Arch Linux has a reputation for being a do-it-yourself Linux distribution. The notable features of Arch Linux are rolling upgrades, Pacman, AUR, and its speed. It's meant for x86-64 processors.
Usually, it requires the installation of applications and configuration of the system from the ground up, which calls for high expertise and experience.
Thankfully, the open-source community has provided some cutting-edge, and user-friendly Arch-based distributions that are tailored for a wider user base including desktop users, developers, gamers, and even beginners transitioning to Linux from Windows or Mac. These distros provide essential applications, out of the box, to help you hit the ground running.
In this guide, we list the 6 best Arch Linux based distributions in 2021.
Best Arch Linux Based Distribution
Without much further ado, let's shift gears and delve into some of the best and popular Arch-based Linux distributions in 2021.
Manjaro is a free and open-source Arch-distribution with a focus on simplicity, accessibility, and usability. Manjaro is regarded as a user-friendly Arch-distro that can be a perfect option for Windows and macOS users who want to have a feel of ArchLinux and still enjoy the elegant UI which is packed with visually appealing widgets, panels, icons, and themes to mention a few.
By default, Manjaro provides the KDE Plasma Desktop environment. Out of the box, it ships with a multitude of pre-installed software applications to get started out. The applications cover a huge user-base including home desktop users, professionals, gamers, students, teachers, developers, art, and multimedia lovers. Some of the preinstalled applications include Firefox, LibreOffice Suite, & Thunderbird for Office and productivity use. Gamers would relish in Steam and PlayonLinux platform which allows users to play Windows games on Linux. Manjaro also provides Visual Code studio and KDevelop for developers. There is Krita (Graphic design & editing tool ), Kdenlive (Video editing ), and Ardour ( Sound mixing ) for creatives. Teachers and students can leverage Geogebra ( For math/geometry) and Minuet ( For teaching/learning music).
Manjaro offers tons of customization options, which makes it even more popular among users transitioning to Linux. You can customize the themes, hues, icons, desktop background among other options. If granular customization and access to AUR packages are what you fancy, then Manjaro is the right distribution for you.
Generally, Manjaro is considered a user-friendly distribution that is recommended for beginners and home users as well. It provides all the goodies that are associated with ArchLinux with an emphasis on stability, accessibility, and user experience. With Manjaro, Everything comes pre-installed, unlike Arch Linux that requires substantial user intervention in installing and configuring applications. As such, Manjaro is one of the widely used Arch distros by home beginners and professionals alike.
Manjaro is available for download in 3 main editions: XFCE, KDE Plasma, and GNOME.
A successor to Antergos - which was discounted back in 2019 - EndeavorOS is an Arch-based distro that is tailored for beginners who are making a shift to Arch Linux. It’s a lightweight and rolling operating system that is geared towards being beginner-friendly with a wide array of supported desktop environments which include GNOME, XFCE, MATE, Cinnamon, Budgie, KDE Plasma, Deepin, and even i3-wm.
EndeavorOS is described as a terminal-centric OS which implies that, by default, it is minimalistic and only bundles software packages that users will ready need to get off the ground. These include the Firefox browser and basic drivers such as graphics, sound, and network drivers. Just like Arch Linux, there’s no bloatware or unnecessary apps.
If you have a system with NVIDIA GPU, you have all the reasons to smile as Endeavor OS ships with non-free NVIDIA drivers preloaded into the kernel.
The latest releases of EndeavorOS provide support for ARM devices which means you can install the system on ARM platforms such as Raspberry Pi and Odroid.
Perhaps the most outstanding thing about EndeavorOS is its warm and vibrant opensource community that comprises developers who are always willing to help you in case you get stuck. There are active Endeavor Forums on Reddit, Telegram, and other online platforms.
RebornOS is another Arch-based distro that was built with an emphasis on the look-and-feel of the Linux desktop. The installer provides over 10 desktop environments. Whether you are a KDE, Deepin, GNOME, MATE, Budgie, Enlightenment, or Cinnamon lover, RebornOS will provide you with the environment that you need.
Apart from the wide selection of desktop environments, Reborn offers tons of optional features including web browsers, Office suites, Thermald daemon ( Prevents PCs from overheating ) Flatpak packages, maintenance tools, Anbox ( allows the installation of Android packages ) and so much more.
4. Artix Linux
Artix Linux is a simple and fast systemd-free rolling release. It is a fork of the Arch-OpenRC project & Manjaro OpenRC projects. It’s quite lightweight and stable and offers a variety of desktop environments such as Cinnamon, XFCE, MATE, LXQt, and KDE Plasma. It’s, therefore, a perfect choice for old PCs with low specifications that have been lying idle. You can get away with a system with 2G RAM and Pentium 2.4 GHz processor.
Artix provides its own official Artix repositories which are different from Arch’s repositories. The repositories are just as fast and software packages are updated on a regular basis. Still, you can also use AUR, and still leverage both Arch and Artix repositories as well.
Installation of Artix is quite simple and users can choose from multiple init options which are not systemd.
If you are looking for a non-systemd Arch distro that is lightweight, fast, and reliable, then Artix is the way to go.
4. Garuda Linux
Based on Arch Linux, Garuda Linux is a rolling distribution from India, and just like Endeavor OS, it provides the latest in software packages, features, and updates. It is fairly lightweight and comes highly recommended for low-end PCs or systems with low computing specifications.
Garuda Linux is popular for its visual appeal and elegant UI and is widely used in desktops and laptops. It provides the Zen kernel which is quite a stable and security kernel and uses the BTRFS filesystem by default. The BTRFS file system provides numerous benefits including support for huge files, built-in RAID support, and efficient file storage to mention a few.
Garuda Linux provides an eye-candy GUI with cool themes, elegant desktop backgrounds, and icons that you cannot find on other lightweight distros. Garuda has been optimized for gaming and users can download a rich variety of games which are provided by the Garuda Gamer GUI. From the GUI tools, you can also tweak the GRUB settings, manage drivers, install Apps and perform several other tasks which are natively performed from the command line.
Like Endeavor OS, Garuda Linux provides a huge selection of desktop environments including XFCE, GNOME, KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, LXQt, Deepin, MATE, Ukui, and i3wm.
ArcoLinux is a Belgium-based distribution that was formerly known as ‘ArchMerge’ Linux. ArcoLinux is a functional Linux distribution that is geared towards helping beginners learn the ropes in using the command line. ArcoLinux comes in three distinct editions: ArcoLinux, ArcoLinuxB, and ArcoLinuxD, all of which have different use cases.
The main distro - ArcoLinux - ships with a GUI and all the tools and Apps. The other two - ArcoLinuxB and ArcoLinuxD - are minimal distributions that are terminal-centric. They provide only one desktop environment or none at all. They are tailored mostly for command-line use and take away all the splendor and niceties that come with a GUI.
The installation is quite a breeze, thanks to the Calameres installer. By default, ArcoLinux provides the XFCE, i3, and Openbox desktop environments from which you can select during booting.
ArcoLinux is big on the performance given the lightweight desktop environments that it ships with by default. This also makes it blazing fast with short startup, shutdown times, and pretty much everything in between.
It’s also user-friendly with lots of customizations such as theme and widget customizations. Perhaps the only drawback with ArcoLinux is the bloatware associated with it such as Cocky displays and several web browsers and text editors out-of-the-box.
6. Bluestar Linux
Bluestar Linux is a solid Arch distribution that is powered by KDE desktop. It offers a wide range of functionality without sacrificing the general look and feels or aesthetics. Out of the box, you get a host of multimedia applications and up-to-date software packages.
It comes in 3 editions: Desktop, Deskpro as well as Developer. Each of the editions is designed to cater to the needs of various categories of users.
Bluestar can be installed directly on a desktop or laptop PC or run as a Live installer on a USB medium if your intention is just to try it out before installation.
That was a roundup of some of the best Arch-based distros we feel have been impactful for this year and probably more years to come. Without a shadow of a doubt, these are some of the lightweight and user-friendly Arch distros that can help make your life easier just like popular distributions such as Linux Mint and Ubuntu.