Arch Linux adheres to the KISS principle ("Keep It Simple, Stupid")
Pacman, a package manager written specifically for Arch Linux, is used to install, remove and update software packages. Arch Linux uses a rolling release model, meaning there are no "major releases" of completely new versions of the system; a regular system update is all that is needed to obtain the latest Arch software; the installation images released every month by the Arch team are simply up-to-date snapshots of the main system components.
Arch Linux has comprehensive documentation, which consists of a community wiki known as the ArchWiki
Inspired by CRUX, another minimalist distribution, Judd Vinet started the Arch Linux project in March 2002. The name was chosen because Vinet liked the word's meaning of "the principal," as in "arch-enemy".
Originally only for 32-bit x86 CPUs, the first x86_64 installation ISO was released in April 2006.
Vinet led Arch Linux until 1 October 2007, when he stepped down due to lack of time, transferring control of the project to Aaron Griffin.
The migration to systemd as its init system started in August 2012, and it became the default on new installations in October 2012. It replaced the SysV-style init system, used since the distribution inception.
On 24 February 2020, Aaron Griffin announced that due to his limited involvement with the project, he would, after a voting period, transfer control of the project to Levente Polyak. This change also led to a new 2-year term period being added to the Project Leader position.
The end of i686 support was announced in January 2017, with the February 2017 ISO being the last one including i686 and making the architecture unsupported in November 2017. Since then, the community derivative Arch Linux 32 can be used for i686 hardware.
In March 2021, Arch Linux developers were thinking of porting Arch Linux packages to x86_64-v3. x86-64-v3 roughly correlates to Intel Haswell era of processors.
In April 2021, Arch Linux installation images began including a guided installation script by default.
In late 2021, the Arch Linux developers released Pacman 6.0, which enabled parallel downloads.
In January 2022, the linux-firmware package began compressing firmware by default, which significantly reduced the required disk space.
Until Pacman version 4.0.0, Arch Linux's package manager lacked support for signed packages. Packages and metadata were not verified for authenticity by Pacman during the download-install process. Without package authentication checking, tampered-with or malicious repository mirrors could compromise the integrity of a system. Pacman 4 allowed verification of the package database and packages, but it was disabled by default. In November 2011, package signing became mandatory for new package builds, and as of the 21st of March 2012, every official package is signed.
In June 2012, package signing verification became official and is now enabled by default in the installation process.
Screenshot of pacstrap during installation.
The Arch Linux website supplies ISO images that can be run from CD or USB. After a user partitions and formats their drive, a simple command line script (pacstrap) is used to install the base system. The installation of additional packages which are not part of the base system (for example, desktop environments), can be done with either pacstrap, or Pacman after booting (or chrooting) into the new installation.
Neofetch output of an Arch Linux Installation.
An alternative to using CD or USB images for installation is to use the static version of the package manager Pacman, from within another Linux-based operating system. The user can mount their newly formatted drive partition, and use pacstrap (or Pacman with the appropriate command-line switch) to install base and additional packages with the mountpoint of the destination device as the root for its operations. This method is useful when installing Arch Linux onto USB flash drives, or onto a temporarily mounted device which belongs to another system.
Regardless of the selected installation type, further actions need to be taken before the new system is ready for use, most notably by installing a bootloader and configuring the new system with a system name, network connection, language settings, and graphical user interface.
Arch Linux does not schedule releases for specific dates but uses a "rolling release" system where new packages are provided throughout the day. Its package management allows users to easily keep systems updated.
Occasionally, manual interventions are required for certain updates, with instructions posted on the news section of the Arch Linux website.