Manjaro: The Easier Side And More Beautiful Face Of Arch Linux

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Manjaro

Manjaro is a desktop-oriented operating system based on Arch Linux. Manjaro has a focus on user friendliness and the system itself is designed to work fully “straight out of the box” with its variety of pre-installed software.

Developed in Austria, France, and Germany, Manjaro provides all the benefits of the Arch Linux operating system combined with a focus on user-friendliness and accessibility. Manjaro follow Arch Linux and officially only offers a 64 bit version. Manjaro is suitable for newcomers as well as experienced Linux users.

The Manjaro team has successfully made Arch Linux available to everyone, newbie or professional, and because it carries all the goodies in Arch Linux with it, more people can now access the awesomeness of Arch Linux through Manjaro.

Manjaro is on a rolling release cycle, so you never have to download a new version of Manjaro or worry about your current install reaching its end of life. Keeping Manjaro up to date can be done with a few clicks via GUI or a few keystrokes via the command line, and is very simple to do.

History

Manjaro was first released on July 10, 2011. By mid 2013, Manjaro was in the beta stage, though key elements of the final system had all been implemented such as:

  • GUI installer
  • Package manager (Pacman) with its choice of frontends: Pamac (GTK) and Octopi (QT)
  • Manjaro Hardware Detection, for detection of free & proprietary video drivers
  • Manjaro Settings Manager

GNOME Shell support was dropped with the release of version 0.8.3 in 2012. An official release offering the GNOME desktop environment was reinstated in March 2017.

What are the differences between Manjaro and Arch Linux?

Manjaro is not Arch Linux in the pure sense – but yes, it is based on Arch Linux underpinnings and Arch Linux principles. As a result, it inherits a lot of the features of Arch Linux, but it implements many unique features as well. Nor is using Manjaro the same as using pure Arch Linux or more direct derivatives.

Although Manjaro is Arch-based and Arch compatible, it is not Arch Linux. As such, far from being just an easy-to-install or pre-configured version of Arch Linux, Manjaro is actually a very different kind of beast.

In fact, the differences between Manjaro and Arch Linux are far greater than the differences between the popular Ubuntu distribution and its many derivatives, including Mint and Zorin. To help provide a clearer understanding of Manjaro, a few of its main features have been outlined.

  • Developed independently from Arch Linux, and by a completely different team.
  • Designed to be accessible to newcomers, while Arch Linux is aimed at experienced users.
  • Draws software from its own independent repositories. These repositories also contain software packages not provided by Arch Linux.
  • Provides its own distribution-specific tools such as the Manjaro Hardware Detection (mhwd) utility, and the Manjaro Settings Manager (msm).
  • Has numerous subtle differences in how it works when compared to Arch.

Manjaro editions

Manjaro is an operating system, most importantly as a free replacement to Windows or Mac OS. Even more, there are a number of Manjaro Editions available on official website of Manjaro for download and installation for users free of cost. Furthermore, many a times users are quite confused about which Manjaro edition is best. In other words, which Manjaro edition to choose from available Manjaro editions?

The official Manjaro editions are based on:

  • XFCE
  • KDE
  • Gnome
  • Architect (Cinnamon)

The unofficial community editions include Awesome, Bspwm, Budgie, i3, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, and Openbox.

Out of the four official editions, none of them are necessarily considered the default. XFCE is the first one listed on their download page and may be the only download that a new user notices is available. The official editions are supported by the core team of Manjaro. Whereas, community edition are supported by open source enthusiasts contributing to Manjaro from all over the world free of cost.

Project developers have created a distinct Manjaro look and feel using themes for all of the editions. As you can see this Manjaro look is characterized by a dark theme with green highlights. This makes it easy to have an aesthetically pleasing setup without any customization necessary.

Manjaro software repositories

To ensure continued stability and reliability, Manjaro utilises its own dedicated software repositories. With the exception of the community-maintained Arch User Repository (AUR), Manjaro systems do not (and cannot) access the official Arch repositories. More specifically, popular software packages initially provided by the official Arch repositories will first be thoroughly tested (and if necessary, patched), prior to being released to Manjaro’s own Stable Repositories for public use.

Manjaro actually uses three types of repositories:

  • Unstable: About a day or two behind Arch. This is also used to store software packages that have known or suspected stability and/or compatibility issues. This software may therefore be subject to patching by the Manjaro developers prior to being released to the testing repositories. Although the very latest software will be located here, using the unstable respositories may consequently break your system!
  • Testing: Usually about a week or so behind Arch. These are used to store patched software packages from the unstable repositories, as well other new software releases that are considered at least sufficiently stable. This software will be subject to further checks by developers and testers for potential bugs and/or stability issues, prior to being released to the stable repositories for public use.
  • Stable: Usually about two weeks behind Arch. These are the default repositories used by Manjaro systems to provide updates and downloads to the general user base.

Manjaro package management

Both Arch and Manjaro ship with command-line based package management tool called Pacman. It was coded in C and uses tar to package applications. In other words, you can use the same pacman commands for managing packages in both distributions.

In addition to the Pacman, Manjaro has also developed a GUI application called Pamac for easily installing software on Manjaro. This makes using Manjaro easier than Arch.

Pamac
Pamac

Conclusion

Some people often say that Manjaro is for those who can’t install Arch Linux. But that’s not true. Not everyone wants to configure Arch from scratch or doesn’t have much time.

Manjaro Linux’s in-house system tools, easy installation application and better range of software packages make it a better Arch-based distro than Arch Linux itself. It offers much more than a pure Arch Linux environment.

Manjaro is definitely a beast, but a very different kind of beast than Arch Linux. Fast, powerful, and always up to date, Manjaro provides all the benefits of an Arch Linux operating system, but with an especial emphasis on stability, user-friendliness and accessibility for newcomers and experienced users.

1 Comment

  1. I tried some of those “running out of the box” distros out there, and finally found what I always dreamed of: Manjaro Linux. It’s exact what lazy people like me, with no to less motivation of typing long strings in shells & consoles, want !
    Why should that be objectionable? My only intention was to find an OS which 100% could replace windoze. And this one is definite a more than equivalent competitor, with the additional charme of zero costs and a really huge range of tested and working software in it’s repository. Everything workes like a charm. Starting with the installation up to setting up individual scheduled tasks. Sure there are some tiny things to argue about, like missing trimming for SSDs (which had to be enabled after install) for ex., but I think that are peanuts compared to the fact of having an OS which doesn’t sniff your personal preferences etc, etc..
    Thanks to the Manjaro team ! Really GREAT work ! (Merci & Danke;-) )

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