3 Best Arch-based Linux Distributions for Everyday Desktop Usage

The top 3 choices of Linux distributions for Arch lovers who want to make the most out of this amazing operating system.

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Best Arch-based Linux Distributions

Here I’ve created a list of the 3 best Arch-based user-friendly Linux distributions that you should try out.

Arch Linux is a rolling release, bleeding edge operating system used mostly by advanced Linux users. From installing to managing, Arch Linux lets you handle everything, giving you all the power and control you’ll ever need.

This is probably one of the reasons why Arch has a cult following in the Linux community.

Unfortunately, Arch comes with its drawbacks in the form of the complicated installation procedure, for example. You will need also to use command line more than any other distribution.

So you really want to use Arch Linux, but you are a little bit scared about its complexity? Well, then give Arch a try from a different angle. While Arch Linux itself isn’t a good pick for beginners, a lot of the distributions based on it are definitely very user-friendly.

Here is a list of the 3 best Arch-based distributions to check out.

1. EndeavourOS

EndeavourOS

EndeavourOS is is a user-friendly Arch Linux-based distribution with some handy new features that improve the user experience. It fits into a similar-but-different niche as Manjaro. EandeavourOS, being based on Arch is a rolling release. 

One of the first things that will struck you about EndeavourOS is that even though they claim that it’s a terminal-focused distribution, they still have excellent GUI tools in the system that make managing an Arch Linux system easy for new users.

Installing EndeavourOS is a simple process. The distribution comes with a Calamares installer, where you get an option to select one of their installation methods, offline or online. Offline installer installs EndeavourOS with a customized Xfce, and online installer lets you select and install packages as per your requirements.

It is an ideal starting point to begin exploring what makes Arch-based distributions different from the rest of Linux world. Certainly, EndeavourOS is not quite as minimal as Arch Linux, but it’s definitely more minimal than many other distributions.

It’s important to note that if you have a system with NVIDIA GPU, you have all the reasons to fail in love with EndeavorOS, because it ships with non-free NVIDIA drivers preloaded into the kernel.

Combining the features of easy install, multiple-desktops support, additional drivers support and good default eyecandy make EndeavourOS one of the best Arch-based Linux distributions to try for users who would like to start their journey in the Arch Linux world.

Pros

  • It’s about as close to vanilla Arch Linux as you can get, without installing Arch itself.
  • Ships with only the software that is absolutely necessary, and the software provided by your desktop environment.
  • Rather than using separate repositories like Manjaro for example, EndeavourOS uses the Arch repos, and includes very few packages of their own.
  • The project’s focus is on its community.

Cons

  • I don’t find any cons yet.

To learn more about EndeavourOS, visit the project’s website.

2. Manjaro

Manjaro

Manjaro is the most popular Arch-based Linux distribution. It provides all the benefits of an Arch operating system, but with an especial emphasis on stability, user-friendliness, and accessibility for newcomers and experienced users alike.

The distibution is perfect for Arch beginners, for all who have used Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or Fedora, and now wish to experience Arch’s power without sacrificing the comfort of the GUI. The distribution holds the grip on the number of beneficial, pre-installed applications, tools and best package management.

The installation process is easy and smooth. As with EndeavourOS, Manjaro comes with a graphical installer (Calamares) where you can easily customize it as you want. While installation, Manjaro Linux gives an option to choose the desktop environment. The distribution officially supports KDE, Xfce, and GNOME.

Manjaro has its own repositories. It does not have all the applications you may need, but it also has compatibility with the AUR (Arch User Repository). Keep in mind, that Manjaro is always a little behind Arch Linux in its official repositories. This release schedule gives the more advanced users a chance to bug test the release before it is released to the Manjaro community at large.

By default, Manjaro comes packed with a solid selection of software. In fact it pre-loads almost all necessary applications. So, you do not need to additionally install anything else.

Pros

  • A complete desktop out of the box.
  • Superior development and user base.
  • Manjaro has the best package management for Snaps, Flatpaks, and AUR called Pamac.

Cons

  • Uses a little bit older Arch linux packages in order to try and find more stability.
  • The dev team doesn’t always listen to the community.
  • Uses its own repositories, and if you are using some more from AUR, after every update there is a risk of breaking your system due to unmatched dependencies.
  • Manjaro is succumbing to the business model than focusing on the community itself.

To learn more about Manjaro, visit the project’s website.

3. Garuda Linux

Garuda Linux

Garuda Linux is a relatively new Linux distribution which is purely based on Arch. But unlike the numerous other Arch-based distributions, Garuda Linux offering much more such as installation on a Btrfs filesystem with a fully configured system snapshot and rollback capability. Furthermore, Garuda uses the performance optimized Zen kernel and features ZRAM and CPU scheduler.

Like EndeavourOS and Manjaro, you get the widely used Calamares installer. Probably the first thing you will noticed while installing Garuda Linux is how visually stunning it looked. The users get polished themes that make the system different from other Linux distributions.

Garuda Linux gives the user tons of desktop environments including, KDE, GNOME, Xfce, Cinnamon, Deepin, i3wm, and more. All of them are designed very impressively.

Installing software packages on Garuda Linux is as simple as it can get. But default it uses the Pacman installer, but also imports the Pamac installer from Manjaro Linux, allowing you to install software packages without touching the terminal. In addition to, Garuda Linux also offers support for Snap and Flatpack and comes with the AUR enabled by default.

Pros

  • Use of Btrfs as the only file system, utilizing the filesystem’s snapshot capability.
  • Comes with a beautiful and customizable look and offered nine unique desktop environments.

Cons

  • All Garuda Linux editions are bloated with software.
  • Needs a lot of RAM – minimum is 4GB, for most Linux distributions it’s 2GB or less.

To learn more about Garuda Linux, visit the project’s website.

Conclusion

Arch Linux is a bit difficult for the new users, but I hope these best Arch-based Linux distributions will be able to fulfill your needs throughout your Linux journey. They are for people who want the stability, security, and simplicity of Arch, yet do not have the time nor the patience to build one on their own.

It’s to be noted that there are tons of other really good distributions based on Arch like Arch Labs, ArcoLinux, Chakra, Artix, etc.

So, have you come to a conclusion on your Arch-based distro of choice? As always, feel free to share your experience with us in the comments section below.

9 Comments

  1. Try RebornOS… Another excellent Arch system which though geared at newish users migrating from other Linux flavours. Uses bleeding edge Linux Kernel. Well worth a try.

    • Absolutely agree James. It’s [ArcoLinux, previously known as ArchMerge] an excellent project with ridiculous amounts of options in terms of downloadable iso’s and just about any desktop environment known to man. 🙂 The project owner is Erik Dubois (Seems like a very nice bloke) and the community is a very pleasant one with the more experienced users being very tolerant with the newbies. Nice article by Bobby Borisov. Thanks

  2. Garuda KDE Plasma on my main system with a backup install of Manjaro in case I need to reinstall Garuda (it’s happened before, but seems stable now). Manjaro KDE on my lower spec’d laptop.

    • I use Xero Linux I love everything about it. It runs with no problems. It’s not bloated and has everything working out of the box. Glad to see I’m not the only one who likes it.

  3. Tried them all, but stucked with Endeavour. Garuda is mind blowing beautiful in Terms of its GUI but at least on my Hardware not the fastest one.
    With manjaro my Epson All in One Printer/Scanner is refusing to work no matter what I Install.
    With Endeavour everything works fine, no “hick ups”, effortless to install apps with yay command in the terminal.
    And because it’s a rolling release, always up to date.

  4. I find it hard to believe that this “new” distro has moved up to the #2 spot on Distrowatch in just a few short years! I tried to install it on my Lenovo Thinkpad L430 with the following results:

    First Try – Got stuck at 39%
    Second Try – Error message – Could not format the selected partition

    There have been other reviewers who have stated that this distro has serious problems. One reviewer stated he tried to install it 4 separate times, each of which ended in a disaster. If you must have an Arch based distro and don’t want all the work of Arch then try one of the others such as Manjaro, Artix or Arco. Endeavor is definitely the pits when it won’t even install on a very Linux compatible Thinkpad!

  5. I would like te reply about Manjaro here, because I have started using this distro as one of my installed operating systems and I kinda like it for it’s really great combination of technical qualities together with ease of use.
    (although the vanilla Arch is still my favourite and stays my main system next to Windows)

    “Cons”:

    – “Uses a little bit older Arch linux packages in order to try and find more stability.”
    This is NOT con!! Or at least not necessarily, nor it’s necessarily a pro.
    It’s a characteristic and a conscious choice. It has both positive and negative aspects. So either remove it from the “Cons” or just add it to the “Pros” list too!

    – “The dev team doesn’t always listen to the community.”
    – “Manjaro is succumbing to the business model than focusing on the community itself.”
    My fear of at least the last of these statements here is sadly that this is indeed valid.
    I base this feeling on the fact that they clearly promote additional products on their website.
    I hope this is not an ongoing development that is going to get worse and worse.

    Personally I think this way: If you are a distro maintainer and if are successful enough together with your community, you won’t need sponsors to keep your project alive.

    On the other hand, look at Canonical, the large company behind the most popular desktop Linux distro that exists, Ubuntu. They are certainly not any better if you ask me.
    But tell me if I am wrong. Because companies can have slightly different mentalities, apart from being just to big and mighty only.

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