Greetings, Linux users old and new!
I’ve not posted a thing here in at least a couple of years, but I’m feeling a desire to share my desktop Linux experiences once again.
Over the past two and a half years I’ve been running Zorin OS (6.2) on my main desktop computer. This is by far the longest period of time I’ve used any one Linux distro. And the reason for this is, I had Zorin configured just the way I wanted it. It looked beautiful and worked flawlessly. I’ve had no problems in all that time. I had all the applications I like and everything worked perfectly!
But then, over the last few months, I started feeling the sluggish stirrings of the old distro-hopping fever slowly returning. Well, that’s not quite true. I’m always looking at the changes in some of my favorite Linux distros, and new distros sprouting up here and there, and I can’t help but wonder how they would run on my 5 to 6 year old AMD Desktop machine. As updated versions of distros come out, I’ve downloaded and tried out many of my old favorites. But because of newer kernels and my not-so-Linux-fiendly hardware, many of the new versions of Linux did not run well with my graphics card.
But after reading and watching numerous reviews and videos about the ever-changing world of Linux distro development, I started becoming more and more curious about Manjaro Linux. I’ve always used Debian/Ubuntu-based Linux operating systems. Manjaro is based upon Arch Linux, which is fast and light and been around a long time, but also has a reputation of being much more difficult to set up and use for us ‘non-geeky’ Linux users.
But Manjaro is quite a different beast altogether from it’s parent. The Manjaro developers have taken all the package-building, command line tediousness out of using Arch, and created a very user-friendly, gui-driven desktop experience. They’ve created system tools that are simple and intuitive and made the power of Arch Linux accessible for even the least-experienced computer users. So about four weeks ago, after trying out a couple of Manjaro Live DVDs on my computer with no problems at all, I crazily took the plunge and installed it!
Why would I install a totally new operating system over one that worked perfectly for all my needs for two-and-a-half years, and still had a year-and-a-half of support left, you might ask? I really don’t know. I must be crazy, but the thrill and challenge of trying something new, based on Arch instead of Ubuntu, was just too tempting for me! So after making triple-sure I had everything backed up, and that all of the software that I regularly use was available through the Manjaro repositories, I installed Manjaro Xfce addition. So here is my experience so far:
The installation was very quick and easy, and everything went great with copying my backup /home settings and preferences. I have a separate Data partition, which was untouched during installation and made the process very simple. Reinstalling all the applications I had on my Zorin OS installation was wonderfully easy, using the Manjaro Xfce package manager, Pamac. Manjaro maintains it’s own software repositories, which have all the open-source software you could want, plus a few more obscure applications that I like; and everything is the newest version! Manjaro users can also access the Arch User Repository (AUR), for anything that might not yet be available for Manjaro, but that is generally discouraged. I did install two applications through the AUR, and Pamac built the programs and installed them with no problems at all. Installing software is point and click, just like using Synaptic in Ubuntu-based distros. Below is my current desktop. I decided to move the Xfce panel to the top of the screen and installed Docky to launch apps at the bottom. Plus I have Rainlendar desktop calendar and Conky-Manger top right.
After using Manjaro for a while, though, I did encounter some graphics glitches, and twice my system froze and I had to reboot. Now here is another amazing thing about Manjaro: the Manjaro Settings Manager, within the Manjaro Xfce Settings Manager, lets you install and uninstall several Linux kernels, as well as graphics drivers. After experimenting a little, I found that using the proprietary Nvidia driver instead of the open source driver, and downgrading the kernel to the 3.12 series, my graphics problems are gone. Just click, click and reboot!
I had a couple of other small software glitches, which I posted on the Manjaro forums and found quick fixes to in a very short time. The Manjaro forums and online documentation are excellent! Also, getting my HP printer working in Manjaro was quick and painless. Since the first couple of days, I’ve had no problems at all with Manjaro Xfce. I really couldn’t be happier with this operating system!
Some other perks of this distro: Manjaro comes in two main official flavors – KDE and Xfce. But they also offer community editions with other desktop environments like Mate, Cinnamon, Enlightenment, Gnome, LXDE, Openbox, LXQt, even Deepin! The software selection is huge, cutting-edge, and the software managers are dead-simple to use, making an Arch-based system available for users with a minimum of computer skills. And Manjaro is a rolling release, so there is (theoretically) no need to install a newer version; by installing updates when they appear in the update manager, the OS and software is always upgraded to the newest version.
After one month using Manjaro, I am quite glad I took the plunge. For a more thorough look, please check out these video reviews:
Coming soon: Linux Lite keeps getting better!