NyArch Linux is the cutest distribution for fans of anime and manga

If you love Japanese pop culture and Linux, you should check out NyArch.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The default NyArch Linux desktop.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • NyArch Linux is cuteness overload in the form of an open-source operating system and is available now for free.
  • NyArch Linux offers plenty of customizations to level up your kawaii as well as a full slate of GNOME applications.
  • It's not the most stable Linux distribution I've ever used.

NyArch Linux is an operating system made especially for those who love Japanese culture, especially pop culture… more specifically, manga and anime. I spent many years watching anime and reading manga and although it's been a while, I still dive in now and then and watch a random anime to either reconnect to memories of grad school or just enjoy some seriously good animation and storytelling.

But having an anime/mange-inspired Linux distribution? That sounds like fun.

It is.

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At its heart, NyArch Linux is Arch Linux with the GNOME desktop. That, combined with its ease of installation should make this appealing to many. But then you add the adorable kawaii-ness of it all and the distribution has a lot to offer. 

Just don't take it too seriously.

Although at home or at school, NyArch makes for a lot of fun, this probably isn't the Linux distribution you'd use in the office. But business environments aren't the target audience for NyArch. This is all about cuteness overload and an operating system that reminds you to enjoy the cat-loving, cute-craving side of you.

That doesn't mean NyArch is something to be teased or mocked. It is Linux, which means it can be and do anything. On top of that, it's Arch Linux, so it's rock solid, secure, and customizable.

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NyArch also has a few fun tricks up its sleeve, such as the ability to choose from six different desktop layouts (bottom panel, standard GNOME, top panel with menu, top panel with menu and dock, top panel with dock, top panel with left dock) and a theming tool that includes animations like two of my favs, Wobbly Windows and Desktop Cube.

The NyArch theming customization window.

Customizing NyArch is done with layouts and themes.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

One customization that should be pointed out is Material UwU. This is a GNOME extension that uses your chosen wallpaper to automatically theme your system. It's very much like what Google did with Android and Material You and it works really well. Select a new wallpaper image and the theme adjusts accordingly. There are even two applications that will download a random anime/manga-inspired (based on waifu and kemonomimi characters) image for your wallpaper.

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The default application list includes Firefox, the standard GNOME apps (Files, Weather, Videos, Calculator, Terminal, Text Editor, etc.), Geary, Lillypop (music player), Chromium, Extension Manager, Flatseal (flatpak permissions manager).

There's also Komikku, an app that makes it easy to download and read various manga titles from numerous sources. 

The Komikku app in NyArch Linux.

If Manga is your jam, NyArch has you covered.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The only app missing from NyArch is an office suite, but you can install LibreOffice from the Packages app. 

I will say that all was not totally umai with NyArch. I had a number of applications crash on me (such as Packages) which made it a challenge to work with. Because of that, I wound up having to install applications from the command line (such as sudo pacman -Syu libreoffice). I was willing to overlook this, considering NyArch isn't developed by a team of developers and because I know how to get around its shortcomings. However, for those who might not have the skills to deal with a Linux distribution that might not perform up to the expectations offered by the OS it was based on, NyArch might be a bit too challenging. 

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Keep in mind, however, that I tested NyArch using a VirtualBox virtual machine. It very well could be the issues I experienced were brought about by the distribution not running on a machine of its own (aka "bare metal").

If you're concerned about such issues, there's always NyArcher, which is a shell script to install the NyArch Customizations. You can use NyArcher on Arch, Fedora, and even Ubuntu distributions. 

NyArcher works like this:

Arch Linux

  • sudo pacman -S curl python3-pip flatpak svn gnome-menus kitty wget git neofetch npm nodejs btop gnome-menus gnome-shell-extensions
  • sudo pacman -S python-pywal


  • sudo dnf install curl flatpak python3-pip svn gnome-menus kitty wget git neofetch npm nodejs btop gnome-menus gnome-extensions-app
  • sudo pip3 install pywal
  • sudo cp /usr/local/bin/wal /usr/bin/wal


  • sudo apt install curl python3-pip flatpak subversion gnome-menus kitty wget git neofetch npm nodejs btop gnome-menus gnome-shell-extension-prefs
  • sudo pip3 install pywal

Understand that, when using the script, you won't get the full NyArch experience.

From my perspective, NyArch is a lot of fun to experience. Would I ever use it as my go-to distribution? No. Is it worth giving a try? It certainly is. If you're looking for a bit of cute overload, give this take on Arch Linux a try and see if it doesn't have you randomly smile as you go about your day.

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