Why Arch Linux?

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Sun Apr 24 19:06:01 UTC 2011

On Sunday 24 Apr 2011 17:41:04 Anders Holmberg wrote:
> Hi!
> One question.
> I was a debian user 10 years a go but went over to a comercial os.
> Xp infact.
> However thinking of beginning with linux again but am not sure what to use.
> I don't remember much but i am wondering if archlinux would be a go for
> me or should i stick with another distro for now.
> /A

Well, if you could handle Debian 10 years ago, you should be good to go with 
Debian today, because it improved subtantially. Other options which may be 

* Ubuntu - a Debian derivative, borrowing from Debian unstable, that appears 
to be the most popular distribution out there (and certainly the most 
hyped[Hype].). Good hardware utilisation, lots of integration and glue (at 
least in GNOME, hard to know about KDE, which many people and I happen to 
prefer now, so it's a turn-off), and good community knowledge. And naturally, 
being based on Debian it has a large selection of packages.

* Fedora / CentOS - what were once Red Hat Linux, which later split into 
Fedora (the community distribution which is released every 6 months) and Red 
Hat Enterprise Linux (= "RHEL" - based on a Fedora, long term release, is 
released when convenient, and then maintained with vendor patches), which 
CentOS is a community version of it (based on Red Hat's packages and 
agreeably) that aims to be as compatible as possible, but some commercial 
programs will only be supported on RHEL. CentOS is stuck at yesteryears' land, 
while Fedora can be very bleeding edge. I had a good experience with running 
Fedora versions in VMs and on different partitions, but I like Mandriva 

* Mandriva - the distribution I started using because I bought a 40 GB hard-
disk and it was the first to support installation to the journalised ReiserFS 
file-system (which actually trashed my hard-disk shortly afterwards) and which 
I grew to like, and am now using out of inertia. In the public eyes, it seems 
to have been largely superceded by Ubuntu, and a lot of people think it's 
passé but it is still actively maintained, with a helpful and clueful 
community (albeit a smaller and less noisy one than Ubuntu's) and now it also 
has a more community fork called Mageia Linux, which seems interesting but I 
did not switch to, due to having converted to rpm5 on Mandriva already, and 
out of initial inertia. 

I'm using Cooker, which is what becomes the next Mandriva release, and has all 
the latest programs with all the latest and greatest bugs (and gives some 
satistfaction in me helping to debug bugs from the stable release). The 6 
months (now 12 months again I think) release should be much more reliable than 

* MEPIS - a more faithful custom Debian-based distribution than Ubuntu. For a 
while it was Ubuntu-based, but now it's Debian-based. 

* SUSE - a "Eurolinux"-so-to-speak distribution that sported very good 
localisation and internationalisation and so was popular outside the English 
speaking world. Tended to do things in a different way to Red Hat and similar 
distributions (including ot a large extent Debian), but now may be much 
better. In a bit of a legal limbo now due to Novell buying it and selling it 
again, but openSUSE is open-source and can be maintained by the community.


These are the main open-source desktop-oriented, non-LiveCDish distributions 
that I'm aware of, but there are many others and some people like to use very 
obscure ones (and there are many exotic distributions that some people swear 
by.). I don't know how much their choice will matter to a blind person 
(assuming you are one.), and you are likely to run into quirks and bugs with 
any of them given enough time and expertise. But they all should be fine 
choices and they all have their trade-offs. Pick one and stick with it, and 
then you can play with others in a VM or install in a different partition, and 
try to get used to it for a prolonged period. Open source is all about choice 
and we and most people like it that way. (Many opinionated people claim may be 
daunting for newcomers, but choice in open-source, like choice in restaurants 
in most large cities, or the morning's cereal aisle in the supermarket, is 
unavoidable due to its free-and-open nature and we need to learn to make the 
best of it). 


	Shlomi Fish

[Hype] - it's not commercial hype like Java was at the time, more like 
grassroots hype, but it's still hype, and I dislike having things hyped.

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/

I may be a geek, but I’m a true Klingon geek-warrior! And a true Klingon geek
warrior ALWAYS bottom-posts.

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