I’ve been using Linux for a long time now, and over the years it’s gotten both easier and harder. Back when I started, a Linux install was pretty basic, and you had to add and tweak a wide range of things before it was comfortable. Installing alone was an adventure.
Over the years installation has gotten a lot easier, and distributions have become more “complete” as desktop operating systems go. This is great for people who want that, but kind of harsh for those of us that don’t. I don’t use Gnome or KDE, and it’s hard to find a distro these days that doesn’t want me to use one of those as the default.
I’ve been using Ubuntu for the last couple years now, and in that time the software they’ve included has gotten more and more integrated with everything else. This provides lots of power within that scope, but lots of restrictions for those of us who want something different. For this reason I’ve made the switch to Arch Linux.
The first great thing I found about Arch was the documentation. Installing it is complex, and involves many things I’ve never done before, but there was excellent step-by-step documentation on how to do all of it, and documentation on how to fix all the things I did wrong. The docs haven’t failed me yet.
The next thing I love about it is that I built my install. Everything on my box is there because I put it there myself, not because the grand installer thought I might need it someday.
I like that I have to learn things to make my system work. I know a lot more now about how X works, and how fonts and Xcursors work. I know a lot more about the various dot files that X uses as well.
I like the fact that nothing is ridiculously hard, while nothing is brain dead easy either. I have to think about my system, but if I do, I can make it work without having to channel pcg.
All in all, I love Arch, it hasn’t disappointed me yet.