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Manjaro Linux Review: ‘Arch Linux for Human Beings’ Provides Rolling Release for Every User

Manjaro 20.0 Lysia has been released lately. In this article, I’ll take a look at the features of Manjaro Linux in general, discuss why people like Manjaro and compare the performance of Cinnamon desktop with Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon edition.

Manjaro Linux: Why so popular?

Manjaro Wallpaper
Image Source

To every stereotype there is some element of truth. One of the main reasons that Manjaro is so popular has to do with its roots. Manjaro is based on Arch Linux and inherits many elements of Arch Linux but it is a very distinct project.

Unlike Arch Linux, almost everything is pre-configured in Manjaro. This makes it one of the most user-friendly Arch-based distributions. A lot of new users get attracted to this idea and I can’t blame them.

Will Manjaro then can be the new Ubuntu for a new comer? My answer is Yes!

Ubuntu and Canonical will always have my utmost respect as it has a huge success on making Linux easily accessible to newcomers.

Just as Ubuntu made “Linux for human beings”, Manjaro made “Arch Linux for human beings”.

But his doesn’t mean Manjaro is a Linux distribution for beginners only. Manjaro can be suitable for both and experienced users.

Let me go over some of the main features of Manjaro.

Easy installation

Installing Arch Linux can be a nightmare for many users. On the other hand, installing Manjaro Linux is easier thanks to the Calamares graphical installer.

disk partition while installing Manjaro Linux
Manjaro Linux graphical installer

If you want to take control in your own hands, you can use Manjaro Architect. It provides a terminal-based installer. It is still easier than installing directly through commands.

Manjaro Architect

Desktop environments and Window Managers of your choice

Officially Manjaro Linux supports Xfce desktop as the default choice. The Xfce in Manjaro looks good thanks to the customization. Manjaro also offers GNOME and KDE Plasma variants.

If that is not enough, Manjaro community maintains Awesome, Bspwm, Budgie, Cinnamon, i3, LXDE, LXQt, MATE and Openbox.

Choose desktop environment while installing Manjaro Linux with Manjaro Architect
Desktop flavors available via Manjaro Architect

X86 architecture is not a limitation for Manjaro

You are not limited to X86 architecture with Manjaro as it is ARM architecture friendly.

Images for PineBook Pro, Raspberry Pi, Rock Pi 4, Rock Pro 64, Khadas Vim 1 & 3 and other single board computers are available in Xfce and KDE Plasma flavors.

Rolling release but not rolling blindly

Manjaro is a stable bleeding edge rolling release and is claimed to be more tested than Arch Linux because it performs some additional testing before releasing the updates.

Manjaro Linux rolling release testing flow

New hardware? One click and it’s done.

Manjaro comes with a hardware detection tool known as MHWD. If you need drivers for your hardware, just open it, click on “Auto Install” and wait until it’s finished. That’s it.

Hardware Detection
Manjaro hardware configuration GUI tool

Ease to switch Linux kernels.

Power-users and people who need special features of the Linux Kernel that don’t come with the default one, can just switch to a different Kernel with one click.

  • RT-Kernel (Real Time) is suitable for a multimedia user and for applications real time features.
  • LTS kernel is the way to go if stability your priority.
  • Latest kernel has the latest features and supports the latest hardware. Did you get a recently introduced to the market graphics card? The newest kernel is for you.
Manjaro Kernel Switch
Manjaro kernel GUI switch

Manjaro supports multiple installed Kernels at the same time. Just re-boot your system and make your selection in the boot menu.

Access to the massive Arch User Repository (AUR)

What doesn’t work so well with Ubuntu-based distributions is managing Personal Package Archives (PPAs). A PPA is a repository for a single or several applications, usually from an independent developer.

Managing PPAs can become troublesome. They should be purged as they can become abandoned and orphaned without notice. You need to reinstate them if you reinstall Ubuntu.

If you use Manjaro, you also have access to the Arch User Repository (AUR). The AUR is probably the largest repository catering for any distribution. It’s certainly stocked with the freshest produce.

Snap and Flatpack support in the Pamac software manager

Snap Apps in Pamac
Snap applications in Pamac

Pamac 9.4 series has enabled Snap and Flatpak support by default. You can now install snaps or flatpaks with Pamac in GUI or terminal and access an even larger selection of the Linux applications.

Global set of mirrors

No-matter your location Manjaro has a great number of servers which is known as mirrors and you can choose the closest available.

Top tip!

If you are a frequent traveler all you have to do is to open the terminal and run the following command:

sudo pacman-mirrors –geoip && sudo pacman -Syyu

This simple command will ping a list of mirrors for your country only, rating each one and reordering the list so the faster mirrors are at the top. Don’t forget to run the command once you get back home!

ZFS filesystem support

As mentioned previously, command line interface installer is called Manjaro Architect and if you are an experienced user there is a guide to follow. You can use ZFS filesystem as root in Manjaro 20.0 Lysia Architect.

Performance comparison of Manjaro 19 Cinnamon with Linux Mint 19.3 Cinnamon

I am not an expert on performance comparison and other low-level stuff. So, please forgive me if you dislike this comparison.

Manjaro feels snappier than Ubuntu and its derivatives. So, what can explain the speed benefits?
A possible explanation could be the RAM and active tasks usage on idle.

Here are the stats for idle Manjaro Cinnamon. The idle memory usage is 577 MB.

htop Manjaro Cinnamon
htop running on Manjaro 19.0.2 – Cinnamon 4.4.8

Here are the stats for an idle Linux Mint Cinnamon. The idle memory usage is 656 MB.

htop Mint
htop running on Linux Mint 19.3 – Cinnamon 4.4.8

By running the below command you can check the running services in Linux:

systemctl list-unit-files --state=enabled --no-pager

The results on Manjaro:

Manjaro enabled services
Manjaro running services

The results on Linux Mint:

Mint Cinnamon running services
Linux Mint running services

Each of these services consume system resources, and more specifically system memory and kernel time.

Conclusion

Manjaro takes most of the risk out of the rolling model by delaying the release of new applications and features for several weeks. The rolling distribution, out-of-the-box Arch experience will win you over.

  • No-hassle experience
  • Kernel management
  • Superior packaging system
  • Excellent hardware detection
  • Fast & responsive

Let me know your thoughts on Manjaro on the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly Linux newsletter.

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  • Manjaro when comparing to MX Linux and MS Windows has more bugs on relatively new HW. I am quite unhappy about the number of bugs and no signs from developers to fix it. Part of the burden goes on Arch Linux i think. I had no opportunity to try Debian yet, which is next big distribution said to have latest SW, HW support.

  • Olá Pessoal!
    Usei o Windows por mais de 15 anos, más, devido a falta de privacidade criada pela Microsoft, resolvi e mudei para linux, testei algumas Distribuições como Zorin-os e Linux Mint, porém, ainda não me acostumei com a demora na inicialização do sistema linux- mint.
    verifiquei e desabilitei alguns aplicativos que iniciam com o sistema, porém, ainda está muito lento em comparação ao windows, peço vos, caso queiram, uma orientação.
    Obrigado e Ótima semana a todos.

  • I also recently had problems with manjaro updates. Manjaro 21 installed fine. Once you upgrade the whole linux system broke and nothing worked. I have to manually restart the PC. Then I would recieve a message: System broken unable to recover etc.

    • I had the same issue and the experts on the forum were rude and condescending rather than helpful.

  • I moved to manjaro for stability.

    I used ubuntu and after issues with the unity desktop moved to xubuntu. The main issue I have had with ubuntu is that when I do a release upgrade it normally fails in some way shape or form both for LTS upgrades and point upgrades.

    Since I run 3 desktops, and a couple of laptops and media server, my first trial was arch on a 4k laptop, total nightmare to install with a tiny font. Then I borrowed another machine and installed manjaro easy and ran it for 6 months to see if there were any issues, there were NO issues.

    Why arch does not have a text based install like openbsd (my favorite quick and simple) is a misery to me.

    Since then I have moved 3 desktops and a laptop over to manjaro. There was one issue with swap file usage on my primary desktop.

    I go multi monitor have 4 workspaces and 4 different sets of work in each workspace a dev work space, an email an browsing space and a couple of other projects and often have 40 tabs open in my browsers in a few of the works paces. The machine only has 16GB, and I need to get one with more memory.

    The issue was with too much going into swap. I went with 5.10 and I had done quite a bit of tuning of the swap parameters with the earlier kernels.

    I have an Intel Nuc which has a hardware issue with multi monitor that makes it go back to mirrored, I had the same issue with xUbuntu.

    Arch is a much better distro that Ubuntu for experienced users.

    Manjaro, for me is more stable especially has it is regularly putting out the equivalent of Ubuntu release upgrades with no issues. Ubuntu release upgrades are a big deal because they are occasional. Manjaro, they are just regular updates and just work.

    The ultimate test is how badly it goes wrong when you do a big update with a full disk.

    I have a machine that gets CCtv ftped into it from a couple of cameras, and I did not check before doing large update circa 1gig of files which failed in the middle of the update because it ran out of space.

    I cleared out some space, re ran the update and it all worked. The only issue on that machine was a false detection of the 5.8 kernel which had already been removed and just showed that it was trying to add it to grub when it was not there. It was easily solved and everything just worked all the time.

    In summary if you are going to run a distro for a decade, my experience is that manjaro after 3 years is much more stable than going through the distro update process with ubuntu, and you get to use the latest version of everything with no efforts and access to really obscure things in the AUR repository.