It has been just over three weeks since I switched from Ubuntu to Manjaro, and I thought I would give everyone an update as to my impressions of the OS. (If you haven’t read Moving from Ubuntu to Arch Linux, be sure to check out that post.) To bring everyone up to speed, after using Ubuntu-based Linux distributions for several years, I made the decision to switch to an Arch-based Linux distribution. I used Manjaro, and settled on the Cinnamon desktop, as Manjaro was already rocking the latest version (2.0) of Cinnamon, and I wanted to see how the desktop had been improved.
First of all, I have to say that Manjaro is a great distribution, and if you’re looking for a way to get your feet wet in Arch, this is a great option. Installation went flawlessly, and I have yet to experience any bugs or glitchiness. The Manjaro team should be complimented on an error free and easy to use installer; other distributions would do well to follow Manjaro’s lead.
There are two main features of Arch-based distributions that I LOVE. The first is that this is a rolling release. In other words, as updates are developed, they are released. This is opposed to the release model that Ubuntu and many other Linux distributions use, where every six months or so there is a new version released. While you do have the option of upgrading a package, typically you can only upgrade so many times before a fresh install is needed. The rolling release eliminates this problem.
My other favorite feature is the Arch User Repository, or AUR. This is a community drive repository for compiled packages. So lets say there is a piece of software you want to use but the official Arch repositories don’t contain the software. Just journey over to AUR and search their repositories to see if that software has been compiled and packaged. If so, download and install it for free. There have been several applications I’ve been looking for that were found in AUR. And for tho more advanced user, I allows you to build packages not only for personal use, but to share with the community.
Many Arch users will say that running Manjaro is NOT the same as running Arch, and to that I say “agreed.” A big part of the Arch experience is the from scratch installation using the terminal. Because of the lengthy and intensive installation process, the Arch user learns how and why things work, which greatly assist in troubleshooting (if the need arrives). It also allows for the most custom Linux experience available. There are no default applications for ANYTHING; you select the file manager, you select the web browser, and so forth. This isn’t to say that you can’t change from the defaults in other distributions (it’s pretty easy in fact), but in the case of Arch, from the ground up, every decision was yours.
For me, however, I recognize that this is not a true Arch installation. And that’s OK; I’m using Manjaro as a baby step to a full Arch installation. Manjaro is allowing me to learn about Arch before doing a true install. Once I’m happy and confident with what I’ve learned, you can bet that I will perform that Arch installation.
The Cinnamon desktop is a great desktop for someone who is making the move from Windows. Having said that, it is not for me. I have been using XFCE and KDE desktops for so long that Cinnamon just isn’t comfortable for me. It is too… Windows-like. And while that may appeal to some, and it may be great for those making the transition from Windows to Linux, it just doesn’t work for me.
So where from here? For the time being, I will stay with Manjaro Arch, although I will change my desktop. I keep going back and forth between KDE and XFCE, and have yet to decide which I will switch to. I feel both are more flexible than Cinnamon, and of course I’m far more familiar with those two desktops. I will keep everyone informed and up to date with my impressions of Manjaro and the land of Arch, as well as what I settle on for my new desktop environment.
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