The Arch Way

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The Arch Way

Arch Principles & Philosophy

This page here tries to describe the principles and philosophy of ArchLinux. There is no written document about the Arch way, most likely will never happen thereby keeping Arch open for any future possibilities. Here below are quotes from Arch Linux Forum and other user discussions commonly said by the "old timers".


The basic nature of Arch.

  • Lightweight and simple.
  • Not designed to be a newbie distro it is intended for a more experienced user.

ARCH LINUX is my (Judd Vinet) perfect distro, to sum it up. I started building it for two reasons:

  1. I didn't find any other distributions that met my ideals. Some came very close to what I wanted but there were annoying quirks, or an added complexity that seemed to hurt more than help.
  2. For fun, and to give a little something back to the free software community, since I've taken so much.
  • The aim is to develop Arch into a perfect base. A base doesn't include fancy tools and auto configure, but with manual configure tools and few functions for the users to be able to do further development on their own.
  • It is a free gift "to give a little something back to the free software community, since I've taken so much". When you receive a gift from someone, its usually expected to give something in return. So, users are welcome to contribute ideas, tools and suggestions.
  • There are two sides in Arch Linux: (1) Developer and (2) User contributions. Don't expect the two sides to merge but to have a mutual relation where anyone can pickup what they want to add in their machine.
  • Don't let configure tools / GUIs control the system but be controlled by the user. There is nothing wrong of having GUIs as long as it follows this principle.
  • The core development of Arch Linux will not be providing any "newbie-friendly" GUIs/utilities at any time in the near future.
  • We humble developers will continue to provide Arch as a solid base for everyone and anyone. If you guys want to make it pretty, give 'er.


System of values by which Arch develops.

  • When users say the such and such distro isn't like such and such distro, Arch allows the user to make all the contributions they want to as long it does not go against the ideals of the design or philosophy.
  • Relying on GUIs to build/use your system is just going to hurt a user in the end. At some point in time a user will need to know all that some GUIs hide.
  • Sooner or later you will have to find the information on the web and usenet (if man is not enough). Learning how and where to find it on the net should be the first thing to learn for a newbie.
  • The solution is not to demand Arch Linux to develop tools and docs but trying to understand what's the aim and philosophy of AL... what makes it different from others.
  • If you try to hide the complexity of the system, you'll end up with more complex system. Instead try to make the system more simple and logical from the inside.
  • The great thing about contributions is that you don't need anyone's permission to make them. No one can physically stop you from writing something that you (personally) find useful, even if the "powers that be" don't see it as a blessing. Write it and put it up in the User Contributions forum. If other people like it, you will receive feedback. If virtually everyone out there hates it but you, who cares? It took you 20 minutes to write, and you learned something along the way. It's a winning situation no matter what.
  • It is what you make it.


What users say about Arch

  • After spending a lot of time with other distributions (debian, gentoo, mandrake, redhat, fedora, slackware) and even FreeBSD I think that I finally found the distribution I was looking for.
  • I have tried several distro's and even took RHCE but there was always something i dislike about the distros i tried.
  • My dream distro was always the simplicity of Slackware with real dependency support like Debian's. And guess what, that's Arch.
  • I also found arch my final distro.
  • After trying out almost all the available distributions, I have to agree that Arch is the best.
  • Hi all. I just registered here so I could report all the problems I'm having, and ask for help. Funny thing is, I HAVE NO PROBLEMS!!! I really can't believe this, but everything is just working! I installed Arch today, had a little trouble with xorg and sound setup, but found all the answers I needed in the documentation and the forums.

PROS and CONS of Arch Linux


  • optimized i686-distro
  • (pacman): Systemupgrade is one command 'pacman -Suy'
  • (pacman): Dependency-control
  • (pacman): no X needed
  • (abs): need to write the building-function only once ... building another version of a package is extremly easy
  • (abs): you can build the packages on your machine with one command
  • up-to-date packages
  • fully customizable
  • the people behind are gentle, motivated and able
  • It takes less than 20 minutes to get a fully functional system
  • perfect to learn linux on it
  • not really popular, because not known


  • (pacman): needs fast internet-connection to stay always up-to-date easily
  • not really popular, because not known
  • some conflicts because of using the newest libs
  • lack of newbie-friendly features