linuxI am a long time Linux computer user.  Over the past few years, I have used just about every distribution in the Ubuntu-based Linux line.  Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Mint, Ultimate Edition… I think I’ve tried them all.  And while my tastes have changed over the years, I continued to stick with the Ubuntu-based distributions because of their ease of use and large user community.

As they say, times change and I  no longer feel the Ubuntu family is for me.  I have decided to move to the Arch and Arch-based family of Linux, and don’t plan on looking back.  There are several reasons for the change, not the least of which is the integration of Amazon suggestions when using the Unity dash search.  Now, there is no requirement to use that feature of Unity, and I realize Cononical (parent company of Ubuntu) added it to bring in cash to fund the company (r&d takes $$$$), but sharing data with Amazon rubs me the wrong way.

But there is more to my change than the privacy issue.  The past few releases of Ubuntu have been un-spectacular.  There have been plenty of bug fixes, and the Unity desktop runs faster and smoother than ever before.  But Ubuntu is no longer the cutting edge software that it once was.  In its quest to compete with Windows, Ubuntu has become the Linux version of Windows.  If that’s the case, then I might as well use Windows.

For me, part of the initial draw to Linux was the cutting edge technology… the same reason I love to SciFi.  Well, I think I have once again found that with Arch Linux.  Arch holds the reputation of making the latest software packages available through its own repositories and through user repositories.  The user repositories are an absolute goldmine, as it has allowed me to get my hands on software that I could only dream of while using Ubuntu.

Arch also allows you to stay updated.  Ubuntu and other Linux distros do package updates every six months or so.  Arch operates on a rolling release model, which means updates are released constantly.  This means you always have the latest bleeding edge software, and you don’t have to wait six months for an updated package.

If Arch has a downside, it is in the installation of the system.  If you are familiar with Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you know the drill on an install.  Download the iso, burn it to disc or USB, and then follow the instructions on the point-and-click installer.  When the install is finished, you have a complete system, often with an office suite, photo apps, and so on.  In less than an hour, you can have the computer up and running.

Arch however, is the ultimate in customization.  Installation is via command line, and the user chooses EVERY application.  For example, I can think of about six different file managers off the top of my head.  Pick your favorite and install.  The same with desktop environment, display manager and so forth.  In the end, you have a computer that is truly a custom, one of a kind build.

As I make this journey into the land of Arch, I am going to begin by cheating a bit.  I have just installed Manjaro, which is an Arch-based distribution that comes as a package much like Ubuntu does.  The version I have installed uses the Cinnamon desktop environment.  After I gain experience using Manjaro, I will do a new OS installation, this time using Arch proper.  Many purists will argue that Manjaro is NOT Arch, and I agree, but I feel that it is the best way for me to gain experience using Arch before doing an install.

I will continue to keep everyone updated on how the Manjaro/Arch project goes, as well as post reviews on Manjaro, Arch and Arch apps.

My previous Linux computing articles can be found on the site Hubpages.  My goal is to get all of those articles moved to this site, but it will be some time before I can complete the move.  In the meantime, I will provide a list of the older posts below; all you need do is click on the title to go to that post.  Have a great week!

Web Alternates to Google Reader

Kicking it Old School with SeaMonkey

Email Clients for the Linux Desktop

More Email Clients for the Linux Desktop

Battle of the Free Office Suites

Feedly: The best replacement for Google Reader

Email Clients as Google Reader Replacements

Upgrade your Netbook with Ubuntu

Adding Microsoft Office to Ubuntu

Three Alternatives to Microsoft Word

Calligra Words Review

Abiword: A great Open-Sourced Word Processor

LibreOffice 4.0 Review

Using Styles to Create a Table of Contents in Word 2007

Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Lotus Symphony Review

Building the Ultimate Budget Linux Tablet

Upgrade a Teen’s Laptop with Xubuntu

My Favorite Freeware

Microsoft Outlook Alternatives

Multiple Desktop Environments in Ubuntu

Lubuntu: The Perfect OS for a Netbook or older Computer

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