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Three years on Arch Linux

By Ev Bogue - July 4th 2016

I don't care about having the best hardware, but I do want the best software. This is why I was used Mac OS X until a year after Steve died, then I exorcised his ghost from my machine to figure out what is next out here on the technological verge.

Leaving the ailing software ecosystem of Apple led me on somewhat of an adventure in the land of Linux distros. I tried a whole bunch of them (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora), and I kept coming back to Arch Linux. The reason I kept coming back is because Arch Linux is the best right now. Arch Linux has been the best operating system since I started using it three years ago.

I also use Arch Linux on my VPS that you are visiting when you view this website.

Why Arch Linux is the best

  1. Your Arch Linux installation begins with a command line, and when you're done installing you get a command line. This means Arch Linux is only installing the software you need to get a machine running, and nothing more.
  2. You get to choose the software you want to install. This means Arch Linux is a bit of a choose your own adventure. Thus you are encouraged to decide for yourself what software you want install -- instead of someone else deciding for you.
  3. Arch Linux works on a rolling release schedule, meaning the software is almost always up to date and on the cutting edge.

To update Arch Linux, you only need to type one command sudo pacman -Syu and the system updates to the latest version of everything.

Many people told me that Arch Linux would break because of the rolling release schedule. However, I've only had Arch Linux break on me once in this way -- and it was because my bootloader didn't install properly after an upgrade. My system breaking one time in three years because of a rolling release update doesn't seem to be that bad of an experience.

Choosing your own stack

Arch Linux encourages you to choose your own stack. This means everyone's Arch Linux stack can and will be different.

When I start with a blank Arch Linux installation, I find myself installing these packages

% sudo pacman -S vim terminology dwm dmenu nodejs npm git

And of course any other dependencies that I need to get basic operations up and running such as wifi, my trackpad, and xorg of course.

Because no web browser appears to be any good right now, I find myself switching between w3m, surf and chromium.

The best way to use Arch Linux is probably to install a whole bunch of different software packages until you decide what is right for you.

Cutting edge packages

Arch Linux has core extra community and aur packages. Aur can be a great way to experiment with software that is being built right now.

For example, I use the go-ipfs-git package to install IPFS on my local machine and VPS. terminology used to be in aur, before it became stable and was moved into the core Arch Linux repositories.

Responsible for and to yourself

The biggest benefit to using Arch is Arch Linux teaches technical self-reliance. As anyone will tell you on the Arch Linux forums: if something breaks it's your job to fix it. This leads to a resilient operating system with a resilient stack and ultimately a resilient you. Because there's no central authority deciding what you can and cannot do with your computer you are left to develop your computing stack in the way you think is best.

When something better than Arch Linux is developed, I will try it out. Until then, I will be using Arch Linux.

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