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8 things you should know before installing Arch Linux

When installing most Linux distributions you just need to download the ISO, create bootable media and start the installation process, no research required.

But things are a little different with Arch Linux. If you jump straight into the installation part without first researching the distribution, you will be stunned by the complexity of the process. And that’s just the setup for talking.

To make sure your first take on Arch Linux doesn’t include the words “fancy,” “confusing,” or “not for me,” here’s a brief list of things you should know before you dive head first into the world. free and extensive Arch Linux.

1. Arch Linux is a progressive release distribution

If you are coming from a stable Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora, then you will find the software distribution on Arch Linux quite fascinating. Unlike other stable distributions, Arch developers do not release LTS or beta versions to the public. Instead, there is only one Arch Linux, one that works and works great.

As the title suggests, Arch is a streaming distribution, which means installed packages are available to update as soon as their developers release one. This ensures that your system is always updated with the latest software unlike other distributions which only offer stable and tested packages to the user.

But it also comes with a downside. The latest packages are not always tried and tested, which means that a few bugs can creep in and make your system unusable. But it is a cost that you have to pay to get the latest versions of the software right after they are released.


2. Arch Linux has a command line based installation

Almost all distributions aim to turn Linux into a consumer friendly desktop. But Arch does his own thing with his user-centric ideology.

Instead of providing a fancy graphical installer, Arch leaves you with a boring (but powerful) command line interface after booting. You must manually instruct the system to install the operating system for you, which includes partitioning storage, installing basic packages, configuring users, and installing a desktop.

For some users this can be a red light, for others it is a chance to learn Linux concepts from the start. You will learn how to work with disks, edit configuration files, install the boot loader and other packages; that brings us to the next point.

3. You will have to install everything manually on Arch Linux

The installation process has already made this obvious; you will have to install everything manually on Arch Linux. This includes the Linux kernel, software package, desktop environments, and any additional utilities you need on your system.

Other Linux distributions often configure most things for you with their easy-to-use interfaces, including desktop, users, and the kernel. Not automatically configuring said components is not a disadvantage for using Arch Linux, even if it looks like it.

With its DIY approach, Arch completely transfers control to users, giving them the choice to install only the packages they want. This minimizes bloatware and allows you to build a system that you can proudly call your own.

4. Arch is the closest thing to digital minimalism

Minimalism has been all the rage for quite some time, whether in design, life, or desktops. Arch is one of the few, if not the only, Linux distribution that allows you to configure an operating system customized to your liking.

You can choose to fill your system with apps or keep it minimal, the choice is yours. As mentioned above, other distributions often come bundled with bloatware that has no practical end user application.

On the other hand, a minimal installation of Arch Linux will leave you with a basic Linux system, and nothing more, not even a desktop environment. You can choose which desktop to install, if you want one of course. You can even get by without a desktop environment using the default Arch shell if you are comfortable with the Linux command line.

5. Arch Linux is different from Ubuntu or Fedora

arch linux and ubuntu

Distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora frequently release new versions of the operating system over time. These new versions include updated software, new additions to the distribution, and improvements to existing features. Arch doesn’t work that way.

When someone mentions Ubuntu, you can ask which version, and they’ll usually respond with a version number or code name. On the other hand, when you hear Arch Linux, you don’t need to inquire about the version number because there is no version of Arch Linux.

Instead, there is only one Arch Linux, which is updated regularly as developers release their software updates. A new version of a package is released, you can install it the next day. New Linux kernel released? You can test it right away.

6. You will have to fix what you have broken yourself

When you regularly update your system’s packages to the latest version, you are likely to experience some instability from time to time. Although most of the time the problem is fixed quickly (thanks to the quick updates), sometimes you will have to fix the problem yourself.

If you break something in your system, in most situations you can fix the problem by undoing what you just did. But some mistakes may be beyond your comprehension and you might need help correcting them. This is where ArchWiki comes in.

7. Arch has a well-kept documentation (ArchWiki)

wiki arch documentation

Unlike Ubuntu and Fedora, which typically have a support period that lasts for years, you don’t get similar support in Arch Linux. Instead, what you have is a large, well-maintained collection of documentation known as ArchWiki. Whenever you find yourself sitting in front of a screen full of errors, search ArchWiki. Don’t know why the sound is not working on the system? Google results from ArchWiki.

Of course, there will be times when you can’t find help in the official documentation, and in such unexpected situations, you can post your issue on the Arch Linux forum. The community is helpful, and you’ll find hundreds of users willing to help, but only if you post your concern correctly.

A word of warning: make sure you’ve flipped through ArchWiki’s pages before looking for help in the forum, unless, of course, you want to get trolled. This is mainly because Arch users don’t like to spoon all the details into newbies, especially when they can easily find the solution on the Wiki.

8. The AUR has almost all the software you need

In addition to the official Arch repositories, from which you can download and install most packages, you also have the Arch User Repository (AUR). The AUR is a community repository where anyone can download and host software that they have developed. If you can’t find a specific package in the official repositories, chances are it’s in the AUR.

But this easy access to software also comes at a cost. Most of the packages on the AUR are not tested properly and there is a good chance that some will render your system useless.

pacman, the default package manager on Arch-based distributions, can only download packages from official repositories. To download packages from AUR, you will need an AUR — Yay wizard, for example.

Why should you install Arch Linux

There are many reasons to switch to Arch Linux: the availability of the latest software, full control over the system, and the ability to customize Linux to your liking, to name a few. Other than that, you can say “I am using Arch btw” on internet forums which is one of the best reasons to install Arch Linux in the first place.

Don’t like the complexity associated with Arch Linux? Do not worry. Test the power of Arch by installing a user-friendly Arch-based distro first, and if you like it, you can always go back.

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