First look at Crystal Linux, an Arch Linux-based distro focused on ease-of-use and user-friendliness


Today I’m introducing Crystal Linux, an Arch Linux-based distribution focused on out-of-the-box ease-of-use, usability, and accessibility for those who want to use Arch Linux.

Meet Crystal Linux, a budding Arch Linux-based distro that just like EndeavourOS and other similar distributions, wants to bring the power, simplicity and flexibility of Arch Linux distribution to the masses, primarily aimed at users who want a great Arch Linux experience with a very easy setup process.

“We’ve realized that many distros are quite ‘conservative’ with the technologies they use, so we aim to create an easy-to-use desktop experience that also uses more modern/less popular Linux technologies. One could call it the Fedora of Arch, bringing new things to the Linux desktop, while being relatively easy to use.

Unlike other Arch Linux based distros, Crystal Linux tries to be unique as it comes with its own built-in installer which allows you to set your time zone, choose a keyboard layout, create a user , set a hostname, partition the disk, and select a default desktop environment or window manager.

Users can choose between GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXQt, Cinnamon, MATE, and Budgie, as well as AwesomeWM, i3, Sway, bspwm, and herbstluftwm tiling window managers. Additionally, the installer provides the option to enable zRAM to create a Swap Compressed Area in RAM.

The Timeshift application can also be installed during installation if you want automatic Btrfs snapshots during package upgrades, as well as an option in the bootloader menu to load the system from old snapshots in case something goes wrong.

The Crystal Linux live ISO comes pre-installed with Onyx, a GNOME desktop environment lightly customized for usability and accessibility. Onyx relies on the Dash to Panel extension to give users a familiar layout with a bottom taskbar and no top bar, along with a few handy add-ons, such as a very useful update notifier.

For gamers, there’s also Caffeine, which disables the screen saver and auto-suspend. Additionally, GSConnect is installed as a full implementation of KDE Connect for GNOME shell which lets you easily manage your mobile devices to share links and files, send and receive messages, sync contacts and notifications, control media players and system volume, and even execute preset commands.

“We ship GNOME and Onyx with Pipewire and Wayland/XWayland, we strongly believe in Flatpak and all of our apps are written with libadwaita. We don’t use ostree directly, but there may be an immutable version of Crystal Linux in the future , using Btrfs snapshots like MicroOS does.

Crystal Linux does not come with many pre-installed applications. In fact, in addition to standard GNOME applications, you will only find MozillaFirefox as the default web browser, as well as text editors based on Vim and Micro terminals. However, the distro comes with built-in support for Flatpak apps.

What also sets Crystal Linux apart from other Arch Linux based distributions is that it comes with its own pacman Arch User Repository (AUR) wrapper and helper called Amethyst(ame), which the developers claim to be the fastest AUR helper to date. Additionally, it offers Malachite (mlc), a simple tool for managing local repositories.

At the time of writing, Crystal Linux is still under heavy development and it does not yet have a stable ISO release. However, if you want to try it out on your personal computer or in a virtual machine, you can download the latest ISO snapshot from the project’s GitHub page.

The first stable release of Crystal Linux is scheduled for November 2022 with even more goodies!

Last updated 3 hours ago


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