Relinuxing... Again.


Just to make things even more complicated for myself I’ve recently become obsessed with running Linux on my PC again, so I thought I’d have another go.

There were 3 distros I wanted to check out: Void Linux, NixOS, and Arch.

Nix is a very exciting project - it prioritises stability and compatibility. The package manager installs all dependencies separately so that you can’t get yourself stuck in dependency hell, and the whole OS can be configured declaratively using a config file which can be stored in Git, loaded on to a new machine and boom - you have an identical config up and running in minutes. The install process was a bit wonky due to Nvidia, but once I got it up and running with the DRM drives installed it was flawless - I really enjoyed tinkering with it but it felt a bit OTT for a daily driver.

Void is also pretty fun, at least in theory. It attempts to use musl for everything instead of glibc and prioritises correctness and consistency. However their documentation is awful. I attempted to follow several guides which would mention something in passing, but leave it out of the bullet points, tore my hair out wondering why it wasn’t working only to reread the guide and find it mentioned in the preamble ‘make sure you have $package-name installed’. I sadly noped out of this one pretty quickly, but will definitely keep an eye on it.

Finally I thought I’d try out Arch. The install process is so bad. But the experience once it’s up and running is excellent. I spent about an hour following along with the Official Wiki Install Guide. Got all the way to the end, eventually, saved and hit restart just in time to spot the ‘Choose and install a Linux capable Boot Loader’ at the very end. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to retroactively sort that, so I had to start again. I nearly gave up and went back to Nix when I saw someone mention ArchInstall in a blog post somewhere. Absolute game changer. The second install took less than 10 minutes before I was up and running.

The experience with Arch so far has been superb. It boots incredibly fast, it lightweight and incredibly customisable. I’ve had an absolute nightmare trying to get Wayland working, but after several days of working on it I finally have Hyprland more or less up and running as an alternative to my main Gnome config. I’ve had no issues getting all my apps up and running - most importantly Steam, Discord, Slack, 1Password etc. and the performance in games has been pretty excellent - Proton really is absolute witchcraft.

The install process notwithstanding I can see why Arch has so many fans, and why they’re so… ardent. It really is excellent - the urge to distro hop is never ending, though…

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