Debian vs Arch Linux: What is the difference between the two major types of Linux distributions?

Linux has been ruling the server world since time immemorial. But it has always been almost non-existent when it comes to the desktop side of things. But in recent times Linux has been gaining popularity due to several factors like some big content creators trying out Linux, Microsoft shutting the doors of many perfectly capable PCs towards Windows 11, etc.

So today let us talk about the two major branches of Linux - namely Debian and Arch.

debian linux vs arch linux
Debian vs Arch

What are the major differences between Debian and Arch?

-- Package Management:

Package management in Linux is the way all the software and apps are built and compiled in Linux.

One major difference between Debian and Arch is that both of them manage their packages in different ways. Debian has the 'apt' (advanced package tool) repository while arch has 'aur' (arch user repository). Both of them are completely different packaging formats. Generally, the aur is more up to date and bleeding edge than apt, which might contain older versions of software. The one benefit of apt over aur is that in many cases apt is considered to be more stable than aur.

-- Rolling vs Stable Releases:

There are mainly two kinds of distributions in Linux. The first kind is those that have something called 'Stable Releases'. The other kind are those that have 'Rolling Releases'.

Stable release means that the distributions receive proper major updates periodically over fixed intervals of time (such as once or twice a year). Rolling Releases, on the other hand, are the distros that are updated 'on the go'. It means that each component, as well as apps, gets updated separately as their newer versions are released. Rolling releases have no such thing as 'Major Updates' in them.

Debian and Debian-based distros get Stable releases. On the other hand, Arch and arch-based distros are Rolling releases.


As Debian distributions have somewhat older, and hence more tested packages and get stable releases, so they are generally more stable than arch distros. Stable in the sense that it is tougher to break a Debian-based distro than it is to break a distro which is Arch- based. That is why most people recommend Debian-based distros like Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, Linux Mint, etc. to beginners who are coming from something like Windows or Mac OS to Linux. This does not mean that Arch-based distros are not good for beginners. A very good example of an Arch-based beginner-friendly distro is Manjaro Linux. But it is also true that other Arch-based distros can be a pain to set up for someone who does not know what they are doing. This is the reason that Arch users take pride in saying "BTW I use Arch!" so much now that it has become a meme in the Linux community.

Some popular Debian and Arch-Based distributions -



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