My Experience with Arch

I’ve now been using Arch for several weeks and as promised here is my experience.


I have to say installing Arch scared me. Hearing how difficult and problematic It can be brought to mind my early struggles with setting up networking and servers many years back. I can now safely say that while I did run into annoying issues they were all the fault of Windows.

Now of course you might be baffled “How is windows to blame for installation issues of Arch?” Well, it’s simple. You need to install Arch from a live flash drive. I did exactly that in windows by first formatting the flash drive and then putting a live, bootable instance of Arch on it. The issue was that windows decided it was appropriate to do this in a partition of the flash drive. Now while that might work for many it didn’t work with how my motherboard BIOS is set. After an hour or two of struggling with making the installation of Arch on my SSD be booted by default, I noticed the live boot was on a partition. As soon as I dded the live boot using a UNIX machine all my issues were resolved. 

The rest was smooth sailing and I have to admit quite enjoyable and educational.

Setting everything up

As you probably know Arch is basically a blank clay for you to shape as you wish. For someone experienced with using Linux as a daily driver might already know exactly what they want, but for me I was like a kid in a candy shop. Whatever I needed I found 3 different ways to do it and I ended up trying all of them to pick what I wanted to stick with. This has been and continues to be one of my favorite parts of Arch. 

I went from Gnome to i3 within a day and then started customizing it. I went through numerous terminal emulators, different setups, and hundreds of other slight modifications until I arrived at where I am today. I don’t think I’ll ever be really done customizing, adjusting and tweaking it. Now to some this may sound horrible.”I have to constantly try to make things work?” The answer is a simple no, but you can if you want to and I definitely want to because it results in me learning more about the system and just brings a smile to my face every time I sit down in front of my computer.


So what is it like to use? Whatever you want it to be. I think my experience with locking the computer describes it perfectly.

 When I started I just didn’t lock it since nobody else has access to the computer. A few days after I got i3 I switched to using i3lock. It bothered me that it was just white so soon after I started typing out i3lock -i ~/Pictures/Wallpaper/pic.png This was annoying but just looked so much better. And finally about a week later I created an alias for that command and just typed i3lock. I now have plans to set a hotkey for i3 to lock with the image when I get back home from my current traveling.

Why I’m switching to Linux on my primary computer

I have been floating between operating systems most of my life, but one thing has been pretty constant. My main computer has almost exclusively run windows. While this is great when I want to play games or edit photos in Lightroom, I spend more and more time in a text editor writing code. This is how I have come to experience the biggest shortcomings of Windows.

When I was moving into the dorms of my university I decided to only bring my MacBook. I wrote up most of my assignments in LaTeX using Atom. After a few assignments, I got fed up with making the same file structure in the assignments directory so I wrote a simple bash script to do it for me. This has started the rapid transition to using the bash terminal all the time.

Before I get into the issues I have experienced I should mention that I have used one Linux distro or another on my servers all the time, but the amount of time spent in them has been very little compared to all other devices.

As the year went on I became entirely dependant on the terminal where it became the first thing I launched it the morning and one of the last things I used in the evening. The speed with which I could get things done was unparalleled to using the GUI and I was loving it.

In the spring term our data science module and with it my love for the terminal grew. Using it to manage my tasks through GitHub, installing new python packages, or even just making a few new folders was done exclusively through the terminal.

Then corona hit and universities moved their learning online so I decided to come back home. Since my desktop PC has a better keyboard, bigger monitor, and overall nicer amenities than just using a MacBook I started doing my assignments on it. This is when my addiction to the terminal has started showing. I became frustrated with how clunky everything was and even resigned to using an online editor for LaTeX and installed Anaconda. With this, I soldiered on getting all my assignments done deciding I will try to fix my problems once my finals come since this was only a few weeks away.

The exams have come and gone, but I still haven’t done anything to fix it since I ended up being very busy with a new project I am working on. A few days ago I have finally snapped when I tried using the conda command in both the power shell and windows command prompt and both just threw errors and wouldn’t even acknowledge I had Anaconda installed.

I had to install an OS with a bash shell on my tower ASAP if I was to continue using it. Initially, I considered turning my PC into a Hackintosh since it would integrate well with everything else. A quick google search later the number of parts I would have to swap out made this a null option. My only choice now was Linux.

Originally I planned on running Windows in a type 1 hypervisor what happened next made me decide I need a break from Windows for a while.

As part of installing Linux, I was clearing out an SSD and HDD and moving any important data from there on the other drives in the PC. I did this since I wanted two drives to format and directly give to whatever I distro would choose. As I was going through some of the files on the SSD I got a weird pop up. Windows wouldn’t let me open a folder that I created and contained my files. I quickly checked I was on the account with the highest permissions and tried again to no avail. I then put the drive in a different machine and used root to force my way in. To my surprise, there were no issues with opening the folder and accessing the files. Trying to open the same files again in the main tower windows once again wouldn’t let me.

Then I realized what was going on. Windows probably has a permission level that the user can’t access and for some reason, this folder was covered by it. I found this absolutely outrageous. If as a user I want to go ahead and move or remove even system files I should be allowed to given sufficient privileges. The fact I couldn’t basically means I don’t even have control of the files on my own computer and this is something I will never be ok with. I can understand when such a restriction of access is present on phones or tablets, but they have no place on a computer. It was because of this that I will not be installing windows even in the hypervisor anytime soon unless it is absolutely necessary.

I hope you enjoyed my story of giving up on Windows for the foreseeable future.