CachyOS is more than just a fun name to attract the attention of potential users.

It shows an attempt to do what most Arch Linux distributions fail to achieve. It tries to turn its core premise into a beginner-friendly operating system that also meets the needs of experienced Linux users.

First appearing on July 3, 2021, this newcomer has a ways to go before he fully reaches his goal. However, it’s off to a solid start to compete against some of the other more seasoned Arch distros trying to do the same thing.

Making Arch Linux easy to use is a challenging endeavor. Other Linux developers have tried, and LinuxInsider has tested some of the leading contenders in recent years. See the pros and cons of Arch Linux, along with easier distributions like Garuda Linux, RebornOS, and EndeavorOS.

Two things make traditional Arch Linux systems challenging for new users. There is an installation process. The second is configuring the settings for the OS to maintain. If you want an easy-to-use Linux, typical users eschew 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 stocked in the Arch repositories makes 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 says a lot about its potential considering its relatively young age. It offers some important features that may make it a more suitable distro option for those wanting to experience Arch Linux.

what’s inside

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

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

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

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

CachyOS displayed on dual monitors

Dual monitors don’t always go well in Linux. CachyOS makes mastering the experience right out of the box.

Arch distros update via rolling release. It is an essential part of the feature architecture. Rolling releases are not a universal approach in non-Arch Linux families, meaning that system software and application packages are frequently refreshed in Arch-based OSes. This can reduce digital breakdown and improve maintenance on a large scale. CachyOS has a good track record for staying stable amidst the digital update flood.

All this technical talk can be head-spinning to casual Linux users, but it helps to differentiate what the CacheOS developers do that other Arch Linux makers don’t.

too much to think about

One of the highlights of CachyOS is the variety of popular desktop environments. As a new distro, it’s rare to let users choose a desktop from among KDE, GNOME, XFCE, i3, bspwm, LXQT, Openbox, Wayfire, and Cutefish.

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 with the uniqueness of CachyOS without the influence of more custom desktops.

I was pleased with the integration of GNOME here. Its elegant, user-friendly and contemporary design has a clean and sleek look.

cachios gnome desktop

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

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

The included desktop wonderland can be overwhelming, especially for inexperienced Linux users. The wide range of environments offers something for everyone. However, unless you have a favorite, some desktop options are non-traditional and somewhat experimental.

CachyOS Installation Insights

As already mentioned, you can choose either offline (via ISO file download) or online (via Internet) installation. The latter downloads the latest packages and is similar to a regular Arch install which eliminates the need to update newly installed installations.

Initially I had no problem playing the ISO from a DVD to test out CachyOS in a live session. The live session does not make any changes to the host computer’s hard drive or existing OS.

But this option didn’t work when I tried to install the OS on a virtual machine. Typically, the VM reads the installation code from the ISO file to complete the virtual installation. Live Session lets you load (in this case) CachyOS to test the OS before running the included Calamares installer.

Installing directly to the computer’s hard drive instead of a virtual drive works fine. But attempts to run this distro on virtual machines on several of my test PCs failed.

Other Cacios Gifts

Making Arch easier to use primarily required modifying system files that control user options. Sometimes it also involves adopting established applications. This is known as forking code.

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

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

This utility displays the proposed packages ready for update. Check and uncheck only selected packages.

The Kiss Principle in Action

One cool feature the devs built into CachyOS is an easy way to maximize tiling. One tick of the toggle is needed in the welcome screen display. Now that’s Keeping It Simple, Stupid.

The catchy welcome screen is like a mini settings panel and an easy way to enable system-specific settings and change application and kernel configurations.

The tiling option gives you an added desktop element not found in the i3 desktop environment – i3 is a tiling window manager written completely from scratch.

ground level

CachyOS is well organized and better implemented than many other Arch wanna-be distros out there. It also supports Nvidia graphics cards out-of-the-box.

Clearly, other Linux alternatives are more suitable for less experienced users. Even more experienced Linux practitioners don’t need the extra security layers and fuzziness that Arch required.

But that is the beauty of Linux OS. It’s not a thing for all users. Rather, it is the ability to adapt, personalize and engage with operational challenges.

CachyOS lets you more easily navigate Linux your way, with some computing experiences not available in other family distributions.

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