Arch Linux: The Linux Distribution for Power Users
Arch Linux is a Linux distribution aimed at more experienced and advanced users. It is a rolling release distribution, meaning software packages are constantly being updated with the latest versions. This appeals to users who want the most up-to-date software.
However, Arch Linux is not very user-friendly. It provides a minimal base installation and requires users to manually configure and customize their system. This barebones approach and focus on simplicity have helped Arch Linux gain popularity among power users.
The Arch Linux community and documentation play an important role in its success. The Arch Wiki contains a vast amount of well-written information to help users install, configure and maintain their Arch Linux systems. The community is active and helpful, answering questions and providing support on forums and other channels.
In 2001, Canadian programmer Judd Vinet began work on a new Linux distribution inspired by the simplicity of systems like CRUX and BSD Unix. He was drawn to the elegance of simplicity, but he was disappointed by the lack of efficient package management in these distributions. To address this, he created a new package manager called
pacman, which was designed to be simple and efficient.
This pioneering effort culminated in the release of the first version of Arch Linux, version 0.1 (Homer), on March 11, 2002. Arch Linux has since become one of the most popular Linux distributions, thanks to its focus on simplicity, flexibility, and bleeding-edge software.
In 2007, Judd Vinet handed over the reins of Arch Linux to Aaron Griffin, an American programmer. Griffin has been leading the project ever since. Arch Linux has slowly but steadily grown in popularity over the years. However, it still has a smaller installation footprint than larger distributions like Ubuntu and Debian.
Purpose and Environment
Arch Linux is a truly general-purpose distribution that gives you the freedom to customize your system however you want. There are no predefined parameters, so you can create a system that is tailored to your specific needs. This flexibility is one of the things that makes Arch Linux so popular among users who want a high degree of control over their system.
The distribution is available in a single version, which is a single ISO image. This means that you can install Arch Linux on any type of hardware, and you don't have to worry about compatibility issues.
Arch Linux is a community-driven distribution, so its support is not as polished or extensive as those backed by corporate entities. Additionally, the Arch ethos encourages users to take initiative and resolve their issues. This might lead you to believe that the Arch community is not very supportive, but this is not the case. Arch Linux has one of the most inclusive, friendly, and helpful communities of any distribution.
The Arch Wiki is also one of the most comprehensive documentation resources available for any Linux distribution. It is so well-maintained that users of other distributions often turn to it for help. This is likely because it is more efficient to document a topic once in the wiki than to answer the same question repeatedly in different channels. As a result, there is a general expectation that users will consult the documentation before asking for help.
Arch Linux is not a user-friendly distribution. It is designed for users who are familiar with Linux and who are willing to learn how to use the command line. If you are a beginner, I would not recommend Arch Linux. However, if you are looking for a distribution that is up-to-date and that gives you a lot of control over your system, then Arch Linux may be a good choice for you.
The rolling release model of Arch Linux means that new packages are released regularly. This means that you always have the latest software, but it also means that you need to be comfortable with updating your system regularly. The documentation for Arch Linux is very good, so if you are willing to learn, you should be able to figure out how to update your system.
Some people use Arch Linux because they want to learn more about Linux. If you are interested in learning how Linux works, then using a low-level distribution like Arch Linux can be a valuable learning experience. However, if you are not comfortable with the command line, then Arch Linux is not the right distribution for you.
The compatibility of hardware with Arch Linux depends on the kernel and the drivers that are available in the repositories. You can also use the Arch Build System (ABS) and the Arch User Repository (AUR) to find or build additional drivers. However, the success of this endeavour depends on your skill level and your willingness to learn new things.
Arch Linux does not come with any pre-installed desktop environments. This means that you can choose the desktop environment that you want to use, or you can even create your own.
There are eight officially supported desktop environments for Arch Linux: Gnome, KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, MATE, LXDE, LXQt, Enlightenment, and Xfce. There are also about fifteen unofficial desktop environments that you can use, such as Unity, Pantheon, and Deepin.
If you prefer a window manager instead of a desktop environment, there are about sixty different window managers that you can choose from. You can also choose between Xorg and Wayland as your window server.
In short, Arch Linux gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing your desktop environment. You can choose the environment that best suits your needs and preferences.
Package Management System
Arch Linux uses its package management system called
pacman. Pacman is a command-line tool that is used to install, update, and remove packages. It is not as widely used as other package management systems like dpkg or rpm, but it is known for its simplicity and reliability.
Pacman packages have the .pkg.tar.xz extension.
Arch Linux also has the Arch Build System (ABS), which allows users to create their packages or modify existing packages. ABS packages are created using a shell script called PKGBUILD. PKGBUILDs are stored in the Arch User Repository (AUR), which is a community-maintained repository of packages.
AUR packages are not officially supported by Arch Linux, so they may contain security vulnerabilities. However, the AUR is a popular way to get access to the latest software, as packages are often added to the AUR just hours after they are released.
Arch Linux users can also create their PKGBUILDs and contribute them to the AUR. This is why Arch Linux is a popular choice for developers.
I found that Arch Linux was a challenging but rewarding experience. It forced me to learn more about Linux and how to manage my system. I also appreciated the fact that I always had the latest version of the software.
If you're looking for a challenge and you want to have the latest version of the software, then I recommend Arch Linux. However, if you're looking for a more user-friendly distribution, then I recommend a traditional distribution.
We will explore more such interesting distros in this Linux distro series. In the meantime, keep reading, keep exploring, and keep learning.