When you suggest someone to use a Linux-based operating system the question constantly comes up what is the best Linux distribution for beginners? and nine out of ten times people say you should go with Ubuntu, Fedora, or Linux Mint but very few people suggest you about Arch Linux.
And if you say Arch Linux then almost 95% of people will dismiss your choice and says it’s too difficult for beginners although they don’t know anything about Arch Linux.
I’ve had different ideas on what distros are appropriate for beginners and what distros are not appropriate for beginners but the more I think about this I’ve concluded that Arch Linux is the perfect Linux distribution for the beginner.
Ok, so why I’m saying this is because the term difficult means something you don’t know or understand and it’s pretty normal but if you have to know anything first you have to use it or learn about it then who knows at the end you came up with the easiest thing.
After using Arch Linux and other Arch-based distributions one thing I must admit is they are truly open source distributions loved by many and has a loyal fanbase around the world.
Over the years the number of Linux distributions are increasing but the basic functionality remained the same. Whether you use Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, or any other distribution all are built upon Linux so functionally they are similar.
Only the installation process is different when you first install Arch Linux on your computer you don’t have a graphical user interface and you have to do all the work in a command-line shell.
I think as a beginner when you switched to Linux it’s not because you want an easy operating system where you just click yes or no and your operating system is configured in front of you. You want to learn the basics which will help you to strengthen your roots for the future.
But if you’re someone who just opens your computer to surf the Web chats with friends on Facebook and Instagram and don’t want to know anything about the operating system then Arch Linux is a horrible choice for you and you should skip it.
What is Arch Linux?
Arch Linux is a free and open-source Linux distribution that gives you immense customizability and control over your machine. It’s an independently developed general-purpose GNU/Linux distribution that provides you with the latest stable versions of most software by following a rolling-release model.
Arch’s lightweight and minimalistic nature is the prime reason for its rising popularity in the tech community. The x86-64 centric Linux distro adheres to the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid). As the name suggests, Arch believes in making the operating system as clean as possible and leaves every decision to the user.
Like other distribution Arch Linux don’t bring any preinstalled deamon or services when you install it for the first time. It only installed the packages and services you choose for your need and the rest of the systems are pretty clean.
Why does Everybody say Arch is too Difficult?
Arch Linux is perceived as one of the most difficult Linux distributions because of its CLI-based approach and they don’t give you and GUI-based interface where you click ok for two or three times and everything is done.
On the other hand in Arch Linux from the beginning, you have to mount the disk, create a partition, set up a network, create a swap, install appropriate drivers, create root and new users and all these things are done in a command prompt terminal window. And I must admit the process is not very easy but once you are done you have the most satisfying experience.
Well, Arch is different because Arch forces you to go step by step and feel like you own your computer right at the end of the day again that is your machine and it was your operating system that you installed/built from the scratch.
This is tedious, but there are full instructions to do so. You just have to follow them. When you run into an issue (and you will), you will have to go to Arch Wiki for the solution. Arch Wiki has by far the best documentation available but you have to search for the solution by yourself.
The first time thought came from other minimal Linux distributions like Slackware, BSD, PLD Linux, and CRUX and Judd Vinet loves the lightweight Linux distro made for power users.
Inspired by CRUX, Judd Vinet a Canadian programmer started the Arch Linux project in 2001 and launched the first 0.01 version in march 2002. The name was chosen because Vinet liked the word’s meaning of“the principal,” as in “arch-enemy”.
Initially made for only X86- 32 bit CPU but later in 2007 Arch began to support the X86- 64-bit architecture. Vinet also wrote a package management program called pacman, to automatically handle package installation, removal, and upgrades.
From 2005 to 2008 the community created a well-structured doc page called the ArchWiki and it was first set up on the MediaWiki engine.
After the step down of Judd Vinet on 1st October 2007 Aaron Griffin takes the charge of Arch Linux project and actively led the team for modifying Arch Linux.
Between 2012 and 2013 the traditional System V init system was replaced by systemd. On 25/01/2017 the community drops the support for the i686 architecture because of the decreasing popularity among the developers and the community.
On 24 February 2020, Aaron Griffin announced that due to his limited involvement with the project, he would, after a voting period, transfer control of the project to Levente Polyak. This change also led to a new 2-year term period being added to the Project Leader position.
Why Arch Linux is so popular today and runs on many desktop computers, so let’s go ahead and get into my top seven reasons why I think everyone should use Arch Linux…
Build your system the way you want:
Arch is popularly known as a DIY (Do It Yourself) operating system as you can customize every intricate detail yourself. The OS offers you complete control of its functionality right from the time of loading the ISO image to installation completion.
You have the freedom to choose the entire components and drivers and build the OS from scratch because Arch doesn’t provide you with any desktop environment or window manager.
Here are all things that are done in the command line you do have to read the Arch wiki and go through a step-by-step process of you entering things in the command line but at the end of the day, all of the components that are installed on your system are exactly what you chose.
Unlike many Linux distributions or in Windows where many services or demons are running in the background and don’t let you know about this. In Arch Linux, every service is chosen by you and if you configured it properly it’s one of the best OS you ever had.
For this very reason, the DIY approach is a handy feature, which makes Arch extremely lightweight and accessible, since it does not come with any pre-installed bloatware.
Pacman Package Manager:
Pacman the Arch Linux package manager is awesome and it’s more like apt in Debian/Ubuntu or DNF in Fedora. All the other package managers are having a very easy-to-use graphical interface but the pacman doesn’t.
Pacman’s functionality is as unique as its name. The package manager is versatile enough to support the installation of packages from the Arch repository and binaries compiled from the source using makepkg.
In Arch basically, they expect you to do all your package management stuff in a terminal or at a command line so you’re gonna learn all the commands with Pac-man but they’re easy to learn and short compared to other command-line package managers.
For example to update your system as an Arch-based system you just have to type pacman -Syu and that syncs the repos.
Pacman makes Arch a bridge between the distros that let you install packages from their repository and the distros that let you compile binaries from the source. This way, you enjoy the best of both worlds, without having to compromise on flexibility or the ease of access.
Arch User Repository (AUR):
The Arch User Repository is a community-driven repository for Linux packages developed by users. It holds a massive library of installation packages related to Arch Linux.
There’s no need to go out on the Internet to GitHub or some third-party site to download a program source file and then hope you can compile it and wipe out all the dependencies to work. There is a huge range of packages available in the system and additionally, you can search in Arch repositories for anything specific.
The most commendable part is that several packages are included in the AUR before they’re added to the official Arch repositories. The Arch package repositories and User Repository (AUR) contain 58,000 binary and source packages.
AUR is the community-driven approach to providing newer applications. You can search and install applications with the help of an AUR helper tool.
AUR contains the package description PKGBUILDs, which allows a user to build a package directly from the source using makepkg and install it using the package manager.
Arch WiKi Web-based Documentation:
Arch wiki is one of the most comprehensive documentation resources I have ever seen or ever used in my tenure with Linux. Arch wiki is a resource where you find almost any sort of document related to Arch.
So if you have a problem running Arch the solution is probably in the wiki and 95% solution is somewhere in the Arch wiki database.
Almost all the solutions are in the manual and maintained by the community. They updated the Wiki pages frequently So if you encounter a problem using Arch first go to wiki.archlinux.org then search for your keywords and read the manual and act accordingly.
Most of the common issues are addressed in those wiki pages so unlike any other Linux distribution if you ask for any help in the community they first refer you to read the manual and if the problem persists then you have to provide your steps to them and the wonderful community helps you with the right solution.
Always have the Latest Kernel and software by Rolling release:
Arch Linux is a rolling release distribution. This means new kernel and application versions are rolled out to you as soon as they are released.
Rolling release means no upgrade from version to version no system upgrades are meaning there’s no need to upgrade from one version of Arch to the next. Once you install Arch you don’t have to worry about the next release a regular system update is all that is needed to obtain the latest Arch software.
So how does this differs from other Linux distros, ok suppose you are currently running Ubuntu 18.04 and want to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 then you have to run the installer and go through the whole time-consuming upgrade process, and sometimes you have to wait for the next stable release.
But when you install Arch they don’t release a new version every six months rather than they regularly update their kernel and software so you always have the latest Arch Linux inside your system.
A rolling release cycle is best if you want to live on the bleeding edge and have the latest available versions of software, while a standard release cycle is best if you want to benefit from a more stable platform with more testing.
Although rolling release can be considered as a negative for some cases where you need absolute stability and it’s a fact that the more software and kernel updated there is chance of instability. For server architecture maybe the rolling release it’s not a great choice.
Better Understanding With Linux:
If you ever tried to install Arch Linux, you know the complexity that comes with it. But that complexity also means that you’ll be forced to learn things that you probably never bother to in other distributions.
For example, when you install Arch from the begging you have to type commands for everything. From selecting disk types to partition disks with the right format you have to know the commands, mount the file system, configure the network, encrypt the file system, and install specific hardware drivers all are work that needs to be done in a terminal window.
So if you are new to Linux and want to learn then Arch gives you a nice base where you learn all the basic commands of Linux and in the end, when you configure Arch successfully then it feels wonderful.
But you have to spend time learning all the steps from the Arch wiki before installing Arch on your computer, and when you understand the steps then the rest is pretty straightforward.
Open-source in its purest form:
Ubuntu is sponsored by Canonical and Fedora is sponsored by RedHat so there are big names involved with this distribution. If you don’t like this approach and want a Linux-based operating system that is purely open-source and community-driven then Arch Linux is the best choice for you.
Like Debian, Arch Linux is one of the rare few community-only Linux distribution projects. Menas they are always listen to the users first and less prone to include propitiatory software for revenue.
In that sense, Debian and Arch Linux are more pure community-driven projects. It may not matter to many people but a few people do care about such things.
Difficult things are always Sweeter in the End!
It’s scientifically proven that the most difficult things often give you more happiness if you learn how to deal with them. At first, it feels tough but if you want to learn about Linux then Arch Linux is a great learning curve for you.
Arch Linux gives everything up to you how you configure and build your version of Arch it’s entirely up to you and as a Linux lover, I always want you to try Arch.
It has all the beautiful features like Rolling release, Arch User Repository (AUR), Arch Wiki manuals, pacman package manager and on top of that, you can customize Arch to the fullest if you want to. You can carry on with the CLI-based interface or install any graphical flavor if you like.
One thing is sure once you know how to install and use Arch I can say you never fear Linux and use it for your daily driver.
Ok thank you guys that’s all for now and I hope the above information helps you to learn something if so please let me know your experience in the comments section.