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An Arch-Based Linux Distro Built for Speed and Beauty

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JT McGinty
2022-01-22 12:30:42

Garuda Linux is an Arch-based distribution that makes Linux installation and setup easy while maintaining the stripped-down, high-performance OS model that Arch is known for. Of all the Linux distros that strive to make it easier to install Arch, Garuda is quite possibly the one that comes closest to the spirit and intent of its upstream parent.

Garuda is the perfect distribution for those who want absolute, granular control over what is installed on their system but don’t have the time or technical knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the notoriously complex installation procedure of Arch Linux.

Where to Get Garuda Linux

You can download all supported versions—and there are quite a few—of Garuda Linux from the official Garuda Linux website.

Download: Garuda Linux

There are two ways to download a Garuda installation image. On the downloads page, you will see a link to the appropriately named Garuda Downloader.

The downloader is a small program that lets you choose which flavor of Garuda Linux you want. Then, it’ll automatically download the ISO for you, and run an appropriate live USB/DVD creation utility. This is probably going to be the easiest way for novice users to start with Garuda.

For the more seasoned Linux user, there are direct downloads available for all of the supported versions of Garuda. Simply take your pick, download, and create a live USB or DVD from the ISO image.


You can download a version of Garuda Linux preconfigured to run just about any available Linux desktop environment including GNOME, KDE Plasma, XFCE, Wayfire, bspwm, i3wm, and more.

The flagship version of this powerful and undeniably sleek distro comes with KDE Plasma sporting a dark, neon-colored theme bearing a resemblance to macOS.

garuda linux splash screen

To begin, restart your computer and boot from the installation media you’ve created to start the Garuda Linux live system. If it asks you for login information, both the username and password will be garuda.

How to Install Garuda Linux

garuda live welcome

When the live system loads, you’ll notice an install icon in the upper left corner of the screen. Also, the Garuda Linux welcome app will automatically open.

The live system is quite limited in what it can do when compared to a fully installed system. Taking a few moments to look through the links and settings in the welcome app will, however, give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect from Garuda.

To begin the installation process, simply click on the Install Garuda Linux icon. The installer will open and ask you for the language you would like to use, your location, the hard drive partition scheme that you prefer, and whether or not you would like to encrypt your hard drive.

garuda linux installer

Provide your answers and, within a few moments, the installer will begin setting up Garuda Linux on your hard drive.

For a successful installation, you’ll need to have a 64-bit machine with at least 4GB of RAM, a video card that supports OpenGL 3.3 or newer, and 30GB of free hard drive space. Since Garuda installs almost nothing without your approval, the installation of the base system will be notably faster than most other distros.

Related: The Best Arch-Based Linux Distributions

Garuda Linux Post Installation

When the base installation completes and your system starts for the first time, you’ll be asked if you would like to open the setup assistant. While it is not absolutely necessary that you use the setup assistant, you are highly encouraged to do so.

Garuda Linux post install dialog

Unlike most other Linux distributions, when Garuda starts up for the first time, there will be almost no applications installed. This is right in line with the Arch Linux principle that nothing should be installed on your system unless you put it there.

The first thing the assistant will ask you to do is update the system. This process will download and install all available updates, bringing everything on your system up to the most recent version. Unless you have a very specific reason for skipping it, you should answer Yes and allow the update process to run.

garuda assistant update system

After updating the system, the assistant will walk you through the process of installing some of the most common software applications. Choosing your software will likely take a few minutes as the post-installation wizard takes you through 17 different categories of choices.

This may seem excessive, but it demonstrates a great deal of importance placed on not making assumptions and letting you choose exactly what you want to install.

Garuda post install browsers

The following is an abbreviated list of some of the software that the post-install wizard will help you install:

  • Software centers: GNOME Software, KDE Discover, Octopi, Pamac
  • Office application suites: LibreOffice, FreeOffice, Calligra Suite
  • Web browsers: 14 browsers including Firefox, LibreWolf, Chrome, Tor, Brave
  • Email clients: Thunderbird, Evolution, KMail
  • Communications: Telegram, Discord, Twitch, Zoom, Slack
  • Graphics: GIMP, Blender, darktable, digiKam
  • Development: VS Code, PyCharm, GNU Emacs, Docker
  • Virtualization: VirtualBox, GNOME Boxes, Anbox

Installing any of the software is as easy as selecting checkboxes and clicking Ok. When you reach the end of the wizard, a terminal window will open, ask for your password, and install everything you selected.

Features of Garuda Linux

Garuda Linux is designed to be easy to use while still providing a powerful and fast environment with a strong emphasis on audio-visual appeal. From the moment the desktop loads, it is obvious that the distro’s developers have gone out of their way to make the desktop environment beautiful and the user experience intuitive.

Garuda desktop menu

The default Garuda desktop includes a dock at the bottom-center of the screen for your most commonly used apps and a full system application launcher in the top-left corner of the screen.

There is a small static panel across the top of the screen that displays the time, system tray icons, and session options. The application menu for any open and active window is also displayed on the left side of this panel.

Automatic System Snapshots

To make your system more resilient against possible problems caused by updates or conflicting packages, Garuda employs Snapper to take snapshots of the system before any major update or app installation. If something goes wrong, you can use the snapshot(s) to roll everything back to a working state.

Rolling Release Model

Garuda follows the rolling release model of software distribution. Once you install Garuda, each time you run a software update the system will automatically update itself to the latest available version.

Unlike most other Linux distros, you will never have to run a special upgrade process to go from one major version to another. This simplifies the update/upgrade process considerably.

Installed Garuda Linux? The Rest Is Up to You

With the base Garuda system installed, what comes next is completely up to you. There are virtually unlimited configuration options. From the look and feel to the software running under the hood, you are in charge of everything.

As you learn more about Garuda and Arch Linux, you won’t just use your computer, you will create it.

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