Crystal Linux is the newest Arch-based distribution on the block, and it hopes to offer a new set of features to the end-users. But how is it different from other Arch distributions, like Xero Linux, Garuda Linux, EndeavourOS, and many others available in the market?

Since the distribution market is already saturated, the need of the hour is to try and provide a fresh angle to the available technologies, to make the most out of the current user needs.

Here's everything you need to know about Crystal Linux.

Crystal Linux: The First Look

Crystal Linux is less than a year old, so you should use it cautiously. At first glance, you will notice its similarities with GNOME and Fedora. But the reality is that it consists of stock GNOME with an Arch Linux base, thereby guaranteeing top-notch performance.

After all, you can expect nothing but the best when two of the best elements come together to form an all-new Linux distribution. Given its customizations, this distribution isn’t ideal for beginners.

However, what does it mean for the end-users? It simply implies that installing Arch Linux and its related components will be a little easier. The following points genuinely encompass the essence of Crystal Linux.

Download Crystal Linux ISO

This GNOME- and Arch-based distro is still in the development stage. A new version is expected to be available in November 2022. However, despite the instability progression, a live ISO option is available for users, especially if you want to try out the different variations available.

Download:Crystal Linux

Available Desktop Versions

You can always expect something unique when you have the best of Arch and GNOME in a single distribution. To make the most out of your desktop, you can choose from the following:

  • GNOME
  • KDE Plasma
  • Cinnamon
  • LXQt
  • MATE
  • Budgie

Additionally, you also get access to some tiling managers like the following:

  • AwesomeWM
  • Sway
  • i3
  • herbstluftwm
  • bspwm

Crystal Linux comes with a new desktop, Onyx, which derives its roots from Budgie. Onyx (the newer version) is a customized GNOME desktop equipped with enhanced accessibility and usability.

This Arch-based distribution's developers felt an inherent need to steer away from the old layout and move towards something more aesthetic and user-friendly.

As a Dash to Panel extension, Onyx has no top bar, a bottom taskbar, and a few handy add-ons, which add to the usability quotient of the desktop.

If you're a gamer, you can click on the little coffee icon on the bottom taskbar to activate the Caffeine functionality. This enables/disables the auto-save and screensavers option on your desktop, to enhance your gaming experience.

jade: A Native GUI Installer for Crystal Linux

Unlike most Arch-based Linux distributions, Crystal ships with its native jade GUI installer, comprising all the installation options for first-time users. You can set the time zone, partition type, system name, username, desktop version, and many more things from this installer.

jade is a GTK4/libadwaita and Rust-based GUI installer, which offers a first-hand installation experience, enabling a streamlined approach for the installation.

Additionally, you can set the superuser permissions through the jade installer, which stands out clearly. The entire GUI is neatly structured, seamless, and focuses on what's important for a fluid installation.

One of the things that set this installer apart from its counterparts is the option to choose IPv6 and Timeshift restore. The Timeshift app is quite a unique functionality, which has been preloaded into the installer from the start. This app is your go-to point if you wish to maintain automatic btrfs snapshots on package upgrades.

If anything goes wrong with your installation in the near future, you have an option to restore from an earlier point in time using the Timeshift app. You can use the built-in option from the bootloader menu to restore your system to get it up and running again.

Unfortunately, the partition wizard is still under construction, so don't expect too much from the partition window options within jade. Before the final installation, the installer presents you with a summary of your selected options.

Once satisfied with the settings, you can proceed with the installation. The entire process executes a script in the backend to complete the installation.

Default Applications in Crystal Linux

Unlike some of the more famous Arch-based OSes, you don't get a lot of options in terms of pre-installed applications.

With the default installation, you only get a few essential apps like Firefox for browsing the internet, Vim and Micro as text editors, and GParted for managing the disks.

The distro's developers have provided unending support for Flatpak apps, which comes as a relief, in case you want to download any new applications onto your system.

Like Crystal Linux, there are a few other Linux distributions that have wholeheartedly adopted Flatpak apps.

Package Management in Crystal Linux

Unlike other Arch distributions, Crystal has stepped forward to create its native Pacman wrapper and AUR helper, Amethyst. Amethyst, like Pacman, offers some easy-to-use commands for managing packages on your system.

Amethyst, as per the developers, is faster than the usual Pacman. It's not limited to Crystal only; if you like Amethyst, you can install it easily on any other Arch Linux with the following commands:

sudo pacman -S --needed base-devel pacman-contrib cargo
git clone https://github.com/crystal-linux/pkgbuild.amethyst
cd pkgbuild.amethyst && makepkg -si

Crystal also offers Malachite, another user-friendly tool, for managing repositories on the Linux desktop.

Crystal Linux Performance

Arch Linux is known for its performance, even though it is not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless, GNOME 42 is swift, seamless, and efficient. The animations are quick and there is no lag whatsoever.

The memory footprint is rather low, standing at 530MB in an idle state. The GNOME desktop installation takes up only 3.8GB of disk space, taking the efficiency levels up a notch.

Crystal Linux Is the Newest Arch-Based Distro

Crystal Linux might be the newest Arch distribution, but its varied flavors are quite interesting for users. There is always something new to look forward to when it comes to such distributions.

Like Crystal Linux, there are a few other Linux distributions available in the market, which are quite useful and offer a variety of options, depending on the need of the hour.