Was Arch used to be harder?
25

tl;dr Title

It’s common knowledge at this point that Arch has a reputation for being very difficult to use which led to it becoming a meme ( like everything else on the internet). Even tho Arch users swear that it is actually trivial to install and use for someone who is willing to read documentation, it is also known that distributions with significantly higher requirements on overall *nix knowledge like Gentoo, Oasis, KISS and Crux (?) exist. So my question is this: was Arch used to be harder to install and use? Because I heard bad things about Debian’s installation process too, even tho it is incredibly easy now. I also hear Ubuntu being bad for user privacy, even tho that whole Amazon thing happened years ago under a completely different management. Things move fast in Linux family’s world, was Arch a very different system back in 2006?

@NUKKE
134M

I don’t think it was necessarily harder. It was different, maybe simpler.

First off, the Arch Wiki had a more straightforward “Installation Guide” compared to the current one. The previous one had more detailed steps in the guide itself, compared to the current one which has links on certain sections to different tools. As an example, partitioning a drive using parted was part of the “Installation Guide” back then, and it gave you an example layout for MBR and EFI layouts in the article itself; whereas the current guide now gives you a link to the “Partitioning” page, which itself has links to the various tools (parted, fdisk, gdisk, etc), which in turn have command and layout examples.

You also gotta consider that drivers were different back then, too. AMD’s offerings were not as great back then as they are now, so sometimes, depending on your card, you’d have to install different drivers, kinda like how things are right now with NVIDIA. Now the opposite is also kinda/sorta true with Intel. Newer (read: Kaby Lake and above) require an external package to be installed to enable certain features like proper hardware acceleration.

Lastly, you now have hundreds if not thousands of videos on YouTube of guided installations for Arch. The quality of said videos might vary from video to video, but nevertheless they’re resources that people use.

Ultimately I don’t think it’s that Arch used to be harder, it’s more so that the landscape of Linux and its community has changed. Some things have changed for the better, others for the worse. Things are just “different.”

Ephera
114M

I think, it’s a result of the Dunning-Kruger-Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

Someone who’s installed a normal end-user distro has no reason to be confident.

Someone who’s installed Gentoo and the like has all the reasons to be confident, but recognizes how much there is still to learn, and that they really know nothing in comparison, so they don’t brag about it.

Someone who’s installed Arch has made that first step towards knowledge, so they can be more confident than a complete noob, but they haven’t yet realized that there is still so much more out there, so they feel like they’ve conquered the world and completely overshoot in how confident they should be.

And I guess, there’s also the quantity factor. There’s just a lot less people who (manage to) install Gentoo et al, so less people who could brag about it.

Arch is not necessarily difficult, it’s like installing Debian via manually partitioning and debootstrapping it. The documentation is amazing and, most of the time, enough for setting up any kind of system.

Some people definitely take it too seriously, like it’s some rite of passage, and then act like jerks towards new users, which makes the Arch community unwelcoming most of the time. But it’s a very good distro overall, very reliable.

Every Linux was harder to use two decades ago.

In my experience, even Ubuntu was hard to use in 2006. The documentation for most distros was meant for people already familiar with technical stuff.

I don’t think it used to be harder, but I think the documentation was more advanced user oriented. Now the documentation is so simple that it’s pretty much copying commands and using a little bit of prerequisite Linux knowledge.

I have always dual booted with windows. So I actually find it more difficult now than it used to be to install. This is mostly due to windows 10 being a pain in the ass.

@vegai
5
edit-2
4M

There used to be an installer, and it was, well, complicated. It tried to be very flexible while still streamlining the installation. When we removed all that and went with installation script approach instead, things became simpler and even more flexible (since what can be more flexible than the command line). I still think this is the best OS installer I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some.

Also, before the systemd change was completed, the init system and supporting tools were not quite as robust. So that created all kinds of complications.

Everything that is developed with a clear focus gets better with time.

@joojmachine
3
edit-2
4M

I had the same experience as OP a while ago, wanted to try installing Arch on bare metal without trying on a VM first, and was scared as shit to fuck it up. Managed to get a working install on the first try just by following the wiki, just had to redo it because I fucked up some stuff with the filesystem that lead to not being able to snapshot the system (BTRFS). It ended up being so easy I don’t even want to mess with Calamares anymore.

It’s probably much more about documentation than difficulty itself.

I think it was more or less the same. But the documentation was not so good as now.

@someone
creator
24M

…documentation was not so good as now.

That could explain some things.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Linux is a family of open source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Linux is typically packaged in a Linux distribution (or distro for short).

Distributions include the Linux kernel and supporting system software and libraries, many of which are provided by the GNU Project. Many Linux distributions use the word “Linux” in their name, but the Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy.

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