (Thinkpad Carbon X1).

Archlinux based distros are cool, until updating to a supposed "stable package" and the system is broken and you have to solve it to be able to boot again. When this happens the 3rd time you just give up on rolling releases and move onto something like Debian for stability.

Does Arch still releases unsigned packages? remember that in the old days that was my deal breaker but surely for a desktop pc is miles better than Ubuntu.

Everything is signed these days. The current goal nowdays is reproducable builds.

Used to love arch Linux when I was younger but every other major update when break the x-server.

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