Distrowatch Top 5 Distributions Review: Manjaro

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Nov 15, 2021
Updated • Nov 15, 2021
Linux
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Manjaro Linux is rated number three on the popular rankings site, Distrowatch, based on number of hits to the Distrowatch page for the OS, not based on actual downloads / user-base. Check out my previous reviews of MX Linux and EndeavourOS here.

For those unfamiliar with Manjaro, it’s an Arch Linux based distribution that is often nicknamed “The Ubuntu of Arch” for it’s user-friendly GUI tools and beginner-friendly approach to the Arch Linux ways of doing things. Manjaro uses its own dedicated software repositories rather than the Arch Linux ones, but there is also access to the community-maintained Arch User Repository (AUR) that Arch users are familiar with.

Manjaro comes in multiple ‘flavours’, utilizing different Desktop Environments, such as:

  • XFCE
  • KDE Plasma
  • GNOME

There are also community-maintained flavours available on the Manjaro downloads page, featuring:

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  • Budgie
  • Cinnamon
  • Deepin
  • I3
  • Mate
  • Sway

Manjaro uses the GUI installer Calamares, featured in other distributions, which is a friendly and easy to use way of installing the OS; anyone with even very basic experience in OS installations will find Calamares simple and efficient to use.

For this installation and review I opted for KDE Plasma.

My Specs:

  • Ryzen 5 3500X
  • 16GB DDR4 3000Mhz
  • System installed on a SATA SSD

Installation

The Manjaro installation via Live-USB was quick, easy, and painless. Calamares is my favourite GUI installation utility, making installations very simplistic. There are easy selectable options for disk erasure, replacing partitions, installation alongside existing systems, and custom partition management all readily available for whatever your specific needs are.

Included Software and Features

Though Manjaro is based off Arch Linux, it’s not Arch, and it is not as minimal as Arch or other Arch based systems. However, Manjaro KDE did not come with an excessive amount of bloat. There are the basic common applications like a Music player in the form of the application Elisa, VLC for videos, OpenOffice for your office needs, as well as Firefox, Thunderbird, and Steam all pre-installed.

Manjaro also has some handy graphical tools such as the awesome MHWD (Manjaro Hardware Detection) tool which allows for easily installing proprietary and open source drivers such as for your NVIDIA Video card. As well, the Pamac utility makes searching for and installing packages from both the Manjaro Repositories as well as the AUR a simple task. Manjaro is highly recommended for inexperienced users in this regard, as you can do almost all tasks without the need of the terminal, even installing new Kernel versions via a handy GUI tool.

Performance

Manjaro, like other Arch based systems, is very quick and responsive, when I tested things out in the KDE environment. With five browser tabs open to various sites, OpenOffice running, my three monitors connected, and Discord running, I used less than 5% of my CPU power, and under 2GB of RAM. Any modern PC will have zero issues having a smooth experience with this setup.

Final thoughts

I used to exclusively run Manjaro on my home system, because of its power, simplicity, and my love of Arch based systems. While I don’t currently, I have zero troubles recommending this OS to anyone who wants to use an Arch based system, but not Arch itself. If you’re looking for a nice, easy to use system with plenty of GUI tools, but the power and flexibility of Arch, you won’t be disappointed using Manjaro; at least in my opinion!

Have you used Manjaro? What did you think of it? Tell us in the comments!

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Distrowatch Top 5 Distributions Review: Manjaro
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Distrowatch Top 5 Distributions Review: Manjaro
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Mikes review of the Manjaro Operating System
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Comments

  1. Mikel said on November 15, 2021 at 12:50 pm
    Reply

    I adore Manjaro. I think this is the most complete Arch distribution.
    Huge compliments to you, for writing again Linux articles.

  2. Anonymous said on November 15, 2021 at 3:41 pm
    Reply

    Thank you for the article, Mike.
    It is good to see articles on Linux as well as the ever-present Windows 11 articles.

  3. Truth and nothing but said on November 15, 2021 at 5:28 pm
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    Manjaro KDE is flawed. They use an ancient unmaintained theme that’s causing numerous issues and then KDE Plasma gets the blame. Avoid this version of KDE Plasma.

  4. TelV said on November 15, 2021 at 6:30 pm
    Reply

    Hi Mike,

    I have a Windows 8.1 machine which has a UEFI BIOS. Does that present any problems installing Manjaro as a dual boot?

    If it does, what would you recommend to install it on? For example, a laptop with an existing OS and if so which one. Or to buy a bare bones laptop without an OS (I don’t know if that’s possible in Europe) and install Manjaro on that.

  5. TelV said on November 15, 2021 at 6:39 pm
    Reply

    @ Mike,

    I’ve just noticed Manjaro has its own hardware available so forget my previous question please.

    Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

    1. Mike Turcotte-McCusker said on November 15, 2021 at 8:26 pm
      Reply

      No inconvenience at all! Note though that you can absolutely dual-boot any UEFI system, regardless of what other OS is installed. Good luck!

      1. TelV said on November 16, 2021 at 8:53 am
        Reply

        Thanks Mike. I’ll go shrink my Windows partition to create some space for it and then go ahead with the installation.

      2. Ian said on November 16, 2021 at 9:06 am
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        I use Manjaro as my daily driver, but I also love my MX and have even come around to my Fedora installation eventually. I will also keep my Windows 10, but when 11 becomes the only Windows option I am not it will stay on my laptop.

  6. Sol Shine said on November 15, 2021 at 7:03 pm
    Reply

    I stopped using Ubuntu (I used the Lubuntu version) as my main linux distro because it often broke when updating to the next LTS version. This happened twice.
    I also did not like waiting years for the next version of the kernel that supported newer hardware.

    So I switched to Manjaro that is a rolling release distro that is continously updated.
    I also tried OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, which is also a rolling release, but lost my trust in them when they stupidly choose to replace the stable version of LibreOffice with buggy release candidates.

    Manjaro works fine. I have less problems with it than with Ubuntu.
    But here are 2 main tips to avoid problems

    1) Before updating check for eventual problems and their solutions at this forum:
    https://forum.manjaro.org/c/announcements/stable-updates/12.
    It is best to wait at 2-3 days after the update came out to do the update.

    2) Do the updates from a terminal mode and not from the desktop mode.
    – Type ‘CTRL+ALT+F3’ to go to the terminal mode.
    – You can then login with your username and password.
    – Next type ‘sudo pamac update -a’ to do the update. You will need to type your password again.
    The ‘-a’ paramter lets you update installed software from the Manjaro repository and the Arch User Repository (AUR).
    – After the update is done, you can type ‘systemctl reboot’ to reboot your computer.

    1. Ça?lar said on November 17, 2021 at 11:57 am
      Reply

      Yeah no lol, between “wait a few days after an update in case it’s borked” and “use the terminal mode to update a damn linux system” I don’t know how manjaro is supposed to be the ubuntu of arch linux. Just use reborn os or endeavour os if you want arch the easy way (but I figured that there aren’t any easy ways for arch if you want the system to last so, I hope valve’s next steam os will change that when they release it in 2022 q1).

  7. TelV said on November 15, 2021 at 7:26 pm
    Reply

    Found the hardware I like which is this one: https://www.manjarocomputer.eu/index.php/en/manbook17.html

    I have a 17.3 inch laptop now and have gotten used to the numeric keypad on the right so the Manjaro model will have the same layout.

    Will have to wait until next year though since I don’t have sufficient funds to purchase it outright today, but thanks for the article Mike. I would never have known about the opportunity if I hadn’t read it. Oh, and I think I prefer Manjaro MATE rather than KDE because it has pale colour menu backgrounds. KDE is dark green by the looks of it.

  8. Paul(us) said on November 15, 2021 at 7:44 pm
    Reply

    Thanks Mike, great review again.
    Looks like a great peace of software.
    Hopefully there will be more Linux articles soon.

  9. Tancred said on November 15, 2021 at 8:20 pm
    Reply

    Why aren’t you using Manjaro anymore?

    1. Mike Turcotte-McCusker said on November 15, 2021 at 8:27 pm
      Reply

      Currently using Arch Linux. I did an install of Arch a while back to test some differences with it and Manjaro, and just saw no need to wipe Arch to install Manjaro. If I had been testing Debian / Ubuntu / some other non-arch based system, I’d have installed Manjaro, but since I already had Arch, I didn’t see the point :)

  10. smaragdus said on November 15, 2021 at 9:08 pm
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    Steam pre-installed? No without thanks! I didn’t expect a Linux distribution contaminated with such junk.

    1. Sol Shine said on November 15, 2021 at 9:31 pm
      Reply

      @smaragdus
      Steam is not actually installed. Only the Manjaro steam installer ( 3.6 MB) is installed.
      When you open the installer, it will start to download and install steam.
      You can easily remove the installer, if you want.
      I am also not a fan of steam. I prefer DRM free games from GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games).

    2. Nordberg said on November 16, 2021 at 2:10 am
      Reply

      Same thing goes for VLC, OpenOffice and Thunderbird etc.. None of them are necessary. By definiton: bloatware. Too many distros ship with tons of cruft that doesn’t need to be there and advertise it as a lean and bloat-free alternative, which it bloody isn’t. Even those that have a “minimal” install option, STILL can’t resist installing garbage that maybe TOPS 2% of users find useful. Then remove those and you break your system… BLAAAHHHHH. This is one of the reasons linux isn’t more popular, the “top” distros all come with 70% crap included and the remaining 30% is never ever the best choices linux has to offer. On the other end of the spectrum we have distros like elementaryOS that ship with the bare minimum, but is still after all these years not a good operating system. The whole linux ecosystem is a flaming carcrash.

      1. TelV said on November 16, 2021 at 9:23 am
        Reply

        Simple solution for those who don’t want additional software packages is to install GNOME. https://manjaro.org/downloads/official/gnome/

      2. TelV said on November 16, 2021 at 10:25 am
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        Actually, I got that wrong. In fact all 5 distros can be downloaded as minimal installations if desired.

      3. Bingus said on November 17, 2021 at 9:27 am
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        A media player, office suite and email client… Hardly “bloat”.

        Its not like they come with Candy Crush.

  11. Diogene said on November 16, 2021 at 7:39 am
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    I use Manjaro as my primary development OS, since I tried i never went back

  12. Deyo said on November 16, 2021 at 1:41 pm
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    Flawless distro! Total perfection.

  13. Ruurd said on November 16, 2021 at 2:02 pm
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    I love Manjaro xfce. It’s the best distro i ever used. And i tried them all.

  14. Anonymous said on November 16, 2021 at 5:48 pm
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    New convert to Manjaro. I went “off policy” at work and installed it in a fit of frustration. The project I work on starts 25% faster compared to my xubuntu install of the past.

  15. Tom said on November 17, 2021 at 11:18 am
    Reply

    Avoid Manjaro: https://t.me/NoGoolag/3291

    #manjaro
    Manjaro – rolling back your system clock since 2015.

    They had a TLS certificate expire and suggested users to change their system clock for it… Then stealthy edited the suggestion out

    Then it expired again. Their own articles about it were purged in 2018.

    After having the certs expire two times, they’ve learned their lesson and never let it happen again. Just kidding.

    Continuous winner of the hackiest update script of the year.

    Delays package updates for ‘testing’ and yet still completely breaks with a regular update.

    Shipping sponsored proprietary office suite by default.

    And the list goes on.

  16. TelV said on November 18, 2021 at 8:44 pm
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    Hi Mike,

    Just to tap your brains if I may :)

    I want to create a Live USB drive to test Manjaro with. I’ll go with the default XCFE flavour rather than a community created version to start with.

    In the manual which also describes that version which I’ve also been ploughing my way through there are screenshots show a Manjaro partition as 30GB. Does that mean I need a 32GB USB drive, or larger?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Sol Shine said on November 19, 2021 at 3:16 pm
      Reply

      @TelV
      You can install Manjaro on a 16GB partition.
      But it is advised to choose a larger partition if you want to install more software or store your own files in your home directory.
      Manjaro also needs storage to download and install updates.
      So 30 GB should be ok. I have it on a 64 GB partition and it is only using 14 GB at the moment.

  17. TelV said on November 19, 2021 at 4:51 pm
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    @Sol Shine,

    Thanks. I might have a problem though with my machine being an Optimus type. It has Intel 4600 graphics and Nvidia 750GT. The system switches automatically between the two when required.

    From what I’ve read so far Linux doesn’t have drivers which can handle that.

    But I found an archived forum post on how to dual boot with Windows 10. I assume it will work with Windows 8.1 as well though: https://archived.forum.manjaro.org/t/howto-dual-boot-manjaro-windows-10-step-by-step/52668

    The post also recommends using Windows to create disc space rather than relying on the Manjaro installer to do the same thing after which to install Manjaro manually.

    Looks a little tedious in comparison to the automated method, but I don’t want to risk bricking my Windows 8.1 installation so I’ll probably have to go with that.

    1. Sol Shine said on November 19, 2021 at 5:24 pm
      Reply

      @TelV
      Linux indeed does not have graphic drivers that are as good as those for Windows.
      So battery life and game performance and quality will often be better on Windows.

      I stil prefer linux because I hate Microsoft spying and other bad behavior.
      Linux also often has support for ‘old’ hardware that do not work with new versions of Windows.

      My advice is to use Macrium Reflect to first make a backup of the Windows partitions before installing linux.
      Read this: https://www.ghacks.net/2021/11/07/macrium-reflect-8-free-is-now-available/

      Just take your time to read the instructions you found on how to dual boot between Manjaro and Windows. Don’t rush, and see it as a oppportunity to learn new things.
      If something goes wrong you can restore the Windows partitions with Macrium Reflect.

      1. TelV said on November 20, 2021 at 8:36 pm
        Reply

        Thanks once again Sol Shine.

  18. Kn said on November 21, 2021 at 3:31 am
    Reply

    Who will only have 5 browser tabs open?

    Personally, I’d stay away from distros that are built on a particular flavour of Linux. Go for independent distributions. With the former things can break, particularly to do with updates.

    Saying that, I’ve not heard anything adverse about Manjaro and the user community is at large and is helpful.

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