Hmmm. I’m a Windows 7 émigré and my experience with Manjaro KDE was not so happy.
When Mike first wrote about Manjaro here at gHacks — around a year and a half ago? longer? — I gave a couple of Manjaro spins a try as VirtualBox guests on a Windows 7 x64 host on my ThinkPad T510 (around 9 years old now, with a Core i5 520M CPU, no GPU, and 8GB of RAM). One was either KDE or Cinnamon, and the other was Xfce. Manjaro KDE/Cinnamon was *easily* one of the *slowest* and *laggiest* distros I tried — maybe because of VirtualBox, maybe not. Anyway, it was unusable, so I quickly tried out Manjaro Xfce instead. The Xfce spin was definitely snappier, but I didn’t like Xfce. Anyway, I suppose I should have tried Manjaro MATE, but I gave up on Manjaro in VirtualBox at that point.
Later, around five or six months ago, I had already been running Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.1 for a couple of months on a ThinkPad T500 (a year older than my T510, but with substantially the same specs) when I inherited a Dell Latitude E6510 (a year *younger* than my T510, but again with substantially the same specs). “Aha!,” I thought ot myself. “I’m going to install Manjaro KDE! It’s a true rolling distro, with the sparkling prettiness of KDE and the awesome power of AUR!” So I did.
And I tried to use it for a month. I *really* did. I just ran into too many problems and hassles that, as a Linux newbie, I was unable to fix in a reasonable amount of time, or in some cases, at all.
I remember having a *hell* of a time getting Pamac installed and working, despite having read several reasonably up-to-date “how-to’s” beforehand. (Each set of instructions seemed to forget at least one vital “gotcha,” and gotchas there were!)
I was excited that up-to-date versions of TuxGuitar and FreeFileSync were in AUR … but bitterly disappointed when I tried to actually get them installed, working, and updated.
TuxGuitar seemingly installed without a hitch. It just wouldn’t run. At all. Ever.
The FreeFileSync AUR script apparently can’t reliably fetch the the FreeFileSync Linux package (or source files, or what it builds from). After 10 or 12 tries over the course of two or three days, I *finally* managed to get it downloaded, installed, and working. An update came out a couple of weeks later, and I *never* managed to get *that* downloaded and installed.
Those are only the problems I remember off the top of my head; there were *other* equally frustrating problems, as well. In the end, I just installed Kubuntu over it, and that was *much* easier than Manjaro KDE to deal with.
However, Kubuntu was still not *quite* as easy and friendly as Mint. WiFi worked out of the box in Mint; in Kubuntu I had to put in a fair amount of work, even though all of my hardware was supported in the default install. In Mint’s Nemo file manager, I can open directories “as root” (useful for Mr. Magoos like me); in Kubuntu’s Dolphin file manager, I *can’t*. Mint’s Software Manager works better and provides more useful package information than … whatever software manager Kubuntu uses. (Sorry; I’ve forgotten what it’s called. Discover?)
Additionally, Mint LTS releases are supported for five years, whereas Kubuntu LTS releases are supported for only three. (That’s kind of weird, since both Mint and Kubuntu are based on Ubuntu LTS, which is supported for *five* years, but … that’s the way it is. In contrast to most Ubuntu spins, I gather Kubuntu is developed by a third-party outfit *in cooperation with* Canonical, rather than by Canonical *itself*, and maybe *that’s* why it has a shorter lifespan.)
Mint hasn’t been perfect.
I can’t connect to my Windows computer using Samba. (I think a recent post on the Linux Mint Blog mentioned problems with Samba — something to do with Microsoft having changed its SMB specs or protocol or something. I *did* manage to connect to my Windows computer from Kubuntu using Samba, but it was *super* slow.)
I can’t connect to my Kubuntu computer from Mint using SSH, which in the long term is considerably more worrisome, given that I’m moving to Linux *entirely* and want to be able to network my computers. (The problem may well be that I’m a noob who just isn’t doing things right, but I *tried* to read up on Linux networking, and I *am* capable of following instructions — at least under duress. Hey! I assigned static IP addresses to all of my network adapters, in my router! That’s *something*, right?)
The Cinnamon desktop has crashed on me a couple/few times, but it’s always recovered flawlessly, and reasonably quickly, too.
I guess the most “serious” problem I’ve run into is that Tor Browser Installer can take a *long time* to download and install Tor Browser, and you don’t get a progress indicator while it’s happening. And once Tor Browser is installed, Tor Browser *itself* can take a *long time* to *update* itself, and there again, I don’t *think* you get a progress indicator while *that’s* happening. If, after a minute or two or three or four of nothing apparently happening, you figure that maybe your command didn’t register and you just launch the operation *again*, you’re *screwed*. You’re not going to get Tor Browser Installer or Tor Browser working again until you reboot the system (or maybe log out and log back in, or maybe kill all Tor-Browser-related processes in System Monitor.) The moral of the story is, with Tor Browser, be *patient*.
But I haven’t had a *single* bad update or system crash in Mint, and overall it’s just pretty damn easy to use.
My take on Manjaro is that while it’s *probably* pretty awesome for people who are already at least *intermediate-level* Linux users, I would *never* recommend it to a Linux noob. But that’s just *one* data point based on *one* user’s idiosyncratic experience. If there are other noobs who have found it easy to run and use, I’ll take my place at the unhappy end of the bell curve!
PS: I understand why so many users cried when Mint dropped its official KDE version after 18.3. Cinnamon is a nice, well thought-out desktop environment, and *very* easy to transition to from Windows 7, but it’s just not as pretty, tweakable, and … fun? cool? pimped-out? … as KDE Plasma. Additionally, Cinnamon’s customizability has actually been *reduced* somewhat as of … 19? 19.1? … as a side effect of the effort to make it scale better on ultra-high-res displays. Alas!
PPS: I *like* that the Mint team are hedging their bets by developing a parallel Linux Mint Debian Edition instead of putting all of their eggs in the Ubuntu basket. Canonical has done worrisome things at different times. If they end up doing something *really* boneheaded or objectionable with Ubuntu in the future, Mint and its users have a tried, tested, and familiar escape route prepared. Wise precaution; smart move.
PPPS: I appreciate your write-ups, Mike! Even when I disagree with them! And belated congratulations on your hyphenated last name! 😉