A little distro with big ambitions

This friendly Arch Linux distro focuses on usability and modern hardware, making it particularly appealing to keen gamers.

Traditionally, Garuda is a giant bird or bird-like being who appears in several Asian mythologies and is a cultural and national symbol in several countries. By contrast, Garuda Linux [1], from India, is a relatively new Linux distribution with an emphasis on efficiency, ease of use, aesthetics, and gaming, as well as a growing name for originality among distributions. Recently, Shrinivas Kumbhar, the lead founder, agreed to talk about the distribution and where it is going.

Kumbhar was introduced to free software in junior college when he attended a seminar on ethical hacking. A few years later, he experimented briefly with Remix OS and tried to install Kali Linux. However, when he managed to install Kali, he says, “I couldn’t figure out anything. So my hunt for a friendly beginning distro began and I installed Linux Mint. But due to its outdated look and outdated software, I got rid of it. I installed Ubuntu and the same thing happened, and so my distro hopping journey began.” Interested in gaming, he tried SparkyLinux but was disappointed in its reliance on Debian and Openbox. In the end, Kumbhar settled on Manjaro and discovered its Arch User Repository, as well as KDE Plasma. His first effort at a distro was a Manjaro spin he named manjarowish. When he decided to use Arch Linux’s repositories directly, he also renamed the project Garuda, “and ported some awesome tools from Manjaro and various other distros like MX Linux.”

Today, Garuda is a loose organization of enthusiasts who share a common core of code while developing their own spins and own aesthetics. For example, the Dr460nized spin features a blurred, dark desktop wallpaper very different from the staid default look in most distributions (Figure 1). Currently, nine spins are listed on the website, varying from traditional desktops such as Gnome, Xfce, and KDE Plasma to lightweight interfaces such as IceWM and tiled desktops such as bspwm and Qtile. The spins also run the range from Garuda Sway, a Wayland version designed for beginners, to Garuda Linux Barebones, which is designed for advanced users. Kumbhar explains, “While every maintainer is free to implement ideas as he wishes, our shared code is discussed within the team (and sometimes in the community as well to gauge interest) and implemented if an overall good solution has been found. The mixture of younger people with partly crazy ideas combined with an overall very experienced selection of long-time Linux users is what shapes Garuda’s appearance and codebase. That being said, we are still in the process of getting everyone involved with the team. We trust each other with decisions, but there is always something new to learn, which is really great.”


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