Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 21st Mar 2005 11:22 UTC
Linux 2003 was the year with Gentoo written all over it in the Linux universe. Last year was Ubuntu's & MEPIS'. I believe that Arch Linux's year is the current one. Read more for a comparison of Arch to existing distributions, and why we think it rocks and where we think it still requires some work.
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Arch is awesome for hobbyists
by Magic8 on Tue 22nd Mar 2005 00:14 UTC

Arch is a very nice system and pacman truly is a marvel. On the other hand, I think it is a much nicer server environment than desktop. Like Slackware, it was originally designed as a server environment (ie. minimal, clean) and as such it requires too much setup and configuration (even for a server environment it is time consuming and nit-picking). Further, it is too bare bones, relying on individual packages to integrate seemlessly with each other instead of providing additional patches to make sure that everything fits together well.

This matters little on server boxes but on desktops, people want to be up and running as fast as possible and the more the desktop seems integrated and works together (and alike) the better the experience is. Like Slackware, Arch is plain vanilla. Some people like that but most people who fall into that camp tend to pick pristine as opposed to ergonomic.

Even if Arch is marginally faster than Ubuntu, it is not nearly as user friendly, easy to install, stable or generally "ready". Besides, Ubuntu is plenty fast. Furthermore, while Arch packages cover a great deal of popular software, it can't begin to touch distros like Slackware let alone Debian (and hence Ubuntu).

I love Arch nearly as much as I love Slackware, which is a whole lot. I haven't been running Arch for awhile though--I'm waiting for it to mature. It only recently hit version 0.7 and the fact that it hasn't even hit a 1.0 release yet is very telling of its current state. It is fast and since moving on from road bumps that occured during the 2.4->2.6 upgrades as well as pacman upgrades (which enabled source compilation builds akin to Gentoo), it is starting to stabilize. There are still caveats but its momentum is increasing and I suspect that within 3-5 years it will be an established distribution.

If you are an enthusiast or want to learn more about the nuts and bolts of linux then it is a great distro. If you are running a few servers which you want to keep tight control over, it could be helpful but not any more so than Slackware. If you have more than a few servers, it lacks the management tools you will likely require to maintain them. If you are a developer who likes to stay clean vanilla, it is great. If you are a desktop user there are better choices right now.

One last note: it is unfortuante that Arch is essentially a private label distro. Unlike Gentoo, Debian or Ubuntu it lacks a community charter. Like Slackware, it is essentially one man's pet project (though that understates the involvement of others in the Arch community, I realize). Again, if you are a hobbyist, it behooves you to try out Arch. Otherwise, you might want to look elsewhere for now.