Random tech · August 29, 2020

My 3 years experience with Arch linux

My love for Linux started from about 10 years ago when Canonical used to distribute CDs for free promotion of their Ubuntu OS. I was fascinated by the performance, simplicity, freedom, and customization given by Linux. The better desktop manager packages removed the boring CLI image of the Linux in my mind and attracted me to explore this new platform. Though I tried different flavors of the Linux, eventually I ended up using the ubuntu ad for a very long time. Me being a beginner in Linux, I was not able to understand why my setup not stable, why there are a lot of popups, and why it keeps on crashing every time I update the system. I had no idea of the concept of stable and new- feature releases. I faced a lot of problems as my Ubuntu crashed a lot. Sometimes I lot data, sometimes I lost the current project that I had been working on. It did allow me to take my first baby steps in Ubuntu.

After figuring out how to use Linux as an everyday operating system, it was time to switch for a Linux distribution which was lighter, faster, and makes use of every ounce of my machine’s hardware. Also, I was looking for something which is easy to set up and only installs what is required and highly customizable. Tried LFS (Linux from scratch), but this project took a lot of time and I ended up with a Linux which was not stable. Then I started looking into minimal Linux distros. Tried a couple of them but ended with Arch. I liked how it was within 1GB after installation, no bloatware or extra tools installed and how it allows for easy customization.

Using arch allowed me to understand how Linux works and what happens under the hood. As no additional software are pre-installed, it forces you to do a lot of things manually. E.g. a lot of drivers need manual compilation and for some packages, before doing manual installation you have to compile and install dependencies. You end up doing so much by yourself that you dome to know what additional packages are installed along with the desired software. Since its light weight, running a heavy desktop manager on poor hardware (my old laptop at that time) became possible. Even though when I built my PC my choice of OS was Arch. Combination of Arch with SSD reduced boot time to seconds. Also, kernel versions released for Arch are many versions ahead than other Linux distributions. This allowed working with new releases a breeze. As a security enthusiast, I end up running a lot of VMs, with arch it’s not a problem. When I need a quick VM to test something or setup a small server, Arch is my goto OS. I spent the last 3 years with Arch and it crashed less, the performance was good and ran perfectly fine for a longer duration like 2-3 days continuously. But like everything else in life it’s not all rainbow and sunshine.

I do face issues with Arch some are manageable whereas some are a huge pain. A couple of years ago there was a lightening accident that fried LAN port of my PC’s motherboard and also taking HDMI port of my monitor with it. From then I have been using wifi on PC to connect tot my home router instead of LAN connection. I couldn’t find a lot of Linux supported wifi adapters in the market, but the ones I ended up with were not so well supported with Arch. Some third-party drivers do help me today to make this setup work but its still makes life difficult when you have to recompile those drivers every time there is a major kernel upgrade. The second issue is with Webex, the iced tea does not work well when using Webex or any other meeting assistant. I did succeed with google handout meet where browser takes care of the connection but other software like Teamviewer, Webex, etc don’t work as you want them to. Customization is nice but when setting up the OS from starting you might end up spending a whole day doing it just to make it workable.

Using Linux is a learning process, all the challenges I mentioned might be having simple solutions, just that I still not there yet. But with all said and done I still like my Arch.

Also i am yet to install a calculator software, any suggestions?