Each night before bed I plug in the headphones and try to learn a little something about the Tech World by listening to some at times very interesting Pod Casts. This week on Linux for the Rest of Us was talking about Sonar Linux and I was re-introduced to Arch Linux in a new way. You see, while Arch has always been one of those versions of Linux that is easy to use…it has suffered real problem with the installation. You see, every time that I have tried to install it, the 3 hour ordeal would start to cause convulsions and I would typically quit and move on…but according to the podcast, Manjaro Linux takes care of all of that..in a big way…so I figured I would give it a try and see how things went.
There were plenty of options to choose from when looking at Manjaro, there are ISOs for XFCE, KDE, OpenBox even a Minimal Net Version but I chose the KDE version mainly because I figured I would try to conquer two of my dislikes about Linux in one fell swoop…so I dove right in!
I configured my trusty Oracle Virtual Box with 4 GB of RAM and gave the 1.56 GB ISO 20 GB of space to play in…so see how things went. Right out of the box I noticed something very new and rather exciting…the ISO boots to a Live Image…I was seeing Arch Linux in its native environment really for the first time. When I clicked on the Install Manjaro Icon…I was greeted by the hated Blue Screen of Frustration that had stymied nearly every attempt at using Arch in the past but while there were far more clicks than with an Ubuntu Install (or nearly every other version of Linux I have reviewed in the past two years) but to my amazement, the makers of Manjaro have also created a lovely Graphical Installation that cuts the number of clicks down exponentially…even if it doesn’t speed up things much beyond the 25 minutes for the full install.
At the end of the largely painless process what I had was a very elegant desktop that instantly felt familiar. Sure it was KDE with its individual quirks and the strange need to have “K” in front of every default program…but everything was there, live and in technicolor.
I was impressed with the completeness of the the Operating System right out of the box.
- Blogilio – Blogging Client
- Konquorer – Browser
- Kmail – Email
- Kopete – IM Client
- Ktorrent – Torrent Downloader
- LibreOffice – Office Applications
- KOrganizer – Calendar Application
- Okular – Document Reader
- Amarok – Music Player
- K3b – Media Burner
- VLC – Video Player
- the GIMP – Photoshop Clone
- Simple Scan
One thing that impressed me about the default programs was the tight integration with KDE and the Widgets that can be placed on the desktop. Everything from Calculators to Reminder Apps to Time Trackers and Note Takers…this would be handy for those looking to be a productive as possible.
While the overall number and quality of programs included with the OS were solid and left little to the need to round out the applications for a typical novice user…I am not a novice user and over the years have developed a need to have certain programs at my disposal regardless of what OS I am using…so off to the nether regions of PACMAN to see if I could get that beast to play nice.
To my surprise…the developers at Manjaro put more than lipstick on the pig that is PACMAN and with the use of Octopi I was able to easily finalize the configuration of the system and tweaked things just right for me grabbing things like Chromium (Open Source Chrome Browser), Inkscape, gStreamer Good, Bad and Ugly Plugins and a host of others without any problem or issues…this was a welcome change from past experiences and made the entire process very enjoyable…so much so that I went out and grabbed the XFCE version of Manjaro to muck about with and was even more impressed with this (the lighter desktop is something that I enjoy and while the programs included are less varied, I was actually able to make use of the Octopi Package Manager to configure the setup equally well and built what I would consider a solid OS in less than 45 minutes beginning to end.
Would I continue to use this…maybe. Is it as good as Ubuntu…that is debatable…it is fast, it is stable and it does give users many choices…but as far as being the right feel…I am and will always be a Gnome User…and the setting up of a Gnome Environment from KDE or XFCE is always problematic so for now…I will stick with Ubuntu.