Most Linux distributions are renowned for their ease of use. Out of the box, you get pre-installed applications that will help you get working without so much of a struggle.
Arch Linux is a Linux distribution that takes on a different philosophy. It’s a pragmatic Linux flavor and demands a high level of skill in setting everything up.
Designed for Intel’s x86_64 architecture, Arch Linux is a general-purpose operating system that is free and open source and designed for intermediate to advanced users.
By default, it provides a minimal base system allowing the user to install and configure only what is required. This is especially handy in avoiding bloatware that comes with graphical installations.
Arch Linux is a rolling release, meaning there are no major releases of completely new versions. Packages are continually updated and rolled out at regular intervals.
With that introduction, let us now have a look at the genesis of Arch Linux.
History of Arch Linux
Arch Linux was inspired by CRUX which is a lightweight Linux distribution for the x86_64 architecture built for experienced Linux users.
Judd Vinet started the Arch Linux project in March 2002. The first installation ISO for the x86_64 was released in April 2006 and was only available for 32-bit CPUs.
Vinet steered the Arch Linux project until October 1, 2007, when he handed over the mantle to Aaron Griffin. August 2012 saw the migration of the Init system from SysV-Init to systemd which, subsequently, became the default Init system for new installations for Arch Linux, as is the case for a majority of modern Linux distros.
In January 2017, support for i686 was dropped with the February 2017 ISO being the last one to be released.
As mentioned earlier, Arch Linux only supports the x86_64 binary platform. The Arch package repositories and User Repository (AUR) provide over 50,000 source and binary packages.
The Pacman package manager is the default package manager for Arch Linux and handles all the package management tasks such as installing, removing, and updating packages from the official repositories or from a user’s own builds.
In addition, other package managers can be installed such as yay AUR helper, and Pamac which is a GUI-based package manager.
Arch Linux Repositories
Arch Linux provides the following binary repositories
- Core – This provides all the packages needed to set up a base system. Some of the packages in this repository include shell languages and kernel packages.
- Extra – It contains packages not needed by the base system. These include desktop environments and other additional programs.
- Community – This repository includes packages built and voted for by the community. These are software packages that are popular and have been trusted by the community.
- Multilib – This is a centralized repository for x86-64 users that provides support for 32-bit applications in a 64-bit environment.
In addition, Arch Linux also provides Testing repositories. These are repositories intended to provide a staging environment for packages before they transition to the main repositories.
Below is a list of the current testing repositories:
- Testing – Contains packages that are candidates for the core or extra repositories. All packages in the Core repository pass through the Testing stage. The Testing repository is also an ideal environment for new packages that are expected to break and, therefore, need to be thoroughly tested.
- Community-testing – Similar to testing but geared towards handling packages destined for the Community repository.
- Multilib-testing – Similar to testing but intended for packages that are candidates for the multilib repository.
In addition, you get two additional repositories that provide the latest versions of GNOME and KDE desktop environments.
- gnome-unstable – Contains testing packages for the next stable release candidate of the GNOME desktop environment.
- kde-unstable – This contains the latest release candidate or Beta version of KDE Plasma and its applications.
That was a rundown of the history of Arch Linux. We have gone further and looked at some of the key elements that constitute Arch Linux including package management and Official repositories.