Switching To Arch

Recently, I’ve been trying to change my workflow to use more Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS). My previous attempts at doing this were somewhat half-baked; I would change a couple of tools and get dissatisfied at how they don’t integrate with my Windows setup.

This time, I’m diving straight into the deep end. I changed my daily driver from Windows 10 to Arch Linux. It’s been a week since I switched, and I’ll be sharing my experiences here.

Why Arch?

Before I switched, I had to decide what GNU/Linux distribution (or “distro”) to use. Each distro has its own advantages and disadvantages, and they cater to different target audiences. These were my requirements:

Arch Linux satisfies all these conditions. It allows you to install everything from the kernel to user applications by yourself. The package manager pacman is binary-based, and the Arch User Repository (AUR) offers more packages from the community.

Installation

I installed Arch Linux on a portable SSD, which provides faster disk I/O than a regular USB drive. The process was easy, as the Arch Wiki is well-documented. I simply followed the instructions on the installation guide and got a working system within 20 minutes.

For people who prefer video guides, I recommend the following videos by Luke Smith and Mental Outlaw. They follow the Arch Wiki’s instructions step-by-step with good explanations.

To get a minimal system, I made sure to read up on every package I was installing. I used a window manager instead of a full desktop environment, and preferred command-line utilities instead of GUI tools.

My Setup

Here’s a list of what I settled on:

My dotfiles can be found here.

Thoughts on Arch

After using Arch Linux for a week, I’m really convinced that it’s better than Windows 10 as a daily driver. With Arch, I get a system that truly belongs to me. I’m free to customize it however I like, and I don’t get software choices forced on me by big companies. In a worst case scenario where software breaks, I can find a patch from the community, or grab the source code and fix it myself. On Windows, I have to remove pre-installed bloatware such as Candy Crush Saga. Every so often, I have to prevent Microsoft from “upgrading” my system to Windows 11 and changing my default browser to Microsoft Edge.

I truly believe that you can use Arch Linux as a daily driver in 2022. If you’re passionate about tinkering and want greater freedom with software, Arch Linux is perfect for you.