BTW, I Use Arch

Written By: Jake Bauer | Posted: 2020-08-29 | Last Updated: 2020-08-29

Okay, the title isn’t exactly 100% accurate; I’m actually using Artix Linux, an Arch Linux derivative which offers a choice regarding init systems (between OpenRC, runit, or r6).

I originally wanted to try Alpine Linux to get away from systemd and move towards a smaller, simpler operating system. Artix was suggested to me as an alternative operating system which also featured the OpenRC init system and I decided to give it a shot after trying out Alpine but finding its software availability to be a bit lacking. I think Artix provides a good compromise between lean-ness and software availability with full access to the Arch Linux package repositories as well as the AUR. If you’re wondering why I chose Artix instead of a Debian-based OS such as Devuan, it’s because I have a few friends also using Artix and they successfully peer-pressured me into using it.

To be honest, once the operating system is installed and my desktop environment is set up, there isn’t that much of a difference between Artix and Debian Sid from the perspective of how the system feels to use. This is just about par for the course for most Linux distributions though because major differences usually lie under the hood in the form of different package management tools or OS utilities. I didn’t even have to tweak much to get my desktop environment working the same as it does on Debian.

Regarding what lies under the hood, I chose the OpenRC init system over the other choices Artix offers mostly because it was the other init system I was familiar with from my time with Gentoo. OpenRC with its parallel startup setting turned on feels just as fast as systemd, though I didn’t bother to take any empirical measurements. I also chose to install the opendoas package so that I could use doas instead of sudo because it uses slightly less RAM, is slightly faster to type, its configuration is way simpler, oh… and the codebase appears to be ~2.5% the size of sudo’s (from running sloccount on their git repositories). Also of note is that, after a fresh boot, my Artix install uses ~200MiB of RAM less than my Debian install.

Pacman, while it has probably the worst syntax out of the contemporary package managers, didn’t give me any trouble after a brief review of the manual page, a quick rundown from a friend, and the package manager Rosetta. I think I’m going to have to make a bunch of aliases for commonly-used operations though. Interestingly, it also feels like the fastest package manager I’ve tried; I can say with confidence that it feels noticeably faster than zypper, dnf, apt, and emerge. For accessing the AUR, I installed yay which I now use for regular packages too since it just wraps pacman and uses the same syntax.

The only issue I’ve come across running Artix instead of Debian is noticeably worse battery life on my laptop. It’s probably just that I have to play around with some tlp settings or dig into some acpi-related things to fix this though. Other than that, it’s been excellent to use as an operating system and I’m strongly considering switching all of my workstation machines over to it while deploying new servers with Alpine Linux or OpenBSD.

This is my ninety-seventh post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at https://100daystooffload.com.