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

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    Just btw, this might be helpful. – sr_ Nov 27 '11 at 17:24
  • @sr_ thanks for wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/… I have read that already, but still in practice I want to see if it's just me or other people also find it to much trouble to choose all the packages and install everything by hand? I mean I know that I need to change a few things from a standard ubuntu distro but when I tried Arch I need to make all sorts of decisions that I didn't cared about that much. – Ali Nov 27 '11 at 17:28
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    you're welcome. It was just a pointer, I still regard your question as completely reasonable. :) – sr_ Nov 27 '11 at 17:44

I myself have migrated to Arch some months ago, and form my experience I could give you some advices:

  1. You need a lot of free time to install it, afterwards it's just a little more than a regular distro (Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSuse).
  2. It is fast.
  3. Since it is a rolling release you don't need to bother yourself with huge changes and huge download time.
  4. 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.

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    Once it is set up, it can be easily used to work on day to day basis. – Sachin Divekar Nov 27 '11 at 19:49
  • I mean by work = production enviorment, since a small change could take houres, in comparition to a "known" distros. – Hanan N. Nov 27 '11 at 20:22
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    Though it is risky to use it on production server, I think its simplicity, configurability(init and config files) and package management(pacman) can be useful for production desktops and laptops. The only care user should take is no frequent full-updations. Actually I am planning to set up Arch as my primary OS on my production laptop. – Sachin Divekar Nov 27 '11 at 20:36
  • The same effect people get when they use buggy 11th version of their known distro. – Sachin Divekar Nov 27 '11 at 20:39

Is there any merit in trying Arch? Of course there is.

Provided you:

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...

  • thanks, so that itch is having full control over everything that is happing to your installation, correct? – Ali Nov 27 '11 at 17:33
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    Yes: that pretty much sums it up; full control and total responsibility... – jasonwryan Nov 27 '11 at 17:39

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.
  • Security.
  • Root ZFS (GPT/EFI) install guide works. (CDDL of course)
  • += ports(Nonfree(TM) + GNU), I've been able to run everything from

    • Scipy
    • Hadoop
    • Jenkins
    • Puppet
    • Varnish (of course)
    • Riak
    • 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.

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