Operating Systems


New Distro Makes Running Arch Linux Very ‘Cachy’

CachyOS is more than just a fun name to grab potential users’ attention.

It reflects an effort to do what most Arch Linux distributions fail to achieve. It tries to turn its parent base into a beginner-friendly operating system that also satisfies the needs of seasoned Linux users.

First appearing on July 3, 2021, this still-young newcomer has a way to go before fully reaching its goal. However, it is off to a solid start competing against a few other now more seasoned Arch distros trying to do the same thing.

Making Arch Linux easier to use is a challenging endeavor. Other Linux developers have tried, and LinuxInsider tested some of the leading contenders in recent years. Check out the pros and cons of Arch Linux made easy distros such as Garuda Linux, RebornOS, and EndeavourOS.

Two things make traditional Arch Linux systems challenging for new users. One is the installation process. The second is configuring the settings to maintain the OS. If you want easier-to-use Linux, typical users forgo Arch in favor of other architectures such as Debian, RedHat, Suse, Fedora, and Ubuntu.

Once you get beyond installing and configuring Arch Linux, using the warehouse of applications stockpiled in Arch repositories bears little difference to how the same desktop design works in other distros. In that regard, Linux is Linux is Linux…

That said, CachyOS delivers fast and stable performance, which shouts volumes about its potential, given its relatively young age. It offers some significant features that could make it a more suitable distro choice for those wanting to experience Arch Linux.

What’s Inside

CachyOS focuses significantly on performance, customization, and ease of use. These three factors warrant consideration for trying it because that combination is not often found together in most Arch Linux variations.

Much of the credit goes to its optimized desktop packages, improved security, and performance enhancements that make CachyOS stand apart from other “easier” Arch options goes to strategic Linux kernel tweaking.

For instance, the advanced BORE (Burst-Oriented Response Enhancer) CPU Scheduler and a variety of options include CFS, PDS, BMQ, and TT kernel customizations.

In simpler terms, CachyOS tweaks all kernels by compiling with optimized x86-64-v3 and x86-64-v4 instructions and link-time optimizations (LTO) for optimal speed, reliability, security flags, and performance improvements.

CachyOS displayed on dual monitors

Dual monitors do not always play nicely in Linux. CachyOS masters the experience right out of the box.

Arch distros update via rolling releases. This feature is a mandatory part of the architecture. Rolling releases are not a universal approach in non-Arch Linux families, which means system software and application packages are often refreshed in Arch-based OSes. That can lead to digital breakdowns and massive maintenance fixes. CachyOS has a good track record for remaining stable amid the digital update floods.

All of this tech talk may be head-spinning for casual Linux users, but it helps to differentiate what CachyOS developers do that other Arch Linux makers do not.

Too Much To Consider

An attraction CachyOS offers is the variety of popular desktop environments. As a new distro, letting users select desktops from among KDE, GNOME, XFCE, i3, bspwm, LXQT, Openbox, Wayfire, and Cutefish is rare.

You can choose your preferred environment during the online installation process or by downloading a specific ISO file to install without the aid of the internet.

I chose the GNOME desktop option for testing this new distro because it is one of my least-favorite desktops in the collection. I wanted to be really impressed by CachyOS’ uniqueness without influence from a more favorite desktop.

I was pleasantly pleased with Gnome’s integration here. Its elegant, user-friendly, and contemporary design has a clean and attractive look.

CachyOS GNOME desktop

CachyOS is an Arch distro designed to be unconventional. Its GNOME desktop offers a solid computing experience in a simple presentation.

You can also choose two installer types. For Linux (or even just Arch) newcomers, the user-friendly GUI version based on the Calamares installer simplifies the process. For more advanced users, a better choice might be to use the streamlined command line interface (CLI)-based option for a satisfying non-graphical installation experience.

This included desktop wonderland might be overpowering, especially for inexperienced Linux users. The wide range of environments presents something for everybody. However, unless you have favorites, some of the desktop options are non-traditional and somewhat experimental.

CachyOS Installation Insights

As already noted, you can choose from either an offline (via ISO file download) or online installation (via the internet). The latter downloads the latest packages and is similar to a regular Arch install that eliminates the need to update the newly-installed installation.

I initially had no trouble running the ISO from a DVD to check out CachyOS in a live session. The live session does not make any changes to the host computer’s hard drive or existing OSes.

But this option did not work when I tried to install the OS on a virtual machine. Usually, the VM reads the installation code from the ISO file to complete the virtual installation. The live session also lets you load (in this case) CachyOS virtually to test out the OS before running the included Calamares installer.

Installing directly to the computer’s hard drive instead of the virtual drive worked fine. But attempts to run this distro on virtual machines on any of my numerous test PC failed.

Other CachyOS Goodies

Making Arch easier to use mainly entails modifying the system files that control user options. Sometimes it also involves adapting established applications. That is known as forking the code.

For example, the default Cachy-Browser is a fork of Firefox with more security and enhanced performance. It comes with patches from the Librewolf browser, a customized independent version of Firefox with a focus on privacy, security, and user freedom.

One of Arch’s big bugaboos is the package management system; Pacman. Pure Arch relies on terminal commands, and Pacman has a GUI app that simplifies the process.

This utility shows the proposed packages ready for updating. Just check and uncheck selected packages.

KISS Principle in Action

One awesome feature the devs built into CachyOS is an easy way to maximize tiling. All it takes is one tick of the toggle in the welcome screen display. Now that is Keeping It Simple, Stupid.

The Cachy welcome screen is sort of a mini settings panel and a handy way to enable system-specific settings and change application and kernel configurations.

The tiling option there gives you an added desktop element found in the i3 desktop environment — i3 is a tiling window manager entirely written from scratch.

Bottom Line

CachyOS is well-planned and better executed than many other Arch wanna-be distros. It even supports Nvidia graphics cards out-of-the-box.

Clearly, other Linux options are more suitable for less-experienced users. Even more seasoned Linux practitioners do not need the added security layers and fuzziness that Arch requires.

But that is the beauty of the Linux OS. It is not one thing for all users. Rather, it is the ability to customize, personalize, and engage in operational challenges.

CachyOS lets you have Linux your way much more simply, with some computing experiences not available in other family distributions.

Suggest a Review

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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