About arch linux

The other day I gave arch linux a try.

To be honest: I don’t like it.

It’s a very interesting concept, and it is very obvious that arch has its roots deeply in Linux From Scratch, but seriously? I’ve seen linux flavours that were more comfortable to install back in 1996. True, installing arch is very interesting and you can learn a LOT about how linux systems work – but just because I could do it that way doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to do it that way.

What I’m talking about? Let me elaborate:

You download the arch release cd iso image, and boot from it after putting it on a CD or USB stick. That gets you … a root prompt, and a bit of text pointing you at the “installation guide”. And to be quite frank, that installation guide is a joke. It’s pretty much a collection of more or less random facts about how a linux system boots, and you have to piece it together yourself to get to a working, booting system.

I said you can learn a lot – well, to be able to quickly install a working, usable arch system that gets you to a point where you can log in by ssh and install what you actually want you need to manually create partitions and filesystems, figure out whether your system boots from BIOS or EFI on your own (and if it’s efi you have to figure out on your own how to set up the efi partition, and the fact that you need a different boot manager and some additional tools), install the boot manager and create its configuration, manually create /etc/fstab, figure out what toolset to use to manage your network cards, figure out if you need additional firmware packages for the network cards, and and and… all on your own.

It’s a great learning experience – but really, I don’t have the time for that. Also, imagine this: You just bought a new computer – a laptop that does not have windows preinstalled – no OS at all.

You do not have any other hardware to access the internet, so you can’t actually get at that installation guide.

There’s no way in hell that you’d be able to pull off a working arch install on that new machine in that situation.

As a little fun fact, the official archlinux docker image does not work in docker 19.x… and the line of thought that says “arch linux makes for nice small docker images” is not exactly true, at least not when it comes to the size of the image. For a test I’ve built the same docker image based on arch and on opensuse, and the opensuse based image was about half the size of the arch based image.

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