Manjaro Linux: Arch For People Who Don’t Have Time

Danny Stieben 11-03-2014

There are plenty of things that make Arch Linux highly appealing Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch For Linux power users, it's highly desirable to be able to completely customize your system. Sometimes, that can be best achieved from the start -- by piecing together the components that you'd like to include... Read More to users: it’s always up-to-date, it’s a rolling release, and there’s tons of software available for it in its repositories. But what isn’t so appealing is the learning curve and pure difficulty of setting up an Arch system. If you want the best aspects of Arch, without the bad parts, you need Manjaro Linux.


About Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is an Arch-based distribution, meaning that it runs on the same backbone and the same repositories as Arch itself. It also implements the rolling release upgrade model, meaning that you never have to perform a major upgrade from “release 1” to “release 2” – just update your packages and you’ll be up-to-date.


However, unlike Arch, it doesn’t require that users build up systems on their own. This isn’t to say that setting up the Arch way is a bad thing, or that it’s too difficult – there’s plenty of documentation for the job. But some people simply don’t have the time, regardless of their skill level.

There’s a lot of fuss among Arch users whether they should support Manjaro, and while some believe that it goes against everything Arch stands for, I think it’s a good option for those who want it.

Also unlike Arch, there are some defaults when it comes to the included software. For example, Manjaro defaults to the Xfce desktop environment (which is lightweight and awesome XFCE: Your Lightweight, Speedy, Fully-Fledged Linux Desktop As far as Linux goes, customization is king. Not only that, but the customization options are so great it might make your head spin. I have previously mentioned the differences between the major desktop environments... Read More ), although official Openbox,(a very minimal desktop environment Need A Fresh Desktop Environment for Linux? Try Openbox Or xmonad Read More ), and KDE (a desktop environment with lots of eye candy Guide to KDE: The Other Linux Desktop This guide is meant to introduce the so-called "power users" of computers with an introduction to KDE, including the option (and freedom) that it provides. Read More ) versions are available as well. Other desktop environments, such as Gnome, are available as “Community Editions”.


Don’t Fear the Beta!

Technically speaking, Manjaro is still a beta distribution – its version sits at 0.8.9 at time of writing. This shouldn’t push away any potential users. The main reason why Manjaro is still considered a beta distribution is because of the Manjaro additions to the otherwise stable Arch packages that are installed. Things like the Manjaro installer and the Pacman (package manager) graphical frontend are still beta, but everything else that is on the system are stable versions of the software that Arch offers in its repositories.

The User Experience

When you first launch the distribution, you’ll be greeted with a simple message welcoming you to the system. It’ll also provide you with several buttons that send you to certain websites, or the installer. Otherwise, you can close this message and begin exploring.

Manjaro comes with a familar applications menu which initially displays your favorite applications, and then all of the usual categories. Navigation is easy and pretty enjoyable, primarily because it doesn’t get in your way.

The default software is pretty much what you’d expect for a regular full Linux distribution – Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice are all included. This is slightly surprisingly for a Xfce desktop – distributions using it  tend to choose more lightweight applications as the defaults. Manjaro also includes GIMP, Steam, and VLC Media Player.


By the way, for those who are exploring and happen to come upon a prompt asking for root permissions, the root password in the live environment is “manjaro”.

Installing Software

Of course, you’ll be interested in knowing how installing packages goes. It worked just fine for me – no issues whatsoever. Manjaro actually uses its own repositories rather than piggybacking off of Arch’s repositories, but it imports Arch’s packages into its own to maintain compatibility. It also allows the project to perform some more testing than Arch does before putting their own “stable” label on the packages.

Maintaining compatibility with Arch also allows it to use the Arch User Repository, the one repository where anyone can submit their own packages that aren’t found in the official repositories. Thankfully, but Manjaro’s repositories, as well as the AUR, can be accessed from the graphical package manager that comes with Manjaro — just enable the AUR checkbox and you’ll be looking at all the packages from both sources.


Again, I really think that Manjaro is a great solution for those who like Arch’s updated packages, rolling release updates, and massive repositories but don’t enjoy the time requirements of installing everything from the ground up and maintaining the system via configuration files. If you’re not sure whether you’d be interested in using Manjaro, the best way to find out is to try it out from a USB flash drive Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Read More or within a virtual machine How to Use VirtualBox: User's Guide With VirtualBox you can easily install and test multiple operating systems. We'll show you how to set up Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine. Read More .


What’s your opinion of Manjaro? Do you think it could grow into a major distribution? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Arch Linux, Linux Distro.

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  1. slamtux
    May 20, 2015 at 1:35 am

    I haven't tried a rolling distro before so I decided to install the latest iso of Manjaro, as of this writing the xfce 0.8.13-rc1 in my laptop, a Pentium dual core Acer with just 2GB of RAM. The new xfce desktop looks very well made and polished. Only issue I encountered was the audio which disappeared, later fixed after a few searches for solution. I am now downloading the KDE version to try in my other newer laptop with hybrid graphics since I read that Manjaro can configure dual graphics during installation automatically- something I couldn't figure out in other distros.

    But my first impression of Manjaro? It's awesome!

  2. Josh Mason
    September 1, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Technically, Arch for People who Don't Have Time would be Antergos, as it actually is Arch, Manjaro's Arch-based, but it uses its own repos.

  3. Djenka
    May 10, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Installed Manjaro with a great enthusiasm, following a great disappointment in Ubuntu's touchscreen selfcentring and inability to remove bloatware.

    Initially a great experience. I love the general way of workflow and use.
    After 2 months of use, decision is made to replace it.

    Not because it lacks something major but because IMO it is not well integrated and needs too much of honing for a regular advanced Joe.

    Notable resons:
    * start of any programme makes the programme not responsive for 20-30 seconds after it loads,
    * screensaver lock does not have an option to change the keyboard layout,
    * share permission of own files not simple

  4. st.jimmy
    April 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    ok i am a noob here can you pls tell me which DE is this? is it mate ?

  5. Wantoo Sevin
    March 20, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Great article! I'm going to admit my bias to stable distributions here, and I do take issue with this article for saying that Manjaro (or Arch) is "always up to date" because that's a little misleading. It's always *cutting edge* and I'm not sure that that means it's always "up to date". Sometimes it's too up to date for its own good. It's great for people who like living on the edge, but for us folk who use it in real life, on the job, to make money - well, we can't really afford to beta test.

    That said, Arch is fun and so I'll probably try out Manjaro.

    Thanks for the info!

    • Will
      September 14, 2016 at 12:23 am

      I had used Ubuntu for years and years. I switched to Manjaro almost as soon as I learned about it. Why? Ubuntu breaks here, there, well everywhere, on just about every upgrade. Something, somewhere, is going to break. Every time. A complete re-install is pretty much required after the first distribution-upgrade. At one point it just decided I didn't need mySQL anymore, in any form. It removed it as part of an upgrade, then flatly refused to allow either mySQL or MariaDb to be installed ever again.

      I've been with Manjaro now for about 3 years - zero issues. Zero breakage.

      At first I was apprehensive about blindly upgrading, for reasons you suggest. But, now, when I see the update notification I just mindlessly click on it and move on.

  6. Omar E
    March 18, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Does it contain Bumblebee ?

  7. Don Gateley
    March 12, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Rather than a link to a general education on Virtual Box it would be cool if you created an article on how, specifically, to install Manjaro in it. That would be in keeping with the general idea of this article about not having time.

  8. Smitty Werben J
    March 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Although I've been using Ubuntu for a long time I still consider myself a newbie concerning Linux issues. Do you think I could give it a try or is it a lot less user-friendly? Also, I want to learn enough to (someday) use Arch.

    • harindu
      March 12, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      You should definitly give it a try.. Manjaro is very user-friendly, it has a great community and Arch community is also helpful since manjaro is based on Arch. I went straight to Manjaro from three years of Ubuntu and it didn't feel hard to use at all.. in fact I've never had to install any other distro or reinstall manjaro because it gets updates all the time and is very stable to use daily.

  9. Neitsab
    March 12, 2014 at 2:07 am

    I've been very impressed and pleased by the 0.8.9 release of Manjaro (tried Xcfe).

    Having spent quite a lot of time installing an Arch box for myself, I enjoyed the solid knowledge it brought me thanks to its incomparable wiki and manual installation procedure, but on the other hand I pitied that such a well-functioning and stable system (yes I assert that Arch_is_stable, more so at least than the only other distro I used for a long time, Ubuntu GNOME Remix) was out of reach of non-technically minded users.

    As I found myself suggesting -- and most often installing -- GNU/Linux to many Windows users, I always regretted having to bring them on the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint platform rather than on Arch's one that I prefer. Thanks to Manjaro, this dilemma is close to an end as I can install it and not worry too much about the user experience that will follow. It is a distro that's really been thought with non-bothering/non-tinkerer users in mind (although it remains possible to do so easily) and its community is quite friendly and helpful. From the interview of the devs I could read, they also seem to be good people with user satisfaction in mind.

    The fact that Manjaro comes in so many editions is another bonus: I can use them to showcase quickly (i.e. without having to remaster ISOs) the various desktop environments potential converts may choose between ; I also appreciate the inclusion of good fonts (pretty different from Debian, Fedora...) and the existence of the net installer, which reminds me of the Arch Installation Framework in its golden days.

    Some stuff are still a bit rough around the corners (e.g. Thunar showing hidden files by default) but the overall impression was really impressive and made me feel like digging more into this distro. After installing it the good impression remained and I decided to make it my new "newbie-friendly" distro. A big thumbs up for its complete internationalization straight from the live media menu (a press on "F2" in Syslinux paves the way to an already translated interface in the live session, something I hadn't seen in a long time among GNU/Linux distros), that's another element that shows how much consideration is put towards this project's goal: delivering an out-of-the-box experience on the Arch foundations and cater to the less technically-minded users that are left out from the Arch Way.

    Give it a go, you won't be disappointed!

  10. P.Edant
    March 12, 2014 at 12:31 am

    "Manjaro Linux is an Arch-based distribution, meaning that it runs on the same backbone and the same repositories as Arch itself."

    This isn't true. Manjaro uses a separate set of repositories. The security implications of this are well documented.

  11. dragonmouth
    March 11, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Just yesterday I installed Bridge Linux which is also based on Arch but comes with either KDE or LXDE. Haven't had a chance to do much exploring yet.