Arch Linux General Discussion Opinion

Why is Arch Linux So Challenging and What are Its Pros & Cons?

Why Arch Linux Is Best
Written by Martins D. Okoi

Arch Linux is among the most popular Linux distributions and it was first released in 2002, being spear-headed by Aaron Grifin. Yes, it aims to provide simplicity, minimalism, and elegance to the OS user but its target audience is not the faint of hearts. Arch encourages community involvement and a user is expected to put in some effort to better comprehend how the system operates.

Many old-time Linux users know a good amount about Arch Linux but you probably don’t if you are new to it considering using it for your everyday computing tasks. I’m no authority on the distro myself but from my experience with it, here are the pros and cons you will experience while using it.

1. Pro: Build Your Own Linux OS

Other popular Linux Operating Systems like Fedora and Ubuntu ship with computers, same as Windows and MacOS. Arch, on the other hand, allows you to develop your OS to your taste. If you are able to achieve this, you will end up with a system that will be able to do exactly as you wish.

Con: Installation is a Hectic Process

Installing Arch Linux is far from a walk in a park and since you will be fine-tuning the OS, it will take a while. You will need to have an understanding of various terminal commands and the components you will be working with since you are to pick them yourself. By now, you probably already know that this requires quite a bit of reading.

2. Pro: No Bloatware and Unnecessary Services

Since Arch allows you to choose your own components, you no longer have to deal with a bunch of software you don’t want. In contrast, OSes like Ubuntu come with a huge number of pre-installed desktop and background apps which you may not need and might not be able to know that they exist in the first place, before going on to remove them.

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To put simply, Arch Linux saves you post-installation time. Pacman, an awesome utility app, is the package manager Arch Linux uses by default. There is an alternative to Pacman, called Pamac.

3. Pro: No System Upgrades

Arch Linux uses the rolling release model and that is awesome. It means that you no longer have to worry about upgrading every now and then. Once you install Arch, say goodbye to upgrading to a new version as updates occur continuously. By default, you will always be using the latest version.

Con: Some Updates Can Break Your System

While updates flow in continuously, you have to consciously track what comes in. Nobody knows your software’s specific configuration and it’s not tested by anyone but you. So, if you are not careful, things on your machine could break.

4. Pro: Arch is Community Based

Linux users generally have one thing in common: The need for independence. Although most Linux distros have less corporate ties, there are still a few you cannot ignore. For instance, a distro based on Ubuntu is influenced by whatever decisions Canonical makes.

If you are trying to become even more independent with the use of your computer, then Arch Linux is the way to go. Unlike most systems, Arch has no commercial influence and focuses on the community.

5. Pro: Arch Wiki is Awesome

The Arch Wiki is a super library of everything you need to know about the installation and maintenance of every component in the Linux system. The great thing about this site is that even if you are using a different Linux distro from Arch, you would still find its information relevant. That’s simply because Arch uses the same components as many other Linux distros and its guides and fixes sometimes apply to all.

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6. Pro: Check Out the Arch User Repository

The Arch User Repository (AUR) is a huge collection of software packages from members of the community. If you are looking for a Linux program that is not yet available on Arch’s repositories, you can find it on the AUR for sure.

The AUR is maintained by users who compile and install packages from source. Users are also allowed to vote on packages which give them (the packages i.e.) higher rankings that make them more visible to potential users.

Ultimately: Is Arch Linux for You?

Arch Linux has way more pros than cons including the ones that aren’t on this list. The installation process is long and probably too technical for a non-Linux savvy user, but with enough time on your hands and the ability to maximize productivity using wiki guides and the like, you should be good to go.

Arch Linux is a great Linux distro – not in spite of its complexity, but because of it. And it appeals most to those who are ready to do what needs to be done – given that you will have to do your homework and exercise a good amount of patience.

By the time you build this Operating System from scratch, you would have learned many details about GNU/Linux and would never be ignorant of what’s going on with your PC again.

What are the pros and cons of using Arch Linux in your experience? And on the whole, why is using it so challenging? Drop your comments in the discussion section below.

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About the author

Martins D. Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and programmer.