Arch Linux: The lightweight and flexible Linux distribution

Arch Linux is especially strong due to its great versatility and how up to date it is. With Pacman, the system has a very fast and reliable package manager. Arch Linux forgoes graphical tools, which makes it especially suitable for experienced developers.

Free VPS trial from IONOS

Test your vServer for free now - Try a virtual server for 30 days!

Dedicated resources
Unlimited traffic
Personal consultant

What is Arch Linux?

Arch Linux is a Linux server distribution which was optimised for AMD64 and has been delivered as a rolling release since 2002. Basis and highest maxim of the distribution is the KISS principle, which was established from the beginning by the project leader at that time Judd Vinet and the team. ‘KISS’ stands for ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ and describes the minimalist approach of the distribution. Arch Linux forgoes graphical installation and configuration aids, which means that the distribution is aimed at more experienced developers. Arch Linux has been further developed by a team led by Levente Polyak together with ‘trusted users’ since 2020 and is published under the General Public License.

What does Arch Linux offer you?

The mentioned minimalism is one of the special features of Arch Linux. The distribution waives many graphical tools, and also uses an unmodified source code (well, as far as possible) for the included software. In addition, Arch Linux is based on Linux from Scratch. The distribution itself provides only a few tools, but offers many possibilities. Both free and commercial applications can be installed and used easily and without restrictions.

This also means that Arch Linux is suitable for a wide range of different application purposes. From a lean server structure to a fully equipped desktop, everything is possible. Another special feature is how up to date it is, which is guaranteed by the rolling release principle. Even extensive changes are implemented in the packages within a few weeks. The dedicated community provides numerous documentations for a variety of different application purposes.

Another special feature is Pacman, a package manager specially developed for Arch Linux. This can automatically download packages from the Arch repositories, install, update, and remove them if necessary. This also applies to the handling of local sources.

What are the system requirements?

Before you start the Arch Linux installation you should make sure that all the necessary requirements are met. Your computer should have at least 512 MB of RAM and 1 GB of memory. For streamlined use, 2 GB of RAM and 20 GB of storage are recommended. The computer should also be x86-64 compatible. A working Internet connection and a USB drive with a storage capacity of at least 2 GB are also important.

What are the pros and cons of Arch Linux?

Arch Linux is a unique Linux distribution compared to others and offers various advantages as well as some disadvantages. Many points depend on your own requirements and intended use.

Pros

  • Rolling Release: Due to the rolling release principle, Arch Linux is always up to date and does not need to be reinstalled.
  • KISS: The KISS principle and the resulting simplicity offer great freedom and a lean starting position. You can do away with superfluous packages and build a system that completely meets your unique requirements.
  • Pacman: The package manager Pacman is also an advantage of Arch Linux and is now also used for other distributions. It is not only very reliable, but also comparatively fast.
  • ABS: ABS (Arch Build System) is the package management of Arch Linux and can also be customised.
  • AUR: The Arch User Respository is run by the community and provides a variety of different software. While this is generally an advantage, a close look at the respective package is always important.
  • Documentation: Arch Linux’s documentation is extensive, facilitating your handling and daily work with the distribution. Due to the dedicated community, many problems are quickly identified, fixed, and documented.

Cons

  • Difficulty level: Arch Linux forgoes graphical tools and is therefore not easy to master, especially for beginners. The distribution is aimed more at experienced developers.
  • Installation: The same applies to the installation. This is command line-based and therefore requires some prior knowledge. Applications, environments, and utilities must also be installed manually.
  • Possible Instability: Due to the rolling release principle, problems can occur again and again, since not every package is always tested down to the last detail. Overall, Arch Linux is a very stable system, but problems can still occur with the latest version, at least for a short time.

Who is Arch Linux suited to?

Arch Linux is primarily aimed at experienced users or those who want to improve their knowledge of Linux. Also those who always need or want to use the latest software will probably be happy with Arch Linux. Through the rolling releases you are always up to date. Users who want to set up a system completely according to their ideas will also find Arch Linux a very good option. However, the distribution is less suitable for beginners.

What are the alternatives to Arch Linux?

Beside the two probably most well-known distributions Ubuntu and Debian there are numerous smaller alternatives to Arch Linux. The two CentOS successors AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux. as well as for the PC Linux Mint and Manjaro Linux should be emphasised here. If penetration testing and IT forensics are required, Kali Linux is recommended. For work with the cloud, for example, the high-performance distribution Clear Linux is suitable.