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Distro hopping: curtains for Manjaro Linux

September 29th, 2015 1 comment

The time has come to wrap things up with Manjaro and hop on to the next distribution to try out. So here are some final thoughts on my short time with Manjaro Linux.

Manjaro has a very nice theme

Manjaro has a very nice theme

Pros:

Cons:

  • …at times also a completely bizzare collection of default software. Qt4 Designer? Sensor Viewer? These seem like things that could probably just be added by users who want them after the fact instead of being default software.
  • Just like what Chakra did for Gentoo, I’m not exactly sure where Manjaro wants to sit. Is it a polished distribution for new/average users? Is it a power users dream come true? Neither is really quite right…

Other:

  • Why isn’t Manjaro a more popular distribution? It seems like it should be.

manjaro_welcome

Come back soon to find out what’s next!

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Distro hopping: adventures in installing software from the AUR (from within Manjaro)

September 27th, 2015 No comments

Manjaro Linux allows you to take advantage of its Arch Linux background and search for software from within the Arch User Repository (AUR). This is a collection of community maintained source code packages that are built and installed on your system (instead of being downloaded as pre-built binaries). Historically this has been a good solution for getting more niche software or just the latest version of a particular piece of software. Plus it lets you feel all l337 as you watch the terminal scroll through the compilation process like you are part of The Matrix.

Using the AUR in Manjaro

If you want to make use of the AUR in Manjaro you can but you should know that doing so can also cause problems on your system. These are not officially maintained or supported installations and so any number of things can go wrong as a result. Because of that the AUR is disabled by default so in order to enable it simply open the Package Manager application and enter the preferences window.

Before enabling the AUR these are the officially supported packages available

Before enabling the AUR these are the officially supported packages available

 

Enable AUR support

Enable AUR support in this menu

Once enabled you can choose to search in the AUR and doing so often shows additional results.

More results with AUR

More results with AUR!

If you choose one of the packages from the AUR (usually ending in -svn) it will kick off an interactive terminal where you have to OK various parts of the build process. I believe there is an option under preferences to turn this off should you wish to do so.

Downloading source, compiling package, installing...

Downloading source, compiling package, installing…

Huzzah! You’ve successfully compiled a program out of the Arch User Repository! Now you can go on your merry way doing whatever it was you wanted to do!

Once finished installing you can use the software just like anything else you've installed on your system

Once finished installing you can use the software just like anything else you’ve installed on your system

Conclusion

The Arch User Repository provides a nice addition to the regular officially supported repository that makes it much easier to find, download and install extra software packages from source rather than you having to track them down yourself. While there are some risks involved, many people swear by the AUR and so in general it should be relatively safe to use.

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Distro hopping: round two with Manjaro Linux

September 23rd, 2015 No comments

While looking around for different distributions to try I stumbled across Manjaro Linux and having never used it before decided that this should be the second stop in the great distro hopping experiment of 2015! I downloaded the Xfce version, as that seems to take priority placement on their website, and got to work installing. The installer reminded me of an interesting hybrid between what I had seen in OpenSUSE way back and what you can find in something like Ubuntu or Linux Mint these days. Overall it was a nice, straight forward install and actually had some cool power user options (encryption, placing home directory on different volume, etc.) as well.

The default desktop

The default desktop

Never having used Manjaro before I have to say that, at least with the Xfce version, this is a polished and snappy distribution. It reminds me quite a bit of what you would find with Linux Mint Cinnamon only much faster. Reading the About page on their website seems to confirm this thought as it presents itself in comparison to Arch Linux as the Linux Mint of Ubuntus or perhaps the elementary OS of Linuxes:

Manjaro is a user-friendly GNU/Linux distribution based on the independently 
developed Arch Linux. Within the Linux community, Arch itself is renowned 
for being an exceptionally fast, powerful and lightweight distribution that 
provides access to the very latest cutting-edge software.

However, Arch is also traditionally aimed at more experienced or 
technically-minded users. As such, it is generally considered to be beyond 
the reach of many, especially those who lack the technical expertise (or 
persistence) required to use it.

For newcomers, a user-friendly installer is provided, and the system itself 
is designed to work fully “straight out of the box”...
Thunar the file manager

Thunar the file manager

So what comes with Manjaro you ask? Well I’m glad you asked! For Browser and E-mail it uses Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird respectively. These are solid applications and my standard go-tos as well. It also includes quite a few utilities like a bulk file renamer and sensor viewer for power users.

View all the sensors!

View all the sensors!

Interestingly it also comes pre-loaded wth some Qt development tools for some reason. I’m not sure why this is included by default but… there you go. Cooler than that though is that it comes with Steam already installed so you can jump right into your games as quickly as possible.

For music it comes with the Guayadeque Music Player which is an application I’ve never even heard of before. I’ll have to dig into this one a bit more before I can give my impressions on it but for now have a screenshot!

A screenshot!

A screenshot!

VLC rounds out the rest of the multimedia applications which is a solid choice.

Unlike some other distributions, Manjaro comes packed with options and settings for configuring it however you’d like. It also ships with a graphical kernel configuration and installation screen which I believe is the first of its kind that I’ve ever seen at least.

So many kernels!

So many kernels!

I’m looking forward to playing around with Manjaro in the coming days but so far I must admit that I’m impressed, especially considering I had never even heard of this distribution until this week. Check back for my continued updates on my experiences with Manjaro.

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