Why I Switched Back from Arch to Ubuntu

While I've had a great deal of fun using Arch Linux I've decided to go back to Ubuntu. The biggest reason why? All the recent changes to Linux to create Ubuntu Karmic and the changes being proposed for Ubuntu Lucid. While what can be customize in Arch is fantastic and the wiki, tutorials and community are incredibly helpful, somethings are just too involved to build and too enticing to avoid. But in Ubuntu these things are getting integrated into the default distro so that anyone can use them.

What things do I mean? Take encryption for one. While it is possible to do it in Arch and other distros, Ubuntu makes it a one click process during installation. With one click your /home partition is securely encrypted so that if your laptop is lost none of your personal data will ever fall into the wrong hands (as long as you choose a good password)

The installation process itself is another reason I'm switching. Getting to a useable Ubuntu desktop takes less than a half hour. Installing Arch for the first time took me a good part of a day and while it meant having nearly no wasted space on my hard drive, it wasn't exactly a simple process. So if ever something goes horribly wrong (and it's happened a few time to me already) rebuilding a fully functioning system is dead simple with Ubuntu.

One of the nicest things I liked about Arch was how easy it was to tweak my boot process and speed it up. My laptop was booting in half the time it took to boot to Jaunty. But Canonical's efforts towards speeding up the booting process have been impressive. The gap is becoming smaller and smaller. Upstart, xsplash and soon completing the replacement of hal with udev, there's some amazing technology coming out of these guys.

Canonical's whole drive to bring Linux to the mainstream is another thing I like about Ubuntu. It seems strange but the simple fact that during boot it displays a loading bar rather than terminal output makes it seem friendlier to people that have never seen Linux before. With Arch I used to get reactions like "That's Linux? Looks hard." rather than "U-bun-tu? I thought Linux was all command line and stuff." This is a distro that non-techie people can actually get to use and like so doing some free advertising for Canonical is fine by me. (To the other techie people out there, I agree that the CLI is more useful and prefer it myself but "normal" people actually find these things intimidating and it's a good thing that Linux is going mainstream this way, trust me).

There are some things I'll miss about Arch though. Firstly: having the fastest publish to package time of any distro. Managing packages with Pacman. I never even thought about replacing it with a graphical tool while using it, that app can do anything. Another thing I'll miss is how simple everything was written and divided up. Ubuntu can try to be a little too helpful in its documentation within some of its system files and covers them will tons of commented out settings with lengthy explanations. Although it's nice that they do that for you, it lacks the minimalist beauty of the Arch Way.

In Arch all those settings were explained in the Arch Wiki, another thing I'll greatly miss. That wiki had everything you needed to know to make Arch yours and anything that wasn't there would be in the forums. The Arch community is a fantastic and incredibly helpful bunch of people. And they really know their stuff. I still visit both of these sites when looking for help as they're useful for non Arch related things too.

But I've decided for all it's customizing fun it's time to move on. Good bye Arch, you've taught me much and it's been fun but this geek is moving on to a system where he spends more time using it rather than tweaking it (in theory at least).


Ronnie said...

I know this is an old blog post but I too recently moved away from Arch. I absolutely love Arch but I was spending a lot of time tweaking the system instead of working on it. What pushed me over the edge though was in the span of one week two of the three computers that I had Arch loaded on had issues after a system update that were far more than a minor glitch. I reviewed the programs that I use on a daily basis and none need to be the latest to perform the task required. So I switched all mt computers to Linux Mint 9 (LTS). I'm actually using my computers as the tool they are instead of tweaking them constantly.

Oliver Schmid said...

Nice, I was using Mint for a while too after the initial switch back to Ubuntu that I talked about in this old post. Mint is very cool. I liked how you could get a version loaded with all the proprietary drivers, flash and such. It's even easier to set up than Ubuntu (and a little nicer on the eyes).

Since then I've moved on to Fedora. I'm a big fan of gnome-shell (not so much Unity). Fedora's a little closer to the bleeding edge too which is fun. I'm probably not getting as much work done as in Mint but the fiddling I do with it does provides me with some writing material for this blog =)

Aaron said...

i just switched to arch from ubuntu i like it much better

Oliver Schmid said...

That's great! Arch is a lot of fun and will teach you tons about Linux.

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