I use Macs, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Fedora for different purposes. I'm fairly busy and trying out a new distro takes a lot of time, but I hear lots of good things about Arch Linux from people I admire. I do mostly scientific computing (and some web development), and use Linux as both a desktop and a server. Does Arch offer anything I'm not already getting from one of my current installs? I'm particularly interested in the differences between Arch and Debian
I myself have migrated to Arch some months ago, and form my experience I could give you some advices:
- You need a lot of free time to install it, afterwards it's just a little more than a regular distro (Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSuse).
- It is fast.
- Since it is a rolling release you don't need to bother yourself with huge changes and huge download time.
- You decide in the first place what program you want to install.
But you have to have a lot of time to put in it, reading configuration files, official documents, wiki and so on (although most of this is just at the installation phase).
To sum it up, I think that it isn't the distro that you want to work on day to day, but for a personal use and for hobbie it is Great & Fun.
Is there any merit in trying Arch? Of course there is.
Are prepared to read all of the excellent documentation that the community had provided;
Are willing to assume complete responsibility for your system and not expect to have your hand held;
Are comfortable with the (admittedly infrequent) occasions where newer packages cause issues, or even breakage, that comes with a rolling release.
Whether or not there are advantages to you depends entirely on your needs and inclinations. Arch means having the the newest packages, but that comes at a cost in terms of attentiveness to your system.
There is no particular "magic" to Arch (and no inherent "coolness" either); it's a distro like any other that scratches an itch...
I have been running Slackware releases for some years. I made my development machine into an Arch box a couple of years ago. I think that Arch holds your hand a bit more than Slackware, in that pacman can detect missing packages, where installpkg doesn't. To me, it also seemed easier to have a custom kernel on Slackware than on Arch: I gave up on custom kernels and just went with the Arch rolling release kernel.
I don't think Arch takes that much extra time, I would gladly have an Arch desktop (as long as I get to run
pacman -Syu once a week), and I would gladly spend 100% of my time in Arch or Slackware. But my tastes in user interface differ wildly from The Norm, and I do like to have total control over compilers, configurations, etc.
For experimenting, I've tried Arch. It's where a lot of people these days are ending-up after having tried LFS or Gentoo long ago. Frankly, it's a bit raw as intended and reminds me of Slack. That said, I :heart: GNU/Linux.
I've found FreeBSD has numerous practical advantages:
- Developed as a whole.
- Root ZFS (GPT/EFI) install guide works. (CDDL of course)
+= ports(Nonfree(TM) + GNU), I've been able to run everything from
- Varnish (of course)
- Haskell platform
- Side-by-side ruby(187, ree, 193, jruby) with AND without rvm, python(272,322) with AND without pythonbrew
The freebsd source ports are pretty current, and easy as any Ubuntu LTS/Debian or Arch. I'm probably biased as I'm a sysadmin that started in the early Slackware days.
There isn't much I can find wrong with FreeBSD other than it's not quite as new and shiny as Arch. kFreeBSD and the Nexenta desktop variants would also be interesting.