One of my friends on MadIRC was messing with me the other day and said, “Why don’t you write a blog post about how Arch is the best distro?” I’m sure he was kidding, but I thought, why not?
Being that I’m new to Linux, Arch feels rather advanced to me, but I’m sure that with practice, I could get the hang of it. After all, there are numerous tutorials out there. Plus, they have an awesome wiki! (Well, that gets it bonus points at least.)
In its introduction on the wiki, the author(s) define it according to five main principles (paraphrased here):
- Simplicity – as they put it, “…without unnecessary additions or modifications.” Many of the other distros come prepackaged with certain programs or settings, which Arch tosses out the window.
- Modernity – it attempts to keep up with the latest stable release versions, and is based on a rolling-release system.
- Pragmatism – it’s a pragmatic distro, not an ideological one, i.e. conclusions about its design are made through a concurrence of developers, not by what’s trendy.
- User centrality – to quote the wiki again, “Whereas many GNU/Linux distributions attempt to be more user-friendly, Arch Linux has always been, and shall always remain user-centric.” It’s designed to satisfy the obligations of its users/developers, rather than aiming for mass appeal. Therefore, Arch users are encouraged to contribute to the project, by doing such things as repairing bugs or providing technical assistance.
- Versatility – when you first install Arch, all that’s included is a command-line interface – the reason being that if you want to customize it, you don’t have to remove unwanted packages. Instead, you build your own custom distro from Arch’s official repositories.
Plus, one of the major features of Arch that sets it apart from other distros is its package manager, also known as “pacman.” (Yes, my mind has already gone there.)
No, this is the one I’m talking about:
Aww, where’s the fun in that? “Pacman” makes it easy to manage packages, whether official or ones that you designed yourself. It can take some getting used to, but ultimately, it seems like a helpful tool.
Anyhow, the above facts all sound like good reasons to use it, don’t they? On the other hand, the wiki’s FAQ has an excellent question – “Why would I not want to use Arch?” To quote them again, “You may not want to use Arch, if…”
- you do not have the ability/time/desire for a ‘do-it-yourself’ GNU/Linux distribution
- you require support for an architecture other than x86_64.
- you take a strong stand on using a distribution which only provides free software as defined by GNU.
- you believe an operating system should configure itself, run out of the box, and include a complete default set of software and desktop environment on the installation media.
- you do not want a rolling release GNU/Linux distribution.
- you are happy with your current OS.
I would say that I agree with the “should configure itself” statement, but in recent years, I’ve had a lot of issues with pre-configured OS’s (most notably Windows 10) – it was one of the reasons I decided to switch!
I plan on attempting to install Arch at some point, as a learning experience, or just for fun. It would be a great way to start getting more comfortable with the OS.
On the other hand, I could always just install Gentoo.