Arch Linux is the most popular rolling-release Linux distribution as it is more of a DIY distro. Arch is known for getting the most minimal Desktop experience, as you are only going to install packages that are essential to you.
Arch has just completed 20 years, and we are going to review Arch Linux as it is really worth the hype or just false claims. We are going to discuss the key factors which separate Arch from other Linux distributions, pros, and cons.
Table of Contents
What is Arch Linux? Why it is so Popular?
Arch Linux is the most famous Linux distribution when we talk about the distros which follow the rolling-release model. So what is the rolling-release model in the first place? A rolling-release model means you are going to get updates earlier than anyone else.
A rolling-release distro will keep updating itself on daily basis compared to major releases that distros such as Ubuntu follow which will bring major changes over a fixed period of time.
As Arch Linux follows the rolling-release model, you would the most recent packages which will surely improve performance but have some risk of system crashes as new packages are not tested thoroughly.
But the major reason behind the popularity of Arch Linux is minimalism. The ISO file of Arch Linux does not even contain a graphical installer, Desktop Environment, or any extra packages so the user can install the packages and tools which are required by them.
When you only install required packages, you are greeted with the most lightweight and resource-friendly Linux distro. But there is more than just being a DIY distro and we are going to cover what Arch has to offer so you can decide whether it is for you or not.
Key Features of Arch Linux
As Arch Linux has been one of the most complex Linux distros to install, still it is a favorite of numerous Linux users. So what really makes Arch Linux so special? We can only answer this question by listing the key features of Arch Linux.
Clearly, this is one of the major reasons why people install Arch Linux to their system. Arch Linux is a kind of do-it-yourself distro that requires time, knowledge, and patience for installation but once you are done with the installation, you can use it as long as you want.
Yet another major reason why Arch is a favorite of many users who prefers to have the most recent packages and Arch does that with no effort required.
Suppose GNOME has released their new version and you want to have it as soon as possible, Arch will be probably the one who will get you the new Desktop release. This also implies new drivers to improve the performance, stability, and support for new hardware.
When we talk about detailed documentation for any Linux distro, there is no one who can come even close to Arch as it has ArchWiki which will not just guide you for Arch installation but also help you to learn new things about Linux and how things go under the hood.
If you are familiar with Debian-based distros, you would know that they handle PPAs poorly. This is not the case with Arch as you get access to the largest repository of Linux and in the majority of cases, you are not required to add PPAs to download software.
Unlike many distros which have a default choice of Desktop Environment such as Ubuntu which is using GNOME by default but this is not the case in Arch as you can install whatever you want and you can also use it without any Desktop Environment or Window Manager.
These were the key features of Arch Linux which is the reason behind its popularity but we can’t decide on our next distro just on the basis of features. To help you decide whether it is sufficient enough for your workload, we are going to discuss the pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of Arch Linux
This is the crucial point of this review as Arch Linux is bundled with many positives and negatives so let’s discuss them in detail so you can have a better idea of what to expect from Arch Linux after going through complex installation. Let’s start with the positives.
- Arch does not bound with their default choices as it is not shipped with any installed Desktop Environment. You can install what you want and skip the other part with will surely make your Desktop lightweight.
- The ultimate proof of using Arch Linux is access to AUR (Arch User Repository). Having the ability to download any software even without adding any separate PPA is a major pro that no other distro provides.
- If you are looking for something which is extremely lightweight, there is no better option than using Arch Linux as you are the one who is going to decide what is going to be installed on the system and also provides you access to various Desktop Environments and Window managers.
- Another major pro of using Arch Linux is that it uses the Rolling-release model which ensures that you would get the most recent software before anyone else.
- If you are someone who is a beginner in Linux and you are searching for detailed documentation about Linux, there is no match for ArchWiki as it is a most detailed guide on Linux which will not just educate you about Arch Linux but also help you to clear fundaments for Linux.
- If you have spent some time with other Linux distributions such as Ubuntu which uses APT for downloading and managing packages, you would know it makes operations complex. Arch has Packman which is a simple yet extremely powerful package manager with no clutter.
- The ultimate con of Arch Linux is installation. You are required to have in-depth knowledge of Linux as you are required to partition all drives and install required packages such as drivers. Also, the only option for installation is commands which make things even more complex.
- Arch Linux is a rolling release which is a double-edged sword. You get the most recent packages but they are not tested thoroughly and are often known to break the whole system.
Frequently asked questions related to Arch Linux
Is Arch Linux any good?
Yes, but only if you have in-depth knowledge of Linux as Arch Linux is often recommended to advanced users.
Is Arch Linux difficult?
The only difficult part of using Arch Linux is the installation part. Once you are done with the installation, you can easily use it with no complexity.
Is Arch Linux free?
Yes, it is completely free and open-source.
In the review of Arch Linux, you can clearly see we have only mentioned two cons but they are major enough to shadow all the pros as installation itself is complex enough to carry out. But if you are familiar with how things work under the hood in Linux, there is no other better option than Arch Linux.