Objectives change over time, the Goals are a set of mostly static targets we all agree on. Objectives are tasks destined to assist fulfill and ensure we reach those targets, Goals.
- Provide the latest software as is practical, while aiming to achieve a reasonable level of stability
- Not be dependent on any graphical interface for any system function
- Remain a lightweight, general purpose distribution that is simple in its implementation
- Continue to be a strongly community oriented distribution
- Provide a good set of reliable and modern Linux technologies for desktop, server and portable PCs
- Be equally suitable for home, educational, small business and corporate use
- Provide a solid base for creating custom Arch (ISOs and repos) variants for users specific purposes
- Remain a "install once, run forever" distribution
- Provide good i18n and l10n support
These may be a bit long, but I've copied them in from an email written some time ago and at the time many thought they were a good summary of Arch cornerstones. I think they're still useful today.
- Simple design. Reasoning: “Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.” – Brian W. Kernighan
- i686 only. One architecture. Reasoning: It keeps things simple for the developers, and keeps us from spreading ourselves too thin. Clearly, Arch will eventually have to at least choose another architecture.. i686 won't be around forever. I'm not opposed to bringing on more developers and finding ways for us to support multiple architectures, if done correctly, but I believe strongly that each architecture should have a separate maintenance team in order for this critical aspect of Arch's success to be preserved.
- Vanilla. As few patches as is reasonable to make things play together in the ways necessary, and then primarily as stopgap solutions until things get fixed upstream. This creates predictability and allows smart people with general GNU/Linux knowledge to pick up Arch instantly. It also keeps us from maintaining more and more custom patches over time.
- Easy packaging with pacman. The SINGLE thing that will probably keep me from ever leaving Arch is how simple it is to create packages with Pacman. The thought of ever having to write another RPM spec file or something else as obtuse or complicated or ill-conceived as that makes me want to toss my lunch. When I find new software on the Web to help me do my work, I can have it packaged and integrated into my bag of tricks usually in less than an hour. As a result of this simplicity, we have a Community who understands what's going on and can be productively helpful and supportive of each other.
- Binary distribution. Unlike Gentoo, we can download and install Firefox on a reasonably fast machine with a reasonably fast link in less than a minute. Also, we test and certify binaries, so quirks of people's machines don't bugger up their compile processes. The result is that after a pacman -Syu, on any machine, most things just work.
- "i686 only" is a outdated now as we have official x86_64 too. However, it's obvious that Arch shouldn't support as many archs as Debian, and projects like LowArch (i586) and probably Arch Linux PPC will be better managed separately. -- Roman Kyrylych
This might not be exactly where or what we are, but cactus once called Arch a "meta distribution". That is, it gives you tools and a very nice base with which you can do whatever you want. I think this also coincides with 2 of the "goals" I would like to see - that is, (a) like Andy said, we provide a very nice base system and not much more, and (b) "Slackware with pacman" - we get likened to Slackware enough, and I think the simplicity that Slackware strives for is ideal for us as well.
I say focus more on the core packages, the underlying fundamentals. Push the addons higher into the stack. I liken Arch to one of the BSD's, oddly enough. The BSD team focuses on handling the core. They deal with things that come about when the system goes from poweroff to running a base network OS. Then ports managers handle the packages that lay on top of this core system. Just a thought.
Not got much to add but some point I'd like to ack:
- I'm with eliott regarding a bigger differentiation between core and everything else.
- I also don't think commitments to further architectures will benefit the distro, as Roman said
- I'd also like to see continued support for i18n, even though i don't need it.