Why Arch Linux over Ubuntu

It has been several months, but one by one, each of my computers I have moved them over to .  They were previously on Ubuntu (and ). This article will take a look at what the differences are for me as a user, between Arch and Ubuntu.

Who is Arch For?

No, Arch isn't for your Grandma, it's not for your technology-illiterate parents. Arch is for hardcore users, who have a passion for having the latest and greatest. A passion for being able to say 'I built this'. A passion for tinkering with things. Heck, sometimes Arch is the solution for people who just want a faster, slimmer operating system and are willing to put in the hard yards to get there.
I am sure that someone out there will disagree with the above, but that is the general 'elitist' view that I see in the Arch community.

The Initial Shift

Yes, you have probably heard, install Arch is hard and has a steep learning curve. But trust me, it is all worth it in the end. Before you jump to one of the side projects that has a graphical installer and ends up being an Arch installation, the elitist in me says you should probably consider why you want Arch again.
If you follow the Beginner's Guide

So, What are the Benefits?


I can elaborate, and I will do this by drawing similarities to Ubuntu.

Arch Ubuntu
Package Manger Pacman Apt-Get
Command to Refresh and Upgrade `pacman -Syu` `apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade`
Command to install `wget` `pacman -S wget` `apt-get install wget`

Above are just some examples. But there are also differences when it comes to installing some third-party package in a third-party repo. Lets say I want to install the latest version of my favourite coding editor Sublime Text 3. Here is the syntax on Ubuntu:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/sublime-text-3sudo apt-get updatesudo apt-get install sublime-text-installer

And This is the Syntax on Arch

sudo packer sublime-text-dev

Wasn't that a bit simpler? Packer is an AUR helper. In other words, it helps you install packages from the (AUR) where there are over 48,000 user submitted packages, with voting from users, allowing you to filter them by user reviews. This helps make sure you are picking a good package that has been tested by other users as opposed to the time it takes of installing a PPA from a random source on Ubuntu.

In the above commands there was a big difference in the length of each command, however it was also functionally much different in the background also.

In Ubuntu, what you are doing is adding another repository for it to checkout every single time you run an apt-get update. This may not be too bad for one or two repositories, but if you have been sticking around with Ubuntu installing lots of random software, they can build up. and apt-get updates would take several minutes on my Internet connection.

In Arch, you are getting an AUR helper to manage the downloading and installation of that package. Pacman is not responsible for updating AUR packages, rather you run packer -Syu and it will update your pacman and packer (AUR) packages all in one go. This way you can update quickly (the repo update of the core is about 5-10 seconds for me) the core pacman repos, whilst taking a little bit longer to update your third party packages when you need to.

Plus just having the AUR, means you can almost always google search for 'AUR some-package' and you will find a package ready to install. This all may seem like very small things, but I have to say it makes dealing with packages so much easier and so much more fast than on Ubuntu.
Arch User RepositoriesI am a big fan of having control of my system, and letting everything be up to me. As you can see from my switch from Mac to Ubuntu in the first place. However with Ubuntu, you get a system that has a lot of decisions made for you right out of the box. Now that there is what makes Ubuntu the right option for Linux newcomers, not having to make a lot of daunting decisions. But for people who are a bit more command-line savvy, Arch is great. You can make your system as light, or as heavy, as you want it to be. Heck I run a window manager called WMII
Now I am not some hardcore user that is dedicated to having a slim system. But if my system gets bulky, I know I can say "It has what I wanted, and everything on here was my choice".

Rolling Release

This is what half got me into Arch. I heard all this talk about , which sounded like a great idea to me! (although I do understand it has it's problems for users, and looses publicity when there are no big announcements). And then . Which me asking, "What other distros are rolling release?". At which point I came across Arch. I also like to consider myself an "elitist", so I was naturally attracted to it.

What does a rolling-release mean for me? Never getting stuff late. And never having to add PPA's just to get new versions of software in the core repositories. Down side is of course, breakages. I personally have not come across any problems, most the problems I have come across are older versions of software running on other systems I am trying to deal with. But don't get me wrong they do happen, but the good thing is, you can simply roll back to the old version (assuming you haven't wiped your cache) or wait till the new version gets pushed out with a fix.
they decided to not go ahead with itIt is installed on my primary laptop, primary desktop, primary work computer and even my new VPS (hosting xpressen.com at Linode, but that is a blog post for another day)!
Mac before that

Benjamin Kaiser

Benjamin Kaiser

Software Engineer working on the SharePoint team at Microsoft. I'm passionate about open source, slurpess, and Jesus.
Gold Coast, Australia

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