Why People Are Crazy About Arch Linux? What’s so Special About it?

BTW, I use Arch!

You may have come across this term in Linux forums, discussion or in memes.

You might wonder why Arch Linux is so popular? Why people like it so much when there are easier to use, if not better, Arch-based distributions available.

In this article, I’ll list some of the reasons why Linux users like to use Arch Linux.

6 reasons why people love to use Arch Linux

Why Arch Linux

Now, this is my perception. There is no set rule, of course, why you should be using Arch Linux. It’s what I have observed in my over a decade of experience with Linux users and communities.

Let’s see why Arch Linux is so popular.

1. The DIY approach gives you the control over every aspect of your operating system

I have always found Arch Linux as a DIY (Do It Yourself) operating system. From installing to managing, Arch Linux lets you handle everything.

You decide which desktop environment to use, which components and services to install. This granular control gives you a minimal operating system to build upon with elements of your choice.

If you are a DIY enthusiast, you’ll love Arch Linux.

2. With Arch Linux, you get a better understanding of how Linux works

EfI System Partition while installing arch linux
Installing Arch Linux by creating partition and making filesystem via command line

If you ever tried to install Arch Linux, you know the complexity that comes with it.

But that complexity also means that you’ll be forced to learn things that you probably never bother to in other distributions.

For example, configuring network itself while installing Arch Linux is a good learning lesson.

If you start to get overwhelmed, Arch Wiki is there for you. It is the most extensive and awesome community-managed documentation on the internet. Just browsing through Arch Wiki will teach you plenty of things.

3. Latest kernel and software with rolling release model

Sudo Pacman Syu
System update in Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a rolling release distribution. That means new kernel and application versions are rolled out to you as soon as they are released.

While most other Linux distributions serve you old Linux kernel versions, Arch is quick to provide you the latest kernel.

The same goes for software. If a new version of software in the Arch repositories is released, Arch users get the new versions before other users most of the time.

Everything is fresh and cutting edge in the rolling release model. You don’t have to upgrade operating system from one version to another. Just use the pacman command and you always have the latest version.

This makes Arch one of best rolling release Linux distributions.

4. Arch User Repository aka AUR

Arch User Repository AUR

Arch Linux has plenty of software in its repository. The AUR extends the software offering of Arch Linux. You get a huge number of software with AUR in Arch Linux.

AUR is the community driven approach to provide newer applications. You can search and install applications with the help of an AUR helper tool.

5. Sense of accomplishment

Installed Arch Linux

As James Clear mentions in his book Atomic Habits, human brain loves a challenge, but only if it is within an optimal zone of difficulty.

Remember the feeling when you first installed any Linux distribution even if it was installing Linux Mint? That gave you a sense of achievement. You successfully installed Linux!

If you have been using Ubuntu or Fedora or other distribution for some time and you start to get comfortable (or bored), try installing Arch Linux.

For a moderately experienced Linux user, successfully installing Arch Linux itself gives a sense of accomplishment.

It is a challenge but an achievable one. If you suggest a new Linux user to try Arch Linux or even more complicated one like Linux From Scratch, the challenge would be too difficult to achieve.

This sense of successfully completing a challenge is also one of the reasons why people use Arch Linux.

Want to experience it? Try installing Arch Linux in VirtualBox. This is a safe and easy way of using an operating system without disrupting the current one.

6. No corporate involvement! Arch is created, supported and owned by community

Ubuntu is backed by Canonical, Fedora is from Red Hat (part of IBM now) and openSUSE is from SUSE. All these major distributions are corporate backed.

This is not bad or crime in itself. But a few people do not like corporate involvement in open source projects.

Like Debian, Arch Linux is one of the rare few community-only Linux distribution projects.

You may point out that many other distributions like Linux Mint etc are also not sponsored by corporate. Well, that might be true but Linux Mint itself is based on Ubuntu and uses Ubuntu’s repositories. Arch Linux is not derivative of another distribution.

In that sense, Debian and Arch Linux are more pure community-driven projects. It may not matter to many people but a few people do care about such things.

According to you, why Arch Linux is so popular?

Now, you may not agree with all the points I made and that’s okay. I would like your views on why Arch Linux is so popular and has cult status among Linux users?

While you write the comments, let me share a BTW, I use Arch meme :)

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  • I belong to the cult not because I feel proud bragging about using it. I am comfortable using it because the system just works exactly the way I want it to. And even if something breaks, I always manage to troubleshoot by googling the issues and solve it then.

    • Thank you for saying what I was thinking. It does feel pretty good to drop Arch casually into convos with other nerds. :)

  • I’ve used Linux since the year before Slackware and Debian were released, and Arch for several years now. I agree with the majority of your observations, but would add some of my own. The prevailing conception that Arch is overly complicated is overblown. The traditional method of installation does give the user control of what’s installed, but the process simply moves to the command line what the installers in other distros are doing graphically and behind the scenes. Nothing is “built” during the Arch install. Arch is a binary based distro, not a source based distro like Gentoo and the installation process is, quite literally, a dozen or so commands that can be copied and pasted almost verbatim from the Arch Wiki or from one of the numerous how-to guides online. The most complicated part of the installation for a new user is partitioning.

    It’s what comes after installing Arch that has made me a devoted fan. It works. It’s a model of simplicity – but you have to be a responsible user. The supposed instability often attributed to Arch is nonsense. I’ve never had stability issues, and I use the testing branch of the repos. The majority of crashes and instability issues have two main causes, and both are the result of the user being either careless or lazy, or both. First, updates need to be done often. It’s the first thing I do when I log in each morning. Long periods between updates and rolling-release distros don’t play well together. Second, the AUR is a diligent user’s best friend and a lazy or careless user’s worst enemy. If you install packages from the AUR without checking the maintenance status, update dates, and reviewing the comments, you get what you get, and it’s your fault.

    As far as distros that continue to operate free of corporate influence, in addition to Debian and Arch, no list would be complete without mentioning Gentoo and the granddaddy of them all, Slackware..

  • Because of Arch Build System. It is very convenient. Even if some program is not in AUR and I need to build and install it from source let’s say, I do it through ABS and create a package which is visible in package manager. And sometimes I throw it into AUR afterwards.

  • Why is it so popular? For me, it’s the ArchWiki. It’s the best documentation out there IMHO. Even Snowden tweeted about it.

    And BTW, I use Arch!