I have been using Archlinux now for around four years, and contrary to popular belief Archlinux does not break often due to it being bleeding edge and running the latest and greatest software out there, in my experience it’s quite the contrary, like most forty somethings i started my computing escapades in the late 80’s running BASIC on an old BBC micro, then ofc when windows 93 came around i became a ‘windows user’ right up until around 5 years ago, i found myself having to reinstall windows at least once per annum ( sometimes much more than once ) i got fed up doing this and spending maybe 40% of my computing time ‘scanning for and fighting with malware’ so like many other power users i ‘ditched Windows in favour of a proper UNIX like OS’ . I started off with PCLinuxOS which i found to be a great distro with an awesome welcoming community who taught me lots, back then i found KDE to be buggy and would break occasionally so when i felt confident enough i decided to shop around and attempt to find a linux distro that suited my needs.
After a year of distro hopping mostly amongst the ‘user friendly’ distros i found those kind of distros would often break after updates, also some tend not to trust the person sitting at the keyboard ( one or two don’t even give the user sudo by default ) this might be great for some but not for me, i’m a control freak as far as my OS is concerned, again i found myself having to re install more often that i would like..
I also have OS X Mavericks installed on this PC and i must say in my opinion it’s much better than Windows due to the fact it too is UNIX so it lets me run many of my favourite command line commands/programmes. Although in comparison to Archlinux i find it to be a tad clunky but it does have some superb applications, parallels springs to mind, if BSD or Linux wasn’t a thing i’d prolly use OS X as daily driver.
Enter Arch ( which has lived up to it’s name of being one of the strongest structures known to mankind )
After attempting to install Archlinux 2 or 3 times in Virtualbox i felt i was ready to install it on metal, the install is different from others wherein it’s not a graphical installer with buttons / progress bars etc. The install is all done from the console, it may look difficult to the novice but it’s really not. This is when i learned of standalone window managers and decided to forget about big complex full blown desktop environments like Gnome & KDE, i experimented with window managers and i was amazed by how small ( some only 2 meg ) configurable, and simple (not to mention blazing fast) they were, i used openbox for the first year, during which time i became aware of tiling window managers, the rest as they say is history. I soon became the stereotypical Arch user, with my tmux sessions, dotfiles and obligitory tiling WM.
Of course this method of computing is not for everyone, Arch or even linux in general is geared towards enthusiasts and power users, the masses don’t seem to care that the software they use on a daily basis runs code that keeps tabs on them, the recent hoopla with Volkswagen shows what kind of sculduggery goes in ‘proprietary’ code, sadly it’s often geared towards the advantage of the programmer, or the company who pays the programmer, the users needs and desires are secondary, anyways i didn’t mean to go into RMS mode, just thought i’d mention.
Archlinux has lasted longer on /dev/sdX than any other OS i have used (and i’ve used a few) in all those years i had only one issue where the proprietary nvidia driver got updated and xorg did not ( well not until a few hours later ) i was left without a graphical environment ( which was actually a learning experience which stood me in good stead as i now run a headless server on a raspberry pi) however at the time i was in panic mode without my GUI, as i do not game i have since purged the nvidia blob in favour of the open source GPU driver which has given me zero issues.
Currently my main box hex boots ( have i coined a new term ? ) it has 6 internal drives with the six OS on seperate HDD’s (Windows10, OSX Mavericks, FreeBSD, Arch i686, Arch X86_64 and another Arch on a wee 16GB Sandisk Cruzer Blade thumbdrive which runs Arch Testing Repo’s ( i don’t code so this is how i try & give back to the community) whilst on the subject of the Archlinux community i’d like to take this opperchancity to dispel those accusations that archers are elitist, mean and unhelpful (being told to read the wiki or a manpage does not equate to elitism) it’s how things are done over in Archland, teach a man to fish and all that, spoon-feeding newbs does not happen, personally i think those sort of claims and accusations stem from inexperienced Manjaro users and their ilk.
heres a couple of tips i would give to any Linux users
1. Don’t use proprietary graphics drivers unless you game or use the computer for other GPU intensive tasks, the open source drivers have gotten much better over the past few years and are very capable. The proprietary drivers often cause problems.
2. Don’t use a session manager like lightdm, slim, GDM, KDM etc. Login via TTY and start x with the ‘startx’ command. I have found these login managers to be troublesome. It’s really simple to login via above method and to choose DE or WM using ~/.xinitrc
3. Experiment! try new DE’s WM’s don’t settle for the most common ones just because they are just that. WM’s will cause less problems and are often much faster. I guarantee if you try all available WM’s be it tiling or floating you will find one that suits your needs better than the common DE’s. There’s no excuse, WM’s like DWM require zero configuration and are ready to go out of the box.
Thanks for reading. if you Agree or Disagree with my musings feel free to leave a comment.