The memories of a painful install have now faded, and I’m now more than comfortable using Arch day-to-day. Perhaps the most important thing in my becoming comfortable with Arch has been a change of process. Previously, if I needed some software, I’d apt-get it and expect it to work. If it didn’t work, I would curse the package maintainers (regardless of whether or not it was their fault), then head to the web to find out if anyone else had had a similar problem. This more-or-less worked for everything from small utilities to new desktop environments.
Since this was my standard way of working, I tried this at first with Arch, and looking back, I think much of my early frustration came from this approach. While there is quite a bit of software that you can just pacman -S and run, a significant proportion that needs some more setup in order to run. It took longer than it should have to change my method of working, but I now check the Arch Wiki before trying to install anything new. Now, I don’t run into problems and get frustrated, I solve them before they happen. It doesn’t really save much time over getting a broken configuration and then fixing it, but it’s done wonders for my mental state.
Arch users always say that the Wiki is the best feature of Arch, and you need it to keep everything running properly. I knew this when I started. What took me so long to figure out is that it’s import to not wait until something’s broken to use it.
Perhaps, at some point, I’ll become familiar enough with Arch to be able to switch back to my old routine. For now though, it’s Wiki first, install second.