What’s the reason for that? I don’t know for sure. I blame a mixture of things, in a variety of proportions according to the person. How well you like Arch will depend on the machine you use, how well you know it, how much you like tweaking things, how experienced you are with Linux … and a mess of other stuff.
It’s not for everybody. But if you wanted me to recommend it to you, I’d want to be sure you were okay with these things first:
- Be comfortable with Linux. I wouldn’t recommend Arch to a first-time Linux user, or to a technophobe (or even a casual computer user). It’s not as cuddly as other distros are (at first), although there are lots of people who hope to remedy that.
- Be comfortable with the command line. Because 15 minutes after you insert the CD, you’ll be finished … but you’ll be looking at a terminal login.
- Get a fast connection. Linux almost requires broadband anyway, but Arch is a rolling release, and will need at least intermittent access to repositories to stay up-to-date. It’s certainly not impossible to use Arch over a modem, but I wouldn’t want to do it.*
- Know your hardware. It always helps to understand what’s inside your machine; Arch will expect you to know it, inside and out.
- Be comfortable breaking and fixing things. This isn’t to suggest that things break a lot in Arch, only that when something does go wrong, you should have an idea of how to make it work — that can mean compiling, booting to a live environment, or just hand-editing a configuration file.
But after that, Arch is what you make of it, so it’s as good, as complete and as beautiful as you want. You can say that about a lot of things in Linux, but if you enjoy “fast” and “easy’ and “clean” on top of all of those, you definitely need to try it out.
*If you are on a slow connection, you might keep an eye on the stable-release version of Arch that some community members are working on.