Why i chose archlinux as my primary desktop distro.
a non techinal approach
I am using linux for personal and work related use, from 2002 on a daily bases. I work as a unix system engineer, so i think of my self as an intermetiate user and not a newbie. Not at least on the majority of linux things, cause things are changing too fast and we must adopt to the new world. In this blog post, i will not write down my linux history but i believed that a prolog should be in place, so everybody (me and you) have the same context.
I am using archlinux from May 2009 so its almost four years now. You could say that i got around archlinux as a mistake (i was using ubuntu at that time and a space character after “rm -rf /usr /local/src/something” made me remove my /usr folder) but the test i’ve made (installing archlinux) that evening changed my life.
Why i chose archlinux ?
at that point, I had three options:
I had used fedora before 2009 and i wasnt impressed. At that time ubuntu was the only true choice for someone like me. So the next step was installing archlinux or freebsd. I chose archlinux cause it is a Linux distro and not unix.
So i took a risk.
What i did know about archlinux at that time:
- archlinux was a binary distro
- archlinux didnt have any configuration/automate tool
- didnt have a nice installer but only a text based menu
- archlinux had the best wiki i’ve ever seen
- archlinux had a large active forum
- archlinux had an impressive amount of packages at the default repositories
- archlinux had an EVEN impressive amount of packages at AUR
- archlinux had a simple text file for reconfigure a package (PKGBUILD)
- all of the archlinux packages was as close as the upstream had just uploaded !
i didnt know much about archlinux and all of that obvious things i’ve learned them in a just a few days.
From the first day - i wanted to contribute somehow to that amazing distro.
So the first gallery of archlinux installation had been published at the next couple hours
What i learned in the next couple days.
- archlinux has a simply to use/configure package manager, called by archers as pacman ! neet
- archlinux DOESNOT setup Xorg !
- archlinux doesnt have any configure/automate tool
wait a minute - i knew that already, but there is NONE
if you want to setup your network - you must know how to do it.
You need to read manual pages for breakfast and do it all my hand.
There isnt any tool to setup nothing.
Audio ? you must put your self in the right group and you have to read the wiki.
You have to learn.
And it was perfect for me. I’ve learned so much just by using it and i am still learning.
Any big changes ?
Yes there are some things i didnt like and the main problem is the attitube of arch devs. They are intelligent people and document everything but they make hard decisions that none of the arches around the globe appriciate - at least at the current momment.
I mean, remove tcp wrappers cause the last version was ten years ago ?
stupid, right ?
- Change your /lib to /usr/lib
- Convert your init to systemd
- Remove the text base menu installer !!!
(still pretty angy about that)
- grub2 as a default boot loader the same day that gnu released an annouchment that grub is legacy!
and some other things that people dont get along.
There was a time that updating your linux kernel meant you had no system after that!
So what about know ?
what i know now about archlinux
- archlinux is a binary distro
- archlinux dont have any configuration/automate tool
- archlinux has the best wiki i’ve ever seen
- archlinux has a large active forum
- archlinux has an impressive amount of packages at the default repositories
- archlinux has an EVEN impressive amount of packages at AUR
- archlinux has a text simple file for reconfigure a package (PKGBUILD)
- all of the archlinux packages are as close as the upstream upload them !
so … this is the most stable linux distro i have ever use !
The feeling of understing and knowing your linux distro is underappriciate to every other linux distro user cause you need to learn linux.
What about pacman ?
Till archlinux, i had the feeling that the package manager of a distro isnt that important.
You add packages, you remove packages and every now and then you upgrade packages.
Every six or nine or 12 months you have to dist-upgrade your distro version.
And then … there is pacman !
pacman is a strong package manager that uses simply text files that describes how to build a package.
PKGBUILD are easy read and easy to hack. So you can have your own packages in just a few minutes.
Archlinux is a rolling distro. You are always on the latest version.
Is it stable ?
I dont see how it shouldnt be!
Security updates are just a momment away, as the upstream upload a new version of their software
Non free code? non opensource codex ? doesnt matter. We just want to have a desktop awesome desktop distro.
I want to use vlc to play mp3 and divx - i care enough about opensource, but i also dont care enough to be an evangelist
or make my life difficult.
Yes the stable versions of the packages arent tested enough but lets face it,
is just how the opensource word works! You find a bug - you are yelling to the internet.
Perhaps you are the first one that had a problem with this new version of program.
So its for you to contribute.
Same policy as fedora project, or unstable debian.
Are there any cons ?
yes they are, its a bleeding age linux distro.
you have to ugprade at least every week your machine.
You need to read the news section first,
you need to read the wiki,
you need to read the manual pages.
So if all of that are cons, then thats it.
You system is broken ?
You can blame Alan for that.
Everybody else does that - why not you ?
There are actual times that he blames himself too.
So everybody happy - you have someone to blame.
Learn and adopt archlinux.
You need to time to adopt - i understand that.
But you need just one evening, then its all there - at the wiki.
GReek comminuty ?
yes and no
They (we ?) keep a low profile. None of the “major” players attrack attetion.
We (they ?) just use the archlinux forum/irc/wiki to interact with others.
There is a greek site - just to translate the news section (mostly).
So give it a spin - if you have a couple hours to spare - and start using,
perhaps the last linux distro you’ll ever use.
Friday, October 25, 2013 - 12:43:28
Thank you for this. It’s refreshing to hear a personal interpretation of Arch that outlines the pros and cons in a humble (ego-free) manner. Sounds like Arch is worth trying, and I’m going to do just that. Thanks again!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 19:26:15
I’m a casual Linux user, mean I like push graphic buttons and it works. But I also have some skills in UNIX
So the question was Why Arch LINUX ? Why not choose a user friendly distro as Mint for its convenience or a Gentoo to pimp linux for my specific hardware? ArchLinux seem to be in the middle with both worst sides so why that rising popularity ?
So I decide to spend a evening and install it into a virtual machine…
Enlightenment! Now I know! Of course it is harder but how it is gratifying to be able to say “Oh! that how XOrg works”.
If I have been an IT teacher at High School I’ll choose ArchLinux for my courses.