Version 21.3 of Manjaro – codenamed “Ruah” – is here, with kernel 5.15, but don’t let the beginner-friendly billing fool you: you need a hint with this one.
Manjaro Linux is one of the most popular Arch Linux derivatives and the new version 21.3 is the latest update to version 21 released in 2021. There are three official flavors running GNOME 42.2, KDE 5.24.5, or Xfce 4.16 desktops, plus community builds with Budgie, Cinnamon, MATE, a choice of tile window managers (i3 or Sway), and a Docker image.
the reg got his last look at Arch Linux a few months ago. Arch is one of the older rolling release distributions and also notoriously minimalist. The installation process is non-trivial: it’s controlled from the command line, and the user does much of the hard work, manually partitioning disks and so on.
Manjaro describes himself as “a different kind of beast”. The team maintains its own hierarchy of repositories with more testing and integration – which is why it has releases instead of rolling releases. Manjaro claims to be “designed to be accessible to newbies”: it has an easy installer and comes with a choice of ready-to-roll desktops, putting a lot of Arch’s hard work to work. The user guide compares the relationship between Manjaro and Arch as similar to that between Ubuntu and Debian.
The installer is Calamares, a distro-neutral tool that’s also used in GeckoLinux and OpenMandriva, so the installation is a pretty smooth and polished experience. Before loading on the desktop, a splash screen prompts you to select a language and keyboard layout, and offers the option to load only FOSS or proprietary drivers as well. We like the approach of describing these with Linux locales (such as
en_GB) – it’s terse and space efficient – but those are still tricky questions for a total novice.
Manjaro 21.3 comes with the latest stable GNOME, 42.2
We tried the new version on a testbed Thinkpad W520 using our regular bootable Ventoy USB, but worryingly the Xfce edition didn’t boot, although it ran fine in VirtualBox.
The GNOME edition loaded fine, but then refused to boot from another distribution’s GRUB menu, which failed with a kernel panic. It loaded without any problems from its own GRUB menu. GNOME ran fine, so we tried loading Nvidia drivers for the integrated Quadro 1000M GPU. Installing from the distribution’s own repository went fine, but the drivers didn’t really seem to work. GNOME settings reported using only the CPU integrated Intel GPU.
We find disruptions like this worrying. A simpler, simpler Arch Linux sounds like a good thing, but we don’t think major issues like this should show up in a point release. Manjaro is reportedly easier to install and more beginner-friendly than Arch, but this distro is still not one that we would recommend for a beginner. ®