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

Whether you’re thinking of installing each component manually or downloading a pre-built Arch-based desktop, here are ten reasons to embrace the Arch ecosystem.

Arch Linux, Linux Distro desktop

1. With Arch Linux, You Are Free to Build Your Own PC

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 Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch For Linux power users, it's highly desirable to be able to completely customize your system. Sometimes, that can be best achieved from the start -- by piecing together the components that you'd like to include... Read More .

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. And even if you install an Arch-based distro that provides a default experience, you can still swap out the parts as you wish.

2. You Run Only What You Need

Since Arch lets you pick your own components, that means you aren’t saddled with a bunch of software you don’t expect. Ubuntu not only comes with a large number of desktop apps pre-installed, but there are also quite a few background services.

While the number is small compared to how much runs in the background on Windows, you likely still have no idea all that’s going on Ubuntu to Collect Your PC Data: What This Means for You Ubuntu to Collect Your PC Data: What This Means for You Canonical has announced that upcoming versions of Ubuntu will collect data about the PCs they're installed on and the way they're used. Read More .

Not only are these services not running in Arch Linux by default, they’re not even installed. That means you aren’t wasting resources on extra system processes. You’re also 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.

Arch isn’t trying to pitch itself as anything other than a collection of programs that you can put together to make a functional computer. 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 Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More 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 How to Install Software on Linux: Package Formats Explained How to Install Software on Linux: Package Formats Explained You've switched to Linux, and want to install some software. But package managers differ depending on your distro. So which apps can you download and install? It's all in the acronyms. Read More , 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

I’m currently using a distro born from Arch Linux, but even when I’m not, I still have plenty of reason to pay the Arch Wiki a visit. No matter which Linux distro you use, the Arch Wiki 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 site 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? 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? 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 Easy to Install, Simple to Use: But Should You Switch to Manjaro 17? Easy to Install, Simple to Use: But Should You Switch to Manjaro 17? Manjaro 17 is an excellent option switching from Windows or macOS to Linux and is surprisingly simple to install. Check out what's new in Manjaro Linux 17 and find out if you should switch. Read More and Antergos How to Install Arch Linux the Easy Way with Antergos How to Install Arch Linux the Easy Way with Antergos Old PC or laptop need a new lease of life? Thinking about switching to Linux, but don’t know where to start? With Antergos, you can install Arch Linux the easy way! Read More . Both offer 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 use KDE. 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 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 transiting 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 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 .

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  1. 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.

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

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

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

    By the way, I use Arch.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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...

  15. 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

  16. 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.

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

    No thanks.

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

    Love the info on Arch, thanks.