Arch Linux is an Act of Faith
Too much ASCII has been spilled debating about whether or not Arch Linux is worth the time, but I’d like to offer yet another way to judge the situation, starting with the cost.
- Starting Arch requires that you already know the basics of bash (or zsh). Playing about with a terminal in Ubuntu and following installation instructions from random websites is more than enough practice.
- After that, you will need about two afternoons to install the thing, starting with a couple of trial runs with a virtual machine.
- To get the system going properly, with the desktop you like, and the best login manager, you’ll need another afternoon or two, depending upon your requirements.
- In the early stages, it’s best to just update when you have time to fix problems. There’s not too much to know here, just a basic understanding of when and how to deal with those .pacnew files, and some familiarity with the AUR. Once you’ve done this section, things which used to be ‘arch is broken’, become just a two-minute config change. New Arch users will consider a system ‘broken’, where older Arch users will fix or avoid those problems without even thinking about them.
Within a few months, the Arch user will have tinkered with their system in their free time, and have a much more streamlined workflow.
Here’s the crux: it’s impossible to know beforehand. Some people can be sure that a dozen afternoons to read up on Arch wiki documentation simply isn’t realistic for unknown benefits, but nobody can be sure how much time will be saved.
Looking back at my old workflow, I cringe at the time wasted on loading, and interacting with the interface. Everything I do is better and faster now. However, it wasn’t possible to find that out before taking the time to make all the changes. Anyone else doing the same may find they end up recreating Linux Mint but with extra steps, and have gained nothing.
It’s hard to argue for ignorance, but at least ignorance is a reliable position.