I'm new to Arch Linux and I want to ask how often will I need to reinstall whole Arch Linux.

So if you're also a Windows user you'll (or you might) now you'll need to remove and reinstall a new windows to reduce the disk usage or for some security reason (like viruses etc.)

So I'm wondering how often will you need to do the same process for Arch Linux (or other Linux distro)?

closed as primarily opinion-based by muru, jasonwryan, DarkHeart, GAD3R, Jeff Schaller Feb 17 '18 at 12:26

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I would not expect a regularly-updated Arch Linux to need reinstallation barring major user-inflicted breakage. It is a rolling-release distro, unlike Ubuntu, for example, where things may break on occasion when you upgrade from a too-old, end-of-life version and it's simpler to install afresh. My ~2014 install is still going strong despite me experimenting around with kernels, DEs and whatnot. – muru Feb 17 '18 at 4:50
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    head -n1 /var/log/pacman.log: [2012-02-09 18:37] installed filesystem (2011.12-2) – jasonwryan Feb 17 '18 at 5:24

No stable operating system requires reinstallation as a matter of general use.

I can think of a few reasons one might want to do so, and why they don't apply to a typical Linux distribution:

  1. Installed application programs acting erratically.

    If you keep track of applications through the package manager (pacman in the case of Arch), you can reinstall only the misbehaving application. Though if you bypass the package manager, you might be asking for trouble.

  2. Disk layout of system files.

    Over time, updates happen. This could result in system files being placed randomly across the hard drive, rather than in a single (fast) place. This could be the cause for system slowdown. Many (but not all) Linux installations separate the system files from the user files by partitions, which lessens the impact of this (among other benefits).

Now, if you find your system in a broken state, it may be easier to reinstall from scratch. This should be a rare state though.

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    +1. I've been upgrading the Debian box I'm typing this on continuously since 1994, 24 years ago. Everything about it has been changed many times, the hardware has been repeatedly upgraded until there's nothing remaining of the original...many times over. The software has been repeatedly upgraded, but never once re-installed. Even replacing the boot/OS disk has just been a direct file copy from old disk to new disk - several times over the years. It started as a 40 Mhz 386 with 4MB. It's currently an AMD 1090T with 32GB. It will probably be a 64GB AMD Threadripper later this year. – cas Feb 17 '18 at 6:54
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    @nagamani there is no migration process. There's just normal usage and upgrading (of sw & hw) and replacing hw whenever either old hw dies or there's something newer & shinier & faster & bigger & better available at a price that seems reasonable to me at the time. BTW, replacing a motherboard is more work than replacing a keyboard, or a drive, and may also require replacing RAM and CPU and other parts at the same time but it's not fundamentally different to replacing anything else as long as the CPU instruction set is the same or compatible....it's just another upgrade. – cas Mar 5 '18 at 3:35
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    and yep, it's "Theseus' Ship". Or "My Grandfather's Axe". I'll let others debate the apparent paradox of whether it's really the same system. – cas Mar 5 '18 at 3:39
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    Also, there are pros and cons to doing this. the pros are you don't have to reconfigure everything because you're not building a new system. the cons are that you end up with a lot of ancient cruft - mostly harmless but some of it does occasionally cause problems when the rest of the software has been upgraded around it. – cas Mar 5 '18 at 5:19
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    Bit-copy images are a PITA, take more time and complicate re-partitioning to take advantage of a new bigger disk, so I mostly make file copies - usually some variation of rsync -ax --delete because I can run it as often as I like before doing the final switch, to minimise actual downtime. For boot disks, I just mount the rootfs (and /boot if its separate), bind-mount sys, dev, proc into it, chroot, and then run update-grub. BTW, mostly still using MBR & BIOS. GPT & UEFI are nice but mostly not worth the downtime & hassle of converting existing systems. – cas Mar 5 '18 at 5:26

There is no case where you need to reinstall any linux unless it's hacked and security is compromised, keep in mind this only apply to server machines where security is very important. Sometimes it's just faster and easier to reinstall Linux instead of reviving broken system. The need of reinstalling is purely based on your Linux skills how often you break your system, by pasting commands that you don't know the meaning of. You can have linux and Windows on same machine you won't get linux infected with viruses from your windows. I didn't reinstall my arch for 4 years, using it daily.


I'll ask the counter question - how often did you reinstall Windows? Windows - a fairly stable system, if with it (as with any other OS) properly handled. I still have Windows XP installed on one of my computers (since 2010) without antivirus, firewall and other add-ons. Yes, not on one - on the second multi-boot with Windows XP, Windows 7 and Xubuntu. There is no antivirus on any windows. And this despite the fact that all work and interests on the Internet (including pornsites sometimes;)). So what? 5-6 years at least. Linux I use from 2011-2012 - on all 3 computers installed Xubuntu as the main system. The last installation after buying another laptop:

$ sudo tune2fs -l /dev/sda1 | grep create
Filesystem created:       Wed Oct 19 21:29:42 2015

Everything depends not on the system, but on the person. Accuracy, care and the creation of backups - this is the guarantee of longevity of the operating system. Linux can be spoiled by one careless command

$ sudo rm -Rf --no-preserve-root /

Always think what you are doing, ask, if you do not understand, look for information on the right questions - and your life will be long and happy

  • Adding a command that destroys your linux install on a newbie question can be dangerous :) – brett Apr 19 '18 at 19:57

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