Enhance system stability

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The purpose of this wiki article is to provide tips on how to make your Arch Linux installation as stable as possible. By following the advice below on setting up and maintaining Arch, the user should enjoy a very stable system.

Setting Up Arch

When first installing and configuring Arch Linux, the user has a variety of choices to make about configuration, drivers, and software. Those choices will impact overall system stability.

Recommended Configuration

In the detailed Arch Linux installation and configuration documentation, there is often more than one way to configure a specific aspect of the system. For example, there are several ways to configure a LogIn manager to run during startup. Always choose the recommended, default configuration when setting up the system. (In the case of LogIn manager configuration, this is the Inittab Method. The recommended, default configurations are the best choice for optimum system stability.

Open Source Drivers

Wherever possible, choose open source drivers. Try to avoid proprietary drivers. Most of the time, open source drivers are more stable and reliable than proprietary drivers. Open source driver bugs are fixed more easily and quickly. While proprietary drivers can offer more features and capabilties, this can come at the cost of stability. To avoid this dilemma, choose hardware components known to have mature open source driver support with full features.

Proven, Mainstream Software

Install mature, proven, mainstream software; while avoiding cutting edge software that is still buggy. Try to avoid install point-oh, aka x.0, software releases. For example, instead of installing Foobar 2.5.0, wait until Foobar 2.5.1 is available. Do not deploy newly developed software until it is proven to be reliable. For example, PulseAudio's early versions could be unreliable. Users interested in maximum stability would use ALSA instead during that time. Stick with software that has a strong and active development community.

Maintaining Arch

In addition to configuring Arch for stability, there are steps one can take during maintenance which will enhance stability. Paying attention to a few SysAdmin details while maintaining Arch will help ensure continued system reliability.

Software Repositories

Set up the /etc/pacman.conf file to use only the core and extra repositories. These software repositories contain the most well developed Arch packages. If need be, also activate the community repository, but be aware that software from this repository might not be as mainstream nor as well tested and packaged as software from core and extra. Only use AUR and 3rd party repositories if absolutely necessary.

Up to Date Mirrors

Make sure that you use mirrors that are up to date with the latest packages from the main Arch FTP server. Check with the Arch Mirror Check webpage to make sure your chosen mirror is up to date. Also, edit your mirror list in /etc/pacman.d/ and place local mirrors at the top of the list. Then, install the rankmirrors Python script and use it to enable the fastest mirrors for your system.

Before Upgrading the System

Before upgrading Arch, always read the latest Arch News to find out if there are any major software or configuration changes with the latest packages. Before upgrading fundamental software to a new version, such as the kernel, X.org, or libc; look over the webforum to see if there have been any problems.

Many Arch users update frequently, even upgrading the system daily. While updating so frequently is not necessary, one should update fairly often to enjoy the latest bugfix and security updates. Weekly or monthly upgrades are thus a good idea.

During Upgrading

When running pacman -Syu, be sure to pay attention to the alert notices provided by pacman during the upgrade process. If any additional actions are required by the user, be sure to take care of them right away. If a pacman alert is confusing, search the forums and the recent news posts for additional directions.

Use IgnorePkg

In the /etc/pacman.conf file, there is a section for listing packages to be ignored during upgrades. Uncomment the IgnorePkg line, and list the packages you do not want to update. For example, when a new kernel comes out - such as, you might want to wait until the first point release before upgrading the kernel - In such a case, add 'kernel26 kernel26-firmware' to the IgnorePkg line. With proprietary video drivers, one might want to hold back updating the driver itself, as well as the kernel and xorg-server packages, until a new video driver compatible with the latest kernel and xorg-server packages is available.