Gentoo broke. I loved how Gentoo did not treat me like an idiot, and allowed me full control over my system. I did not appreciate the time that I had to spend waiting, either maintaining my system, or waiting for emerge to finish compiling something. So when my last `emerge world` command failed after 4 hours of working and had the happy effect of breaking libexpat.so.0 (a shared library used by a plethora of applications, like gnome), I decided that I was done with Gentoo. I decided to install Arch, another distribution aimed at power users who want total control over their system, but do not want to spend copious amounts of time maintianing their system. Arch is like Gentoo in many ways, that is to say that Arch doesn’t dumb anything down for you. The install is very very minimal, and after you get through with the ncurses based installation, you are left pretty much with a working kernel and a barebones OS. Furthermore, you have to manually configure some text files to get the system running, which I prefer to a graphical installer that teaches you nothing about the inner workings of your system. The package manager is used to install everything else, from X to dhcpd, which allows for great flexibility in exactly how your system is set up. Furthermore, installations do not take a zillion hours to do! 😀
Arch uses pacman, a binary package management system that is extremely lightweight and fast. Like any new package management system, it took me a bit to adapt to the new commands, but after a few hours, I feel pretty confident with pacman. Pacman feels much lighter than debian’s dpkg, but still is powerful enough to do everything that you would want or need your package manager to do.
All in all, I was very satisfied with the experience of installing Arch linux. It provides me with the flexibility that I want in an operating system, while still minimizing the time spent administering or fixing the system. The install was not without its problems, but the helpful Arch wiki and the helpful folks on IRC on #archlinux on freenode.net adeptly guided me through any problems that I ran into. If you’re a power user or developer that wants a system to suit your exactly your needs, have a look at Arch!
Edit: When I first published this, I put Arch’s old logo up at the top of the article, and have updated the post with the official, current one…