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would you really recommend Arch as a first Linux distro?

This is a really tricky question that I could go either way on. I just helped my brother install Arch… he’s got about 4 years Linux experience, but still doesn’t know a ton. Arch will change that in a hurry.

In one sense, Arch is probably way too hard for a beginner. On the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing! I ran Ubuntu for about 2-3 years without really learning much. Fedora for another year, again without learning much. Been running Arch for about 10 months and I’ve learned more in the last 10 months than the previous 4 years combined.

Can you learn Linux without running Arch/Gentoo/Slackware? Of course. In my opinion though, it makes it easier to learn the hard way (if that makes sense) by forcing you to be competent.

If I could go back, I’d probably start with Arch. The simplicity is really something to behold. I know EXACTLY what’s on my system, because I built it.

I think Arch hits a real sweet spot between something like Fedora and something like Gentoo. It’s hard… but not too hard.

Also, as you well know, the wiki is outstanding and the community is pretty cool once you’ve proven you’re not lazy and willing to learn.

I run Arch on my dev setup, a VPS and my Raspberry Pi. Love it!