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.
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:
- It had to be lightweight, and doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware.
- It uses a binary-based package ecosystem, so I don’t need to compile everything from source unnecessarily.
- It has an active community that provides support.
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.
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.
Here’s a list of what I settled on:
- Distro: Arch Linux
- Window Manager: dwm + dmenu + dwmblocks
- Terminal: urxvt
- Text/Code Editor: vim
- Browser: Firefox (Hardened)
- Email Client: mutt
- IRC Client: weechat
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.