Sunday, 11 August 2013

Finding Manjaro.

At the end of 2012, having used XP for a decade, I decided it was time to change my primary OS for business & general online life. I wanted something fast, light, stable, secure & leading edge - something FRESH. For a variety of reasons, neither Windows 7 nor OSX held much appeal & having become increasingly attracted to the open source philosophy, GNU Linux seemed the obvious choice.

For a completely green Linux newbie like myself, the vast number of options available was initially completey overwhelming. However, with a little reading & a clear list of requirements, a small pool of leading contenders came into focus. The main ones were Ubuntu, Debian, PCLinuxOS, Bodhi, OpenSUSE & Mint. Out of these excellent distributions I eventually installed Mint 13 with Cinnamon Desktop - it promised long-term support until 2017, along with a mature and helpful user community. It was easy to install and worked out-of-the-box - I was impressed. After running it for several weeks over the Christmas holidays & getting over my pre-conceived idea about Linux being for geeks & techies only, I decided to have one last look at alternatives, before settling on a Minty 2013.

It was then that I started reading about the light, minimalist, user-friendly & highly esteemed rolling distro called Arch. After a failed midnight hour attempt to install it, I started exploring a number of Arch-based distro's, which promised the advantages of Arch, but without the maintenance headaches & required techical know-how. ArchBang, Bridge Linux, Cinnarch & Manjaro seemed like the most established systems & after giving each a Live spin, I decided to take the leap and do a clean install of Manjaro Xfce 64 Bit, on my brand spanking new W530 i7 QuadCore ThinkPad. To my delight, my experience echoed that of Mint 13 - everything worked out of the box! Internet (wireless & ethernet), browsers, Flash, graphics card etc, all functioned perfectly, with zero need for tweaking. I then spent some time installing some fonts & themes to Xfce - squeezy peazy! - and within an hour, I had a beautiful desktop & a fully functioning Arch-based OS. I then clicked "update" using a simple and intuitive GUI & voila, I had a fully up-to-date machine with the latest versions of Skype, Firefox, Chromium, Opera etc, all running smoothly. And did I mention fast!? I was hooked.

The next step was to join the community. After an easy sign-up process, I started exploring the various areas of the forum and was immediately struck by how friendly, positive, enjoyable and lively the Manjaro community was. As with the Mint forum, there was none of the condescending "Read the f***ing manual" or impatient sounding responses that some Linux forums can be prone to. People were here to help and happy to do so. Having failed to install Arch, I felt immediately at home here. Within a week I was back at work and soon found that Manjaro Xfce was not only rock solid, but delivering significant increases in my productivity. Gone were the endless adverts and pop-up's suggesting I update my AntiVirus software. Gone too were the hours spent trawling the net for answers when I had a problem with Windows. In it's place I had a lightening fast OS, supported by a friendly & technically savvy community that were quick to respond to any questions I might have.

Almost 9 months after my Linux baptism, I must take my hat off to the Mint team and say thank you for your tireless efforts in maintaining a fantastic OS for Linux newbies & seasoned users alike. Had I stayed with that distro, I am sure it would have served me well & provided a secure & reliable business machine for years to come. However, I am 100% happy with Manjaro Linux with it's default Xfce desktop and would confidently recommend it to any Linux newbie, who is looking for a dependable & attractive OS, supported by a warm & growing user community. Whatever the numbers mean, Manjaro Linux shot into the top 10 on DistroWatch soon after it's fledgling release and has remained there for the last 12 months.

I can see this OS scaling the heights and standing tall and strong in the Linux universe, much like Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, after which it is named. I will be posting further dispatches about my adventures with Manjaro and community, from time to time.

Love and peace to you all.

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