The Arch Way
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Arch Principles & Philosophy
This page attempts to describe the principles and philosophy of Arch Linux. There once was no written document about the Arch Way; most likely that will never happen again. In short, the Arch Way stands for "freedom of choice, keep it simple, learning, elegance, and user-control".
I, Judd Vinet, started building Arch for two reasons:
- 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 needless complexity that seemed to hurt more than help;
- For fun - to give a little something back to the free software community, from which I've taken so much.
By its basic nature, Arch is:
- Lightweight and simple. Note that doesn't mean it's for everyone....
- NOT designed as a newbie distro; it's intended for more experienced users. The aim is to develop Arch into as nearly a perfect base as is humanly possible. A base doesn't include fancy tools and auto configuration mechanisms, but rather contains manual configuration tools and few functions, for the users to further develop and/or learn on their own.
- A free gift, again, "...to give a little something back to the free software community, from which I've taken so much." When you receive a gift from someone, it's usually expected to give something in return. As such, users are welcome to contribute their ideas, tools and suggestions.
- Aware there are two sides which contribute to Arch Linux: Developers and Users. Don't expect the two sides to merge, but to have a mutual relationship whereby anyone can pick up what they want to add to their machine; our GOALs are to:
- NOT let configure tools / GUIs control the system, but that they be controlled by the user. There is nothing wrong with GUIs as long as they follow this principle.
- NOT be controlled by or dependent on what tools offer. When developing or selecting a utility tool, it should be written in a hackable/readable programming language (KISS) to enable users to modify it if they so choose.
- 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 a rip. Free speech, free beer, and all that.
The System of values by which Arch develops:
- KISS (Keep It Simple, ...) is the basis of Arch development. A fundamental elegant design yields the most effective, configurable and efficient system.
- In Arch, 'simple' doesn't always mean what it does in other distros. It's our philosophy that the learning is more important than getting something easily done.
- Relying on GUIs to build and 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.
- If you try to hide the complexity of the system, you'll end up with a more complex system. Instead, try to make the system simpler and more logical from the inside.
- Sooner or later, you'll 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 a newbie has to learn.
- Where some users say "...such and such distro isn't like so and so distro," Arch allows the user to make all the contributions they want as long as it doesn't go against the ideals of the design or philosophy.
- Arch Linux is different from the others: at Arch, the user isn't the only concern. Minimizing development of new tools and docs while maximizing understanding of Linux' inner workings, while keeping a watchful eye always on the "KISS" aim and philosophy of Arch Linux in general...is what makes the "Arch Way" truly different.
- The great thing about contributions is that you don't need anyone's permission to make them. (See?) 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'll receive feedback. If virtually everyone out there hates it but you, you'll receive feedback, for sure - but 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 have said about Arch:
- "I did a distro taste test with zenwalk(slack based), debian, Redhat fedora, redhat Enterprise, T2, freebsd, netbsd, gobolinux, and SUSE. Arch won in a close one over FreeBSD. Why? It was simple to get up n running with X, packages were VERY current and simple to install, and I didn't have to wait all day for something to compile, but my apps are compiled i686 so they are fast. Updates of whole box did not squash apps as Redhat seemed to. To me as a linux admin I am looking to bring up box, and for home use X, and then be able to add apps and libraries as I see fit. Once the box is up, hand it off to developers, or develop on it myself. Other distros had a lame package system, out of date packages, and simply had no docs to config their systems without a GUI. Arch provides the shortest step from A to B. To read more of why I stick with Arch read the section: Arch v other distros."
- "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."
- Same thing with (k)ubuntu, Mandriva, and several others. Well, openSUSE is nice and easy (that's the one I would advice for my sister); but Arch is the One which really *rocks*.
- "I have tried several distros and even took (tired?) RHCE (took it BACK?), but there was always something I disliked about each."
- "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!"
- "I tried Mandrake, Yoper, FC3/4, Mepis and Ubuntu. I was looking for the perfect distro. I am glad that I found Arch."
- "I've always been looking for an easy-to-use distribution that didn't bloat the system and was customizable without breaking the system. After trying so many distributions, I found Arch Linux the way to go. And best of all, it's like using my very first distro (Slackware), but with benefits like Pacman and KDEmod."
- "I've been playing around with Archlinux, and I've fallen in love with it, simply because it offers the same customization options without the micromanaging required by [my last distro]. Props to the Arch team!"
- "For years I'd been playing around with every distro I could get my hands on--Gentoo, SuSE, OpenSuSE, RH, Fedora, Debian, U/Ku/Xubuntu, Slackware, Knoppix, DSL, and Sabayon. I've probably reformatted my harddrive a dozen dozen times. A month ago I found Arch. Sure, I'd heard about it. Sure, everyone who'd used it loved it. I figured it was time to give it a go. At first, truthfully, I was put off by, upon booting up from install, being left to fend for myself at the command line. It was scary. I realized that the truth is, for a debidiot like myself, Arch is linux nirvana. I've been using it for a week and I've learned more than I have in years with every other distro. I think I've found my home."
- "After muddling around with Knoppix, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora Core, and Damn Small, I found the distro that finally gave me the power of customization that I wanted without leaving me in the dark with hundreds of config values or wasted hours that I would run into with Gentoo. Arch Linux blends simplicity with power without limiting the user, and that's a combination to watch out for. It's become my favorite distro, and I practically swear by it."
PROS and CONS
- pacman: 'System Upgrade' is ONE command: "pacman -Syu"
- pacman: Dependency-control, no X/GUI needed
- ABS: the package-building function need only be done once - building another version of a package is extremely easy
- ABS: you can build all the packages on your machine with one command
- fully up-to-date packages at your request, and fully customizable
- the people behind the scenes are gentle, motivated and able
- less than 20 minutes to create a fully functional system
- the perfect environment to learn Linux in
- not really popular, because not known (still relevant?)
- rolling release cycle - no large boring distribution upgrades
- pacman: needs a fast internet connection to stay always up-to-date easily (less of a problem as time marches forward)
- some conflicts from using the newest libs ("bleeding edge")
- lack of newbie-friendly features
- very little hardware detection (relevant?)
- info files are almost always way more detailed than man-pages (gcc.info e.g.)
- not really popular, because not known