For 20 years, Arch Linux has provided users access to a completely custom and unique system. Over those years, it has built a reputation for customization, at the expense of user-friendliness.
As a rolling release distro, Arch doesn’t provide any set releases, instead they just update the image each month. However, if you have downloaded Arch in the last few weeks, you may have noticed a new addition: archinstall. It makes installing Arch Linux way easier.
Today, I will be discussing what this change represents for the future of the Arch project, and what this could mean for future releases.
A New Direction for Arch?
While many were surprised at this move, having an official installer included by default is actually a very sensible move. It signifies a change in direction for Arch, with a greater focus on accessibility, while still retaining the legendary customization it is known for.
As the installer’s GitHub page says:
The guided installer will provide user-friendly options along the way, but the keyword here is options, they are optional and will never be forced upon anyone
This means that the new installer doesn’t affect advanced users, yet also opens up the distro to a wider audience. Among the many benefits this change brings, one stands above the crowd: more users.
More users mean more support for the project, whether that is through donations or development work. And with each of these contributions, the user experience continues to improve for both new and experienced users alike.
This was bound to happen
Looking into the past, we can see many additions to the installation medium that have helped new users. Examples of these include pacstrap (a tool to install base system) and reflector (a tool to find the best pacman mirrors).
Plus, users have been asking for a way to script their installation for years, which the new installer provides. Capable of being scripted in Python, it enables far easier deployment for administrators, making it a very attractive option.
More Customizability (Somehow?)
While it may seem counter-intuitive, the inclusion of an installer actually may improve the customization options of Arch. Currently, the biggest bottleneck with Arch’s incredible customization options is the user’s skill level, an issue eliminated thanks to archinstall.
With the new installer, you don’t need to have the skills to create your perfect environment, instead taking advantage of the installer to do it for you. This opens up a huge range of customization options that would otherwise be out of reach for the average user.
With this new addition, it seems that Arch Linux has started moving towards a more User-Friendly philosophy. The new installer provides a wide range of benefits to Newbies and advanced users alike. These include wider customization options and a larger community.
All in all, the new installer will provide a positive impact on the community as a whole.
What do you think about the new Arch guided installer? Have you tried it out yet?