Linux distributions are known for their ease of use, but Arch Linux is much more than a simple distribution. Arch allows users to select absolutely everything while keeping the functionality of the operating system intact.
Of course, this could be complicated for beginners and, we do not recommend it to people who have just stepped into the world of Linux. For more advanced Linux users, Arch will have everything they were looking for in a Linux distribution.
What is Arch Linux?
Arch Linux is a free and open-source Linux distribution that gives you tremendous flexibility and control over your computer. Arch’s light and minimalist nature is the main reason for its growing popularity in the tech community.
The main principle that Arch Linux is guided by is - KISS (Keep it simple stupid). Arch Linux believes that the operating system can be completely clean and simple and that the user can decide on all segments of the OS. Furthermore, you will not find any significant distribution specifics in Arch, which makes it an ideal distribution if you switch from another distribution.
Advantages of Arch Linux
1. Arch Linux is very customizable
Arch Linux is known in the Linux community as a DIY (Do it yourself) distribution. As we said, you can customize all things to your needs. The OS offers you complete control over its functionality - from the beginning when you load it from an ISO file to the end of the installation.
Arch does not come with its desktop environment or windows manager. To make things easier, they left those decisions to the user who has to decide what he wants to install and how he wants to do it.
It is for this reason that the DIY approach is what excites us about Arch. You have to install everything yourself, no bloatware comes with it and the like. We would say that this is the minimalist approach we are looking for in such distributions.
2. Arch is a cutting-edge distribution
Arch is a real "treat" for all users who like to try new features as soon as they become available.
He uses the so-called "rolling model" that makes it easy for you to update your operating system so that you can update it "on the fly" at any time. All you have to do is run the command in the terminal:
This will update your operating system and install any available updates.
3. AUR - Arch User Repository
AUR (Arch User Repository) is a repository managed by Arch users, ie the user community. This means you have a lot of tools and software that you can install if you need to.
What we find most interesting is that part of the package was first set to AUR, and only then built into the OS itself. Packages are thus "tested" among users. If they are useful, they become part of the distribution.
Under “normal” circumstances, you would wait a long time for certain packages, and this way you can download them from AUR whenever you want.
Let’s also mention that AUR also contains a description of the PKGBUILD package, which allows you to create a package directly from the source code using makepkg and install it using the package manager.
4. Arch Wiki
The Arch Wiki is the documentation for Arch Linux. It helps you find absolutely everything you need to know about distribution or find out about potential problems that distribution has.
Arch Linux is one of the best-documented distributions on the market. There you can learn how Arch works, what recent changes have been made, what problems have occurred, find the latest statistics, see what users are looking for from future upgrades, and the like.
5. Arch serves as a bridge
Remember the Pacman - package manager from Arch Linux?
Pacman's functionality is as unique as his name. This package manager is versatile enough to support the installation of packages from the Arch repository, but also binaries compiled from sources you created with makepkg.
So Pacman (package manager) has made Arch a bridge between distributions that allow you to install packages only from their repositories and distributions that allow you to compile binaries from a source. This way, using Arch Linux, you can enjoy the best of both worlds, without compromising on flexibility or ease of use.
6. Increase your understanding of Linux
Arch offers you a truly authentic use of Linux and gives you a special experience. Every day when you use Arch Linux, you will learn something new. Unfortunately, sometimes out of necessity, but mostly because it will be interesting and useful to you.
We even encourage you to try to configure the network yourself manually using Arch’s network manager. The interface is great, and you’ll learn a bunch of that about networks.
Furthermore, the installation of Arch Linux itself is different from other distributions. You do not have graphical support during installation but communicate with it via the command line or terminal.
So Arch will push you out of your comfort zone sometimes, but that’s a good thing. You will learn to communicate with him exclusively through the command line. This will come in handy in your daily work.
Simple tasks like display management, chroot, and network management, are a great way to increase your knowledge of Linux. Don’t worry, if you get stuck with something, you can always find the answer in the Arch wiki or on one of the many forums.
Is Arch good for beginners?
If you’re a beginner in the world of Linux, then you probably don’t want to use Arch Linux until you’ve gathered enough knowledge about the same. The problem is that you will get stuck on simple things, let alone the more complex ones. And what will happen? That you will format everything and install a simpler Linux distribution.
Arch Linux does not make any assumptions during installation nor does it offer you predefined options. This is made for those slightly more advanced Linux users and IT system administrators who know how Linux works. But once you try it and manage to use it without major problems, it will open new horizons for you. You will probably never want to go back to normal Linux distributions after that.
If you still want to install Arch Linux, and you don't have much experience, we recommend that you do it inside a virtual machine. Try, play, until you are very confident that you can rule Arch Linux and that little can surprise you. If you screw something up, you can always create a new virtual machine.
Or you can try using simpler Arch-based distributions like Manjaro or ArcoLinux. Manjaro focuses on being user-friendly, which is great for beginners. It even comes in a variant with pre-installed software to help you in your daily activities.
Who should use Arch Linux?
Arch Linux is at its core a technically complex distribution and is intended for those who can grasp that complexity. Experts and advanced users will get the most out of the Arch distribution because it is made on the DIY principle.
Linux experts can tailor Arch Linux to their needs and take advantage of the Arch community. Pacman and AUR are specific features that you can practically only find in the Arch distribution.
The BlackArch repository is another thing you can use in Arch Linux if you know. It’s a repository that comes with a bunch of security tools that are fantastic for those dealing with computer security. The repository is well known in the IT expert community, especially those involved in penetration testing or related to computer security.
Now that you know what Arch Linux is, how it works and what it offers, roll up your sleeves and give it a try. Of course, if you know Linux. If not - start with something simpler and one day return to Arch Linux.
See Also: The Best Linux for Laptop