Frequently asked questions

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Read TheArchWay and ArchLinux and DevLand first. All three contain a good deal of information about ArchLinux.

Q) I am a complete Linux beginner. Should I use Arch?

A) This question has had much debate. Arch is targeted at more advanced Linux users, but some people feel "Arch is a good place to start". If you are a beginner and want to use Arch, just be warned that you MUST be willing to learn. Before asking any question, do your own independent research by googling, searching the Wiki, and searching the forum (and reading past FAQs). If you do that, you should be fine. Also know that many people do not want to answer the same basic questions over and over, so you are exposing yourself to that environment. There is a reason these resources were created/made available to you.

Q) I've found an error with package X, what should I do?

A) First you need to figure out if this error is something the Arch team can fix. Sometimes it's not (that firefox crash may be the fault of the Mozilla team) - this is called an upstream error. If it is an Arch problem, there are a series of steps you can take:

  1. Search the forums for information. See if anyone else has noticed it.
  2. Notify the package maintainer. Try a "pacman -Qi <package name>" for this info.
  3. Post a bug report, with detailed information at
  4. Write a forum post if you'd like, detailing the problem and the fact that you have reported it already. This will help prevent alot of people from reporting the same error.

Q) Will Arch have a database for pacman?

A) Possibly. There is discussion over the issue.

Q) Pacman is slow! How can initial start times be improved?

A) See previous entry relating to a database backend for pacman. Only the first pacman run after a boot should be slow. After that, things are generally cached. Still, initial start time is an issue for some people. There is discussion on addressing this. If you are on ReiserFS, there are issues with fragmentation that slow down pacman more than necessary. See this thread for help:

Q) Arch packages need to use a unique naming convention. .pkg.tar.gz is too long, and or, confusing

A) This has been discussed on the Arch mailing list. Some proposed a .pac file extension. As far as is currently known, there is no plan to change the package extension. As Tobias Kieslich, one of the Arch devs, put it, "A package is a gzipped tarball! And it can be opened, investigated and manipulated by any tar capable application. Moreover, the mime-type is automatically detected correctly by most applications."

Q) Pacman needs a library so other applications can easily access package information

A) A library for pacman is in progress.

Q) Pacman needs a front-end

A) Did you read TheArchWay and ArchLinux and DevLand? The answer is basically that the Arch dev team will not be providing one. Feel free to use one of the user provided ones available. There is a nice list of them UserContributionsPage, in the links section. Once the library for pacman is done, it will be much easier to the various frontends to interact with Arch packages. Besides: This is not a Question but a statement. ;-)

Q) Pacman needs feature X!

A) Did you read TheArchWay and ArchLinux and DevLand? The Arch philosophy is "Keep It Simple". If you think the idea has merit, and does not violate this simple litany, then by all means, discuss it on the forum here You might also like to check here, it's a place for feature requests if you find it is important.

Q) Arch needs a better installer. Maybe a GUI installer.

A) The discussion of a "better" installer is a subjective opinion. The best way to cope with these issues it to fit the installer to "the arch way". If this opinion on a better installer is backed with more concrete arguments, it might be taken into account for further development of the installer. Windows uses a text based installer, FWIW

Q) Arch needs more press (ie advertisement)

A) Arch gets plenty of press as it is. The goal of ArchLinux is not to be large. The goal is to be well done. Let growth occur naturally. Trying to force it to grow too quickly will just cause problems.

Q) Arch needs less press

A) Similarly to what is stated above, do not try to restrict the natural growth. More users might mean more devs to work on ArchLinux. This may cause some organizational issues at the "top", but those will be dealt with when they arrive.

Q) Arch needs more devs

A) Possibly so. Feel free to volunteer your time! Visit the forums, irc channel, mailing lists, and see what needs to be done. There is always a need for documentation, see DocumentRequests for anything pending.

Q) Arch needs a stable package branch

A) COMMENT: "For me, In short, Arch is Rock-solid enough."

REPLY: It depends what type of work we are frequently using our machine. Example, in office work we don't want our printer to stop working or in multimedia our cd burning. Or web developing our ftp client. Currently I am annoyed with kde-3.4 when I lost all my bookmarks in kbear (ftp). New bookmark cannot be saved.

SOLUTION: There is a release repo what does as stable though not having all packages. There are thoughs of including all (kde, gnome, etc).

Read more:

Q) Arch needs more documentation

A) Documentation does not occur ex-nihilo. After searching the forums, and the wiki, if you cannot find the documentation you require, try creating it. Start a page on the wiki, and post in the forums regarding it. Likely other people have experience in the area, or are at least willing to help. If nobody does, don't be discouraged. When you finish your documentation, other people will likely find it an extremely valuable resource. There is always a need for documentation, see DocumentRequests for anything pending.

Q) Arch needs to be more "newbie" friendly

A) Before we start a discussion about newbie-friendlyness, we first need to define "newbie"-friendlyness. Please refer to the Q about a better installer.

Q) Newbies are annoying. Make them go away.

A) <Philosophical discussion> Part of being human is accepting others being human too. </Philosophical discussion>

The best thing to cope with newbies is not to judge them on forehand. Somebody may have a common problem, even if they have read the docs, everybody misses sometimes. Shouting at them will not help. Use your best behaviour and ignore people you don't like instead of starting a fight.

Newbies are best helped in guiding them to find the right information. Especially newbies that come from windows may find it having a difficult time finding information, it's not always on the place they would expect it. Compare it to finding the right word for the right job: you can ask your teacher to look up a certain word for you, and you'll always forget what it means. However, if you search the word yourself in a dictionary, you'll never forget it for the rest of your life.

Q) Arch needs a backing business entity

A) <add info here>