I Ditched Ubuntu for Manjaro: Here’s What I Think After a Week

I mostly rely on Ubuntu-based distros like Pop! _OS, Zorin OS, Linux Mint or Ubuntu itself for the job.

They fade away when I’m working on something, as well as seamless software updates. Not to mention, they get along well with my Intel-Nvidia powered system.

Everything (may be subjective) works out of the box.

However, I recently decided to switch to Arch Linux on bare metal (because I used it mostly on virtual machines).

And then I ended up using Manjaro Linux (an Arch-based distro).

Here’s why I chose Manjaro Linux

To my surprise, I couldn’t even pass the “new DRM: core notifier timeout” error, let alone proceed with the installation when using a Live USB for Arch Linux. Yes, I’m aware of the guided installer with Arch Linux, but the connected screens keep flashing highlighting this error no matter what.

The best solution to this problem was not to get an NVIDIA card with my recent update.

Too bad, I prefer Nvidia GPUs…

AMD’s RX 6600 XT is similarly priced to the RTX 3060 Ti; it made no sense to get this card for 1440p.

So yes, RTX 3060 Ti may be the problem in my case.

Although I found some methods to solve the problem, I was too lazy. I just wanted to see if I could experience Arch Linux without trying hard.

So here’s what I did:

The next best option would be to try one of the best arch-based distros designed to make things easier, right?

And it’s there Manjaro Linux Between.

Manjaro Linux is a popular Arch-based distro, and I’ve noticed steady improvements with each update (while using it in a virtual machine).

Also, I like Manjaro’s default theme accent color for my desktop experience.

So I decided to try…

Manjaro Linux: difficult start

I had no problem installing Manjaro with the proprietary Nvidia drivers. However, a recent update, namely, Manjaro Linux 21.2.6, messed up the system.

I was unable to access the login screen and TTY (all I could see was the motherboard manufacturer’s logo)

So I had to reinstall Manjaro Linux using the latest ISO, and so far so good (knock on wood).

And during my use of Manjaro Linux, I noticed a few things that make up for its good and bad points.

Here I highlight some of my experiences. This information should help you learn more if you haven’t tried it yet.

1. Easy installation

The main strength of an Arch-based distribution is ease of setup. And I had no problem.

Installing Manjaro Linux on my secondary drive was a breeze. The bootloader was correctly configured to show the Manjaro themed boot menu which allows me to select Windows/Manjaro Linux to dual boot.

2. Manjaro hello

The welcome experience is an important part of the user experience when trying something new. And Manjaro Linux does not disappoint in this regard.

You get all the essential information if you pay close attention to the information available through the home screen.

The GNOME Layout Manager allows you to choose an appropriate layout to make yourself comfortable.

However, I couldn’t get the “Window tile“Feature working when I tried to enable it here:

3. Package manager is fast and versatile

Considering GNOME is my favorite desktop environment, I’ve had terrible experiences with Software Center (or even distro-specific stores like Pop!_Shop).

While they are doing the job, sometimes they are unresponsive or not responsive enough as I expect.

With Manjaro Linux, I found Pamac installed as package manager. It seems to be one of best ways to install and remove software on Manjaro Linux.

In my experience, it was extremely fast with installs and removal of packages. You also get prompts for conflicts in packages or if something needs replacing/removing. The package manager gives a lot of information about optional/required dependencies when you install something.

Overall, it was a pretty good experience with no slowdowns. To sweeten the experience, the package manager lets you quickly enable support for Flat Packs/Snaps/AUR by adjusting pamac preferences.

Thus, you do not have to use the terminal or the various software stores. Everything will be available under one roof, which is a huge time saver.

4. Try the ZSH Shell

I’m used to the bash shell on Ubuntu based distros. However, Manjaro Linux offers the default ZSH shell. I think ZSH is better than bash, but I’ll go into the comparison soon with a separate article.

In other words, I can try something different out of the box. Much to my delight, the terminal prompt and shell (or terminal) theme that follows the Manjaro brand accent colors are pretty awesome!

Therefore, I don’t need customize the appearance of the terminal here.

To learn more, you can check out some of our resources at what is ZSH and how to install it.

5. Lack of official software support

I hope it will improve soon. But, as of now, many software/utilities offer direct support for Ubuntu and Fedora only.

You can find official DEB/RPM packages for various tools, but none will work with Manjaro Linux directly.

You will have to rely on the packages available in the Arch Linux repositories or AUR.

Fortunately, there is a good chance of finding the software in AUR or their repositories maintained by the community or the distro developers. Just like I could get Synchronized (affiliate link) to work on Manjaro Linux with available file management integration extensions.

However, without official support for the platform, you may/may not miss some quick features or updates.

Of course, if you rely on Flat pencil case or Snap plans, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Also, if you are new to Linux, you can refer to our Guide to flat packs for more information.

6. No fractional scaling

I have a dual monitor setup with 1080p + 1440p resolutions. So fractional scaling helps, but I can do without it.

To enable fractional scaling on Manjaro, you will need to install x11 scaling compatible packages for Mutter and GNOME Control Center. Packages include:

  • mutter-x11-scaling
  • gnome-control-center-x11-scaling

This will replace your existing mutter and gnome control center packages. Thus, you will lose the default theme/accent settings for your desktop.

You may need to use GNOME Tweaks to get it right. But it can turn out to be a boring experience.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoy the desktop experience with Manjaro Linux. If another system update doesn’t break the experience, I think I’ll stick with Manjaro Linux as my new daily driver.

In your opinion, what are the strengths/weaknesses of Manjaro Linux? Did I miss something in my new experience? Do you have any suggestions as an experienced Arch Linux user?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Steven L. Nielsen