I’ve been using Linux as my main OS for a couple of years now, first on a slightly older Dell Inspiron 15. Last year I upgraded to an Inspiron 15 7510 with i7-11800H and RTX3050. Since purchasing this laptop I’ve used Manjaro, Debian 11, Pop OS, Void Linux, Fedora Silverblue (37 & 38) and now Debian 12. I need to reinstall soon since I’ve stuffed up my NVIDIA drivers trying to install CUDA and didn’t realise that they changed the default swap size to 1GB.

I use this laptop for everything - development in C/C++, dart/flutter, nodejs and sometimes PHP. I occasionally play games on it through Proton and sometimes need to re-encode videos using Handbrake. I need some amount of reliability since I also use this for University.

I’ve previously been against trying Arch due to instability issues such as the recent GRUB thing. But I have been reading about BTRFS and snapshots which make me think I can have an up to date system and reliability (by rebooting into a snapshot). What’s everyone’s perspective on this, is there anything major I should keep an eye on?

Should also note I use GNOME, vscode, Firefox and will need MATLAB to be installed, if there is anything to do with those that is problematic on Arch?

Edit: I went with Arch thanks everyone for the advice

  • @thayer@lemmy.ca
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    239 months ago

    You haven’t really identified any of your reasons for leaving the previous distros behind. Did they fall short somewhere? If it was simply to try them all out, then by all means, add a notch on your belt for Arch too. You can always install yet another distro down the road if it doesn’t pan out.

    I’m a former Arch dev, and once upon a time I created its logo. I love the project, and it will always be dear to me. That said, I use Fedora Silverblue for most of my host systems now, and Arch containers for my everyday tasks.

    As you likely already know, Fedora provides one of the best GNOME experiences available. I like the additional stability, flexibility, background updates, and easy rollbacks that Silverblue provides, but I can also appreciate that the flatpak and containerized workflow isn’t for everyone.

  • @lloram239@feddit.de
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    219 months ago

    I’ve previously been against trying Arch due to instability issues

    Skip Arch and go straight to NixOS if you are worried about that. Gives you most of the same advantages (huge up to date package collection) with none of the disadvantages (everything can be downgraded, patched, rolledback, etc. with ease).

    • @fraydabson@sopuli.xyz
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      39 months ago

      Yeah once I’m brave enough to move OS on my server (currently running Ubuntu server) I want to switch it to NixOS.

      I’m spinning up a VM first to better understand it.

      • @lloram239@feddit.de
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        49 months ago

        Installing the Nix package manager on another distribution is also an easy way to get familiar with it without making the full switch.

        • @fraydabson@sopuli.xyz
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          19 months ago

          Didn’t even cross my mind. So I can install it on my current Ubuntu server to get familiar with it. Def gonna try.

          • @zwekihoyy@lemmy.ml
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            28 months ago

            nix package manager works on all posix compliant os’ and doesn’t touch system directories. everything is stored in /nix/store and symlinked to ~/.nix-profile.

            personally I run an arch build and then only use nix for my packages.

  • @throwawayish@lemmy.ml
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    9 months ago

    Last year I upgraded to an Inspiron 15 7510 with i7-11800H and RTX3050. Since purchasing this laptop I’ve used Manjaro, Debian 11, Pop OS, Void Linux, Fedora Silverblue (37 & 38) and now Debian 12.

    A distro-hopper. *Noted*.

    I need to reinstall soon since I’ve stuffed up my NVIDIA drivers trying to install CUDA and didn’t realise that they changed the default swap size to 1GB.

    Prefers starting from scratch instead of fixing. *Noted*.

    I use this laptop for everything - development in C/C++, dart/flutter, nodejs and sometimes PHP. I occasionally play games on it through Proton and sometimes need to re-encode videos using Handbrake. I need some amount of reliability since I also use this for University.

    General-use and reliable. *Noted*.

    I’ve previously been against trying Arch due to instability issues such as the recent GRUB thing.

    Understandable, but not entirely justified.

    But I have been reading about BTRFS and snapshots which make me think I can have an up to date system and reliability (by rebooting into a snapshot).

    Fair.

    What’s everyone’s perspective on this, is there anything major I should keep an eye on?

    It is almost common knowledge at this point that this approach has serious merits. That’s why we find it on a myriad of rolling release distros. From Manjaro to Garuda, from SpiralLinux to Siduction. Heck, even Nobara -which is not strictly a rolling release distro- has it. I wouldn’t even use/recommend a rolling release distro if not for (GRUB-)Btrfs+Timeshift/Snapper. But, while by itself it is already very powerful. It still benefits a lot from testing. Which, when utilized by openSUSE in particular, manages to elevate their Tumbleweed to a very high standard. So much so, that it has rightfully earned to be named the stable rolling release distro. But not all distros are as rigorous in their testing… if at all…

    Should also note I use GNOME, vscode, Firefox and will need MATLAB to be installed, if there is anything to do with those that is problematic on Arch?

    Nah, that’s absolutely fine. *Noted*.

    Should I give Arch a shot?

    So there are some glaring issues here:

    • You’ve set some parameters and asked us if Arch satisfies. Which it does, but so do a lot of other distros. Which seems to tell me that this will become yet another chapter of your distro-hopper-phase. Which -to be clear- happens to be totally fine. I’d even argue that it’s preferable to do it sooner rather than later. Though the mindset of a distro-hopper might deter you from being satiated…
    • As previously alluded, Arch is yet another distro that satisfies your needs. You didn’t mention what attracted you towards it, nor why you’d prefer it specifically over all the other available options.
    • Btrfs snapshots, while powerful, are not 100% fail-safe. Sure, nothing actually is as a random SSD crash might loom around the corner. And I’d be one of the first to tell you that using Btrfs snapshots to rollback to is an exponentially better experience than without. But we’re still able to improve upon it (mathematically speaking) infinitely times, to be more precise; some systems allow us to decrease the complexity from uncountably infinite amount of states (which therefore become “unknown states”) to countably infinite or (better yet) finite amount of states (which therefore actually become “known states”). The reduction of complexity that this offers and its implications to system reliability are far more impactful than the simple use of Btrfs snapshots.

    Consider answering the following questions:

    • Are you a distro-hopper? Or did you have very legit reasons to switch distros? If so, would you mind telling us why you changed distros?
      • Would it be fair to assume that it boils down to “I messed up, but instead of repairing I will opt for reinstalling.”
        • If so, is this something you want to work on (eventually) or doesn’t it bother you at all?
    • Why Arch?
    • Would you like to setup Btrfs yourself? Or would you prefer your distro to do it for you? Or don’t you actually mind regardless?
    • ⸻ Ban DHMO 🇦🇺 ⸻OP
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      49 months ago

      I might be a distro hopper. Every distro just niggles me after a while, Silverblue wasn’t flexible enough, didn’t like GNOME 3.38 on Debian 11 after using 4x on Manjaro. Manjaro was buggy and had poor reputation. I didn’t like Pop Shell, however, there was good support for Optimus laptops on Pop OS. Before Debian 12 I gave Ubuntu another go and it kept crashing. Main problem with Debian 12 is Firefox ESR which doesn’t work with some sites I need and that the packages will be significantly out of date within a year.

      I thought Arch because it is almost always up to date and seems to be widely recommended.

      It’s not like I haven’t tried fixing the issue, I just don’t know what to do outside of uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers or waiting for NVIDIA to provide a repo for Debian 12 for CUDA. As for the swap I would rather have a partition for it than have some combination of swapfiles and swap.

      I had a go at installing Arch today in a VM using archinstall and set up BTRFS with Timeshift and grub-btrfs and it all seemed fairly straightforward.

      • @throwawayish@lemmy.ml
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        49 months ago

        Thanks for answering! Much appreciated!

        I might be a distro hopper. Every distro just niggles me after a while

        Perhaps you’ve yet to find the one 😜. Your criticism to the different distros is fair though.

        I thought Arch because it is almost always up to date and seems to be widely recommended.

        Yup, it’s by far the most popular rolling release distro. Though, I’d argue that openSUSE Tumleweed -while not as popular- is definitely worth checking out as well. They’re, however, quite different from one another. Arch offers a blank canvas, while openSUSE Tumbleweed is relatively opinionated; though it does offer excellent defaults. You would have to make up your own mind whichever ‘style’ of maintaining a distro suits you best.

        I had a go at installing Arch today in a VM using archinstall and set up BTRFS with Timeshift and grub-btrfs and it all seemed fairly straightforward.

        Well, that sure does sound promising!

        • ⸻ Ban DHMO 🇦🇺 ⸻OP
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          29 months ago

          Thanks for taking the time to read my comments, really appreciate it! I’ve had a bit of a look into Tumbleweed and it sounds like it’s similar to Fedora in how it handles packaging of proprietary software which I found pretty annoying, but I could be wrong.

          • @throwawayish@lemmy.ml
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            19 months ago

            I’ve had a bit of a look into Tumbleweed and it sounds like it’s similar to Fedora in how it handles packaging of proprietary software which I found pretty annoying, but I could be wrong.

            It’s true that Arch is leaner towards proprietary software if that’s what you mean. An example of this is how the Nvidia drivers are just found within repos for Arch (thus enabled by default), while on both Fedora and openSUSE it’s not found in the official repos. Both have made it easier over the years to somehow include options and whatnot within the installer to ease Nvidia users in, but the experience on Arch is definitely smoother.

            Furthermore, Fedora is indeed (kinda) hardcore on FOSS, similarly to Debian. While Arch simply doesn’t care in most cases. My relatively short endeavor to find out where openSUSE fits in seems to point towards openSUSE leaning closer to Debian and Fedora.

            What’s perhaps important to note is that in all cases there are third party repos that can easily be enabled to acquire proprietary software.

    • @dino
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      -49 months ago

      So many words for so little info. Why are you stealing my time?

      • @s20@lemmy.ml
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        69 months ago

        It’s like 700 words, dude. It’s shorter than a 6th grade book report.

        • @dino
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          -29 months ago

          But the book report probably has some useful info…

          • @s20@lemmy.ml
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            19 months ago

            Did it? That’s not how I remember book reports.

            And this does have useful information.

      • @throwawayish@lemmy.ml
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        9 months ago

        OP was relatively verbose so I act accordingly. Don’t feel compelled to read larger pieces if you’re sensitive to wasting your time. I don’t recall forcing you to read it, so it’s entirely on you. While information density might have suffered, “little info” is too harsh. Though, as long as there’s even one sentence of ‘original’ information (compared to all the other comments) a piece of writing of that length is worth reading IMO. Though, thinking otherwise is definitely justifiable.

        • @dino
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          -19 months ago

          Though, as long as there’s even one sentence of ‘original’ information […] a piece of writing of that length is worth reading IMO

          No. You are just confirming it.

  • @azvasKvklenko@sh.itjust.works
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    159 months ago

    Arch is what stopped distro-hopping for me. Well, mostly. Sometimes I try some distros on separate install just out of curiosity.

    If you use Linux for couple of years, there shouldn’t be too many obstacles. Just read through the Wiki carefully and you’ll be good.

    As for reliability, I’d say Arch is fairly reliable for my 10+ years experience with it (apart from my-fault breakages, I remember something unexpected happening maybe 3 times in all that period), but if you want to secure your butt in mission critical situations then 1) don’t yolo upgrade your OS if there’s anything important at the moment. Find the right time for it 2) setup a snapshotting solution to have that quick rollback ability. And it’s not just about Arch, I’d say the same for every distro (maybe apart from immutable ones).

    Other than that, remember to have fun!

  • @myersguy@lemmy.simpl.website
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    159 months ago

    I’ve previously been against trying Arch due to instability issues such as the recent GRUB thing.

    But you used Manjaro? 😂

    Go for it. If you use archinstall, it is incredibly simple to get up and running. The difficulty around Arch is quite overblown except perhaps when talking about people brand new to Linux. Even without archinstall, you are just following a guide in the wiki.

  • @GustavoM@lemmy.world
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    79 months ago

    You make it sound like its a paid distro – just go ahead and give it a shot. Worst case scenario – you’ll learn lots of new things and will give your brain a few extra, healthy braincells. :')

  • @Alpharius@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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    79 months ago

    If you want to learn arch linux for the sake of learning about how to manually configure Linux yourself why not. However if you have done a minimal install of void linux (without xfce and bundled) you are not going to learn much.

    Arch Linux can be great if you really want to customize your setup and have fun doing so. Arch can be great if you enjoy having a unique looking environment with an extensive wiki to help you doing so. However it is not the “best” unlike arch fans would say, pacman can have issues updating your system using the AUR and not being careful can sometimes lead you to annihilating your own OS at times (though I have heard that recent updates try to fix that). Besides the full customization it doesn’t have much for it.

    Gentoo is epitome of customization where you compile your OS and chose specific versions (even binaries) of what you want. Void Linux is really fast with the xbps package manager being nearly as fast as pacman and its unique init system which makes it book under 5 seconds using a SSD NVMe. Fedora, Debian and Pop OS are the most used because of how simple and stable they are, and having the largest amount of support from non FOSS developers.

    So f you want to have fun customizing your stuff without having to compile everything: sure why not. Otherwise just try something else.

  • ElRenosaurusReg [fae/faer, comrade/them]
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    69 months ago

    So, the big thing with instability is that with Linux “Unstable” refers to “Constantly receiving updates” rather than “Breaks all the time”

    In my experience, if arch breaks, 99% of the time YOU the user did it.

    If you want a kinkless experience with it, keep it simple.

    Arch ships with systemd, as such, it also ships with systemd-boot. Use what’s built, don’t add additional bootloaders unless you need the functionality they offer.

    Gnome, Matlab, and VScode have wiki pages for installation and configuration, and Firefox is in the repos and is one line in the terminal to install (#pacman -S firefox)

    For a first install, I’d recommend following the wiki to install instead of using archinstall to familiarize yourself with how to use and read the wiki.

  • @s20@lemmy.ml
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    69 months ago

    Based just on this, I’d suggest looking into OpenSuse Tumbleweed. It’s got the reliability you need for your university work, all the software you need, and is about as close to bleeding edge as you can get without cutting yourself.

    If, however, you’re also looking to gain a deeper understanding of how your system works, and don’t mind (or enjoy) troubleshooting problems yourself when they crop up, Arch is excellent.

  • Corroded
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    69 months ago

    I can’t think of much. I have been using EndeavorOS as my daily driver for about three years now and haven’t had much in the way of instability.

  • @Nibodhika@lemmy.world
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    59 months ago

    You don’t need to reinstall to increase swap size, in fact you can just delete the swap partition entirely, add it to the root partition and create a swapfile there, that way you can quickly change the size if you want to. Get familiar with doing these sort of things, since that is the sort of thing Arch encourages to do.

    Also instability does not mean what you think it means, instability on Linux means libraries get updated constantly, so if you are running external programme or developing on it sometimes things break because they haven’t been updated to that latest library version. I’m not aware of any GRUB issues recently, but in any case I use refind and I like it a lot better than GRUB anyways.

  • aebletrae [she/her]
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    59 months ago

    For someone seemingly so eager to try out new distros, I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned virtual machines. If the vibes are off, it’s a whole lot less disruptive to find out that way.

    Your experience with drivers won’t be quite the same as a bare-metal installation, but checking out software shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Corroded
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      29 months ago

      Definitely. VMs are great for trialing distro and DE. They may not be great for demanding tasks like gaming without a fair amount of tinkering it should get you to the point where you can figure out if something is for you.

      That said stability is a bit more complicated and I think a lot of that comes down to personal experience and long term community thoughts. Both are why I don’t use Manjaro anymore and the personal aspect is why I still love Fedora

    • @dino
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      29 months ago

      Huh? The debian wiki is horrendous compared to Arch. You are better off reading the manuals and trying to get a grip on it yourself.

        • @dino
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          19 months ago

          Kind of weird example. When most new software is not even available on debian or heavily outdated due to point release model.

    • ⸻ Ban DHMO 🇦🇺 ⸻OP
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      19 months ago

      The Debian 12 installer creates only 1GB of swap by default which I believe was new behaviour from when I install Debian 11 the first time around. Apparently it’s to make it easier for server users but what a pain. Anyway the easiest way to fix that is to just reinstall, since most of my stuff lives on Nextcloud and Gitea it shouldn’t be too hard

      • lemmyvore
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        69 months ago

        I still don’t understand what the problem is, but if you want more swap just get more swap. You can resize the partitions if you want but you can also just add swap as files instead of partitions.

        • Create a file of any size you want with dd.
        • Format it as swap with mkswap.
        • Mount it with swapon.
        • Add it to your /etc/fstab so it mounts automatically:

        /swapfile swap defaults 0 0

  • I'm back on my BS 🤪
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    59 months ago

    on the other end of the spectrum, if you really don’t want to learn shit about linux, use Linux Mint. it’s easier to install than Windows, and I only use the terminal for updates using lolcat so I can feel like a rainbow hacker.

    frequent questions and thoughts I have as a Linux Mint user:

    • why tf is everyone arguing about over whatever systemd is?

    • wow, that guy uses Arch, btw 😮

    • I don’t understand this Linux meme

    • where is this program installed??

    • wtf are Vulcan Shaders?

    • should I use apt or apt-get to install? eh, it depends on how lazy I’m feeling

    • check out my screenfetch. I’m such a hacker.

    • i wonder if the people on Linux Mint forums are sick of me asking for help without helping anyone else.

    • all these Linux privacy benefits don’t mean shit since I use Chrome

    • how come no one ever brags about Cinnamon?

    • Kühe sind toll
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      29 months ago

      Systemd is a Programm starter which is used for starting your system programms. It made a lot of things much easier, but since there’s no competitor people are arguing about it for ethical reasons since it can do literally anything it wants to do. Vulkan is the Linux equivalent do directX on Windows. Also, Cinnamon is bloat and actually a kinda bad design. KDE and gnome have a lot of things that are much better than in Cinnamon. Cinnamon is good for new users who need the “Windows like System” but I personally don’t like it at all.

        • @SeeMinusMinus@lemmy.world
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          28 months ago

          I really like KDE. My current system is fedora KDE spin though I also have sway installed but I don’t use it much. I changed some KDE keybinds to feel more like sway and i3.

          • I'm back on my BS 🤪
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            28 months ago

            cool! i went with kubuntu, but am interested in other distros because of the issues with snap. i’ve heard good things about kde neon. what do you think about that? any other kde recommendations? im not a linux amateur professional, btw.

            • @SeeMinusMinus@lemmy.world
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              8 months ago

              While fedora kde spin is my favorite some other good opinions are opensuse, debian, and something arch based if you want something a bit different. Out of all of those debian will feel the most comfy but its not known for having up to date packages since they do lots of testing before pushing an update.

              • I'm back on my BS 🤪
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                28 months ago

                cool 😎 beans 🫘

                I’m waiting for my brain to come back, then I’ll do some testing. You’re right about Debian being a bit behind for my taste. I hear great things about Fedora, but that means I’d have to learn a whole new distro compared to Debian based ones. I still might give it a try on a laptop to see what I think. Arch is way too much for my level of Linux competence and willingness to put effort into learning and troubleshooting it. I’ve heard good things about Tuxedo OS, though the YouTuber that promoted it was transparent that he was being paid by Tuxedo for advertisement.

                If you don’t mind sharing just a little, what do you think I should know or read up on regarding switching to Fedora? Or another way of asking is what difficulties can I expect and how can I prepare? I’m guessing the terminal commands, installation process, and package repos would work differently? Also, since Fedora uses a different package system (so not deb), would I be more limited on what programs I can install in general?

                • @SeeMinusMinus@lemmy.world
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                  8 months ago

                  The main version of fedora comes with gnome but you have opinions for KDE. A lot of people just install KDE along side gnome but I like Fedora KDE spin because it feels cleaner not having the gnome apps. Even though you can use fedora right after install there are a few things most people like to do first. You will use dnf (its like apt but in fedora) and flatpaks mostly.

                  • Fedora doesn’t have the best multimedia by default so you need to install some stuff using this thing here.
                  • Next you should enable rpm fusion. rpm fusion lets you install more stuff using fedoras package manager dnf. look here to see how to enable rpm fusion.
                  • Next enable flathub. flathub adds more packages to flatpak. flatpak in fedora here.

                  After that you should be good to go. With rpm fusion and flathub there really isn’t going to be any packages you can get in debian but not fedora

      • I'm back on my BS 🤪
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        19 months ago

        I appreciate the info. If you don’t mind, what’s directX?

        I went with Cinnamon because I assumed that LM was streamlined for it, but I have used both Gnome and KDE, and I really liked KDE. I can install it and give it a shot again. Thank you for the info!!

        • ⸻ Ban DHMO 🇦🇺 ⸻OP
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          19 months ago

          It’s an API, a set of function declarations and tools, which gives a standard way to control GPUs to make them put stuff on the screen as well as 3D maths. DirectX is a proprietary standard owned and developed by Microsoft and as such only supported on Windows. Though we have libraries such as dxvk which act as DirectX drivers and instead of directly interacting with the GPU, use Vulkan, which is similar to DirectX but and open standard, to put stuff on the screen.