Finally, I’ve decided to make a list of the best Arch-based Linux distros I’ve used and tried so far. I was a full-time Debian user. And, because I am a distro hopper, you will find me moving to and from various Debian-based distros. In fact, most of the beginners in Linux tend to go for Debian. Because it’s easy to use and there are tons of prebuilt packages. But when I came to know about Arch Linux for the first time, I fall in love with it.
However, I will not suggest the vanilla Arch Linux to the newbie users. It’s because Arch follows a rolling release model, and you can build your own OS image based on your favorite packages. This leads to some complications, which might be annoying for beginners. But apart from that, if you want complete flexibility and customizations with the latest packages, there’s no alternative to Arch Linux. In fact, if you are a power user like me, you will even get a performance boost in Arch.
Best Arch-based Linux Distros
As I said earlier, configuring Arch Linux and installing the packages is a bit complex process. You will need to use command lines more than any other distros. But due to some obvious advantages of Arch, there’s a growing community of Arch Linux who are constantly developing this distro with more features and benefits.
They have come up with various custom distros based on Arch to overcome the minor issues with the original Arch Linux. Here, I’ve created a list of the best Arch-based Linux distros that you should try out.
1. Manjaro Linux
Manjaro Linux is the most mainstream Linux distro out there based on the Arch source code. So, as always, you are getting the cutting-edge software packages in this distro. Manjaro is fully open source, and there are a lot of official and community editions consisting of different desktop environments.
It is designed with Windows users in mind, and hence if you have just shifted from Windows, you will feel at home. Overall, if you are looking for a balanced distro in terms of performance and stability, this is a no-brainer.
- You can configure Manjaro as you wish by removing or keeping your desired application packages.
- It has an auto-installer for the proprietory graphics cards such as AMD or NVIDIA.
- The distro is privacy-oriented, and you can control every aspect of user-generated data and how it will be used.
- A built-in function will help you switch your current Linux kernel to a different one.
- It comes with XFCE, KDE Plasma, and GNOME desktop environments for your convenience.
Pros: Manjaro is much more stable than the vanilla Arch Linux. The developers push updates after extensive testing, and you don’t have to worry about breaking the system after an update.
Cons: You won’t find all the prebuilt packages in the repository like Debian-based distros, which is technically a negative side.
EndeavuorOS is an Arch-based Linux distro that is relatively a new player in the Linux game. However, it gained much popularity within this short span. This is originally the successor of a discontinued Linux distro named Antergos. So, it is quite obvious that it has derived some features and functionalities from that.
But still, the power of Arch Linux is in its DNA, and you will find that flexibility inside this distro. Although this is a terminal-centric distro, there are many GUI tools built-in to the system that helps you conveniently install and use it.
- Except for some in-house apps, the features and functionalities are very close to the original arch Linux.
- You can choose from 8 different desktop environments, and it comes with the least number of bloatware.
- The distro is beautifully crafted with minimal UI design and colorful icons and elements.
- It features both online and offline installers for a straightforward and fast installation process.
- The developers, as well as the growing community, are always here to support you in case you face a problem.
Pros: I liked the minimal approach of this distro most. They have equipped their system images with just the necessary software, and you can always install additional packages from the AUR repository.
Cons: This is a relatively newer distribution. If you want to deploy it in your organization, you should consider the risk involving stability.
3. Garuda Linux
Most of the popular Linux distros either come from Europe or America. There are several good distros from Asia, but they are mostly of Chinese origin, which some people consider fishy. Finally, an Indian distribution that has got positive impressions from the Linux community all over the world.
Anyway, this is yet another distro based on Arch Linux, but there’s something special about this distro. Of course, you can apply themes on any Linux distro and make it look gorgeous. But the specialty about Garuda is that it comes preloaded with colorful icons and a customized desktop environment that look stunning.
- The developers have used a modified version of the Calamares installer for quicker setup.
- It is preloaded with shell themes, a variety of icon packs, and a special effect on the window backgrounds.
- Garuda Linux uses the BTRFS files system to use this distro on sensitive servers and storage systems.
- It will automatically create snapshots of the entire system that can be restored right from the GRUB bootloader.
- This distro uses the same Pacman package management system with an innovative graphical UI for the newbies.
Pros: Garuda has one of the most beautiful UI straight out of the box. Of course, there are some fancy distros like Deepin in terms of aesthetics. But if you want a gorgeous stock alike look, then Garuda should be your pick.
Cons: This is a pretty heavy OS, and the recommended system requirements are relatively higher. So, it may not run smoothly on your old computer.
ArcoLinux is a quite popular distro in the world of Linux. It was known as ArchMerge once upon a time. Though the name has changed, the core of this Arch-based Linux distro remains the same. But it has brought several improvements over its parent distro.
Like you can either go with the classical method of building the OS picking your favorite desktop environment and packages, or just go with the predefined settings in the Calamares installer. Even they have a proprietary app that will enable you to choose from 21 different desktop environments to choose from even after installation.
- It has three different editions for different types of users such as ArcoLinux, ArcoLinuxD, and ArcoLinuxB.
- The distro is bundled with almost all the desktop environments currently found for Linux.
- There are some themed versions of this distro that come pre-customized, and you don’t have to worry about the aesthetics.
- Building your very own ISO image is quite easier using the ArcoLinuxB project.
- There is a forum with a ton of resources related to Arch, especially the AroLinux for beginners.
Pros: This distro provides maximum freedom in terms of choosing the desktop environments. This is great for the people who had to ditch a distro just for the DE it came with.
Cons: This is pretty easy to use, but if you are just starting with Linux, then there are much better alternatives than this.
Reborn OS is a relatively newer Linux distro based on Arch. Just like the name, it will make your old computer reborn with powerful features and customizations. Especially if you have just migrated from Windows, you will find this much more familiar.
The most interesting fact about this distro is that it gives you a wide range of choices to make the distro unique and completely yours. Like any other Arch-based distros, you are getting the freedom to choose your choice’s desktop environment. On top of that, different optional features can also be installed.
- You can install your necessary apps and components right from the installer.
- There is barely any desktop environment out there that doesn’t come with the package.
- Support for Flatpak packages gives you access to a huge library of the latest apps.
- The operating system is optimized specially for mobile devices with batteries and limited cooling facilities.
- They have a GUI-based tool preinstalled for access to the core features and rollback to a previous snapshot.
Pros: If you own a laptop, this will be most suitable because of the preinstalled TLP and Thermald for optimal performance.
Cons: They have a growing community, but the official support is not good, which is a thing to consider.
6. Artix Linux
Artix Linux also an Arch-based Linux distro, and this is a security-oriented operating system. The word Artix came from the phrase “Art of Linux” and the performance totally justifies this. The UI is not that fancy, however. It comes with a classic desktop design with some built-in tools that will handle most of your necessities.
There is an interesting fact about Artix. It is free of Systemd. There are some security concerns regarding the Systemd, and the developers have decided to remove this. I think this will be a deciding factor for many power users out there.
- It comes with OpenRC, runit, and s6 editions from which you can choose your sweet spot.
- You can go for Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, XFCE, and many other beautiful desktop environments.
- The installation procedure is effortless, and you will get the complete workflow on their website.
- This distro has its own package repository, which is a convenient alternative to the Arch repo.
- The developers provide support through social media channels as well as using the official forum.
Pros: No matter whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, this distro will get you covered. Besides, the Systemd-free installation will is a great advantage too.
Cons: By default, the look and feel is pretty vanilla. You won’t get preinstalled themes and icon packs in this distro.
7. Archman Linux
Some developers from Turkey started this as an independent project. Although this is based on the source code of Arch Linux. Generally, Arch Linux is not suitable for new users. The developers of this project tried hard to make it a general-purpose distro. They hear the feedback from the users and the community to make Archman Linux better and better.
In fact, they are quite successful at this. XFCE is their flagship desktop environment that comes loaded with the distro by default. But you can also go for various other desktop environments and window managers.
- Archman is a pretty lightweight distribution with minimal preinstalled packages.
- It is compatible with all the Pacman commands for installing the latest packages.
- This distro is very stable because it comes through different stages of testing.
- The beautiful GUI makes it easy to use for beginners on their home computers.
- Archman developer team actually listens to the users, and you can request to add new features.
Pros: The rolling release distribution system is very close to the original Arch development stream. Thus you are getting stock Arch features before anyone else.
Cons: The website and the forum are in the Turkish language, a problem for the global community.
8. ArchLabs Linux
As the name suggests, ArchLabs Linux is yet another Arch-based Linux distro available for quite some time now. This distro was built for the advanced users in mind. But that doesn’t mean the newbie users can’t use this.
Although you have to face the terminal while launching the ISO for the first time, you can go for the graphical installer right from there. Package availability in this distro is very much appreciable. You get access to a large library of Pacman in an easier way than typical Arch Linux.
- It comes with pre-installed Conky for easier system monitoring.
- The user interface is highly customizable with built-in modules and wallpapers.
- ArchLabs Linux comes with just the necessary packages. You won’t find any bloatware.
- The future versions are likely to come with custom themes and icon packs, which will be a great addition.
- It runs swiftly on laptops and relatively weaker hardware configuration.
Pros: If you are an experienced user and want to feel the taste of Arch Linux, then ArchLabs can be the gateway for you because of the advanced features.
Cons: The distro is mostly keyboard-driven, so if you are not comfortable with the terminal, you will get frustrated.
9. BlackArch Linux
BlackArch is considered the Kali Linux of Arch world. You guessed right. This distro was intended for security researchers and hackers. The default theme of the distro is pitch-black, and there is a lot of security and pen-testing tools that come with the distro.
Even you will be surprised to know that the BlackArch repository contains more than 2000 security tools that can be accessed for this distro. Also, you are getting support for the classical AUR package repository and Pacman.
- The tools can be installed in groups from the official repository to save time.
- The default theme and icons of the distro bring a hacker vibe and add up to the aesthetics.
- You can either go for the Full ISO or the Netinstall ISO, which is smaller in size.
- The official documentation is available in various languages, which is a plus point.
- You will get to see the list of the available packages right on their official website and install them from there.
Pros: If you don’t want to miss the functionalities of Kali Linux and want that rolling release model of Arch Linux, then this is the perfect distribution for you.
Cons: The developers discourage the new users from starting using this because of the steep learning curve.
10. ArchBang Linux
The last Arch-based Linux distro in this list is the ArchBang Linux. This is a bit different in terms of features and functionalities. However, it still stands on the base of Arch Linux with all the core features. This is one of the most lightweight Linux distributions. And for this obvious reason, it is perfect for using it as a portable system.
It comes with support for live ISO, and you can install it on your system either by using the command lines or using the graphical installer. Despite having some bugs here and there, Archbang is very popular among a niche community.
- The UI looks decent with the i3 window manager and pre-configured Conky monitor.
- The size of the ISO file is just a few hundred megabytes, which is great for computers with small storage.
- It doesn’t come with any fancy tools out of the box, but you can install Arch packages later.
- Zen Installer is very easy to use and will guide you through the full installation process.
- The terminal enthusiasts will prefer this distro over others because of the fewer graphical distractions.
Pros: For IoT devices and portable computers, this distro is a no-brainer. You won’t find any kind of lags or hiccups.
Cons: A few people reported some bugs here and there while installation, but the live ISO works perfectly. This is a thing to consider.
Recommending a particular distro to anyone is the toughest thing to do. Because it depends on various factors, but still, I’ll give you some hints so that you can decide your sweet spot from the above-mentioned distros.
If you want maximum stability and reliability, I’ll ask you to stick to the Manjaro Linux. Garuda Linux is also great for artistic people. But the system requirements are quite high. If you love to tinker around backdoors and security, then BlackArch is the thing to go for. This is also pretty lightweight.
As you can see the Arch Linux is somewhat different from the Debian distribution. It is a bit difficult for the new users too. This is why some people try to avoid Arch, and even I don’t recommend arch to beginners. But if you are impressed with the special arch features and have a secondary PC to try out, there’s nothing wrong with going with Arch Linux.
I hope these Arch-based Linux distros will be able to fulfill your needs throughout your Linux journey. Don’t forget to appreciate our works by sharing this article with your friends and family.
You must try ALG (Arch Linux Gui), another indian distro. It’s great!
Just checked it and its now dead.
You can swap between Obarun and Artix and Archlabs repos thus get the best of three worlds so no comparisons needed their practically all good.
Salient OS and Reborn are my faves
Is Salient OS still supported?
fast, lightweight and functional Linux Desktop rolling-release, Manjaro based with Openbox Window Manager
Thank you! Mabox was perfect for me… has everything I needed. I would have never known about it without your comment. Much appreciated!
Artix Linux with OpenRC. All other options are bloated and defeat the purpose of Arch Linux.
Why not mention Obarun as well ? s6/66 is an alternate to systemd and Obarun is a promising distro based on Arch Linux with s6
Manjaro is the best overall for regular desktop user. It works and provides user’s daily need and easy to operate. Endeavour runs faster and better for more advanced user though, you need to add pamac manually, pamac is a lifesaver.