After running a combination of Ubuntu and Fedora for the past two years I felt ready to try something new. Arch is a rolling-release distribution which offers the latest  packages that are considered stable from upstream developers. As an example when the GNOME project releases an update to their desktop you can expect to be able to install it from the Arch repositories within a short amount of time.

Nvidia drivers are always fresh on Arch which is a huge plus if you’re a gamer or on the lookout for the latest bug fixes.

I feared I might not have the expertise  to run Arch but found it to be pretty straightforward.  After running it as my main operating system for about a month there was only one pesky problem that almost forced me to give up on it.

I was experiencing an intermittent boot issue where my system would hang towards the end of the systemd boot process. I enabled verbose within grub and could see where it was getting stuck:

[ OK ] Started User Manager for UID 1000. 

After approximately 2-3 minutes the screen would go blank followed by the familiar GDM splash error:

Oh no! Something has gone wrong.

A problem has occurred and the system can’t recover. All extensions have been disabled as a precaution. 

Additionally I couldn’t  complete a boot cycle to check the boot logs using journalctl -b nor switch to a virtual console using Alt+f1. These limitations further hampered my ability to troubleshoot this problem as the logs are typically a necessity in determining a root cause. A subsequent reboot would temporarily resolve the issue.

Over the course of three weeks I attempted a number of fixes I had found across the Arch forums. Others that had been running GDM and GNOME had also encountered similar problems. It appears this was the end result to a problem with many potential causes. For my variant it turned out that systemd was attempting to load GDM before the NVIDIA driver had fully initialized. It appears this problem can can happen on very fast booting systems.

Ultimately the Arch wiki on NVIDIA  provided the solution to my problem. I had glazed over that section numerous times until a fellow Archer on #ArchLinux IRC pointed me back to it. The wiki instructs manually adding a udev rule followed by creating a systemd dependency so that the NVIDIA driver loads before GDM is launched.

This distribution is well known for both its excellent documentation and community. Being that this was the most difficult problem I that have yet to encounter and that it was solved in the Wiki I am confident that I will be able to continue using it.