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Monday, November 12, 2012

Manjaro Linux .82 review

A while ago, I did a review of Manjaro Linux. Manjaro, for those of you who are curious on its specifics, is a pre-configured Arch Linux distribution with some custom tools, including Archbang's installer (they now have a custom one in development), a Pacman (the package manager) frontend, and a Manjaro-branded XFCE desktop complete with their own Conky config. The version that I reviewed, .80, had numerous bugs including insane RAM usages with LightDM and a dependency on Nvidia's proprietary driver. See how Manjaro is doing now in the week's second review.
Aesthetics and Branding
Welcome to the default desktop of Manjaro Linux, plus some extras that I may have added (see drives and DJ files). You will notice that there is a modified XFCE panel at the bottom, touting the Manjaro logo and a gray color scheme that goes easy on the eyes. I find the default background to be a bit too intrusive with its bright green streaks, but it is better than the approach that Linux Mint takes with branding its wallpapers.

The conky config is amazing. After I uninstall Manjaro (I don't see a need to at this moment. Chakra went the way of the dodo right after the review yesterday, so it could happen) I would keep this Conky config. The Manjaro Linux conky configuration can be found here:

One thing that could use work is the GRUB2 theme, but that is easily changed along with the overly bright background.

Manjaro uses the Faenza icon pack, making pretty much anyone that is a fan of square-tile application icons happy.

The System Itself
Manjaro, as of right now, sits utop of Arch Linux. Until I tried Manjaro .80 I had no idea how large of an ecosystem Arch Linux has. I will assure you that you will not need to do much configuring (at least not as much as on vanilla Arch), so don't fear that. It has the AUR (the largest repository available to Linux) and official repositories that work with PKBUILD and Pacman, respectively. To the left you can see Pacman work as it downloads HTOP, which I use later on in this review. To use the AUR I use a script called aurget, which can be downloaded from here and installed with the command "tar -xzf FILENAME && makepkg FILENAME/PKGBUILD && pacman -U RESULTING_PACKAGE"

 Arch uses Systemd to boot, which makes the boot process incredibly fast; especially on a solid state drive. From the GRUB screen to the login menu, it takes around 2 seconds on a bad day. This is a controversial (and in cases, damaging) switch that will break some older init scripts you may have used in the past. This isn't changing, and many distributions are changing. I recommend Systemd.

The Manjaro developers dropped LightDM for the lighter LDM (LXDE's display manager), making the RAM usage drop by a few hundred MiB at idle. The problem was so bad that after login, I would pkill lightdm and launch gdm just to avoid the overhead of a few seconds of initial beauty on boot.

A bit on Defaults
Manjaro comes with some sane defaults. It is not afraid to include widely used proprietary software (like an old version of Skype) or heavy packages, such as libreoffice. The problem is that sometimes plain text files like to open in libreoffice even when another program is installed to handle them. Although this is easily changed, it can be an initial annoyance.

Along with this, the default background, and a major problem with timezones (it does not list them in reference to American time zones in the installer; only South American time zones show) Manjaro is a fine distribution. If it were between using this and Chakra, I would still choose Chakra. If you rely on GTK then this would be your next best bet as Archbang's development has slowed to a halt. If you are deadset on using an easy Arch, Manjaro is there for you. Even if it does have some kinks to iron out before version 1.

As an interesting side-point, Manjaro has the Steam client available for it already through Pacman's official repositories. Neat, eh? Also, popular games make it into the Aur. Including Minecraft and a few minecraft mods. Installing minecraft on Manjaro is as simple as using "aurget -S minecraft".


  1. Manjaro is a good option if you need a 32 bit installation as Chakra is now 64 bit only.

    1. Indeed. Chakra takes their ideals and forces them on their users, which is one of the worst problems with that team. GTK, architecture, etc. And it's not even like making the system for one architecture is easier for the Chakra developers. With cross-compilation and a consistent kernel, there is no excuse to not support 32-bit.