What I Use
Software of Choice
This is the first in a series in which I want to highlight the software that I use on a regular basis. I have found some of my favorite software while reading other people’s similar blogs or articles. So I figured I would count myself among the many and return the favor.
While I believe Linux to be the only rational operating system of choice (This is a joke…ish), I do find people’s choice of Linux distro to be of interest. While I don’t agree with a number of the memes surrounding distro choice, I think there are some takeaways from laying it all out. So in our first installment of “Software of Choice,” we will be talking about why I chose Arch Linux as my daily driver.
All memes aside, when I was first getting into Linux, I had just built a gaming machine and wanted to be able to utilize my hardware as much as possible. I think I started with Ubuntu, but on first install, it bricked, not being able to recognize my graphics card. As I had two brand new monitors, the only way I found out, was that I had figured that my new DisplayPort cable might have been the issue and accidentally plugged the HDMI into the motherboard, as opposed to the GPU.
Once that was up and running and me being unwilling to go without my second monitor, I had to start searching for an alternative. Everywhere I looked, they were telling me that Arch Linux would have everything I needed. But when I looked into Arch, I knew I was in over my head and feared I had wiped my hard drive for nothing.
That was when I read about Manjaro, and after some deliberation, I booted into a live environment, installed it via the Calamares installer, and was able to boot right into Manjaro KDE with both of my monitors working right off the bat. I instantly became a Manjaro fanboy. With access to the AUR (Arch User Repository) and with help from the wealth of information from the ArchWiki, I was able to do damn near anything I wanted to.
Until Manjaro kept borking updates. Sometimes they would push staging packages straight into production on their repos, causing breakage left and right. If that wasn’t bad enough, when I reached out to them, they were wildly rude. I knew I needed to get away from Manjaro, but I just wasn’t ready for Arch. That being said, I needed a distro that was more “up-to-date” than anything Debian or Ubuntu were doing.
I ended up trying Fedora and PopOS. I liked them both enough, but always ended up finding myself in a spot where I needed/wanted programs that were just not available through normal means (I was not really familiar with Github/Gitlab at this point). I tried EndeavorOS, but something happened in the install (probably user error) that went so awry that I was unable to use the laptop I was trying it out on, and ended up smashing the poor machine in frustration.
The more I looked at my options, it was becoming more clear that I had only two options: install Arch or go back to Windows. So I bit the bullet, and installed Arch via the command line. I manually partitioned the drives, set up wifi, setup monitors, installed base packages, configured the display deamons, the audio, and installed all my apps, before even having the visual desktop I had become so accustomed to. I did it with the help from DistroTube and EFLinux. The whole time it felt like I was defusing a bomb, but after everything was said and done, I had a working Arch install.
One of the things that kept me around is that Arch kind of forced me to get more familiar with the command line, and in turn, with what was happening under the hood of my machine. At first, I used GUI apps for everything. But Manjaro’s GUI package manager, Pamac, would hardly ever work, when going straight to pacman in the command line, always got the job done.
I have played with a few other distros over the last 4 years. I even went back to Windows for a brief period in the beginning of the pandemic so I could play one of my all-time favorite RPGs Divinity: Original Sin 2 with my friends, before it was playable on Linux (thanks to the hardwork of Glorious Eggroll). But nowhere has ever felt like home like it does on Arch.
Until they give me a reason to leave, I will continue to use Arch … btw.