Frequently asked questions

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Notes: Talk:FAQ (Discuss in Talk:Frequently asked questions#)

Besides the questions covered below, you may find The Arch Way, ArchLinux, and Devland helpful. All three contain a good deal of information about Arch Linux.


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. You could reference the ArchLinux Newbie Guide.

Q) When will the new release be made?

A) Arch Linux releases are quite infrequent, and usually happen only when a major change has been made to the installer or something has happened that makes it difficult to run pacman -Syu to update from the previous release.

Releases are not terribly important in Arch, because the rolling-release system makes new releases out of date as soon as a package has been updated. If you are looking to obtain the latest Arch Linux release, you do not need to reinstall. You simply run the pacman -Syu command and your system will be identical to what you would get with a brand-new install.

For this same reason, new Arch Linux releases are not typically full of new and exciting features. New and exciting features are released as needed with the packages that are updated, and can be obtained immediately via pacman -Syu.

Q) Arch needs more/less press (i.e. advertisement)

A) Arch gets plenty of press as it is. The goal of Arch Linux 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.

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

Q) Arch needs more documentation

A) This is essentially true, so feel free to contribute. 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; contribute to the wiki.

Q) Arch needs more devs

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

Q) Why is Arch so slow? I thought it's supposed to be fast!

A) There are two common reasons that your system may be slower than it should be. First, ensure that loopback (lo in /etc/rc.conf) is enabled. Second, make sure that your hostname is correctly set in /etc/hosts (i.e., that it matches the hostname in rc.conf. Have a look at "Configure the System" in The Beginner's Guide). Either reason can cause applications to start up very slowly, for example.

Q) Why is my internet so slow compared to other operating systems?

A) Is your network configured correctly? Have you double checked your /etc/rc.conf /etc/hosts and /etc/resolv.conf? Have a look at "Configure the System" in The Beginner's Guide and pay particular attention to the localhost syntax.

Package Management

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 is 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. If you'd like, write a forum post detailing the problem and the fact that you have reported it already. This will help prevent a lot of people from reporting the same error.

Q) Will Arch have a database for pacman?

A) Possibly. There is discussion over the issue.
Look at, too.

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

A) See the previous entry relating to a database back-end 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. Since version 2.9.6, the pacman package bundles a bash script called pacman-optimize that should help anyone experiencing slow start-up times. Also see Improve Pacman Performance.

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) Since version 3.0.0, pacman has been the front-end to libalpm, the "Arch Linux Package Management" library. This library allows alternative front-ends to be written (for instance, a GUI front-end).

Q) Why doesn't Pacman have a GUI front-end?

A) Did you read The Arch Way and ArchLinux and Devland? The answer is basically that the Arch dev team will not be providing one. Feel free to use one of those developed by users. There is a nice list of them on the UserContributionsPage in the links section, and a selective list on Pacman_GUI_Frontends. Once the library for pacman is done, it will be much easier for the various front-ends to interact with Arch packages.

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.

However, the best way to get a feature added to Pacman or Arch Linux is to implement it yourself. There's no telling whether the patch will be officially accepted, but others will appreciate and test your effort.

Q) Arch needs a stable package branch

A) Never say never. Some of the many discussions on the topic:

Q) What's the difference between all these repositories?

A) See The Arch Linux Repositories.

Q) Why doesn't Arch include docs and info pages in its packages?

A) In its goal to be simple and lightweight, the relatively useless portions of a Linux system have been left out, things like /usr/doc and the info pages, in favor of man pages. This question is brought up a lot; read some past discussions about it:

Q) I just installed Package X. How do I start it?

A) If you're using a desktop environment like KDE or GNOME, the program should automatically show up in your menu. If you're trying to run the program from a terminal and don't know the binary name, try executing "pacman -Ql packagename | grep bin". A common problem for packages like Firefox or OpenOffice is that they are installed to /opt, which is not in your $PATH - you can "source /etc/profile" or logout/login to fix this.


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. Since installation doesn't occur often (see the question above on rolling release), it is not a high priority for developers or users. However, two unofficial methods exist: Archie Live CD for XFCE (other desktops in development) and Arch Linux Office Install CD for KDE.