Why arch linux sucks for servers

archlogoYes, you heard correctly. Installing arch linux on a server is the biggest mistake you could make as admin. And I made that mistake.

Let me explain: I love arch linux. I love it so much, that I dared to put it onto just about any machine I own. Arch linux is genius, because you get all the latest updates of all the software you use and because you can install software packaged by the community in a split second without worrying about make install ruining your system. I’ve been running arch linux on my personal laptop now for some years and I was able to fix whatever problem came across, because I know what’s going on under the hood and because of the great help of the arch linux community.

The problem is, that you need to pacman -Syu regularly, because if you don’t, you don’t have any chances of getting your remotly installed server back in shape. This is due to the many changes arch linux goes through to stay the cutting edge distro it is. I understand that. But nobody warned me, that if you fail to update your software two or more times those major changes come in, then you’re humped. That’s because you need to make the intermediary updates to keep your system running. Those major changes can happen within one month. You know, that month you spent in italy. This wouldn’t be to bad, but there is no repository that keeps snapshots of all packages you’ve installed on your server for each of those intermediary steps in one place.

You might now say: »This is your own fault you dick head. Just update the server every once in a while.« And you are right. But if you want to have a life aside from being a nerd, this is more complicated than it sounds. Anyway, if you’re still with me and still want to install arch linux on your server, take this advice:

Even if you think you will update your server regularly, keep snapshots of the latest versions of all the packages you’ve installed on your server at least once every two weeks. You can install them when you have time. If you don’t, you’ll find out if the server really serves you or if you serve it.

You have been warned.

UPDATE:

In the comments someone mentioned ARM (Arch Rollback Machine), so if you have come here out of frustration, there might be a hope. See the Arch Wiki Page for more information on the rollback machine. Nguyen, thanks for the heads-up.

4 thoughts on “Why arch linux sucks for servers

    • Well, I disagree on using cron for updates, since it could break your system without even noticing, but the rollback machine seems like something I should look into. I’ve updated the article for anybody stumbling upon this post.

  1. Yeah, I agree about upgrading is rather a pain if you missed major ones. I experienced that couple of times – nothing funny.

  2. Crufty old guys like me would have warned you. Rolling dist is a really bad idea for a stable 99.999% uptime scenario.

    I’ve come to feel it’s not so great for my desktop either. Arch has gotten so up its own a$$, constantly re-doing filesystem, etc. Enough. Yes we know unix is imperfect. But nerfing backwards compat just isn’t worth it, kids.

    Anyway I’m done. This is a dist for hobbyists who have the time to dick around; I’ve got work to do. For example, the comment about using cron for updates: anyone who would trust cron to update their system every night (or every Sunday, or whatever) is someone who doesn’t mind waking up to a broken system a few times a year.

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