AryaLinux is something different, and when it comes to Linux operating systems, different can be very intriguing.

Arya is both a distribution and a platform. That means you can use it as is or turn it into a branded computing system to meet your own specialized needs.

Not all potential users want or need to turn Arya into their own Linux build. However, if you like tinkering or actually can benefit from creating your own computing platform, you can. The end result is a fine-tuned computing platform.

AryaLinux GNOME3 desktop

AryaLinux offers a GNOME3 desktop devoid of any developer skins.

You can build it to your specific needs without the usual hassles involved with building an operating system. Arya includes the specialized tools for this purpose.

Linux is rooted in choices. One of my fascinations with Linux distributions is the opportunity to explore new stuff that it offers. Something new or different pops onto my screen nearly every week.

My latest find is AryaLinux, a GNU/Linux operating system built from source code of the various component packages it contains. It is an independent distribution developed in India by Chandrakant Singh, who released version 2.4 on March 14.

If you are hankering for a plain vanilla Linux system with some unique options, check out AryaLinux. It lacks some of the finesse of more established offerings, but it gives you access to a Linux system that is by nature unique.

Apart From the Crowd

Typically, Linux distributions are built by remastering or modifying some other distribution. Singh built Arya from the source code of packages, libraries and applications publicly available over the Internet.

He used
Linux From Scratch (LFS) and
Beyond Linux From Scratch. His goal was to create something more than just another Linux look-alike operating system.

AryaLinux began as a project to take BLFS to the next level. Singh intended to build a complete Linux distribution out of LFS/BLFS. By building in the option to create a user-specific computing platform from source code, he went well beyond his original mission.

You can download the AryaLinux ISO and run the distro out of the box. The default settings provide a reliable working platform. Like a growing number of modern Linux releases, Arya is available only for 64-bit computers. So this distro is not compatible with any very old 32-bit rigs you might have hanging around.

As with any Linux system, you can alter Arya’s settings easily. You can choose the desktop environment you prefer — GNOME3, Xfce, KDE Plasma or MATE.

AryaLinux KDE Plasma desktop

In addition to GNOME3, AryaLinux comes in plain vanilla versions of KDE Plasma (pictured here), MATE and Xfce desktops.

How It works

If you venture beyond using AryaLinux as is, you can use it to build a complete distribution from source code. Other Linux distros come with a tool to burn a running system to a new ISO file so users can make an exact duplicate of their system, complete with installed software and unique settings. This makes it easy to deploy the exact computing platform on other machines.

That is not what Singh provides with AryaLinux. Instead, it has bash scripts called “build scripts,” which let users create everything from scratch. The process in AryaLinux includes a dependency resolution and script execution framework — AryaLinux Package System, or Alps — to build the whole system from the ground up.

While this process is not complicated, it does take some hands-on experience and an affinity for working from source code. Singh’s approach automates much of that routine with the build scripts, but it is not a quick job. You need to be prepared to let the machine clank away as the scripts do their stuff.

Most applications in AryaLinux are not installed via binary packages. That is a reflection of the building process modeled after Linux From Scratch. That is also why a real package manager is missing from this distro.

Installing from source is a difficult thing to do unless you have some experience developing software or familiarity with Arch-based Linux. Singh made that process easier with the Alps tool. It handles much of the downloading, building, installing and resolving dependencies for applications.

Alps, which existed in earlier version as strictly a command line tool, now has a rudimentary user interface. Alps provides basic package management functionality like installing and upgrading applications. However, it does not uninstall applications as far as I can tell, at least not easily.

What’s Inside

This latest AryaLinux release introduces a user interface for Alps that resembles the Synaptic Package Manager. This is new, so it has some glitches that need fixing. When I tried it, the cursor sometimes would stop scrolling. The same happened when using the arrows keys to navigate through Alps lists.

Sometimes the problem cleared up. Other times I had to close the Alps window and start over.

To clarify, the Alps application technically is not a fully functional package manager. It makes the whole process of system building from source much easier.

All software packaged with AryaLinux is available publicly, and AryaLinux scripts and other tools can be downloaded from the
bitbucket repository. The distro comes with a binary application installer you can use with binary packages you download.

Upgrades in Place

AryaLinux version 2.4 includes some of the latest components under the hood. For instance, it uses Linux kernel 5.5.8. Not bad since version 5.5.10 became available on March 18.

Package updates and upgrades are fairly current, too. For example, LibreOffice was updated to version in this distro release. The ISO with the GNOME desktop includes the latest version 3.35.

I was impressed with the KDE Plasma ISO. It has the latest KDE Plasma version 5.18.1. I have not found many distros running this ultimate version of KDE yet. That can be said for the GNOME edition as well.

In fact. nearly all of the packages are the latest or at least nearly current releases. The few that are not updated yet no doubt are held up due to backward compatibility or general stability concerns.

AryaLinux is not yet an actual rolling release distribution, but the developer is going in that direction.

Bottom Line

AryaLinux focuses on the skill sets of advanced Linux users. This user class generally prefers to decide what to put on a system. These users also want to curate their own software.

The other prominent appeal of this distro is its derivative roots. It is not remastered or forked from any other Linux project. It is a unique Linux computing platform. It comes with the added feature of being a springboard to creating your own distro spin.

AryaLinux needs at least 20 GB of local storage for the system partition, as well as (for 2 GB of RAM or less) a swap partition of at least 2 GB, which also is used for hibernation mode.

It is available in separate ISOs for each desktop flavor. The ISOs provide live sessions that run reasonably well for testing from a DVD or within a Virtualbox. You will not find a desktop icon to install this distro, however. Instead, search for installer in the menu to have that tool pop up.

Want to 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 Linux Picks and Pans column.

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

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 has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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