Linux: From Arch to Debian

Last week, with mixed feelings, I switched from Arch Linux to Debian Stable.

First, I did not switch away from Arch Linux for any of the usual reasons: rolling-release, community, and breakage. I love the rolling-release model, I have found the community helpful and respectful, and I have not gotten breakage that I have not deserved. I mostly switched because I think the rolling-release model just doesn’t work for my workflow anymore. Rolling release is great, and I love new software to the point that I updated Arch more than once a day, but my current schedule just doesn’t allow for as much tinkering and manual intervention as it once did. And all of the applications I use are already as feature-complete as I need it to be; that’s why I chose to use that piece of software in the first place.

It was kind of a gradual thing. I tried out Linux Mint Debian Edition as a LiveUSB and quite enjoyed using it. I also liked that even if I didn’t touch the USB for months, few packages would change. Additionally, my server was on Debian testing for awhile because I didn’t want a Frankendistro, but I wanted several packages from testing (owncloud, plexmediaserver, and ttrss). Because of that, I was updating the thing almost daily. After I added those packages as third-party repositories, Debian stable looked a lot more appealing. (Much) fewer updates, more security fixes, and easier maintenance. I reinstalled soon after.

It seemed a simple enough jump, then, for me to migrate my desktop and laptop to Debian. I did a netinstall from a LiveUSB, only installing the base system and selecting my packages manually (I guess that’s the ex-Arch user in me still speaking). Most of the software I used on Arch is available on Debian, and if something isn’t available, there are perfectly decent replacements. Both machines were up and running exactly the way I wanted them within a couple hours.

It’s kind of bittersweet. I’m excited to have a new distro to play with and poke at, and I’m glad that I can leave it alone for months without worrying about how much manual intervention the next update will entail. However, I’m also going to miss the constantly updating software features and the ease of creating and building packages from source with PKGBUILDs and pacman.


3 thoughts on “Linux: From Arch to Debian

  1. madskas says:

    I’m in the exact same position: Longtime Arch user, love the customizability, don’t have the time and/or the adventurous inclination required for it anymore. So with Debian Jessie nearing release, I’m considering jumping ship.

    What’s your experience after a year and half of Debian? Still rock solid? Any frustration of feeling left behind? Relying heavily on back ports to get that ‘Arch feeling’ back? 🙂

    • bananagranola says:

      Still solid! I was mentally prepared to start using more mainstream software, instead of smaller AUR-only projects. Even so, finding replacement software took some time. Now, though, I’m pleased at how my computer works and glad that it’s so stable.

  2. madskas says:

    Sounds good. Apart from the time/stability issues I’ve found that my love of experiments has shifted from the desktop to my web server – so that one will stay on Arch to take advantage of any intriguing smalltime AUR-scale projects – at least for now 🙂

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