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Take the Road Most Documented

How great would it be if the solution to most errors you face were in the first place you looked? That’s what the Arch Wiki has been for me: a massive wealth of information and troubleshooting resources to help me navigate the various configuration and installation issues I’ve encountered. Some people claim Arch Linux is too difficult for new users, but for me it’s been the only distribution I’ve been able to get consistently working, and it’s all thanks to the detailed documentation and known workarounds.

I used to run a Dell XPS 9560, and have tried and failed to install Ubuntu and Manjaro on multiple occassions. Sometimes, the automatic installers would fail, other times they would succeed but install a broken configuration, leaving me with networking configurations that would crash as much as it would connect1. However, when installing Arch, I resolved each installation error with the help of the wiki, so that by the time I was in a graphical desktop environment, everything was running smoothly.

When I got my next laptop, I looked on the arch wiki to make sure there would be as few issues as possible setting up Linux—and I faced none when installing.

I love exciting, and popular, and new software, but installing Arch showed me that popular isn’t as important as understandable. Software will always break; I don’t think there isn’t a single program I use daily whose configuration I haven’t broken at some point. But when I encounter an installation error, or a feature isn’t working, or I need to use a program for an unintended purpose, choosing programs with extensive documentation and active community resources has always saved me a headache.

I use Hugo to generate this website. It’s so well documented (and there are bountiful answers on StackOverflow) that not only can I usually find the answer to the thing I want to do in the first few search results, but GPT-4 can often make a specific change I want too.

With all else equal, take the road most documented.

  1. This was before 2020, I’m sure these issues are largely fixed by now ↩︎