Garuda is a relatively new Arch-based Linux distribution that will soon be three years old. One thing is for sure, though: it will not leave anyone indifferent. You’ll either fall in love with it or reject it right away. There is no middle ground.
“Arch for human beings” is the simplest way I can describe Garuda. But, of course, with the obligatory qualifier, plus added dragon breath and a waterfall of colors. But please, don’t think this is another Linux distro with a changed wallpaper and icon theme. No, we’re talking about a piece of art, high professionalism, and attention to every detail.
These characteristics make it one of the best Arch-based distributions while also bringing our attention to it. And the recently released Garuda Linux “Raptor” (230305) only confirms this belief. So, without further ado, let’s look at what has changed.
Garuda Linux “Raptor”: What’s New?
The new “Raptor” release includes the full range of desktop environments and window managers – GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, MATE, LXQt, Wayfire, Sway, i3WM, and Qtile. However, add two more special editions to this list: KDE Lite – for users who do not want extra software and functionalities and KDE-Git – for users who wish to test the latest software. Wherever you look at it, the list is impressive.
The main focus, however, remains Garuda’s flagship KDE Plasma-based edition, or KDE dr460nized, as the developers have named it. And it is related to one of the novelties in the new “Raptor” release.
Plasma Panels Replaced Latte-Dock
In the previous Garuda’s dr460nized editions, the distro relied heavily on Latte-Dock’s features for panel functionalities. However, this is no longer the case. Why? Because the development of Latte-Dock has now more or less ceased. In response, the Garuda’s dr460nized edition now features Plasma panels.
This change takes away somewhat from the dr460nized edition’s eye candy appeal factor by losing features like top bar colors/transparency. Usability is also impacted to some degree, as it will no longer be possible to drag the top bar to move windows. However, we expect these changes to make the KDE dr460nized edition’s desktop experience far more stable but also different.
The developers recommend that users immediately switch to using Plasma panels “before it is too late.” But don’t worry. The in-house baked Garuda System Maintenance app will try automatically to detect Latte-Dock setups to offer an easy migration starting with this release.
Dracut Instead of mkinitcpio
The other significant change in the Garuda “Raptor” release is the replacement of mkinitcpio, a Bash script used to create an initial ramdisk environment, with Dracut. Initially developed by Red Hat, Dracut is a tool that provides enhanced functionality for automating the Linux boot process. It builds the initramfs dynamically based on the type of packages detected, with no additional intervention required.
So, starting with the “Raptor” release, Garuda Linux no longer relies on mkinitcpio to provide this functionality and instead uses Dracut. You can find more on the subject at the distro’s wiki.
Improved Setup Assistant
Setup Assistant is one of many tools specifically developed for Garuda to make the life of the regular Linux user easier. It lets you quickly and easily install widely used software on your system.
From a client application to GPU drivers or a specific Linux kernel version, everything is a click away. In the Garuda “Raptor” release, the app has been given an even cleaner Qt-based look making it easier to work with. On top of that, the app now has added support for detecting NVIDIA devices, as well as additional packages to install.
Other Garuda “Raptor” Highlights
Under the hood, this release is powered by the Linux 6.2.2 Zen Kernel, accompanied by glibc 2.37, GCC 12.2.1, and Binutils 2.40. On the desktop app side, users get in the default installation FireDragon 110, a fork of LibreWolf web browser with enhanced KDE integration, saner defaults, and custom branding.
We were delighted to see the Micro text editor, of which we are huge fans, included. To satisfy your multimedia needs, the developers have provided you with the mpv media player, which arrives here in its latest version, 3.35.1.
Finally, looking at “pacman.conf,” you will find that Chaotic-AUR, the custom repository used by Garuda Linux, has now been moved to the top, i.e., the one with the highest priority over Arch. According to the devs, this way, they made the repo more attractive to other Arch-based distributions by not including Garuda-specific packages and having a mechanism to overlay problematic packages of the Arch repo.
Refer to the release announcement for detailed information about all changes in Garuda Linux “Raptor.”
Download Garuda “Raptor”
If you want to try the Garuda Linux “Raptor” release, the system requirements are slightly higher than for other Linux distributions but still well within normal limits.
- 30 GB storage space
- 4 GB RAM
- Video card with OpenGL 3.3 or better
- 64-bit system
You can download one of the many variants the distro offers from here.
In conclusion, we can only say that the Garuda “Raptor” release has wholly won our affection, and we highly recommend trying it. It is one of the most unique and refreshing breaths in the Linux world. So, what are you waiting for? Ride the dragon and fly high!