Manjaro: What Is It and Why Manjaro Is the Best Arch-Based Distro?
Manjaro is an operating system with the stated goal of making Arch Linux more accessible to the general public. Maybe, but is it the finest Arch-based distribution?
Many recent distributions are built on the Arch Linux kernel. Except for Arch Linux, all of these distributions include graphical installers and have tweaked the desktop in their own special ways. But I think that’s about all there is. The situation is beginning to resemble that of Ubuntu forks, with wallpapers, icons, and default apps that depart from the norm.
Manjaro is an apt analog for these distributions. However, there is just no analogy. Manjaro is arguably the top Linux distribution overall, and it is also the greatest Arch-based distribution.
What makes Manjaro stand out from the crowd? Let’s have a look at some of its major accomplishments and prestigious awards.
1. Polished Desktops
The desktop environments in Manjaro are particularly well-handled, and this is the distribution’s strongest suit. Instead of trying to change the desktops or create their own, this distribution appreciates them for what they are.
KDE Plasma is the first desktop environment available in Manjaro. It’s been argued that openSUSE is the greatest distribution for KDE, however, these days, outside of KDE Neon itself, Manjaro may be the best option. There aren’t many modifications to standard KDE, but the twilight theme with teal accents and double-click to open/launch are welcome additions.
Beyond KDE, Manjaro also provides one of the greatest XFCE desktop environments. For those who don’t need fancy features but yet want lightning-fast performance, it provides a Windows XP-style interface optimized for low-end hardware.
There appears to be an infinite number of GNOME distributions, each with its own unique flavor of the desktop environment. Manjaro acknowledges the necessity of customizing GNOME but limits the default customizations to the barest minimum necessary to enhance desktop usability.
2. Graphical Wizards
Manjaro not only provides a graphical installer and pre-configured desktop environments but also graphical wizards to assist with common tasks after installation.
In particular, for Arch newcomers, the Manjaro Settings Manager is a lifesaver when it comes to managing kernel upgrades.
The Manjaro Hello welcome screen and support hub, on the other hand, is designed with novice computer users in mind.
In addition to the default GNOME layout, the Layouts tool in the GNOME edition provides a Windows-style layout, as well as a layout that blends the Material Shell with auto-tiling windows.
3. A Time-Tested Linux Distribution
While its current Arch-based competitors have only been operating for a few years, Manjaro is already approaching ten years of age.
And it has made it through at least one round of Arch-based distribution battles. Manjaro wasn’t the only distribution at the time that aimed to simplify Arch for newcomers. Did you know there was something called Chakra Linux? Although Chakra no longer exists, it was formerly considered the premier Arch-based distribution.
Since it has been around for so long, Manjaro is a more reliable option than up-and-coming distributions that have less of a track record and can’t give you any idea of what to expect in the future.
4. Popular Among the Community
Manjaro, which has been around for about a decade, has acquired a sizable and active user base throughout that time.
While not the most rigorous metric, DistroWatch’s Page Hit Ranking has placed this distribution in the top five for the past seven years running. The Manjaro Linux distribution’s official Twitter page boasts tens of thousands more followers than those of its Arch-based competitors, and its own subreddit can compete favorably with that of Fedora and Debian.
All this attention means more people using it, which in turn means more people testing it, more people helping out in the forums, and more people creating tutorials. This makes the distribution friendlier to newcomers than some other Arch-based distributions.
You probably don’t think of Arch distributions as being particularly reliable, but Manjaro is perhaps the most stable you’ll find.
Manjaro uses its own reports, which are usually a few weeks behind Arch, much to the chagrin of the Arch devout. However, with more time at their disposal, testers can discover issues and problems before the general public does.
In addition to the most recent kernel, Manjaro distributes ISOs containing the most recent LTS kernel. This is a significant improvement in distribution stability over competing for Arch-based distributions. After installation, users can update the kernel at any time using the aforementioned graphical wizard.
Ubuntu had to speed up software updates for Debian when it was challenged to make the distribution more user-friendly. Manjaro is facing the inverse problem with Arch but is treating it sensibly.
Manjaro runs on real, commercial hardware that customers buy.
Manjaro is available pre-installed on computers from Star Labs and TUXEDO Computers. No other Arch-based distro has reached this milestone, so while these companies may not have the same cache as brands like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, they are the only ones to have done so.
After developing its own Tuxedo OS, TUXEDO Computers decided to offer only Manjaro as an alternative operating system (based on Ubuntu with KDE Plasma).
Although Star Labs provides a number of Linux distributions, Manjaro stands out as the only non-Debian derivative among the user-friendly distributions included in the list.
Meanwhile, the PineBook Pro laptop ships with Manjaro ARM as its default operating system.
Smartphones can also use the Manjaro operating system. For the PinePhone Pro, Manjaro Linux with KDE Plasma Mobile is the default operating system.
Manjaro has not only realised its ambition of shipping on real hardware, but it has also realized the promise of convergence, which nearly doomed Ubuntu.
Don’t miss out on seeing the PinePhone Pro and its docking station if you haven’t already. It functions similarly to the docking station on the Steam Deck in that it allows you to connect your phone to a desktop display, input devices, and an external battery.
8. Recommended by Valve
The recommendation of Gabe Newell (aka “Gaben”) and the Valve team might be second only to that of Linus Torvalds himself.
Yes, developers without access to a Steam Deck are strongly encouraged to choose Manjaro KDE as their target platform. Valve’s new Arch-based SteamOS 3.0 is most comparable to the Manjaro distribution.
Valve decided to use Debian as the foundation for SteamOS ten years ago when they first introduced the doomed Steam Machine. Ubuntu attracted many Linux gamers because it was the most refined and user-friendly Debian-based distribution available at the time. Find out if Manjaro enjoys the same success you did with Steam Deck.
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Is Manjaro the Best Arch-Based Linux Distro?
Manjaro is unrivaled among Arch-based distributions. Arch’s main rivals are other Linux distributions, both commercially supported ones like Fedora and Ubuntu and more user-friendly ones like elementary OS, Linux Mint, and Pop! OS.
Manjaro is a remarkable Linux distribution because of its user-friendly polish, reasonably long history, popularity, shipping hardware, and a nod from Valve, but it is still not a fantastic recommendation for someone entirely new to Linux.
I don’t usually use an Arch-based distro, but when I do, Manjaro is my preference (to paraphrase the most interesting man in the world).