Why I use Arch Linux
I have been an Arch Linux for a while now, and I am still liking it.
Here's the good side of it:
It's small (one CD)
It's simple (it comes with very little)
It has a decent package selection (if you consider AUR, more about that later)
It uses pretty much unpatched upstream software
It's a binary distro (except for AUR. Again, more about it later)
It's pretty stable (no crashes I can remember)
It has rolling releases (unlike, say, Fedora or Debian)
It's easy to keep updated (like all of them nowadays)
It's not ideologically dogmatic, but pragmatic (yes, there are NVidia drivers, and test-drive games, and whatever)
It doesn't seem to be a one-guy joint
And the bad side:
Updates sometimes break things (about twice a year)
Admin tools are between unexistant and disjointed
And of course, there is the very very good side: AUR
AUR is a comunity repository. And there is a rather large community. And packaging things for Arch is so easy, and putting things in AUR is so simple, even I find time to contribute (my packages).
And it's a calm community, and pretty much, instead of compiling my random unknown packages for myself, I save the steps to build them and stick them in a PKGBUILD and upload them. Takes two minutes for most things.
It's a throwback to the old days of Linux: quiet, competent (or learning) people doing things, sharing, you use them, you give back... I had not felt that way with a distro for years.
i was using arch linux for two years i think. but it broke so frequently that eventually i had enough of it. two months ago i decided to give it a chance again. again, immediately after install it was already broken (initrd issue).
however, PKGBUILD builds are very convenient and easy to write (in contrast to, say, .ebuild).
and it very seriously lacks the scientific packages. (i had to contribute atlas-lapack myself).
so i certainly wouldn't recommend archlinux to anyone except those who are really having much fun fixing broken things.
Debian Testing I believe is rolling-release, and is probably just as stable.
Debian testing does indeed have rolling releases, and I'm quite sure it's more stable than Arch.
I've been using arch for two years now on most of my computers. It has crashed a couple of times in the early releases, but it's much more consistent now. I'm still having trouble booting from the generic kernel, but i prefer custom kernels so it doesn't matter.
Compared to debian, the packaging system is much more coherent, but less powerfull. It doesn't cut things in pieces, so one package = one app.
Great distro, easy to use, but not really for the beginners.
Yes, Debian would fit most of my requirements except:
* Being small (yes, you can install from a 50MB CD, if you want to to download everything)
* Being pragmatic instead of ideological (come on ;-)
* It has nothing like AUR (but it has much more already packaged)