In the Linux community, Arch Linux has a cult following. This lightweight distribution provides the bleeding edge updates with a DIY (do it yourself) attitude.
However, Arch Linux is also aimed at more experienced users. As such, it is generally considered to be beyond the reach of those who lack the technical expertise (or persistence) required to use it.
In fact, the very first steps, installing Arch Linux itself is enough to scare many people off. Unlike most other distributions, Arch Linux doesn’t have an easy to use graphical installer. You have to do disk partitions, connect to internet, mount drives and create file system etc using command line tools only.
For those who want to experience Arch without the hassle of the complicated installation and set up, there exists a number of user-friendly Arch-based distributions.
In this article, I’ll show you some of these Arch alternative distributions. These distributions come with graphical installer, graphical package manager and other tools that are easier to use than their command line alternatives.
Arch-based Linux distributions that are easier to set up and use
Please note that this is not a ranking list. The numbers are just for counting purpose. Distribution at number two should not be considered better than distribution at number seven.
1. Manjaro Linux
Manjaro doesn’t need any introduction. It is one of the most popular Linux distributions for several years and it deserves it.
Manjaro provides all the benefits of the Arch Linux combined with a focus on user-friendliness and accessibility. Manjaro is suitable for both newcomers and experienced Linux users alike.
For newcomers, a user-friendly installer is provided, and the system itself is designed to work fully ‘straight out of the box’ with your favourite desktop environment (DE) or window manager.
For more experienced users, Manjaro also offers versatility to suit every personal taste and preference. Manjaro Architect is giving the option to install any Manjaro flavour and offers unflavoured DE installation, filesystem (recently introduced ZFS) and bootloader choice for those who wants complete freedom to shape their system.
Manjaro is also a rolling release cutting-edge distribution. However, unlike Arch, Manjaro tests the updates first and then provides it to its users. Stability also gets importance here.
ArcoLinux (previously known as ArchMerge) is a distribution based on Arch Linux. The development team offers three variations. ArcoLinux, ArcoLinuxD and ArcoLinuxB.
ArcoLinux is a full-featured distribution that ships with the Xfce desktop, Openbox and i3 window managers.
ArcoLinuxD is a minimal distribution that includes scripts that enable power users to install any desktop and application.
ArcoLinuxB is a project that gives users the power to build custom distributions, while also developing several community editions with pre-configured desktops, such as Awesome, bspwm, Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, GNOME, MATE and KDE Plasma.
ArcoLinux also provides various video tutorials as it places strong focus on learning and acquiring Linux skills.
3. Archlabs Linux
ArchLabs Linux is a lightweight rolling release Linux distribution based on a minimal Arch Linux base with the Openbox window manager. ArchLabs is influenced and inspired by the look and feel of BunsenLabs with the intermediate to advanced user in mind.
4. Archman Linux
Archman is an independent project. Arch Linux distros in general are not ideal operating systems for users with little Linux experience. Considerable background reading is necessary for things to make sense with minimal frustration. Developers of Archman Linux are trying to change that reputation.
Archman’s development is based on an understanding of development that includes user feedback and experience components. With the past experience of our team, the feedbacks and requests from the users are blended together and the road maps are determined and the build works are done.
When the popular Arch-based distribution Antergos was discontinued in 2019, it left a friendly and extremely helpful community behind. The Antergos project ended because the system was too hard to maintain for the developers.
Within a matter of days after the announcement, a few experienced users palnned on maintaining the former community by creating a new distribution to fill the void left by Antergos. That’s how EndeavourOS was born.
EndeavourOS is lightweight and ships with a minimum amount of preinstalled apps. An almost blank canvas ready to personalise.
RebornOS developers’ goal is to bring the true power of Linux to everyone, with one ISO for 15 desktop environments and full of unlimited opportunities for customization.
RebornOS also claims to have support for Anbox for running Android applications on desktop Linux. It also offers a simple kernel manager GUI tool.
Coupled with Pacman, the AUR, and a customized version of Cnchi graphical installer, Arch Linux is finally available for even the least inexperienced users.
7. Chakra Linux
A community-developed GNU/Linux distribution with an emphasis on KDE and Qt technologies. Chakra Linux does not schedule releases for specific dates but uses a “Half-Rolling release” system.
This means that the core packages of Chakra Linux are frozen and only updated to fix any security problems. These packages are updated after the latest versions have been thoroughly tested before being moved to permanent repository (about every six months).
In addition to the official repositories, users can install packages from the Chakra Community Repository (CCR), which provides user made PKGINFOs and PKGBUILD scripts for software which is not included in the official repositories and is inspired by the Arch User Repository.
8. Artix Linux
Artix Linux is a rolling-release distribution based on Arch Linux that uses OpenRC, runit or s6 init instead of systemd.
Artix Linux has its own package repositories but as a pacman-based distribution, it can use packages from Arch Linux repositories or any other derivative distribution, even packages explicitly depending on systemd. The Arch User Repository (AUR) can also be used.
9. BlackArch Linux
BlackArch is a penetration testing distribution based on Arch Linux that provides a large amount of cyber security tools. It is specially created for penetration testers and security researchers. The repository contains more than 2400 hacking and pen-testing tools that can be installed individually or in groups. BlackArch Linux is compatible with existing Arch Linux packages.
Want real Arch Linux? Simplify the installation with graphical Arch installer
If you want to use the actual Arch Linux but you are not comfortable with the difficult installation, fortunately you can download an Arch Linux iso baked with a graphical installer.
An Arch installer is basically Arch Linux ISO with a relatively easy to use text-based installer. It is much easier than bare-bone Arch installation.
The Anarchy installer intends to provide both novice and experienced Linux users a simple and pain free way to install Arch Linux. Install when you want it, where you want it, and however you want it. That is the Anarchy philosophy.
Once you boot up the installer, you’ll be shown a simple TUI menu, listing all the available installer options.
The Zen Installer provides a full graphical (point and click) environment for installing Arch Linux. It provides support for installing multiple desktop environments, AUR, and all of the power and flexiblity of Arch Linux with the ease of a graphical installer.
The ISO will boot the live environment, and then download the most current stable version of the installer after you connect to the internet. So, you will always get the newest installer with updated features.
An Arch-based distribution is always an excellent hassle-free choice for the many users, but a graphical installer like Anarchy is at least a step closer to how Arch Linux truly tastes.
In my opinion the real beauty of Arch Linux is its installation process and for a Linux enthusiast is an opportunity to learn rather than a hassle. Arch Linux and its derivatives has a lot for you mess up with, but It’s FOSS will unravel the mystery behind the scenes. See you at my next tutorial!