Goodbye Debian, hello Arch Linux!

[Caveat:  I do not recommend that you use Arch Linux unless you have some prior experience with Linux.  See here. ]

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I stayed with Debian for 21 years. But, alas, we have gone our separate ways.  I now have a new favorite operating system.   Arch Linux is turning out to be a wonderful experience. I thank Aline Viol for introducing me to Arch.

… but why did I switch from Debian to Arch Linux?

A long long time ago, in the early 1990’s, I endured great suffering under the evil tyranny of the Windows (and DOS) operating systems. Then I was blessed and discovered UNIX!  I decided never again to use non-UNIX operating systems. I already programmed in C so UNIX felt like pain relief.  In particular, I found Windows systems to be especially inefficient for my computing needs.   As a PhD student in Boston, I worked on a variety of UNIX systems.

But when I returned permanently to Brazil in 1997, I needed a free UNIX-like system to run on PCs, because the university only had a few UNIX workstations.  In those days, Linux was still new, but I decided to give it a try.

I installed my first Linux system in December 1997, Debian Linux 1.3 Bo. I remember that I used five 3 1⁄2-inch floppy disks and I even had to deal with read-write errors due to the poor quality of the media.   Since then, I have been using Debian Linux  for almost all my research and personal needs. 

Debian was my joy for many many years, so much so that I even got somewhat involved in the Debian project. I ran the  Debian mirror site debian.fapeal.br  for a couple of years.  There was a point of presence (PoP) of the RNP backbone in Brazil located at the FAPEAL government agency.   I offered to run the mirror site and in return they placed it very close to the backbone.   This was around 2004.  See vestiges  here and here (search for “debian.fapeal.br”).

I was able to publish science papers in top science journals such as Nature and PRL doing research using my Debian machines.  I even co-wrote and co-edited a couple of books published by well known publishers.  I have very positive memories of my experiences with Debian.

However, by 2018 (Debian 9), I noticed diminished performance. I was shocked that Debian was no longer as stable as it used to be.   I eventually figured out, after some testing, that it was likely not the Linux kernel itself that was unstable, but rather the Debian system.  I asked around to find out whether other distributions such as Ubuntu were better, but I also heard complaints about these other Linux distributions.

Then, in early 2019, I heard exciting stories about Arch Linux and decided to give it a try.  It was a mind-blowing experience for me.   Not only is the idea of a rolling release model very cool, but I also enjoyed the greater granularity to choose how I setup my system.  For example, my current Arch Linux systems use  LVM on top of Luks, with a separate non-encrypted boot partition that I size to my own specification.  I use an encrypted swap space, but much smaller than is typical for most installations.  I appreciate having greater control over such details.

What also shocked me was how much faster Arch Linux is than Debian. I do not understand the reason for this difference, but the speedup is welcome.  Arch Linux is my new darling!!  It is full of the vibrant community energy and the excitement that Debian had some 10 or 20 years ago.  

Of course I will never forget my incredible moments with Debian.  Goodbye old friend.

 

 

2 responses to “Goodbye Debian, hello Arch Linux!

  1. Marcelo Felisberto

    Caro Gandhi, seu post veio a calhar pois eu também estou com queixas do Debian 9 e faz algum tempo que eu queria lhe perguntar sobre o que você estava achando da estabilidade do sistema. Sem falar de outros problemas tive por duas ou três vezes travamentos do tipo tela azul do windows. Minha primeira instalação foi do Woody (Debian 3) num AMD K6 II. Vou esperar até a próxima distribuição Debian Buster, se continuar instável também migrarei. Fiz download do ArchLinux para conhecer.

    abs

    • Que bom receber notícias suas! Pois é… Agora o Arch Linux a pessoa tem que fazer tudo do zero praticamente. Mas em contrapartida, vc tem controle maior tb… Relembrando os velhos tempos, eu lembro o K6 II!!! O antigo lab de multimídia do IF/UFAL tinha 5 máquinas com K6 II, que a gente montou do zero comprando as peças. Alias, quem montou foi um aluno chamado Gustavo Lamenha, de IC. Hoje temos processadores com vários cores etc. Como o mundo mudou!

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