Garuda Linux on the X1 Carbon
Perhaps I have been drinking the Canonical Kool-Aid for far too long or maybe it was just because I have had too many years working with Debian before Ubuntu which makes it hard for me to switch to a non-derivative distro on my main workstation. There’s something to be said about familiarity and just in general being able to do things “intuitively”. So when I discovered this amazing distro called Garuda Linux and even though I have already been familiarized with vanilla Arch running on some of my side workstations for years, I was a bit reluctant to switch my daily driver to it.
However, since I have had a System 76 Lemur Pro as my daily driver for close to a year now, My 6th gen Lenovo X1 Carbon has become my secondary mobile workstation that was due for a clean up. So I took the opportunity to finally give Garuda a real run for its money and this time, I decided to go with the Gnome variant because no matter how many times I tried to give KDE or the other DEs a try, I somehow always end up coming back to Gnome.
There are plenty out there covering why Garuda is amazing but let me try to summarize my own perspective in the quickest way possible:
- Everything just WORKS right out of the box!
- Defaults are already extremely pleasing to the eyes… just look at the screenshot straight from their website:
- A lot of default DE configs that I normally have to configure myself
- A super easy to install Arch derivative
- Blazing fast for the same reasons why Arch is fast on most systems
- Performs well even on older machines just like Arch (lighter DEs available)
- Defaults to a “desktop optimized” zen kernel
- BTRFS is the default filesystem with zstd compression
- Automatic snapshots out of the box using Timeshift
- A long list of GUI tools which I don’t personally care about but great for beginners
- Defaults to fish shell which I think is also great for beginners but I haven’t decided whether it’s for me or not and I can always change it pretty easily
The whole entire installation process was graphical and very refined. I didn’t time the installation process but I only took a few minutes to select/input the basics (ie. language, keyboard layout, timezone, and user account details) and chose the “replace partition” and “encrypt” options and then clicked install. I then walked away to make some coffee and it was done by the time I came back. Then I booted right into a shiny new Gnome Desktop pre-configured looking just like the above screenshot. I mean, what other distro can you get a system installed with btrfs and automatic timeshift snapshots so easily? The experience was definitely a 10 out of 10.
Everything and I mean everything really just worked right out of the box. Maneuvering around the Gnome desktop environment was also snappier than ever before on this machine. Gnome Tweaks was installed by default, SD cards/usb devices auto-mounted and showed up on the dock, wifi and bluetooth just worked, and most importantly, audio was sounding better than before. I also noticed that there are a lot of bloat in Gnome that was not pre-bundled which is nice cause then I get to choose what I want rather than letting someone else pre-bloat my system with stuff that I don’t need which degrades performance. Perhaps the only thing I didn’t like was the pre-installed “Unite” and “NoAnnoyance V2” (auto switch focus to a window) gnome extensions which I turned off.
I then proceeded to add some of my own customization and installed the apps I needed. Within just an hour or so, I already had a usable basic setup to start work. What’s really interesting is that I didn’t even need to install any AUR helpers to get all the apps I needed installed. Pacman did it all and had pre-configured AURS to cover pretty much anything you can think of. That of course translates to the “Add/Remove Software” is capable to do the same for those who prefer the GUI. What an incredible experience it was. I don’t think I have ever setup a system to this stage in such a short amount of time. Kudos to the Garuda team for making such great decisions on the whats and hows on this distro and having put together such a buttery smooth experience for all of us. This is definitely a distro I will recommend to both newbies and old timers from now on.
If you are interested to see what customization I have done after installing Garuda Linux on the X1 Carbon, check out my next post: