[arch-general] What jobs/tasks is arch the best at?

Alexandre de Verteuil alexandre at deverteuil.net
Sun Apr 24 13:53:45 UTC 2016

* theodore.preuninger at lycos.com <theodore.preuninger at lycos.com> [2016-04-14 16:21] :
> Comparing ARCH to other distros in the SAME CATEGORY (not for example
> against pfSense - one of many distros designed for connection sharing),
> what jobs/task is it the best at? 

== Virtual machines! (easy on resources) ==

I bought a server with 16 GB of RAM for my home lab. My Archlinux VMs
are more than happy with 512 MB of RAM each and a 20 GB virtual hard
drive. All my qcow2 files are still under 10 GB. This allows me to
isolate each service in its own virtual machine. The whole fleet is
orchestrated with Ansible. Of course the hypervisor is also an Archlinux
system running libvirtd.

I have a VM for ns1, ns2, openvpn, mail, pacman cache and local repo,
dhcp, web, db, unify, munin, a tor relay node, backups (this one has a
dedicated physical drive), ntp, a few temporary ones for testing and
development, and a FreeIPA domain controller on FedoraServer (that one
needs 1 GB), and plans for more services/VMs like CalDAV and CardDAV,
OwnCloud or similar and XMMP with plenty of resources to spare.

== It's not exactly a distro, it's almost a distro framework ==

One way I like to see Archlinux is as a distribution *framework*. It's
not like other distributions where all the pieces are carefully put
together in a beast system with everything included. You shape it as
you need it.

For example, Archlinux is running my main home workstation with Gnome 3
and all the desktop applications you'd expect. My next project is to
make a homebrew router with Firewalld on ArchLinux and a low-power
system board. And Arch is really perfect for both.

Other distros have various specialized "editions". Fedora Workstation,
Fedora Server, etc. For Archlinux, there is just Archlinux.

== It makes good system administrators ==

I agree with what the others said about the education value of Arch. But
there is also a value as a system administrator of "production" systems
(production because my home network goes down if I screw up). Since
I study so many options and make so many decisions when building an
Archlinux system, I get to know every part of it and fixing problems is
really quick.

Those system administration skillsets are portable between vastly
different Archlinux systems. The skills are even portable to other
distros. I became really comfortable with systemd even before some of my
colleagues heard about its existence and now CentOS 7 is entering the

== Where it isn't the best ==

I wouldn't use Arch for my computer at work. I use Fedora, some use
Ubuntu, Mint or OS X. Archlinux isn't fast to set up. It requires
reading, decision making, testing, incremental edits, so if you don't
need or want to make choices, and your environment is really fast paced,
maybe you're better offloading some decision making to the distro
maintainers and go with a mainstream distro.

Alexandre de Verteuil <alexandre at deverteuil.net>
public key ID : 0xDD237C00

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