Sunday, 27 October 2013

Manjaro Linux: "Arch Done Right!" "Arch For Complete Idiots!!"? Or something else?..

Anyone who has spent some time in Linux space will have come across the "distro b*tch" phenomenon. These are individuals and cliques who for whatever reason, over-identify with their particular GNU Linux OS of choice, to the point where they feel compelled to insult - subtly or otherwise - anyone stupid enough to choose a different operating system. The attitude of this sub-species of homo sapien ranges from the crass, unthinking troll, to the most anally retentive intellectual elitist, looking down his (usually) or her nose at those of us are too un-enlightened to see their particular distro of choice for what it is.

The One.

(Oh yes my brothers and sisters, hear ye, hear ye...)

In the minds of such people or groups, one's choice of an alternate Linux flavour appears to offend them more deeply than the existence of starving people in the third world or greedy corporations poisoning the beautiful planet we all share. This sad loss of perspective reflects a related loss of gratitude for the wonderfully diverse range of exceptional operating systems GNU Linux has blessed us with - a plethora of options that Windows & OSX users will never see. Whether you are an 80 year old retiree or a lentel eating heavy metal head - in fact, pretty much whatever your sub-culture or user requirements - there exists one or more distro's catering to your tastes. This diversity acts like a thorn-in-the-side of distro dogmatists, who one must logically assume, secretly believe that GNU Linux would finally conquer the desktop if only every other distro except The One were eradicated.

Having clearly stated my complete contempt for distro elitism in any form whatsoever, let me move on to the question I pose in the title. Having used Manjaro as my primary OS for the last 10 or so months, I have come across a multiplicity of views about this young Arch-based upstart, that elicits a range of emotions and points of view. The two perspectives that I find most interesting are "Arch done right!" and "Arch for idiots and lazy people!!" The "Arch done right!" viewpoint bases itself on the fact that the Manjaro Way takes Arch Linux and says to users, "You can have your cake and eat it. You can enjoy the speed, simplicity and minimalist essentialism of Arch, along with a newbie friendly installation process and a reduced risk of system breakages". In short, an Arch-based system, minus the knowledge and time requirements demanded by Arch proper. Some people call this "Arch done right".

In opposition to this point of view is the one that sees Manjaro as breaking one of the cardinal rules of The Arch Way, opting for "user-friendly over "user-centric". To clarify these terms, a relevant quote from the esteemed Arch Wiki serves us well: "Whereas many GNU/Linux distributions attempt to be more user-friendly, Arch Linux has always been, and shall always remain user-centric. Arch Linux targets and accommodates competent GNU/Linux users by giving them complete control and responsibility over the system."

For some Arch users therefore - thankfully a small minority - Manjaro equates to "Arch for complete idiots and/or lazy people". It is the ultimate blasphemy made manifest, standing in the temple. Within this belief system, the fact that it simplifies (dumbs down?) the installation and day-to-day running of Arch, is unacceptable and at the very least, casts significant doubt on the users credibility. Few would disagree that this subtle yet significant difference in guiding values and principles, has been the source of some heated debate in the wider Arch community, between a small coterie of insecure Arch and Manjaro users.

Thankfully the majority of Arch and Manjaro users can see the small-mindedness of both of these positions. Manjaro can only ever be judged subjectively, as "Arch done right or wrong FOR ME", and not for humanity as a whole. For those users who like myself, don't want to invest the time required to achieve the level of competency needed for "complete control and responsibility over the system", but still want an Arch-based system, Manjaro offers a lot. Likewise, for users with the necessary knowledge, time and will to maintain their own system, Arch is an extremely compelling option.

That Manjaro is based on Arch and owes a debt of appreciation to it, few in the Manjaro community would, or should argue - Manjaro's technical relationship to Arch is a subjective fact. However, claiming that Manjaro is superior to Arch or vice versa, in an objective "true for all" sense, lacks any kind of logical/intellectual credibility. In certain respects, Manjaro stands in relation to Arch in a similar way to that of Ubuntu in relation to Debian, or Mint in relation to Ubuntu. Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, Manjaro. These are all excellent distros, in their own right. I tried Mint before settling on Manjaro and enjoyed it. I will never be seen dead running Ubuntu, but I might try my hand at Debian or Arch (again) in the future.

Manjaro isn't "Arch Done Right!" or "Arch For Complete Idiots!!"?

It's occupies it's own space.

Manjaro is Manjaro.


  1. I agree. After trying gazillion distros and spending many hours in google trying to solve every issue I just wanted a distribution that will come with lesser issues. The only equivalent to Manjaro that I can accept is Gentoo which served me very well for the past years. Despite being based on Arch, Manjaro is far more stable than Arch. I just love having simple to use and maintain distribution installed on my computer. I don't have to spend my weekend in google to solve another unwanted issue.

  2. PuTTy, thanks for your comment. The post is also generating some good lively debate on Reddit. I hear what you say about Manjaro being "far more stable than Arch". I'd probably restate that slightly differently, so as to avoid annoying any Arch users:

    "To gain X level of stability, Manjaro requires less knowledge & time investment than Arch."

    Due to the Manjaro Dev team (plus a sizable bunch of users running "Testing") holding back updates for a period, by the time I receive my update, my system will be more stable than if I was running Arch - given my level of knowledge and time available. No doubt some hard-core Arch users might want to argue with me on that point, but I would see that as no more than an exercise in technical hair splitting.

    I would undoubtedly have experienced significantly more breakages/issues with Arch over the last 10 months, than I have with Manjaro.

  3. I'll admit it. I'm lazy. I got Arch up and running but quickly realized that there was way too much work to do to get basic functionality much less playing an mp3 file. I love having control over my system but if I wanted to do that much work I would have just started with Linux From Scratch.

  4. I would use Stupid and not Idiots to make a joke about KISS and what is more SIMPLE STUPID than Manjaro if you want Arch
    I remember Ubuntu was also more simple than Debian and Mint even more than Ubuntu
    I also used Sabayon but AUR is far better than PPAs system and Sabayon / Gentoo has nothing similar to emerge - the command to compile - this outsider packages

  5. If I for example say: "Manjaro is Arch done right", and people assume that I was speaking generally, objectively and for everyone, then they are the fools.

  6. Echoing what PuTTy said, I've tried countless distros, but Manjaro is the only one I've used that meets all my expectations. It's really snappy, stable, and provides the latest software versions in the repository. Not only that, but my Canon printer even works! (and scans, too!) Being a rolling release is also a huge plus. I've used Arch in the past, but the effort required to set things up to work as well as Manjaro is absurd. Why would I do that to myself? I use my computers to get work done, and Manjaro lets me focus on that rather than tinkering with the OS.

  7. A very well written article and you certainly stated the truth of the matter. Unfortunately, as long as there are choices and users, there will always be the elitists. And although I haven't a problem tackling and learning something like Arch, I simply haven't the desire to. And as the years began to catch up on me I've found I prefer the more user friendly type of distro so a few years ago, I finally settled on Linux Mint (currently using LM 16/Cinnamon).

    That being said, I really became interested in Fuduntu when it first came out and initially installed it in a test partition on my desktop PC. I finally installed it as my main OS on my older, slightly modified, ThinkPad R61 laptop. Unfortunately, Fuduntu was discontinued so back to Linux Mint on my laptop. Then I found Manjaro. A user friendly distro based on Arch...this really sounded good.

    I haven't got around to installing on my laptop yet but I do have it installed in a test partition on my desktop (Net Edition/Cinnamon 2.0 DE). I've been waiting for a stable, installable Manjaro/Cinnamon 2.0.* edition to come out which, by sheer coincidence, was just released yesterday it seems. As much as I admire the XFCE DE, it's simply not something I want as a desktop environment. Too much going to the command line to set basic functions that have had a GUI for a few years now in other DEs. To each their own in other words.

    Anyway, really enjoying your new blog. You write really well.

  8. I started off using mint around 2005/6 and used it until I had to use microsoft vista for college projects. Mind you I had a couple kids and a woman who started calling herself my wife along the way, So didn't really do anything to change the comptuers since really all we used them for was net access and watching movies. Well wife leaves town and gives me "permission" to use "my" money to buy a new laptop so we can talk and webcam chat with the kids who are spending the winter in vietnam while I live in the cold state of washington making them money to enjoy a nice winter vacation. I bought a laptop from think penguin their snares model.

    Point starts here:
    knowing mint I had them install mint on it. used it for about 1/2 a day I knew that I had to find a differnet distro before I covered my new laptop in last nights dinner. Being intristed in openbox I found crucnh bang used it for a few days and ran into a problem that I cannot even remember what the probelm was. Well I searched for a distro with openbox as the main WM well then I found manjaro in which I whole heartedly enjoyed. It was just pleasent to use. I had a few probelms getting VAAPI to work which the solution was simply using mpv rather than mplayer/2. Next had a few prolems getting the system to sleep while lid was closed and getting the system to lock the screen while in sleep mode but reading the wiki on arch and manjaro got everything working smoothly. I found that the git version of pulse seemed to erase any problems I was having with the manjaro pulse package but that could be just a user error. I am pretty new to linux and completly new to arch. But I love manjaroBox it is a great system.