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What is Manjaro? – A Powerful Arch Derivative

The whole Linux distribution is so big that one can imagine and every moment innovations and experiments are happening. Manjaro is one of them and probably the most user-friendly Arch-based Linux distribution specifically created for Desktop Computers.

Within the Linux community, Arch Linux itself is renowned for being an exceptionally fast, powerful, and lightweight distribution that provides access to the very latest cutting-edge – and bleeding edge – software.

Arch Linux is a fantastic Linux distribution but the main issue is it’s for the advanced users who have prior knowledge of the Linux OS. It’s certainly not a distribution for anyone who doesn’t want to learn about Linux and the commands line interface.

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New users are very unlikely to use Arch mainly because they don’t want the hassle of CLI and that’s why  Manjaro Linux came into the picture, It has all the features and tools of Arch but is very easy to use and even a newcomer easily installs and use the operating system without any issue.

For newcomers, Manjaro provided a user-friendly installer that gives them ready-to-go OS with preinstalled desktop environments to access your desktop easily, Graphical Software Managers to easily install software and update your system, and pre-installed codecs to play multimedia files.

Manjaro has not suddenly jumped into the spotlight but it has gotten there steadily and consistently. The operating system is polished fast and it is supposed to be more dependable than Arch Linux.

So in this post, we tried to find out what are the things that make Manjaro a great choice for power users as well as new users who want to switch from windows, mac, or Ubuntu.

History Of Manjaro:

Philip Müller is a software developer from Germany working on his dream project to create a user-friendly Arch-based OS. He started the project together with Roland, Guillaume, Wlad, and Allesandro back in 2011, and till mid-2013 Manjaro was still in the beta stage.

The first beta version of Manjaro was released on 10th July 2011 and consist of a GUI installer, a Pacman package manager, Pamac (an Open-source widget GTK) for XFCE desktop, and Octopi for Openbox desktop, Manjaro Hardware Detection (MHWD) for detection of free & proprietary video drivers, and system manager for system-wide settings, user management, and graphics driver installation and management.

Initially, in 2012 the GNOME Shell support was dropped but later reinserted as a Cinnamon/GNOME edition as a community edition. In 2017 the GNOME edition was released officially.

At the end of August 2015, the Manjaro team decided to change the year and month labeling system for the Manjaro version scheme instead of numbers. This applies to both the 0.8.x series as well as the new 0.9.x series.

Calamares, An independent distro-agnostic system installer launched with the 15.09 version codenamed Bellatrix and formerly known as 0.9.0 in 2015 with updated packages.

In September 2017, Manjaro discontinued the support for i686 architecture but later in November 2017 a semi-official community project “manjaro32”, based on archlinux32, continued i686 support.

In September 2019, the Manjaro GmbH & Co. KG company was founded. Its FOSS website stated the company was formed ‘… to effectively engage in commercial agreements, form partnerships, and offer professional services.

Now a large team of developers and Manjaro Linux lovers are working with the community to build an amazing Linux distribution full of new surprises.

Official Editions of Manjaro:

There are three official versions available on their website XFCE, KDE Plasma, and GNOME. All these editions are free to use you can download and install these editions according to your need.

XFCE:

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Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

KDE Plasma:


This edition is supported by the Manjaro team and comes with KDE Plasma, a very modern and flexible desktop. KDE Plasma is for people who want a user-friendly and customizable desktop. It is a feature-rich and versatile desktop environment that provides several different styles of the menu to access applications.

GNOME:


This edition is supported by the Manjaro team and comes with a GNOME desktop that breaks from traditional concepts and allows users to focus on their tasks. GNOME is for people who want a very modern and simple desktop that is stable at the same time.

Apart from these three, there are different community editions are available for advanced users. Manjaro Community Editions are maintained by members of the Manjaro community. They offer additional user interfaces over the official releases, including Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, i3, MATE, and Sway.

Budgie uses the GTK desktop environment developed by the Solus project and contributed by Arch Linux, Manjaro, OpenSuse.

Cinnamon is an open-source desktop environment for the X- Windows operating system derives from GNOME 3.

Deepin is a Linux distribution based on Debian’s Stable branch.

i3 is a tiling windows manager designed for X11.

MATE is based on open source and runs on Linux and BSD operating systems.

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Sway is a tiling windows manager and Wayland compositor inspired by i3 and written in C language.

The above-mentioned editions offer ISO with 64-architectures. Only XFCE is supplied with both 64-bit Architecture and 32-bit architecture Manjaro Linux. Right now they dropped support for 32-bit PC.

Most modern PCs after 2007 are supplied with 64-bit architecture. However, if you have an older or lower configuration PC these editions may not work.

Apart from the above Desktop-based editions, Manjaro also provides ARM architecture-based editions. This architecture is supported by small board computers.

For example, Khadas VIM, Odroid N2, Raspberry Pi, Pinebook, and Rock Pro 64. If you want an operating system for any of these single board computers you can go ahead with downloading them from Manjaro.org

System Requirements to Install Manjaro:

Before proceeding with installation on Desktop based computers of Manjaro Linux please make sure your system complies with the Manjaro recommended minimum system requirements.

Minimum system requirements to install and run Manjaro is…

  • One gigabyte (GB) of memory
  • 30 gigabytes (GB) of hard disk space
  • One gigahertz (GHz) processor
  • A high definition (HD) graphics card and monitor for a smoother experience.
  • A broadband internet connection is necessary for download and updates the packages.

Top Seven Features of Manjaro:

The Arch Linux-based distro has some unique features that give the users more uptime than any interruption. So without further delay let’s get started.

Manjaro Software Manager:

In my personal experience, the Manjaro Software Manager has one of the best Graphical User interfaces for a package manager that I’ve used in a long time.

The Manjaro software package manager is slick not only it can enable snap and flatpack but also the support built right into the operating system.

Just a simple switch in the GUI settings menu to enable the snap and flatpacks but you can also enable the Arch user
repository or the AUR.

The AUR is made up of user-created scripts to install applications not packaged for Arch (or in this case Manjaro). Quite a few of the applications in the AUR were either originally packaged for Ubuntu or are pulled directly from Github. The scripts in the AUR then modify the .deb files, so that they can be installed on Manjaro.

I have installed discord, Zoom, and some other software from AUR because these are not available in the official Manjaro’s standard repositories.

There are a lot of proprietary apps in the AUR but if you want say like the bleeding edge version of a package and you don’t want to compile it from source on your own then AUR is the right place.

 Arch Linux Experience without the complexity:

Manjaro is one of the few Linux distributions that are not based on Ubuntu. Instead, it’s built on Arch Linux. Arch is a great distro, but unfortunately, if you want to install it you have to do a lot of work.

You start with a base system and you have to install and set up everything yourself. This can be a real pain if you just want to give Arch a spin or you’re new to Linux.

Manjaro on the other hand take away all the complexity of Arch and give you the same or even better user experience simply and easily.

Manjaro is based on Arch and it provides you with most of the benefits of being an Arch Linux user without all the pain points I’m so confident in Manjaro’s ease of use that I would recommend it for new users who have almost no experience with Linux in the first place.

Like most distros, all you have to do is download the ISO file, write it to a thumb drive, and install it. The Calamares installer is super easy to use just follow the instruction and enjoy.

The Rolling Release Cycle:

The rolling release has its pros and cons depending on who you are and what you like to do but for the average desktop
user, the stable branch of Manjaro is very stable.

As a Ubuntu user in the past, I had to deal with the optional package manager when I’m looking for the current software package.

And there are three options available for me either I could wait for their next release and hope they updated the packages, or I could install the deb/snap packages from the project itself, and the third option is I could go for PPAs (Personal Package Archive).

A PPA is a repo for just a single application or a small group of applications. These app repositories are managed by people other than the distro maintainer.

Every time I wanted to install a piece of software that was not in the official Ubuntu repository, I had to link a new PPA to my system via the terminal. Once it was linked and I had run sudo apt-get update then the program was available for installation.

And I always found that the more PPA’s I had installed on my machine my ubuntu becomes less stable and sometimes becomes less responsive.

Then there’s the security aspect. There have been several times in the past when people have gotten a hold of old and unused PPAs and used them to push out malware.

But when I moved over to Manjaro I didn’t have to worry about PPAs anymore because pretty much every package in the repository and all are the latest stable release.

Manjaro doesn’t support PPA rather than it has an Arch User repository and anyone can contribute and update any software packages, once it is submitted the community is sending the sample for testing and if it’s passed then they push the update in the repositories.

And I prefer this rolling release style because I always want my software updated with the latest version.

Most Advanced Hardware Support:

Although today most of the Linux distributions are supported a wide range of hardware still it can be a pain to get all the hardware working.

Manjaro is by far the best OS in terms of hardware support. It scans your system and detects all the hardware and gives you the options to install the drives in both command prompt and Graphical interface.

The MHWD command-line utility and its companion GUI come in scans your system for available drivers and then can automatically install your preferred version either proprietary or open-source.

I have an Old Nvidia GTX 525 M graphics card and every time I switch to a new OS I have to search manually for the drives and it’s a headache for me but when I first install the Manjaro OS it automatically detects the card and gives me the options to install appropriate driver accordingly.

Moving From One Kernel to Another:

There were times when Switching from one kernel to another in Ubuntu is pretty difficult. Earlier in Ubuntu to resolve an issue I have to switch to a new version of the kernel which is different from my current one and it’s not very easy.

But in Manjaro the inbuilt kernel manager works like a magic. Manjaro has a nice little application that allows you to install as many kernels as you want.

You have to just open the kernel manager which is a built-in utility and you can install or set a default or remove any kernel versions that you’d want or need or don’t need and then you’re booting with a new kernel.

This is super useful in some cases where you want an updated driver for your piece of hardware may be a graphics card or modem etc. Because in Linux open-source drivers are included with the Kernel.

So if I wanted to upgrade the version of the graphics card drivers I’m using then it means upgrading the actual Linux kernel and that’s one of the major reasons that I’ve upgraded the kernel on Manjaro.

My Graphics Card is performed way better than the previous kernel and all this is possible with some easy steps.

Variety Of Flavours:

Manjaro comes with KDE, XFCE, or GNOME that provides end-users not only options but officially supported options this is
super handy for any newcomer who you know is learning a new distro and doesn’t want to learn a new desktop environment’s workflow.

If you’re a KDE fan you can just download the Manjaro KDE iso and immediately have the Built-in interface to easily access and install themes, widgets, etc.

For those who have older systems and still want their system works fast then the XFCE iso is perfect for them. It consists of several components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment.

For people who want a reliable and fast desktop like me, then you can just download the GNOME iso and the best part is you don’t have to wait for a new version of the operating system to get the latest version of your favorite desktop environment.

The Manjaro Wiki:

Manjaro wiki is one of the most comprehensive documentation resources I have ever seen or ever used in my tenure with Linux. Manjaro has built-in Web-based documentation where you find everything about Manjaro from installation guides to troubleshooting.

So you have all the answers to your question and all are documented in a well-structured format. If you need to enable user-mode in  Linux there’s a wiki page for that, if you have an older dell n5110 Inspiron laptop and want to know the compatibility with the OS there is a wiki page for that also.

Manjaro wiki is so useful and very relevant to new users who want to learn more about Arch-based systems and don’t have to search randomly on the web.

Should you try Manjaro or Skip it?

From the above description, you already know why Manjaro Linux is so popular among new and advanced users. It’s a very user-friendly OS  that gives you all the wonderful tools and features of Arch Linux.

In the Linux arena Arch, Linux dominates and Manjaro gives you all of that and at the same time, it’s the best distribution for gaming, general use, and especially for power users who want the power and customizability of Arch without the hassle.

The rolling release feature lets you install the OS once and stay updated forever, on top of that you get probably one of the best hardware and software support where Manjaro supports almost every new and old piece of hardware, and the Arch User Repository (AUR) gives you all the latest package you could wish for.

Day by Day other Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora is dropping support for older generations and included more propitiatory software but Manjaro still retains the support for old hardware and provided more free stuff.

I have been using Manjaro for over 1 year now and I don’t find any drawbacks till now and personally, I think there’s a lot that Linux distributions can learn from Manjaro.

Well, let me know what do you think of Manjaro do you love it or hate it and why? start feeding your opinion into this conversation down in the comments below and let me know what you think I’m curious to hear!

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