Should You Install Arch Linux? 10 Reasons for Arch-Based Distros

Bertel King Updated 28-11-2019

Arch Linux is one of the most popular Linux operating systems (also known as distributions) around, as are the easier-to-install distros that are based on Arch, such as Manjaro.
Whether you’re thinking of installing each component manually or downloading a pre-built desktop, here are ten reasons why you might use Arch Linux.


1. You Are Free to Build Your Own PC

Arch Linux, Linux Distro desktop

Arch Linux is unique among the more popular Linux distributions. Ubuntu and Fedora, like Windows and macOS, come ready to go. In stark contrast, Arch Linux challenges you to build your PC’s operating system yourself.

The installation process isn’t as simple as clicking through installer windows. You will need to know numerous terminal commands, and you have to choose your own components. What desktop environment would you like? Do you need Wi-Fi? Which sound server? The process can take quite a while.

The amount of knowledge required makes Arch more difficult to install than most distros. You have to do a bit of reading, but if you can follow a guide, you can get things up and running. In the end, you’re left with a system that does exactly what you want.

2. You Run Only What You Need

Since Arch lets you pick your own components (such as your desktop environment The 12 Best Linux Desktop Environments Choosing a Linux desktop environment can be difficult. Here are the best Linux desktop environments to consider. Read More and your favorite apps), you aren’t saddled with a bunch of software you don’t expect.


In contrast, Ubuntu and most other Linux-based OSes not only come with a large number of desktop apps pre-installed, but they also load quite a few background services. While the number is small compared to how much runs in the background on Windows, you still won’t notice it going on.

When it comes to Arch Linux vs. Ubuntu, Arch Linux wins on transparency. Not only are these services not running in Arch Linux by default, they’re not even installed unless you want them. That means you aren’t wasting resources on extra system processes. Plus you’re saving internet bandwidth by not downloading updates to code that isn’t necessary.

3. Arch Linux Is Unapologetically Technical

Arch Linux QupZilla page

Many Linux distros present themselves as free and easy to use alternatives to Windows and macOS. They want to attract students, developers, and general users. As a result, they don’t highlight many of the nuts and bolts that make the system work. They don’t hide this information, necessarily, but you do have to know where to search and what to look for.


What is Arch Linux? A collection of programs that you can put together to make a functional computer. That’s it. Want to know what specific packages are receiving updates or are having problems? Arch puts this information on the home page of its website. Each link you click only sends you deeper into technical information.

4. Wait Until You Try Pacman on Arch Linux

Pacman is what you use to install packages in Arch. It’s what APT is to Ubuntu and DNF is to Fedora. Except, unlike those distros, Arch doesn’t go out of its way to provide a graphical alternative to the command line.

One advantage of Pacman is that you don’t have to do as much typing. The command to install a specific package is:

pacman -S package-name

Want to download the latest updates for your entire system? Type:

pacman -Syu

Which package manager you prefer is ultimately a matter of personal taste. But you might find that pacman is the one for you.

5. The Arch Linux User Repository Is the Bee’s Knees

Arch Linux Octopi

The Arch User Repository is a collection of software from community members that Arch doesn’t yet provide itself. Instead of having to download an app’s source files yourself and try to figure out how to get things working, AUR does the heavy lifting. There’s a good chance that if there’s a Linux program you want to run that’s not in Arch’s repos, it’s in the AUR.

Using the AUR isn’t immediately intuitive, but there are ways to make the experience simpler. A tool like Yaourt can help you out in the command line, while Octopi provides a graphical interface that does the background work for you.


6. The Arch Wiki Is the Best Around

Arch Linux Wiki

Whether or not you use Arch Linux or an Arch-based alternative, there is plenty of reason to pay the Arch Wiki a visit. The site is a treasure trove of information.

Because Arch uses the same components as most other Linux distros, the guides and fixes contained on this site are relevant well outside of the Arch ecosystem. If you’re not sure which software to install on your computer, check out the descriptions presented here. Follow the guides, read the recommendations, and take note of the bugs.

There may be some differences in the way your distro and Arch package things, but the wiki may still point you in the right direction.

7. Bye-Bye System Upgrades

Arch Linux sudo Konsole

Most Linux distros see a major release on a semi-regular basis. Some come out twice a year. Others take more time. Arch does away with this approach entirely. You install Arch once and download updates indefinitely without having to think about upgrading to a new version. The same is true of most Arch-based distros.

This is called a rolling release model What Is a Linux Rolling Release, and Do You Want It? Learn more about why certain Linux distributions have a "rolling release" schedule and what that means for you. Read More , and it’s a surefire way to keep up with the latest Linux software.

But this is also what some people consider Arch’s downside. If you’re not paying attention to the updates that are coming in, things could break. No one’s testing the exact configuration of software running on your computer. You have to take responsibility for your own experience.

8. Arch Has Less Corporate Influence

Many people use Linux because they don’t want a company determining what they can do on their computer. No matter which version of Linux you use, there will be less commercial influence on how your PC functions compared to Windows or macOS. But at the end of the day, distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE still have ties to a corporate sponsor.

If you use a distro based on Ubuntu, your desktop experience is still influenced by the decisions that Canonical makes. This is much less the case with Fedora and openSUSE. But if you want even more of a gap, you want a community-only distro Companies vs. Communities: Who Makes a Better Linux Operating System? Some distributions have a company behind them. Ubuntu, the most popular desktop Linux operating system, is one, and it's not alone. But does having corporate responsibilities reduce, or enhance a Linux distro developer? Read More like Arch.

9. Arch Makes for a Great Base

Arch Linux antegos on desktop

Don’t want to go through the hassle of installing Arch Linux? Consider Manjaro. It offers a more straightforward installation process and choose a default experience for you. At the same time, you get perks that make Arch great such as access to the AUR and rolling release updates.

Some distros based on Arch keep the same KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), no-nonsense approach. Chakra Linux is my favorite way to experience the KDE Plasma desktop. It was originally based on Arch, and you still won’t find much non-technical information in its documentation.

10. You Now Know Linux Inside and Out

By the time you finish installing Arch, you have a good idea of what goes into making a Linux distro tick. Even if you go with an alternative Arch-based distro, you still may have to pay more attention to the updates you download. This is the nature of using a rolling release distro.

Yet the knowledge you gain from installation and managing updates is useful even if you move on from Arch to something else The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More .

When there’s talk of transitioning from one initialization system to another, you know what’s going on. You may find you now have strong opinions about display servers. And if things break, you have an idea precisely which software pages may be relevant.

Installing Arch is a great way to get a handle on Linux without having to take a single course.

Is Arch Linux Right for You?

That’s for you to decide. These are some of Arch’s many benefits. Why don’t you take the distro or an easier Arch-based alternative for a spin and let us know what you think? If you find that Arch Linux still doesn’t give you quite the degree of control you were looking for, you could always try Gentoo How to Gain Total Control of Your PC With Gentoo Gentoo is a true Linux operating system for power users, but with the right knowledge, anyone can gain control over their PC with Gentoo Linux -- even you! Read More .

Related topics: Arch Linux, Linux Distro.

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  1. Arnold
    June 23, 2019 at 12:02 am

    The pleasure of successfully installing and configuring your very own operatingsystem to work exactly as you prefer will keep you happy for a long time.

    The ease of keeping your system up to date with pacman will keep the smile on your face, and once you are familiar, you will not miss GUI for one second. There's no Linuxbased OS or any other OS easier to keep up to date.

    The resources of your computer will be kept available for your preferred applications rather than grinding a heavy OS.

    There's nothing like Arch, and there's nothing better.

    • dragonmouth
      June 24, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      "There's nothing like Arch, and there's nothing better."
      The same statement will be made by users fluent in the use of Gentoo LFS and even Source Mage. Even neurosurgery and nuclear physics are simple when one has enough experience in them.

      Let's face it, Arch is not for mewcomers to Linux unless they are masochists or have inordinate amount of free time.

      • Arnold
        June 26, 2019 at 5:41 am

        Please...... Gentoo is a completely different ballgame.

        Keeping Arch up to date is REALLY simple and way, way faster than maintaining Windows, and you'll actually will spend less time than keeping MacOS up to date. Thus, spending one hour or 2-3 on a one time installation is a matter of no consequence.
        You'll get a massive dividend on that investment of time.

        • dragonmouth
          July 1, 2019 at 10:02 pm

          "Gentoo is a completely different ballgame. "
          Only because you do not use it.

          I do not use Arch or any Arch-based distro. It took me 20 minutes to install the distro I use and takes maybe 10 minutes 3 or 4 times a week to update/upgrade it. And I did not need a wiki to install it, run it or maintain it.

          I get dividends from my stocks. :-)

      • Arnold
        July 4, 2019 at 5:51 am

        Good for you! ;o) Irrespective of what you (or I) can do, using the wiki while installing and configuring is wise for anyone new to Arch.
        Installing and maintaining Arch doesn't take much time. One will however spend a little time with configuration, getting ONLY the packages one pref (and setting the distro up for own pref). Basicly what one need to do with any desktop. 1-3 hrs for a first time Arch user would be normal. I'm well aware of what dividend is.
        The concepts of Gentoo and LFS are great (been there too), but impractical if the intention is easy daily use and maintenance +++
        Arch works very well in those terms as opposed to what seems to be the general view. "Only because you don't use it"? Have used it - that's why i don't. Same goes for LFS.

  2. retired trebor
    June 19, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    I have a second desktop PC, 500 gig hard drive and 8 gig ram with Intel I5 processor. I would like to install four or five distros based on different "parents". One of the will be an Arch distro. Does anyone have a link to a good article on how to accomplish this. I have found articles, mostly 5 to 7 years old, and don't know if relevant with distros of today.

    • Arnold
      June 23, 2019 at 12:14 am

      Depends a.o. on whether your PC (and/or the guide) got BIOS or UEFI - and the settings of UEFI.

  3. Kent Seaton
    December 4, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Just a heads up, don't use yaourt. It's no longer developed and a massive security issue. There are many other AUR package managers available for those that need them. Your best bet is to learn the Arch way of handling packages instead. Also, always verify your PKGBUILD files.

  4. Rahul
    October 3, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Which Desktop environment they are using in Arch Linux? Anyone having any idea?

    • dragonmouth
      June 22, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Any DE you want. You're in charge of creating a running system.

  5. Rahul
    October 3, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Which Desktop environment they are using in the images that they have provided? Anyone having any idea?

    • Arnold
      June 23, 2019 at 12:07 am

      Top one is KDE and the other is Gnome.
      Of those, pick Gnome for simple or KDE to get a DE exactly the way you want it.

  6. Matt
    August 7, 2018 at 7:25 am

    BunsenLabs influenced distro based on Arch.

    • Rahul rawat
      October 3, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      Which windows decoration they are using in the images in kde plasma?

  7. GP
    June 7, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    The one and most important reason to install Arch Linux (the standard way): to learn linux!
    I'm not longer using Arch but I'm still using Arch Wiki.

  8. Guestsarebest
    April 5, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Arch, the veganism of the Linux world. they love to throw it in your face that they use Arch and why it's so much better regardless of someome elses preferences

    • NotAVeganBTW
      July 18, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      You know, I think you're right about Arch users being like vegans.

      For every obnoxious vegan I come across who won't stop banging on about veganism, I come across 10 people like you who won't stop banging on about vegans. Similar for the Arch users.

      • pradtf
        April 30, 2019 at 8:43 pm

        thx for this insight, NotAVeganBTW!
        as a vegan and definitely of the obnoxious kind, i feel that archlinux would be just perfect!
        we used archlinux more than a decade ago, but switched because we didn't want to run our home server with it. tried debian, ubuntu and fedora (for the past 5 yrs). they were all good ... but archlinux seems to be exciting!
        great article too, btw! i'm convinced!

  9. Nikato Muirhead
    April 5, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Arch is not overly technical. It is just flexible.

    • rob
      May 31, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      I agree, but it kind of depends on whether you want to just use your computer or if you want your computer to be one of your hobbies. Arch is bleeding edge...if you're afraid to bleed a little bit then you probably shouldn't use it.

  10. NixDev
    April 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Debian Sid also meets some of the same 'criteria' you used to state how great Arch is. Arch isn't bad, though I prefer Manjaro if I'm going the Arch route, but Debian Sid is rolling release and isn't bad, so long as it's not used as a production server.

  11. Dustin
    April 3, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Arch is the non-technical, easier version of Gentoo.


    • ManualFocusRing
      May 18, 2019 at 4:22 am

      Many years ago I decided to give Gentoo a try. After much trial and error I finally got everything to compile and install. It was a great learning experience and I would never do it again. Lol.

  12. Nathan Graule
    April 3, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Not a single negative criticism in here, so I'll throw myself into the arena.

    Arch (and arch-based distros) *will* leave your computer in a bad state. If you have time to tinker around and you like that, and that you installed it from scratch, fine, however if you have something else to do than constantly fixing your computer, Arch will not be your new favorite OS. This is the reason why less cutting edge but more stable distributions are popular - Ubuntu itself successfully marketed itself as a good, and stable distribution.

    At the end of the day, it all depends on the way you look at your computer: if it's an empty workbench where you custom build your software, that's fine. If your computer is a tool, or even your bread winner, then Arch will not benefit you more then just a feeling of satisfaction from knowing more about the inner workings of the Linux OS.

    • Dragonbite
      April 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      After having just installed Arch, I found I needed to have a 2nd computer to go through the Wiki on things such as setting up the Network and Graphic Desktop Environment.

      That being said, I am surprised that I did get it up and in a usable state in a fairly short amount of time though now is tweaking and filling in the gaps. Not as quickly as it would have taken to get Ubuntu installed and mostly configured but that is no surprise.

      The documentation is the key. Being able to easily find how to perform or set up something makes a huge difference. Initially I was whining about it but looking back it was good enough to get me started.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      April 5, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      I spoke to that point in section 7:

      "This is called a rolling release model, and it’s a surefire way to keep up with the latest Linux software.

      But this is also what some people consider Arch’s downside. If you’re not paying attention to the updates that are coming in, things could break. No one’s testing the exact configuration of software running on your computer. You have to take responsibility for your own experience."


    • Quibbler
      July 18, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      While your general point is fair, I've gotta quibble on things like 'if you have something else to do than constantly fixing your computer'. I've run Arch boxes fox extended periods of time and honestly very rarely have to fix them; they really don't break *that* often (though you are very right that they will break from time to time). 'Constantly' is pretty hyperbolic. (On another note its not even *that* much less often that I've had to dive in and fix issues on Debian or Ubuntu machines)

      • Friar Tux
        September 23, 2018 at 8:38 pm

        Sorry, Quibbler, I have to agree with Nathan. WAY too much fiddling to get any work done. And the install - O.M.G.!! I'd rather go to the dentist and have a root-canal done. I'll stick with a Ubuntu flavour, or, if I MUST use an Arch type OS, I'll go with an Arch BASED OS. Plenty of those around that install/configure/work much less painfully. As for learning Linux, try Linux From Scratch, but use a second machine if you can.

  13. Sifr
    April 3, 2018 at 1:25 am

    By the way, I use Arch.

  14. Anonymous
    April 2, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    I don't want to seem like a devil's advocate, but OpenBSD is almost the same way - starts minimal and allows you to build up your way. Also, the ports tree for any BSD, which is what AUR is based on, is stored in /use/ports, giving you easy access to the tree. Thirdly, OpenBSD pioneered a lot of the tools we use for networking, like OpenSSH and LibreSSL.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      April 5, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      All valid points. There's quite a bit going on in the BSD side of things for Linux to take as inspiration.

  15. Alroger Gomes Jr
    April 2, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I made myself use Arch for a while at before Ubuntu times, the Redhat/Fedora era, so I would understand all the parts inside a Linux OS. It was a great learning experience and Arch always had a great amount of documentation.
    It's worth it, specially if you want to learn some.

  16. Spencer
    April 2, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Arch is cool as hell, and with pre built distros like Manjaro and Antergos (my fav) it can still be pretty easy to set up. Building Arch the way your supposed to will be a little time consuming, but still pretty straightforward because there is really great documentation on archwiki. The one caveat is that depending on your video hardware, it can get a little tricky...

  17. boogiestu
    April 2, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    Long time Ubuntu user. Switch to Manjaro and now loving Arch base distro. The AUR is worth the switch. Great to let others know of option thanks

  18. Darc Man
    April 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    No thank you. Not interested in Linux as a form of masochism.

    • Sean Hennessy
      April 3, 2018 at 12:26 am

      "Linux as a form of masochism..."

      You're funny! Linux *is* a form of masochism, silly! Where have you been since 1991?

      • Adria
        April 3, 2018 at 4:28 am

        I think he is saying he likes easiest distros but the best thing of Linux is that you can customise it all but requires to spend time and play with configurations until you get a nice environment for you to work.

        No pain no gain. ;-)

        • Sean Hennessy
          April 6, 2018 at 4:04 am

          I know, I know. I use it more than any other os, even if you include Android as an "other os."

          But you have to admit, we could have a lot less pain for a lot more gain than Linux currently gives us.

  19. Darc
    April 2, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    No thanks.

  20. Ryan
    April 2, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Love the info on Arch, thanks.