Which Linux distribution should you choose?

Open source Linux distributions are still fighting for the top spot. Nonetheless, a discussion is ongoing about the clear winner, given that some of the best distros aim to reach the heights of success in the world of open source distros.

Various surveys have ranked Arch Linux and Ubuntu as two of the best distros for getting the job done. Nonetheless, it is not fair to assume why engineers and coders differ in their views on these two distributions.

To assimilate the options available, it’s best to dig deeper and see what makes these distros the best in their areas.


1. Origins and output models

Arch Linux

Arch Linux was released in March 2002 by Judd Vinet. He developed only the source code for Arch Linux and has released and updated the distribution with community input over the years.

Arch does not borrow any source code from its predecessors, unlike other contemporary and lightweight distributions.

Arch Linux provides users with regular updates in the form of progressive releases. Therefore, this distro has matured on top of the same source code repository, while still supporting contemporary versions of apps, drivers, etc.

Users can continuously update the kernel to take advantage of LTS or the latest versions while avoiding challenges.

Ubuntu

Canonical Ltd. developed Ubuntu in 2004. Drawing its roots from Debian, Ubuntu was one of the first Linux distributions; despite decades under its belt, it continues to be one of the main competitors in the market.

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The distribution introduced modular installations by allowing users to customize components when installing the operating system.

Ubuntu operates on a one-time release model, which occurs in the form of semi-annual discrete updates. These updates continuously improve the performance, compatibility, and functionality of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu customizations allow users to choose kernels, desktop environments, third-party applications, and more.

2. Package management

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a streaming distribution that uses the Pacman package manager in the best possible way.

Pacman’s reliable and simple build system makes it easy to install and manage packages. This is true for all third-party packages and not just packages from the official Arch repository.

The Arch master server service synchronizes the package lists correctly because you can access the dependencies of each package by default.

Arch only supports CLI-based package installations; the development team unfortunately does not offer any graphical alternative.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu offers great benefits through its Advanced Package Tool (APT), paving the way for ease of use and seamless installation procedures.

Today, the Package Manager offers more than 1,48,000 repositories and third-party packages for a variety of uses. Separate versions can be expected for the amd64 and i386 processor versions.

Users do not need to remember the names of the packages, as APT can filter packages through keyword searches to make the search process easier.


The Ubuntu repository primarily supports open source compatible software. A few paid software applications, supported by internal developers, are available for running on Linux systems.

3. Third party packages

Arch Linux

As a user, you can download packages using Pacman by typing the following command in a terminal:

sudo pacman -S package

Users who are not familiar with these commands can resort to AUR to benefit from the packages available in the official Arch repository.

The Arch User Repository or AUR helps users swim in the ever-expanding ocean of third-party software packages.

You can extend the list of packages on your system using AUR, as Arch Linux supports them individually. You can count on AUR’s long list of options, even when using other Arch-based distros including Artix and Manjaro.


Ubuntu

On Ubuntu, users can directly download and install packages using APT.

sudo apt-get install packagename

You can also manually download third-party packages from the Snap Store. Ubuntu’s Snap Store hosts packages like any other premium platform store. The developer takes care of the categorization of the packages to speed up the direct installation.

Related: Best Ubuntu-Based Linux Distributions Ever

4. Software updates

Arch Linux

Arch Linux requires you to manually update obsolete packages to their latest repository versions. Use the command below to update the packages on Arch:

sudo pacman -Syu

In addition to the official Arch repository, AUR is a larger and more reliable library for installing third-party software. You can download and install packages from AUR using an AUR wizard like Yay.


Ubuntu

The GUI Software Manager application on Ubuntu recently streamlined application management. The latest versions and detailed lists of compatible software tested by developers are available in recent versions.

However, all versions released after 20.0.4 use the Snap Store as the default source for software versions and package updates. The default options are enabled as PPA and DEB packages; However, these usually create dependency and security issues with their direct root privileges.

The Snap Store bypasses this with dependency checks and commits installations and updates to the following location:

/snap/bin/

5. Performance, UX and support

Arch Linux

Arch is extremely popular among developers and multimedia professionals. Its stable performance in all supported desktop environments paves the way for stability and sustained use.


The AUR gives you access to a multitude of tools to assess processing speed, internet performance, hard drive management, and more.

Although Arch does not come with a desktop environment out of the box, you have the choice of installing any desktop or window manager on your system. Arch’s desktop has a neat but largely customizable theme, especially if you choose KDE Plasma.

Rest assured, the distro enjoys constant support from the developers and the community, just like Ubuntu.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu continued to deliver a stable performance routine in 20.0.4 and beyond.

The distribution delivers smooth performance for multimedia processing with advanced computer gaming capabilities. Its advanced fractional scaling, tri-color scheme, and customizable docking station provide users with a user interface reminiscent of Mac systems. The difference is only noticeable for those familiar with a macOS-style UX.


Improvements are updated whenever new updates to Ubuntu LTS are released. However, LTS prevents users from using the latest software features after installation.

Related: The Best Arch-Based Linux Distributions

Arch Linux vs Ubuntu: which one is better?

Indeed, Linux is responsible for empowering home computing, as well as advanced real-time enterprise-level systems. The most relevant question is: which distribution is the most efficient for programming and software development in the situation?

Arch is suitable for advanced users but is not a preferred distribution for novices. On the other hand, Ubuntu is a versatile distribution out of the box, ideal for basic home laptop / PC uses and for managing corporate servers.

It is fair to say that both distros rank well in the eyes of users. Depending on the needs of your distribution, you can choose the one that best meets your immediate needs.


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