Judd Vinet: Tough to compare really, they're all great distros. I find it flattering to have Arch compared to the likes of Slackware and Debian, as I've always revered them as the time-tested, rock-solid distributions on which other distros are based.
Arch has been largely successful in adopting positive traits of other distributions, and you're quite accurate in picking those four. I think Arch has borrowed some good qualities from each of those systems, especially Slackware and FreeBSD.
Most users who like FreeBSD or Slack would probably like Arch Linux.
As for prerequisite knowledge, you don't need that much to start using Arch, as long as you're prepared to ask questions and read documentation. It's not as involved as we often make it out to be, but having a rudimentary knowledge of the commandline, kernels, modules and hardware config will be a big asset when climbing our learning curve.
Arch assumes you know what you're doing. I like that a lot, because it tends to stay out of your way if you start to wander off the beaten path. For this reason, I think Arch may prove to be a good base for other, more specialized distributions.
Jan de Groot: Debian users should be able to find their way into arch, at least I did. Only thing I had to learn was that apt-get was renamed to pacman, and that a thing like debconf didn't exist.
Arch does not contain upstream documentation in the packages and does not configure things for you. This is something to get used to when switching from debian, since the first thing I did after installing a package was reading /usr/share/doc/$pkgname/README.Debian. Archlinux is more bleeding edge, even more than Gentoo. Things could be broken once in a while, so I wouldn't use archlinux on production systems. I don't keep Debian as server OS for nothing.
Tobias Kieslich: Each of the named systems has been developed with a certain idea to make things better and easier. I think arch brings much of the good things of these systems as it is fast, simple, solid and easy to maintain. Arch doesn't fit every need out of the box. But it can fit them with only little customization by the user.
Thanks for the interview and your patience with my mono-packages :)
Damir Perisa: I would not compare them. All have good ideas behind and everybody should decide idependendly what idea suits her/his needs best. As a student in biology, i know to respect the value of diversity. You cannot argue that e.g. a zebra is "better" than an elephant. Both perform important actions in the ecosystem of the sahel zone in Africa and without one of them, the ecosystem would lack important elements in the chains and processes called life. I think that diversity is also the key to linux. You should not try to convince say a Debian user to use something else because you like it. It has to do with ideas. The possibilities today give the people the freedom of choice. This is a strenght opensource software has compared to commercial products. You often have 2 or 3 kind of software to choose to do be productive.
What i would tell a user who asks me about Arch is easy: I would tell her/him my experieces and the reason why i myself use it. If she/he agrees with my arguentation of the idea of ArchLinux how i see it, she/he decides her/himself to try it or not. The only tip i would make is: If you are a newbie and do not care about learning some basics of linux, forget it! Arch is, as i see it, for the lazy user who is still willing to learn things and is not afraid if this involves the command line. You don't need to be a guru or expert in IT, the only thing you should bring with you is the joy to learn how to use a computer efficiently.
Thank you for the interview and the interest in ArchLinux.
Dale Blount: Arch combines the best from all of these distros. It's simple like Slackware, easy to update like Debian, optimized (although not to the same extent) like Gentoo, and rock solid like FreeBSD.
Jason Chu: I only have experience with Slackware, Debian, and Gentoo. Even then, I don't see what the point in comparing them is. They may all be linux distros but they're all managed differently and have different goals.
To answer the second question, it's not what a power user needs to know, it's what a power user wants to learn. There are many users of many different skill levels who all get along in the Archlinux community. Depending on how you want to use your machine, your knowledge may already be enough. If you're willing to learn, your knowledge *is* already enough.
Tobias Powalowski: Well i don't know the others, i installed once Slackware and i tried Knoppix hd-install but i have no experience with them for running them in long time. I did run SuSE 7.0-9.0 i wouldn't say that it's bad but if you start changing things in SuSE beside the installer you will get trouble and updating was always a little bit cross your fingers and hope it will work. ( i mean from one release to an other.)
Archs-Installer is like Slackware, pacman/makepkg is a great package system it's optimized for i686 and you can tweak Arch to boot really fast, what else a power linux user does want :)
What you need for Arch:
Read the install doc,wikis manpages, learn how to use your favourite editor and some basics of how the files in /etc work together that's all you need. Since Arch delivers the things normally as they are you can read the manual of each package you need and adjust it to your needs.
Don't expect crazy hardware to be running in Arch, but you could be suprised that it may work. If hardware runs in other distros it should also run in Arch.
Aurelien Foret: I've never used BSD, and I prefer to stay away from source based distributions. This being said, I was a Slackware user before coming to Arch, and I found in Arch a perfect extent to my Slackware experience.
I don't consider there's a peculiar knowledge required for an average Linux user before trying Arch. On the opposite, you'll find yourself far more knowledgeable by using it!
Arjan Timmerman: I do not compare them, Arch suits my needs. I never really used. What a power user needs to know before enter Arch's domain? I think know your system and have a basic knowledge of the console.