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#1 2008-06-19 19:15:40

JawsThemeSwimming428
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From: USA
Registered: 2008-03-09
Posts: 149

Arch vs. Debian

The title says it all. I am researching which one to use as a second main desktop OS. I would like to know what the reasons would be for choosing one over the other?

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#2 2008-06-19 19:19:15

ozar
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From: USA
Registered: 2005-02-18
Posts: 1,681

Re: Arch vs. Debian

You don't really have to choose one over the other.

You can install both and boot into whichever you feel like running that day.


oz

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#3 2008-06-19 19:22:42

JawsThemeSwimming428
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From: USA
Registered: 2008-03-09
Posts: 149

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Good point and I might eventually do that. I would still like to know why someone would choose one over the other. I guess more for peace of mind than anything else.

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#4 2008-06-19 19:37:05

lucke
Member
From: Poland
Registered: 2004-11-30
Posts: 4,018

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Read Arch vs others and the Arch way in the wiki.

What comes to my mind: Arch is more KISS (eg. there's no autoconfiguration after installing packages, just sane defaults), dev packages aren't split in Arch, it's easier to bulid packages using ABS than using Debian tools, Arch is i686 optimized, some prefer pacman over apt-get, Arch's community is kinda great, it's easy to contribute in any way to Arch.

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#5 2008-06-19 19:46:30

sniffles
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Registered: 2008-01-23
Posts: 275

Re: Arch vs. Debian

ozar wrote:

You don't really have to choose one over the other.

You can install both and boot into whichever you feel like running that day.

This also means you'll have to take care of two systems rather than one.

The recommended package management tool for Debian is `aptitude` (contrary to popular belief?). Pacman is a lot easier to handle. Debian is a complex system when compared to Arch Linux.

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#6 2008-06-19 20:07:58

pseudonomous
Member
Registered: 2008-04-23
Posts: 349

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Suggestion:

Try reading the distrowatch reviews for both.

My personal opinion:

I found that arch was easier to install and configure than Debian, not because the process was easier, but becuase Arch had documentation that was
easier for me to understand.  Or maybe just easier to find, I had lots of trouble with the Debian documenation.

Debian, by default, will install the GNOME environment, pure Arch Linux won't install X or a Desktop, you have to install these yourself.   The Arch approach is to have you build you're system from CORE up, doing most of the configuration manually, Debian automates alot of this process and provides
more software installed by default (unless you do a minimal install, in which case you end up with a system comparable to the Arch base install).

Arch has fewer binary packages, but drawing on AUR, you can easily compile almost anything from source using "yaourt", which takes longer than installing a binary package, but is just as painless.  I think you can also use ABS but I dont.   You can also use the ABS (arch build system) to rebuild core packages from source, should you want to.

I don't think Debian has an equivalent to the ABS or AUR, but there are a huge selection of binary builds available for Debian.

Both Debian and Arch have great (in my opinion) binary package managers, aptitute (edit: shoud be "apt") and pacman, respectively.  They provide similar functionality but have different interfaces.   Debian provides an officially supported GUI frontend for apt (edit: aptitude is a text based front end for apt), synaptic.  3rd party frontends exist for pacman.

Arch has a rolling release systems, as soon as an updated and tested package exists, it's added to the repositaries and you can upgrade that package w/ pacman.  Debian releases a "stable" release every year or so, for which only bug fixes and security fixes are released.  There are also "testing" and "unstable" releases of Debian.  In a nutshell, this means that Arch is almost always more up to date than "Debian Stable", and that you don't have to do a massive system upgrade every year or so w/ Arch, you just upgrade as changes are made.  On the other hand, becuase of their long testing periods and rigid guidelines, Debian stable is probably very stable, while occassionaly updates to Arch will cause problems.  (I've had minor issues with upgrades to Xorg requiring me to reconfigure X, occassionaly problems with some dependancies being depracated, ussaully stuff that was easy to fix)

Hardwarewise, Debian runs on just about anything, Arch is optimized for i686 andd i686-64 and I don't think it works on anything else.  Arch is, however, optimised for i686 and Debian is not so, in theory, Arch should run faster.

Besides that ... well both are just general purpose Linux distrubutions.  I do think that installling Arch is a good learning experiance for someone, like myself, who was not so well acquanted iwth Linux.  I've learned a lot about how Xorg works and how to configure my system.  I didn't learn much of anything from installing Debian, besides that it was a real pain to try and find good documentation on various aspects of Debian, in particular how to access the Debain repositories (I assume Debian DOES have official repositories), if you don't atuomatically set it up too when you are installing the base system.  (My goal was to do a minimal installation, then build up piece by piece, like with Arch)  I just couldn't get this to work, and that's where I gave up on installing Debian. 

Debain and Arch have different design philosophies.  Arch is designed to be as simple as possible, by way of not including vary much by default and letting you build up your own system.  Debain's goal is to be a "universal operating system"; basically, they want to be able to run on anything and provide a huge amount of software.  I think Debian, at some level, buys into the "just works", philosophy of the Gnome developers.  At any rate, Gnome is their default desktop environment.  They also seem particularly concerned w/ stabliity, as opposed to providing the latest versions of software.

That's my 2 cents

Last edited by pseudonomous (2008-06-19 20:30:02)

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#7 2008-06-19 20:12:38

Dheart
Member
From: Sofia, Bulgaria
Registered: 2006-10-26
Posts: 943

Re: Arch vs. Debian

sniffles wrote:

The recommended package management tool for Debian is `aptitude` (contrary to popular belief?). Pacman is a lot easier to handle. Debian is a complex system when compared to Arch Linux.

You sure about that? When I run Ubuntu, later Debian I've always used apt-get, never aptitude... Well... it's true I hardly ever read FAQ and recommendations, but apt-get seams perfect... It's pacman with the same functions, but different arguments...


My victim you are meant to be
No, you cannot hide nor flee
You know what I'm looking for
Pleasure your torture, I will endure...

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#8 2008-06-19 20:17:26

sniffles
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Registered: 2008-01-23
Posts: 275

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Dheart wrote:
sniffles wrote:

The recommended package management tool for Debian is `aptitude` (contrary to popular belief?). Pacman is a lot easier to handle. Debian is a complex system when compared to Arch Linux.

You sure about that? When I run Ubuntu, later Debian I've always used apt-get, never aptitude... Well... it's true I hardly ever read FAQ and recommendations, but apt-get seams perfect... It's pacman with the same functions, but different arguments...

Yes, I'm sure.

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#9 2008-06-19 20:26:24

pseudonomous
Member
Registered: 2008-04-23
Posts: 349

Re: Arch vs. Debian

See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptitude_(program)

Aptitude is just a front-end for apt. 

I'm also of the opinion that it has basically the same functionality as pacman, and that isn't any easier or harder to learn to use.

I do, however, agree that Debian is, overall, a more complex distro compared to Arch.

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#10 2008-06-19 20:37:38

Dheart
Member
From: Sofia, Bulgaria
Registered: 2006-10-26
Posts: 943

Re: Arch vs. Debian

sniffles wrote:
Dheart wrote:
sniffles wrote:

The recommended package management tool for Debian is `aptitude` (contrary to popular belief?). Pacman is a lot easier to handle. Debian is a complex system when compared to Arch Linux.

You sure about that? When I run Ubuntu, later Debian I've always used apt-get, never aptitude... Well... it's true I hardly ever read FAQ and recommendations, but apt-get seams perfect... It's pacman with the same functions, but different arguments...

Yes, I'm sure.

As pseudonomous mentioned aptitude is just a frontend for apt-get... It might be the recommended way in ubuntu, but surely not in debian...


My victim you are meant to be
No, you cannot hide nor flee
You know what I'm looking for
Pleasure your torture, I will endure...

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#11 2008-06-19 20:50:52

chimeric
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From: Munich, Germany
Registered: 2007-10-07
Posts: 254
Website

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Dheart wrote:

As pseudonomous mentioned aptitude is just a frontend for apt-get... It might be the recommended way in ubuntu, but surely not in debian...

There was a time when aptitude was recommend over apt-get because it tracked dependencies better and uninstalled not needed package dependencies when uninstalling a package. apt-get has that functionality too since some time now, so I think this doesn't apply anymore.

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#12 2008-06-19 21:23:11

sniffles
Member
Registered: 2008-01-23
Posts: 275

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Hm..

pseudonomous wrote:

Aptitude is just a front-end for apt.

So is apt-get, so I don't see your point here.

I'm also of the opinion that it has basically the same functionality as pacman

What does functionality have to do with complexity? You're saying a program which can be used both via command line options and via an ncurses interface is just as simple (as opposed to complex) as pacman?

Dheart wrote:

As pseudonomous mentioned aptitude is just a frontend for apt-get... It might be the recommended way in ubuntu, but surely not in debian...

I wouldn't know how Ubuntu does things as I don't use it.

chimeric: http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i … l-software

In fact, aptitude is now the recommended utility for package management.

Edit: Dheart, relating to your earlier comment. I agree apt-get is a lot easier to use, I preferre(d) it over aptitude.

Last edited by sniffles (2008-06-19 21:27:25)

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#13 2008-06-19 21:29:22

chimeric
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From: Munich, Germany
Registered: 2007-10-07
Posts: 254
Website

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Times change ... that was a while ago and I don't use Debian anymore wink.

Edit: got mixed up ...

Last edited by chimeric (2008-06-19 21:31:59)

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#14 2008-06-19 21:32:36

Dheart
Member
From: Sofia, Bulgaria
Registered: 2006-10-26
Posts: 943

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Well that "for a while" changes the meaning of the your whole post...
Cheers!
[/offtopic]


My victim you are meant to be
No, you cannot hide nor flee
You know what I'm looking for
Pleasure your torture, I will endure...

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#15 2008-06-19 21:35:16

Basu
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From: Cornell University
Registered: 2006-12-15
Posts: 292
Website

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Arch will give you more direct control over your system than most other distros. The flipside is that you're getting that control whether you want it or not. Use Arch if you want to build a Linux system tuned to your tastes and preferences (which can be ultra-sleek CLI glory or resource-heavy graphical bling). On the other hand, if you just want to up and running as soon as possible and won't do much customization besides changing the wallpaper and the theme, you might be better of elsewhere. There is also the fact that Arch is for i686 and its 64-bit cousin, but that is probably not something you need to concerned about.


The Bytebaker -- Computer science is not a science and it's not about computers
Check out my open source software at Github

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#16 2008-06-19 21:47:33

sniffles
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Registered: 2008-01-23
Posts: 275

Re: Arch vs. Debian

pseudonomous wrote:

but becuase Arch had documentation that was easier for me to understand.  Or maybe just easier to find, I had lots of trouble with the Debian documenation.

I can't quite comment on Arch Linux "specific" documentation as quite frankly I haven't touched it -too- much (not being smug, just a fact), but I agree: Debian HTML documentation (talking about their "manuals" etc.) can be pretty nasty. Large, complex, and every now and then outdated.

Debian, by default, will install the GNOME environment, pure Arch Linux won't install X..

Near the end of the paragraph you say something which I feel like pointing out: nobody "forces" you to do a standard install. For that matter when I installed Debian I always only performed base installs [which was not an "inconvenience" (i.e. as opposed to doing standard installs)]

aptitute (edit: shoud be "apt")

I can't put my hands on a definition of "package manager" but I somehow doubt apt is one. You felt it was worth making that edit so I felt it was worth commenting on it.

Arch has a rolling release systems..

I'm not sure if Debian SID/Unstable can be called "rolling release" since it doesn't ever get any actual "releases" (in the "traditional" ? sense of the word) .. but other than that the two distributions are pretty similar in this area. I can't argue which one is more stable, I've not been with Arch for a very long time.

Arch is, however, optimised for i686 and Debian is not

Debian provides i686 optimised kernel images, one of the few places where this kind of optimisation might actually bring some performance gains.

.. I'll skip over the whole learning thing as I'm tired of arguing about that ..


(My goal was to do a minimal installation, then build up piece by piece, like with Arch)  I just couldn't get this to work, and that's where I gave up on installing Debian.

Oh well, I had no problems. Just to point out (in case it's needed) that one user failing to do a specific task on Debian does not nec. mean you'll fail at it to ("you" == OP)

I won't comment on the last part, just seemed liked FUD / poor summary of Debian's goals and philosophy from someone angry because of their insuccess at using the distribution.

-My- 2 cents.

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#17 2008-06-19 22:16:53

pseudonomous
Member
Registered: 2008-04-23
Posts: 349

Re: Arch vs. Debian

I won't comment on the last part, just seemed liked FUD / poor summary of Debian's goals and philosophy from someone angry because of their insuccess at using the distribution

I'm actually not angry at all, nor was I particularly upset at the time.  I just reached the point where, I figured that given the amount of difficulty I had encountered in trying to find documentation telling me what to do to set up the repositories, that it was just easier to install a different distrubtion. 

And I do note that you CAN choose to do a minimal install of Debian and build it up like you do w/ Arch (I tried), to, but I wanted to emphasize that in Debian, you don't HAVE to do this, if you don't want to.

But, sniffles is quite right in pointing out that these were MY experiances, and that you shouldn't make decisions based solely off my experiances.  And my experiance with Debian is rather limited compared to Arch, so it's good that sniffles has pointed out some innacurate or just somewhat misleading points of my post.  I had actually meant to highlight, by saying that I failed to install Debain, my own inexperiance with this distribution, as opposed to suggesting other users will fail to install Debian.

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#18 2008-06-19 23:22:53

underpenguin
Member
Registered: 2007-02-01
Posts: 116

Re: Arch vs. Debian

I just have to know, did you post this same question on a Debian forum?

Honestly, I think both are a good choice. They will both allow you do do significant low level configuration if you choose to do so. The reason I switched from Debian to Arch was packages. Everything was just way to old in Debian. I also like how you can easily customize EVERYTHING in arch, and I don't think you get quite the same feeling in Debian.

I would use Debian over Arch for production servers any day (due to stability), but I think Arch edges out Debian for desktop use.

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#19 2008-06-19 23:33:35

Gullible Jones
Member
Registered: 2004-12-29
Posts: 4,863

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Debian Stable is more stable (duh) than Arch, due to massive prioritization of stability and a very large body of developers. However, it is extremely (as in, years) out of date.

Debian Testing is reasonably up to date, similar to Arch. It was much slower last time I tried it though, for reasons I couldn't quite figure out; and had some CVS stuff in it, so it might be less stable.

Debian Unstable I wouldn't use, it's full of development stuff.

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#20 2008-06-20 04:13:10

Llama
Member
From: St.-Petersburg, Russia
Registered: 2008-03-03
Posts: 1,309

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Rolling release and ports system (ABS) taken together are the things which make Arch so special. Debian is absolutely great as long as you don't need any up-to-date software. I can hardly imagine a desktop user with whom grossly outdated basic tools are all right, though. Digital photography, graphics and probably a lot more is virtually out of the question with Debian Etch, for instance. Unless you fancy the art of backporting, that is. Hence Ubuntu and all the other "user friendly" Debian clones. Let me point out that the routine updates of major desktop software (GIMP, OpenOffice)  are bug fix releases. True that one can live without certain new features, but dealing today with bugs fixed a couple of years ago is frustrating.

P.S. By the way, if you need "just desktop", nice, easy to use and powerful, look at PCLinuxOS smile .

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#21 2008-06-20 04:26:30

cautha
Member
From: Kingston, Ontario
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 115
Website

Re: Arch vs. Debian

The only reason why I gave Debian to my grandma is because her hardware is too old to support the 686 instruction set tongue

Well, that and there's something to be said for the stability that Etch can offer. I like being on the bleeding edge, so Debian Stable is not a distro that I would choose for myself, but so far it's working great for her. She doesn't need the latest and greatest; I have a VNC server set up so I can do any maintenance for her from home, and life is good smile

My original plan included using Arch, though, because I love the simplicity inherent in it.

Harry

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#22 2008-06-20 12:53:19

JawsThemeSwimming428
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2008-03-09
Posts: 149

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Yes, I did post the same question on the Debian Forum, here's the link http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php? … highlight= . Thanks for all of your responses. I think I am going to end up using both and see which is better for me. I will probably use Debian testing.

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#23 2008-06-20 13:11:12

sniffles
Member
Registered: 2008-01-23
Posts: 275

Re: Arch vs. Debian

julian67: Hehe, salutations to the Debian forums smile Maybe we can get together over a beer and gossip about the openSUSE forums or something roll

Last edited by sniffles (2008-06-20 13:12:07)

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#24 2008-06-20 13:54:02

underpenguin
Member
Registered: 2007-02-01
Posts: 116

Re: Arch vs. Debian

JawsThemeSwimming428 wrote:

Yes, I did post the same question on the Debian Forum, here's the link http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php? … highlight= . Thanks for all of your responses. I think I am going to end up using both and see which is better for me. I will probably use Debian testing.

I got a huge kick out of reading some replies.

DebianBoard wrote:

PS. On the other hand on Arch forums there might be less people that feel that using a specific distro tells something about the length of they penises (think type of people driving Hummer) as I've noticed on this forum....

And the best:

DebianBoard wrote:

Because those fags at Arch make all packages install to /opt

P.S. Don't get me wrong (especially you Debian guys/girls), I love Debian, this was just too funny to pass up.

EDIT:
Wow. I missed the best one.

Well anyways, Arch forums users are nice, but most of them idiots like those at Ubuntu. yes yes you can't DEMAND knowledge, but 2 unsuccesufl days at Ubuntu forums asking for help is enough for me.

And to think I always go on about how the Signal-to-Noise ratio is so much higher than other linux forums. Shame on me.

Last edited by underpenguin (2008-06-20 13:56:41)

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#25 2008-06-20 14:11:56

sniffles
Member
Registered: 2008-01-23
Posts: 275

Re: Arch vs. Debian

Proof of knowledge: asking for help for 2 days at Ubuntu forums.

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