June 11, 2019

A Song of Praise on Manjaro Linux (Gnome Edition)

As I am a friend of free and open source software I actually would love to use a Linux-based OS on my Laptop(s). However, after countless tries I must say that I am not a big friend of Linux on a notebook. I often found the system to be a bit fragile, things that “just work” on other OSes (like a Bluetooth keyboard, tethering or an external screen) can be a fight, if you have a bit of special hardware it can take ages to set it up, power management sometimes does not work properly (so your Laptop gets super hot while the battery is drained in no time)… At least, this is what I have experienced in the last years with Ubuntu or Ubuntu-based distributions running on my old MacBook Air from 2011. For some time this was okay and I could live with some quirks but at the end I did not like it or spent more time fiddling with things than I was working. For this reason, I always restored MacOS sooner or later.

These days I stumbled upon Manjaro Linux, which is pretty much Arch Linux with a nice installer on top that gives you a completely configured machine. First, I installed Manjaro on some ancient Lenovo Notebook I had in my closet and it worked superbly. Manjaro even detected the fingerprint reader this machine has and asked me if I want to use it for logging in. Yes. So no password typing for logging in or after sudo. Nice.

After this positive experience, I decided to put Manjaro on my old MacBook Air to see what happens. To answer this quickly: Manjaro is also great on Mac hardware. So far everything I tested (Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, tethering, external monitor, sleep/wake, power management, fans, back light of the keyboard) worked out of the box. There was not the slightest problem with nothing. Everything you can think of works and was super simple to set up. Really impressive. I am really tempted to say that Manjaro at least works as well as MacOS does.

And what is different when you come from Ubuntu? The only “issue” I had as a first time Arch user was that I didn’t know about the Arch User Repositories (AUR) and how to use them. In essence, AUR is to Arch a bit like what Brew is to MacOS. You get a lot of software that is not part of the OS or in its native packet sources. A tutorial I found online suggested to install some tool called yay which manages AUR software. Later I found out that the (graphical) software management tool pamac, that is already installed on a Manjaro machine, can also find/install/… AUR software. You only have to enable the AUR support in pamac’s settings and you are good to go.


To conclude: If you want to try out a Linux-based OS on your MacBook/Notebook: try Manjaro. In my humble opinion this is the best distribution for a desktop environment I have tested so far.

© ho1ger 2015 - 2022