We continue to explore the world of alternative operating systems and this time we will have the GNU / Linux Manjaro distribution on the “operating table”.

Manjaro is a descendant of the Arch Linux distribution with all the consequences. This means that it inherited both its structure and package system, as well as the repository. But there is an important note. This is not one of the versions of the distribution, as Linux Mint and Ubuntu, which uses the same repository (although there is also its own), but a standalone distribution, with its own philosophy, approach and own repository.

Of course, anyone can go to Wikipedia and read about the above distributions, but I will still write a little about them and their relationship, so that readers do not run to other sites and focus on this material.

First, a little history. The ancestor of Manjaro, as I mentioned earlier, is Arch Linux, authored by Judd Vinett, who, under the influence of CRUX Linux, decided to create his own child. The main and basic rule or rather philosophy was originally “K.I.S.S.” (Keep it simple stupid). That is, everything should be simple, transparent and clear. That is why the BSD-like system initialization system and rc.conf were taken as the main configuration file. However, nothing can remain stable in our time, where everything is changing very quickly, and this has affected Arch Linux as well.

Influenced by time and trends, Arch switched to systemd and to spread settings across various configuration files, like most modern distributions, which I don’t think is in line with K.I.S.S.’s original philosophy, but we’ll leave it the maintainers’ responsibility. However, despite the rather significant changes in the distribution itself, there is one thing that has remained and even improved over time – a package system and pacman package manager.

Against the background of the package system from Debian/Ubuntu apt, pacman looks like a next to the rabbit, because it is fast. I would say incredibly fast, even some other distributions have taken over. At the same time, the packages were initially compiled with the target architecture i686 to discard outdated, according to the author, architecture. But today, officially such an architecture is not supported, so there is an option x86-64.

However, Arch Linux, despite its excellent WiKi, which is just a sample of useful information, has a rather big drawback. It is the entry threshold. To install it, you will have to do a lot with your hands through the command line, because first the basic system is installed and then, like clothes on the body, everything else is installed on this base as needed.

In addition, many things will need to be configured in the configuration files by direct editing. On the one hand, this is very cool, because the system has only what the user needs, and on the other hand, not everyone will go for it, despite the excellent documentation of the distribution.

And so, to keep all the benefits of Arch Linux, but at the same time reduce the entry threshold for new users, Manjaro Linux was created. The main idea was borrowed from Ubuntu, where you download the image of the system with the appropriate Desktop Environment aka DE, put it on a flash drive that has a live image and having checked the compatibility of your hardware, install it on your computer.

In addition, there is another difference, its repositories. They are formed/updated with some delay for Arch Linux, which actually makes Arch Linux users beta testers for Manjaro Linux users. Both distributions use a rolling release model, which has a simple philosophy. There are no releases of the system, as in the case of Ubuntu, Fedora or CentOS, because the system installed and updated by the user will always be the latest version. Both systems have access to AUR, but what it is, we will consider later.

Selecting Manjaro image and media preparation

To install it, we need an installation image that can be downloaded from the official website manjaro.org. We go there and in the Downloads section of the site we see the following options. In addition to the official images, there is a section with Community and ARM images, but we are not interested in them today.

As we can see, you can immediately watch videos with different DE and choose to download the option you like best. In my case, I choose the XFCE option because, firstly, it’s my default environment, and secondly, it will just be a little easier for my old laptop.

You may be surprised that the images on the site have versions, although I wrote earlier that they do not exist as such. Well, to install the system, we need an image and that is why they are created and updated on the site with some frequency, but after installing and updating you will always have the current system. In addition to DE, you can also choose the composition of the image: normal (3.4 GB), minimum (2.6 GB) and minimum LTS (Long term support kernel). That is, you are provided with a fairly wide range of options.

So, after downloading the image, we need to copy it to a USB drive. To do this, we can use the console utility dd (disk duplication) on Linux or write using the utility Rufus in Windows environment. In the first case, the syntax is quite simple.

“sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/manjaro.iso of=/dev/sd[drive letter] status=progress oflag=sync” (what exactly will be the device, you can pre-see with the help of the command “sudo fdisk -l”)

And in the second there is a graphical interface, where everything is quite clear.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Installing the system

After preparing the flash drive, restart the computer and select it as a boot device. We still have a lot to do, so I will not describe much.

First, the user is greeted by a screen where you can choose the time zone, keyboard layout, language (but unfortunately, Ukrainian is not in the list, unlike “well, you know”) and with which set of drivers – free or proprietary, the system will boot. I choose the latter because my WiFi module had problems with free. Of course, they could be fixed during the last 10 years, but now it’s not the time to check.

After booting the system, we are greeted by a desktop and a “Welcome Screen” in English, respectively, but here it is possible to change the language where Ukrainian is already present.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

From the picture everything is clear, then close this screen to immediately proceed to the installation of the system itself. To do this, there is a special shortcut on the desktop that launches the installation wizard, it will be very similar and familiar to those who once installed Ubuntu this way.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

We launch and see that there is also an opportunity to change the language, which I do.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

The next step is the time zone (same as selected at boot time), the system language, and the regional number and date settings.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

The next screen is the keyboard settings. Here, to avoid problems, I recommend choosing the English layout, because there are situations when the login screen is set to the same selected language, and the password is in English. What will happen in the case of Ukrainian (Cyrillic), apparently, does not need to be explained.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

However, the above situation depends on the distribution, which can take into it account and then there will be no problems. How it is going to be in this case is unknown and that is why the layout is English.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

And then we have a rather interesting screen, where we need to choose the device on which we will install the system. There are many different installation options.

As I don’t want to interfere and replace the already installed system on the laptop, I prepared a 64 gigabyte flash drive in advance, where I’m going to install the system. This will be enough for acquaintance and review. Of course, it was possible to look at the system in live drive mode, but it’s a little different and there will be no installation process, which I still wanted to show.

So I choose my flash drive, choose the option to “clean the disk”, with additional settings of the file system (ext4) and “backup memory in the file”. Below you can see where you can choose where the grub bootloader will be installed. Here I choose my flash drive again.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

In the “Users” section, I fill in the appropriate fields, choosing so that the password for root is the same as the user’s. In a normal situation, I would not recommend doing this, but it is a test system, so I do this step for convenience.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Next is a screen that shows all the previously selected steps, where you can review and see what to return to, and make changes if something was chosen incorrectly.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

After clicking the “Install” button, a warning window appears that after confirmation the application will start working and make changes that cannot be undone, about which it informs.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Well, now you can go drink tea while it’s all being installed.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Finally, the application reports that everything is ready and allows you to select the reboot function to immediately go to boot the system or turn it off for further live drive mode. I choose completion without rebooting, because I still need to save the screenshots so that they don’t disappear, and then I reboot manually.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

First load

After downloading from the flash drive, we are greeted by the grub bootloader window with a countdown (5 seconds), after which the default download option will be selected. If you need to choose something else, just press any key except Enter, and the countdown is canceled. You can see that the grub scripts worked during installation and there is an option to download Ubuntu, which is installed on hdd.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Precisely because I stopped the countdown for a photo shoot, I manually confirm the system selection and wait for the first download to finish.

I am greeted by a login manager window, where there are many different options. In the lower left corner there is the name of the workstation, and in the middle there is a window for selecting a user and entering a password.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

In the lower right corner, you can select the locale, session (in our case only XFCE), large text and high contrast (for the visually impaired) and the power menu, where you can select “Pause”, “Sleep”, “Restart” and ” Turn off”.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

But there is an important thing. Each DE uses different login managers, although functionally they are approximately at the same level and it’s a matter of taste. After receiving the correct password, the system enters the working environment. And so does the “Welcome Screen”.

It should be understood that, unlike corporate products, DE customization is much larger and the same desktop can look very different. And each distribution makes its own typical configuration. Here everything is done in the style of Windows, where in the lower left corner there a “Start menu”, in the right there is tray with status icons, and the middle part of the panel is for the indication of running applications.

But, I will not focus here on the elements and functionality of DE, because it will be a review of XFCE, not Manjaro. After all, if there is a request for an XFCE review, you can do it separately, because there is an interesting world.

Therefore, I will immediately open the settings and review those items that are specific to the distribution.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

I open the Settings Center and see some unfamiliar settings and items. This is the “Kvantum theme manager”, from the KDE environment, to customize the look of applications written in QT. These are “Firewall”, “Manjaro Notifier Settings”, “Manjaro settings manager” and “Add or Remove Programs (pamac)”. But not all applications are presented here. Among the settings not available in the Center are “HPLIP”, Steam, Timeshift, OnlyOffice. But the latter with the rest are not dependent on distributions.

Everything else is a fairly standard set, such as: View documents Evince (pdf, djvu), GIMP, Viewnior (image viewer), Firefox (browser), Thunderbird (email client), Catfish (file search), VLC (video player), Audacious (music player), volume control (Pulse audio), Gparted (disk and partition management).

But among all this, it is worth focusing on “Manjaro Notifier Settings”, “Manjaro Settings Manager” and “Add or Remove Programs (pamac)”.

Manjaro Notifier Settings

Here you can configure kernel notifications and language packs. No more functions. Everything is simple.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Manjaro Settings Manager

It’s more interesting and there are two System and Hardware sections, each of which contains several different utilities. We will consider them here in detail.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Local settings

Above are the Add, Remove, and Restore buttons that manage language packs. Below, as we can see, there are two tabs System Language and Detailed Settings. In the first case, we have the same language packs on the list.

If you select a language package in it, it is used globally and the currently active package will be labeled what it is used for.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

If we need more flexible localization settings, we move on to the second tab. And here without comments.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Language packs

There are also two tabs. The first is “Available Language Packs” where the corresponding list is, with the Install Packages button. The list shows the lack of language packs. So I click Install to add them.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look
And the second, “Installed language packs”, with its own list, which is purely declarative.

Kernel

Here is a list of kernels, which lists the installation options that are currently in use and the ability to view the change log for it.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Accounts

In my opinion, comments are not needed.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Time and date

It’s all pretty clear too, but KyivNotKiev.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Keyboard settings

Again, everything is clear without words.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Hardware configuration

Here is device driver management if they have multiple free / proprietary options. Recently here in the comments, someone complained about the lack of divers on the components, so as we see, in my case, everything is there.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

If you select “Show all devices”, there will be a list of all hardware, something like “Hardware Manager” in Windows, but there is no interaction with it, except for those items that were before the selection and maybe that’s why it is hidden by default.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Install and remove aka pamac

This is the last and most interesting element in our review. I first mentioned the pacman package manager, which is a console utility. But pamac is a graphical utility for pacman, but not only because it works not only with pacman packages.

I run and that’s what I get. Screenshots are eloquent, but some comments are worth making.

Categories:

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Groups:

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Repositories:

In the menu, you can enable “Program Mode”, which will remove all system packages, leaving only applications. Everything else does not require explanation.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Well, now let’s go to the “Settings”. Here are three tabs whose names speak for themselves.

On the first tab “General” there are four sections, where:

  • in the first you can enable / disable the update check, set the check interval (3/6/12 hours, every day or every week), enable / disable the automatic download of updates and the behavior of the tray icon (hide or not in the absence of updates);;
  • in the second set the number of parallel download streams (1/2/4(default)/6/8/10);
  • in the third, where exactly to look for updates (worldwide or you can choose a specific country from the list);
  • and in the fourth how many versions of packages to save (0/1/2/3 (default) / 4/5) and activation “remove only uninstalled packages”.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

On the second tab “Additional”:

  • you can turn off disk space testing before installation (enabled by default);li>
  • enable removal of unnecessary dependencies (disabled by default);
  • determine the behavior of whether pamac will look for updates during installation, and looks like it applies to already cached packages (disabled by default);
  • the ability to enable package downgrade;li>
  • and the ability to fix the version of the package by adding exceptions that will not be updated.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

And the third tab for a snack. But here you need a little text. As I mentioned, pamac works not only with repositories and the pacman package system, but here you can enable additional repositories with other options.

AUR

This is short for Arch User Repository. As far as I know, this is nowhere to be found, except for Arch and those distributions that are compatible with it, as our “patient”. The idea is that users upload raw packages to a special repository site and add a PKGBUILD description file to compile them into a standard package using an automated makepkg script for later installation so that everything is correct (dependencies and further removal) .

Once upon a time, in the days of rc.conf, when I used Arch Linux, there was a yaourt console utility that had the same command system as pacman, but in addition to installing already compiled packages from official repositories, it was able to compile AUR packages using the aforementioned makepkg .

But, as I was once assured by a regular user of Arch Linux and a reader of the site, that’s outdated and there are already other options. Because if you remember the days before the advent of pamac, there was only one of the graphics utilities that kind of cosplayed synaptic, but as far as I remember, it worked exclusively with pacman, but not exactly, because it’s been a long time. As we can see, today the situation is completely different.

AUR itself is both good and evil at the same time, because no one checks or supports PKGBUILDs and raw materials, except the author and they can be in a completely different state. But, sometimes you can find something there that will not be in any repository of any distribution.

Let’s go back to the settings. Here you can enable AUR support and options:

whether to save compiled packages (disabled by default);

whether to check for updates (disabled by default);

whether to check for development packages (disabled by default);

specify the folder in which the packages will be collected and clean it, indicating the size of the contents of the folder.

Flatpak

Personally, this is new to me, although I once read about this system. So that I don’t invent anything, I’ll just take a description from Wikipedia:
Flatpak (formerly known as xdg-app) is a system for collecting self-contained packages that are not tied to specific Linux distributions and performed in special container that isolates the application from the rest of the system.
Flatpak gives developers the opportunity to simplify the distribution of their programs that are not part of the main repositories of distributions, by preparing one universal container without forming separate compilations for each distribution.

For security-conscious users, Flatpak allows you to run a questionable application in a container, providing access only to the network features and user files associated with the application. For users who are interested in new products, Flatpak allows you to install the latest test and stable software releases, without the need to make changes to the system.

To reduce the size of the package, it includes only application-specific dependencies, and basic system and graphics libraries (GTK, Qt, libraries GNOME і KDE etc) decorated in the form of connected standard runtime-environments. The key difference between Flatpak and Snap is that Snap uses core system environment components. and isolation based on system call filtering, while Flatpak creates a system-specific container and operates large runtime kits, providing both dependencies for packages and typical system environments (such as all libraries required for GNOME or KDE).
As for the settings, there are not many of them: enable support and check for updates.

And finally Snap

This is a product of Canonical which created Ubuntu and it was developed specifically for Ubuntu. The key difference is described in the previous section, so I’ll just say that you can enable support for Snap packages.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

What about the main part and now before the conclusion, check the system for popular applications:

  • let’s take borwsers Chrome, Edge, Opera і Vivaldi;
  • Telegram, Viber, Zoom, Skype і WhatsApp messengers;
  • LibreOffice;
  • Smplayer, Kodi players;
  • Visual Studio Code for development.

It is clear that the set is the same, but these applications are in the form of either binary or installation deb packages (in the world of Linux this is a guide, because if there is a package for Linux, there is usually a deb) and they are used. So let’s go, run pamac, update databases and search.

Chrome, not in official repositories, but found and working in AUR.

Edge – there is a wider range of build options, but also AUR. Let’s choose the same stable version, similar to Chrome, everything works.

Opera – don’t be surprised by such a difference in screenshots. Because the browser is in the official community repository, the entire system, along with pamac, was updated before installation.

Vivaldi is in the official repository.

Telegram – here, perhaps, the most options. You can download the binary version from the site, and there are several options to choose from from different repositories: official, Flatpak, Snap. I previously downloaded from the site, then I see no point in installing from here. I will only note that from the official repository the version is older, as well as Snap, but Flatpak corresponds to the one downloaded from the site.

Getting acquainted with Manjaro. First look

Viber – there are not many options. This is the first position in Flatpak, this is exactly what we need.

Zoom is available in both Flatpak and Snap. And the versions are the same. I choose the first option because, as we remember, in the settings, updates were enabled only on Flatpak.

Skype – everything is similar to Zoom, so again Flatpak.

WhatsApp – Flatpak again, because there is the newest version.

LibreOffice – the newest version was in the official repository.

SMplayer – official repository.

Kodi – official repository.

Visual Studio Code – official repository.

Conclusions

Well, I thought there would be more problems and lack of applications, but as it turned out I did not need to go to any sites (what I downloaded from the site Telegram is purely my whim) and look for some information on the Internet. After installing the system, I didn’t even have to start the terminal and see the command line, whatever some commentators said about red eyes.

Given the installed copy on a budget flash drive (well, really budget, because 165 UAH for 64 gigabytes is just about npthing), it just was not felt in the behavior of the system. There were no slowdowns or delays. I’m really pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was not the full adjustment for myself, as I usually do, but there were no mistakes in problems in what I did. I even thought about keeping this flash drive and later, when I had the opportunity to sit down and adjust the Work Environment for myself (but that’s another story, worth a separate article) and use it for a while. You can even take it with you and experiment on someone else’s hardware.

And I leave you alone with your thoughts and conclusions. Still, they are different for everyone.

P.S. In some screenshots you can see two mouse cursors. This is not a glitch, but just two screenshots glued together, so as not to make two drawings for the sake of one line. Yes, it was possible to make screens without the cursor (there is a corresponding setting), but I forgot about it.
P.S.

After using the distribution on a flash drive for a while, I had the idea to replace Ubuntu with Manjaro. Additionally, I was prompted by storage errors during the next Ubuntu update. And considering that this is not the first time to change the distribution and I have done everything for this in advance (the disk is divided into 2 sections, where the first and smaller as the system, and the second larger as / home), I quickly downloaded a slightly newer image flash drive and forward. The update went very smoothly and fairly quickly.

Well, the first download and I am greeted by a login manager window. I enter the password and here it is my work environment. The old settings have picked up for all the programs (even all the browser add-ons) that I’ve had so far. There were some nuances, such as Firefox older than I had before, and this caused an error when downloading the application, reporting that the profile is incompatible and suggested deleting it. But after I updated the whole system, everything fell into place.

After that, it’s time to install apps that weren’t in the image and had been installed before. And it took much longer than changing the system itself. Plus configuring the system – paging file, layout, users.

As for users, an interesting thing has emerged. Profiles 3 (mine, wife, child) and the first were usually created during installation, but the others were added later. So the child’s profile was picked up immediately, but with the wife’s profile there were some problems – when logging in, it did not happen and returned to the login manager, although in a clean console login happened. I am already familiar with this problem, because I had the same situation before. Something, somewhere, when creating a profile, the system does not work well enough and you need to give ownership rights to the user of all files in the user’s folder. Fortunately, this is just one command in the terminal and everything is working properly.

Well, here I am back to Arch Linux, but modded by Manjaro. Before that, I used Arch, even when Manjaro wasn’t even in the project. After Ubuntu, I even had a pleasant surprise. Given my laptop model (which does not have Caps, Num, Scroll) and XFCE indicators, I used xfce4-kbdleds which displayed small but very convenient indicators on the panel (by the way the author of the software is somewhere from Ukraine, because at one time the page project was on compass.kiev.ua, if I’m not mistaken). So, after a while it stopped being installed due to incompatible dependencies and I even made myself a raw deb package to install. But this was not enough for a long time and I’m used to it (yes, I know about alternatives, but they are not so convenient). And here I was surprised to learn that AUR has this application and even calmly without problems assembled / installed and earned. It seems that someone picked up the project, fortunately for me.

Am I campaigning for Linux and Arch/Mangaro? Probably not, because this is for people who are interested in something new. For “it just works” snobs, there’s always Win PC or Mac. But on the other hand, I see significant progress in the system over the last 20 years (sometime in 2001, I first installed Red Hat 6 for the first time). As English-speaking people like to write, HUGE DIFFERENCE. Let’s not forget the main and very important thing, all this is done by people on bare enthusiasm, which even made large corporations look in this direction and bring a lot to this interesting world of open software.

As for the article itself, it’s for those who are just interested to see, but what else happens there besides “Windows”, because reading a cry of the soul, such a comment in the news about Windows 11: “Damn the program. When will the taskbar be smaller?” , I just want to provide a screenshot of the settings of the panel with XFCE, by the way there can be at least a dozen of them ( you just need place for them all) and have a different position, shape, behavior, content, etc.