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Review: Manjaro Linux 19.0

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Manjaro Linux is one of those distributions I have tried many times over the years but was always unable to keep for any length of time due to this or that issue cropping up. Either package management was limited, it wouldn't boot up after the install, or even straight away. Whatever the issues I don't exactly recall, because the last time I tested it must have been around 2014 or even 2013, which would have made this Manjaro 0.8.x. Has it really been around this long already? My, I'm getting quite long in the tooth. Manjaro 19.0 looks really interesting and it's brand new. I'm sure lots has changed so, in somebody else's words, test we must.

Many of the people behind Manjaro are the same that are, or at least were, behind the Chakra distribution, a KDE-centric distribution I really liked and found interesting back in the day but which appears quite dormant. Developers moved on. I recall getting an e-mail once about this new project they were going to start called Manjaro and asking if I wanted to do an early review but unfortunately time didn't permit back then. And when I did it appeared not mature yet so it seemed better not to write anything. But an incremental number 19 seems plenty mature. Enough of the babble, let's go.

The release announcement for 19.0 informs us that it comes in three desktop variants with GNOME 3.34, Xfce 14.4 or with KDE Plasma 5.17. Cutting edge stuff. Also with something called Architect which as it turns out is included in all editions as a shortcut on the desktop, similar to the install button, and allows us to customize installations. Architect can also be downloaded on its own and is basically a net-install image to install the latest available packages and set up and configure Manjaro in every detail using the command line, custom setup tool included. We'll be looking at this in more detail later.

I opted to download the KDE edition via a torrent which is clocked at 2,892MB (about 2.8GB) but which took up 3.0GB on my hard drive. I guess it depends on what cluster size one has used for formatting.

The release announcement includes a 43 minute long video walking us through all the editions which is a really nice introduction to features and looks and can help decide which edition is for you.

This release is underpinned by the latest LTS Linux kernel 5.4 to have the most up to date drivers available. Looks-wise Manjaro has updated Xfce with their own new theme called Matcha, the Plasma desktop has received a fully integrated look with a comprehensive and all-encompassing set of themes called Breath2 in light and dark variants. And yes, it looks slick if that is your style but personally I'm not one for the abstract wallpapers and flat looks in fashion nowadays. Not a biggie, can be changed.

It is quite evident though, even at this stage, from looking at the website that Manjaro has a lot of resources behind it and a lot of people must be committing time to this, so it's certainly not a project in danger of withering away over night in case people are concerned about long-term viability and support for their installs. Plus, Manjaro is of course based on Arch Linux which has been around since the early 2000s. Packages from the official Arch Linux repositories and user contributed packages and build scripts should be working fine. Like Arch Linux, Manjaro is also a rolling release distribution that should not require a reinstall if everything goes well. The team behind Manjaro go to some lengths to make sure it does, by tweaking and moderating changes from upstream and channeling packages through their own repositories.

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Manjaro 19.0 Kyria KDE Edition

  • Manjaro 19.0 Kyria KDE Edition – Features KDE Plasma 5.17 and Powered by Linux Kernel 5.4

    Manjaro 19 KDE Edition ships with the latest version KDE plasma 5.17. The themes have been updated including new “light” and “dark” versions within the Breath2 theme. In addition, KDE 19.12.2 packages and applications have been included.

    Manjaro 19 offering Office Suite Freeoffice 2018 by SoftMaker during installation. Bauh, the graphical package manager now supports Snaps, Flatpaks, Appimage and the Arch AUR. This means that Manjaro users now have three choices of application installation in the GUI.

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