Hail the Arch! Hail the (Kili)manjaro!
Manjaro Linux was one of the first GNU/Linux distributions I touched when seeking a lightweight and feature-free alternative to Windows. The current version back then was 0.8.x and the default desktop Openbox. Manjaro Linux had and still has one of the prettiest and bad-ass looking Openbox implementations, second only to Crunchbang Linux. Openbox itself is a very interesting window manager. Extremely light on resources in its stock configuration, but can be easily expanded with features and dock apps to match full-blown desktop environments. Openbox was also one of the things that brought me to Manjaro Linux initially. Nowadays, Manjaro ships with Xfce and KDE by default, though various community spins offer additional environments, like i3, GNOME and many others.
Somewhat tired of high RAM usage and software I never intend to use, I gave in to Manjaro Linux 16.06-dev Xfce. Although it’s still a beta/development release, I decided to give it a try regardless.
One of Manjaro’s definitely redeeming features is emphasis on visuals. Its base, Arch Linux, is a bare minimalist GNU/Linux distribution, which in its stock configuration doesn’t even offer the X11 window server. On the other hand, Manjaro Linux comes with a desktop environment (Xfce in the screen shot) and a set of basic tools to get the user started. Purists would definitely fuss, though I believe Manjaro’s way is simply more efficient in the long run. In addition, I like eye candy, but somehow I am never able to get it right.
However, Manjaro Linux adds far more than just eye candy. The Manjaro Settings Manager serves as a central hub for system management, but also grants access to the great kernel handling utility. I think it’s a rightful point of pride that Manjaro Linux offers so many kernels. Some hardware doesn’t have modules compatible with the most recent kernels, and some kernels are just more solid as they have been perfected over the years (like the 3.10 LTS kernel, for instance). Furthermore, there is the hardware detection tool, similar to Ubuntu’s driver installer and language settings. A comparison to Ubuntu is spot-on as Manjaro Linux offers a similarly user-friendly experience, just without the bloat and often disputable corporate drive.
To sum up, Manjaro Linux reminded me that a GNU/Linux operating system can be approachable, yet slim and light on resources without major drawbacks. Time and time again I return to Arch Linux or Arch-based distributions, because they are really that much easier to use and maintain. Nothing is left to chance unless we want it to be that way.