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Arch's goal of simplicity means there's usually one preferred way to get things done - through organized and well documented configuration files. This focus, combined with the community's recognition that configuration files can be intimidating, has resulted in excellent documentation that's accessible to newcomers, and very instructive about how Linux actually works. The documentation is often so thorough that, when searching for solutions to problems while using other distributions, such as with video card drivers, oftentimes you'll find the most effective solution in the Arch Linux wiki or on the forums. See More
Every year or so there is a update to ArchLinux that will break your system unless you first read the front page of archlinux.org. This happened with SystemD and with a few other updates that require you to do prior steps befor pacman -Syu. See More
Arch keeps its core repositories slim and free of unnecessary dependencies. At first installation only a bare system is set up. You can easily get the other applications through the package manager. The repositories are nearly as full as those of Ubuntu, while they are often more up to date. That way you don't have to waste time with software you don't need or want. See More
Arch has strict reasoning behind what goes into the official repositories accessible by pacman. As a result, many other projects end up in the Arch User Repository (AUR). Effectively using Arch, and getting easy access to all of the available software, means either manually downloading and installing from the AUR, or installing an AUR helper - these work along side the main package manager (Pacman), but are a bit less standardized or heavily supported. See More
Updating an Arch system is always a gamble. The problem could be as simple as a package having a bug causing a program to crash on start or it may be something bigger like the WiFi or Bluetooth no longer working. There is also the slight chance the system may not even boot at all after a large update. If the user does not plan to read the forums weekly/daily or update fairly often, things can go wrong very fast. See More
pacman has performance advantages over apt-get and yum in both database operations (thanks to being written for speed) and download times (by virtue of using better mirrors than other distributions tend to select by default). There are also fewer default repositories to download from, and all package management is combined into one tool instead of being split into dpkg, apt-get, and apt-cache like on Debian distros. See More
Arch uses a rolling release model for updates. Unlike, for example Ubuntu where a new version is released every six months, packages are updated when they are ready. The advantage is a very up to date system and that the work of upgrading can be spread over a longer span of time to a point where it is hardly noticeably effort. However it can be difficult for people without a high bandwidth connection, or with limits on how many GB can be downloaded imposed by their internet service providers. A GB a month of downloads is quite possible. This can be somewhat offset by Arch being lightweight, besides the relatively small core, the user selects what is installed (and has to be updated). See More
If searching through the wiki or the forums for any problems turns nothing, any question on the official forums, Arch subreddit or the IRC channel will be answered within minutes. There will probably be no hand-holding however, Arch users prefer to point anyone to a resource that may help them instead of trying to outright solve their problem in a forum thread. This is quite helpful for people who want to really learn how their system works but also for other people who may stumble in that thread considering how most problems don’t have a universal solution. See More
Arch only holds your hand a little bit of the way. While documentation is great, you are expected to know what you're doing. The result is that when you find the solution for a problem on a forum or elsewhere, the response may be completely over your head. If you're not well-versed in Linux, what would be a minor issue on another distribution can become a drawn-out research project on Arch, as you learn all the inner workings of the operating system, until you understand it well enough to solve your problems yourself. See More
The AUR is a repository with a very extensive catalogue of build/install scripts that are contributed by users. While these scripts are inherently less secure than conventional packages maintained by a distro's authors, it's still way easier to verify the security of install scripts than it would be to write them yourself. See More
While the documentation is a very valuable reference for experts, the recipes often don't actually work on your own computer. Some articles are outdated, incomplete, contradictory or duplicated. Only if you are expert enough to know which steps to skip, to adjust or which other documentation parts to plug in, you can make it work. See More
The AUR is a repository with a very extensive catalogue of build/install scripts that are contributed by users. While these scripts are inherently less secure than conventional packages maintained by a distro's authors, it's still way easier to verify the security of install scripts than it would be to write them yourself. It's very usefull. See More
The Gentoo package management system allows you to configure what compilation flags packages should support - i.e. specific processor flag support (SSE, SSE2, etc.), -O1, -O2, -O3 optimization, etc. If you accept one of the default flags, Gentoo downloads binaries from the server. However, if you decide to optimise, it can and will download all source packages and start compiling ALL the programs and libraries on your system. If your chosen flags don't work with a particular library, installation will fail. See More
It's useful for both beginners and professionals. For the installation, Gentoo offers various types, which are referred to as stages. Basically meaning how in depth you would want to go into the process of installation. For beginners it's useful to choose for a starting distro due to its various stages that can be very time consuming but beneficial as you learn the composition in general of Linux. See More
While having less official packages for desktop applications compared to something like Arch Linux, it has many options for system programs and utilities. For example the choice of glibc, uclibc and musl. Also the choice of kernel, vanilla kernel, gentoo patched kernel and even GNU/Hurd. You also have the choice to have a Gentoo FreeBSD. See More
Based on everything being compiled from source which means it comes with a very flexible system for compiling packages - USE flags, CFLAGS, and company, both global and per package. With USE flags you can select what is included in each package and with CFLAGS you can set various compiler optimization options (it's recommended to stick with the more common ones for most packages except those known to benefit from more extreme optimization as overdoing it can actually produce slower binaries, make compiles take forever and introduce weird bugs). Binary packages are available for some packages, especially those that are hard to compile correctly or those that take very long. See More
Thanks to the Portage package manager, you can forbid the installation of certain packages by "masking" them, adding packages to different "world sets" for maintaining them separately, using stable and unstable branch of packages individually or system-wide and installing different versions of the same package in "slots". And unlike Arch, because of compiling, linker errors after package manager actions are less likely to happen, and when they do, you can build dependencies reversely. See More
A feature called USE flags control how packages are compiled from source, and what options are configured to get compiled. That means you can have per-packages USE flags to enable or disable certain features in them, or system-wide USE flags to enable or drop support for something you don't want entirely. See More
Since CentOS backports all updates and bug fixes to older versions in order to maintain package compatibility across releases, applications hosted on Red Hat Linux don't have to worry about potential breaking changes in libraries they use, especially language libraries. See More
CentOS favours stability over being up-to date. For this reason it ships with packages that may be up to two years behind in order to ensure stability over everything else. Using older versions for packages means that they have been thoroughly tested and used in production for quite some time, and are ensured to play well with each-other. This strategy has paid off quite a lot in the past. One example is the Heartbleed bug which left CentOS unaffected since it was using a two-year old OpenSSL library which did not have the bug. See More
Suse Linux Enterprise, is the largest enterprise Linux in Europe. The main thing to remember is: the more automated a system is, the more hidden bugs can pop up unexpectedly. Which is why it is good to at the very least, read the excellent manuals which Suse provides, in PDF as well as physical hard-copy format. See More
Slackware is a trusty warhorse. It's arguably the daddy of all distro's, and its KISS (from a system point of view) approach means that when there's a new version, you're pretty much guaranteed nothing will break. Its main aim is to be as stable as humanly possible. There's very little in the way of surprises, and it puts you at the helm of the system. Ideal if you know some of the inner workings of Linux, but want to get stuck in and learn how a system actually works. See More
Elias Van Ootegem's Experience
I have been exclusively using Slackware since 1997. Coming from Windows, endless crashes, freezes, reboots, viruses, trojans, and way too many performance issues and heavy system requirements to list here... finally witching to Slackware Linux was a breath of fresh air. It's so simple to configure; simply by editing a text file, and then restarting whichever service that configuration file belongs to. No more endlessly rebooting or waiting for unwanted forced updates of Windows nonsense. For example: A clean installation, from format to installation & configuration, to actually using the operating system; takes all of 10 minutes. And did I mention that the system is responsive and rock-solid? Besides, Slackware Linux is still the most pure Linux experience out there. If you want to Learn Linux, choose Slackware. See More
OpenSUSE is a great console linux for experienced and new to linux users. It includes YAST, which gives you a menu driven interface to configure things. The ncurces version of YAST is identical to the gui version. Yast also has deep package support and zypper, which is an excellent package management. In my experience, openSUSE has the best hardware support of any linux. It's also simple to configure the network and wireless using YAST. I find that documentation also tends to be better for OpenSUSE, especially if you are looking for console directions. Other linuxes have prolific how-to's, but they are often poorly written or not using a correct security base, for example, fixing things with chmod 777. OpenSUSE seems to have a more professional community. See More
Linux From Scratch, requires the user to download and compile, all the various required system libraries and programs in a ch-rooted environment. This is usually done from within an existing and already running Linux system. This is not really a con, just a note to the new user. See More
Takes a while to create the system. Only for those people who would like to create their very own distribution, or just to understand what makes a Linux system tick.
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