Arch Linux is one of the most popular Linux distributions. It’s also one of the more challenging, with a steep learning curve that can put off even seasoned Linux users. If you’re looking to build your operating system from scratch, Arch Linux is a powerful choice.
If you’d like to harness the power of Arch Linux but don’t want to have to build everything from the ground up, the good news is that there are plenty of Arch-based Linux distributions. They offer the simplicity of GUI-based installation, and each provides its own unique take on Arch Linux.
Here are five Arch-based Linux distributions you can try.
Manjaro has all the benefits of Arch Linux but in a more user-friendly package. There’s a graphical installer. which is simple enough to use, even for Linux newbies.
Manjaro uses the same packages found in the Arch repositories, but it tests them for around two weeks longer than Arch does. The packages are only made available if they have no compatibility or stability issues. Manjaro won’t be as bleeding edge as Arch Linux, but you should find it more stable.
There is also the option to choose from a wide range of desktop environments. There are four official options – Xfce, KDE, Architect, and GNOME. The community has created several more, including MATE, Cinnamon, and Deepin. Manjaro also comes with a 32-bit edition, something no longer offered by Arch Linux – perfect for older machines.
If KDE is your desktop environment of choice, then Chakra is another good Arch-based distribution for you to consider. It uses Plasma by KDE, which uses widgets to help create a highly-configurable and efficient desktop environment. Installation is also straightforward, with a graphical installer as well as automatic hardware detection.
Chakra uses a half-rolling release model – applications take advantage of rolling updates, while the core gets slower, periodic updates. This means you can have the very latest versions of your favorite applications, but the core Arch OS remains stable.
Chakra comes with KDE, so if you prefer a different desktop environment, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
ArcoLinux is made up of three major projects each aimed at different user types. The first variant, just named ArcoLinux, comes with a lot of software included and a choice of Xfce, Openbox, and i3 desktops. They describe this as their “have fun ISO.”
ArcoLinuxD strips everything back and requires you to install your choice of desktop environments from the terminal, along with any applications you need. For new users, the lack of graphical installer may be off-putting. This what they call their “learning ISO.”
ArcoLinuxB allows you to build your own custom distribution. Your other option is to take advantage of those already built by the community that come preconfigured with desktops such as GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, Budge, and Plasma.
Although ArcoLinuxD and ArcoLinuxB offer more of a challenge, there are many video tutorials to help you through the process. If you can’t find what you need, you can contact ArcoLinux via social media, and they will create a new video for you.
Velt/OS started out with the intention of being a user-designed OS – the community would vote on proposed features and shape the development of the distribution. This idea turned out to make development incredibly slow, so was eventually scrapped.
The developers instead focused on making a desktop environment that was developed to be easily installed using Arch Linux as its base. The desktop environment is based around Google’s Material Design approach – Google users should find this familiar.
It comes with an easy-to-use graphical installation tool – just download the Arch-based ISO, or you can convert to Velt/OS on an existing Arch installation if you’d prefer.
ArchBang is another lightweight distribution based on Arch Linux, designed to be as simple as possible for users. The distro itself is fast, stable and uses the highly configurable Openbox window manager to give you a clean environment (if GUIs are your thing).
The initial installation comes with very few apps included, maintaining the Arch ethos of choosing what you need. There’s a text editor, a file manager, a music player, and Firefox for browsing.
You can install whatever additional apps you need from the Arch User Repository database. If you’re looking for a lightweight Arch distro to run on older or lower-resource PCs, ArchBang is a great option.
Try an Arch-Based Linux Distro Today
Any of these distros will let you harness the power of Arch Linux without needing to build everything from the ground up. Once you’re hooked, you may decide it’s time to bite the bullet and learn how to install Arch from scratch.
If you have a favorite Arch-based distro that’s not on our list, let us know in the comments below.
Get our stories delivered to your inbox.