From Ubuntu to Arch Linux and everything in between
For a long time I searched for a GNU/Linux distribution that fit my needs. Over the past four years, I've tried the following, in roughly chronological order:
Damn Small Linux
I never really found (or realized I had found) what I was looking for. There were always little things that bothered me with each distro. So eventually I just settles on Ubuntu, because it was what came easiest for installation and maintenance in my experience.
When I arrived at Ubuntu 12.04, I experienced a lot of instability. No matter what machine (about 5 different ones) I installed it on, I would see a lot of programs crash. Ubuntu provides "Long Term Support" releases that are generally regarded as being more stable than their other releases. 12.04 was one of them, so I was very disappointed when I had many crash reports pop up -- even after updating and waiting for 12.04.1. Stability didn't really improve with the release of 12.10, either.
The biggest reason I wasn't happy with Ubuntu is the amount of programs it comes with and the amount of resources the chosen programs take. I used to go through a huge
sudo apt-get remove cleaning after I installed a new version (upgrading in place is game of chance). Not only did this take time I didn't feel like spending on it, but it also resulted in a broken system that I had to fix a few times. The move from GNOME to Unity was a bad choice, in my opinion. Unity, especially with UI effects turned on, takes up too much RAM for my tastes -- and it doesn't seem as responsive as old GNOME 2.* environments.
So when I tried Arch Linux for the second time recently, I was very pleased to see that it shines in all the areas Ubuntu was leaving me disappointed.
It's light on resources
It's a minimal install, without programs that I don't need
Using the Beginners' Guide made installing Arch very easy. Any other issues I ran into were covered thoroughly in the Arch forums.
I also enjoy that Arch is up to date with a rolling release. That means I'm not numerous versions behind for programs, especially the Linux kernel. Having an newer kernel often means I get performance enhancements before Ubuntu users.
I've been looking to settle down and stick with a GNU/Linux distro for a while now. I think Arch Linux is the one.