I'm now using Arch Linux as my primary operating system on my desktop computer at home since 5 month. Time for a little review and comparison.
Were my initial expectations fulfilled?
More than that, they were exceeded. Arch proved to be a truly up-to-date distribution which simultaneously manages to be stable as the proverbial rock. My problems at the beginning were easily corrected by adding a script to /home/cobra/.kde4/Autostart, as actually described in the ArchWiki. Since then, I didn't experience any problem. Everything just works the way I intend it to do.
What are my future expectations/hopes?
A month ago I would have voted for package signing. That, however, has been implemented in pacman 4, and I'm currently entirely satisfied.
How does it compare to other distributions?
Oh my. That's really where I went wrong. See, Arch is great, but it does require some time to set it up properly. So I argued that I'd need an easier-to-set-up distribution for the office, where I manage time in slots of minutes. A mandatory requirement was that the distribution offers TeXLive 2011, and this excluded most distributions (foremost Debian, which I would have much preferred). So I've chosen Fedora Scientific, which comes prepackaged with most I need. Indeed, installation was a breeze and finished in 30 min. But after that...well, let's just say that I'm not enthusiastic about the Fedora way. The distribution is outdated (compared to Arch), offers a quite limited set of packages (compared to Arch), and its package manager is the slowest I've ever seen. Well, perhaps zypper is even slower, but not much.
Let's do some ranking (from 0 to 10) of the distributions I'm using every day:
Now, "actuality" describes how close the distribution stays to the current upstream. "Stability" is proportional to the frequency of curses uttered because of segfaults and their cousins during the use of the respective distribution. But WTF are "responsiveness" and "trust"?
Well, if you look deep within yourself, you'll find that there are reasons more important than the two objective criteria above for choosing a particular operating system. If it would only be about actuality and stability, Windows would score pretty high, which would be absurd. The question to ask is how do you feel when you use your computer? Do you feel comfortable? At home? Does it feel right? Do you like it?
"Responsiveness" is a soft criterion intended to reflect the user experience when doing administrative work, such as updating/upgrading, starting and stopping services, change system-wide settings, etc. Simplicity, speed, and transparency is what counts in this discipline. Windows with a value of 0 is used as reference.
"Trust" is an entirely subjective criterion with political dimensions. Do you trust the good intentions of Google? Perhaps not, but do you trust their intentions to create a fast and safe browser? You may not care for the former, but very much for the latter. "Trust" as used here contains both of these elements. As a reference, we use Windows with a value of 0.
These reflections will have a consequence. Particularly for Dell Minis hiding underneath Fujitsu Lifebooks...ArchBang is waiting for you, my little friend.