Manjaro is a great distro and I used it for almost two years. It’s based on Arch Linux, but it’s not meant to work like Arch, which is what I realized I wanted. I found that EndeavourOS was a better fit for my needs.
I used Manjaro Linux for two years, but my initial delight in Manjaro diminished over time and I became less and less comfortable with it. This is why I jumped to EndeavourOS.
I’m barely what you’d call a Distrohopper
I started using Linux in the mid-1990s, with RedHat Linux. In 2003 it was transformed into a commercial product called RedHat Enterprise Linux. A fork of the latest free version of RedHat Linux was used to launch Fedora Linux.
Today, Fedora is known as a rock-solid distribution. But twenty years ago, I found it a bit picky about the hardware it liked to run on. To some extent, that was par for the course, regardless of your distribution. It was just life on Linux. Solving problems was part of that whole scene. But it got boring.
I started hearing good things about a new and almost hardware independent distribution called Ubuntu. He also had great backing, so he wasn’t going away anytime soon. The philanthropic sentiments behind the distribution also appealed to me. I decided to give it a try.
I think it was Ubuntu 5.04, the Hoary Hedgehog. I used Ubuntu as my daily driver until fall 2019, when I moved to Manjaro. I’ve already written about the thought processes behind that move.
Two years after moving to Manjaro, I migrated to EndeavourOS. This is why.
I have used many distributions
I may not be a distrohopper, but I’ve installed more distros than I can remember. The vast majority of them were virtual machines inside a hypervisor like VirtualBox.
Sometimes it’s just curiosity. I’m interested in seeing someone’s ideas or motivations for another Linux distro. On other occasions I have needed to familiarize myself with a distribution that I was going to manage or support in some way. Powering it up in a virtual machine lets you go to town in ways you can’t on someone’s live production system.
In general, I installed many different distributions, pondered their differences and asked myself “Why did they do it that way?”
Beneath the surface
Underneath, it’s all Linux, as the saying goes.
The heart of all Linux distributions is the Linux kernel which, along with the core GNU utilities, make up the majority of the operating system files. The boot and init systems and other vital components complete the basic architecture.
The significant differences lie in the underlying philosophy of each distribution and their choice of default and supported file systems, shells, and desktop environments. Your package manager is also important, as is the size and quality of your software repositories. Very few distributions are truly their own, created from scratch. Most are derivatives of other well-established distributions. That means they will use the package manager of their upstream ancestors.
Distributions may or may not include some unique tools for system administration or to make your transition to using your new distribution smooth and easy. These tools simplify one or more aspects of caring for a Linux computer, but they are another layer of abstraction between you and the real, bare-bones Linux experience. It is similar to the many variations of Android that you get from different cell phone manufacturers. To a greater or lesser degree, each overlays its own user interface, apps, and utilities on top of stock Android.
So while it’s true that if you look deep enough below the surface, all distributions are the same, you still need to deal with the idiosyncrasies of each distribution.
Manjaro and EndeavourOS are based on Arch
Manjaro and EndeavourOS are based on Arch Linux. Arch is a mobile distribution. Receive frequent updates. Changes to the operating system and application are available as soon as they are accepted for release. In contrast, point release distributions have one or two annual releases that include all changes since the last release.
ArchWiki is probably the world’s most comprehensive resource for Linux information and documentation. It’s that good; users of all distributions use it as a source of information.
Arch is fast and light. A fresh installation of Arch gives you the bare minimum required to get you up and running. You select and install everything else, using the pacman command-line package manager that was written specifically for Arch.
Arch has two different types of software repository. The standard repositories contain the packages that have been officially sanctioned by Arch maintainers. The AUR (Arch User Repository) is another massive repository that contains user-supplied build scripts. Build scripts download the application source code and build the application on your computer.
RELATED: Arch Linux vs. Ubuntu: Which one should I use?
The differences between Manjaro and EndeavourOS
Manjaro and EndeavourOS are based on Arch, but Manjaro is much further removed from Arch in its construction and usage. As the official documentation itself says, Manjaro is a different kind of beast:
In fact, the differences between Manjaro and Arch are far greater than the differences between the popular Ubuntu distribution and its many derivatives, including Mint and Zorin.
Manjaro has its own repositories and users can also access the AUR, although it is not officially supported. EndeavourOS has its own, very small, repository for the few EndeavourOS-specific apps it offers, like the welcome program, and uses the Arch repositories for everything else. EndeavourOS can also access AUR.
Manjaro is a cured rolling release model. Updates and patches are delayed for about two weeks while testing and approval take place. This means that you are a step or two away from the front lines, which is generally a safer place to be. EndeavourOS does not do this. With EndeavourOS you get updates and patches at the same time Arch users get them.
Manjaro provides a GUI-based software installation tool called
pamac . This is a front-end for
pacman . The AUR is supported by
pamac . It’s off by default, but it’s a single click to turn it on. This is surprisingly easy, since Manjaro does not officially support AUR. And for good reason. Using the AUR in Manjaro can cause serious problems for your system.
Simply put, the AUR naturally expects you to be working with Arch. EndeavourOS is not 100 percent Arch. But is Identical to Arch in all important ways so you can use the Arch and AUR repositories without issue.
Manjaro is less of a doppelganger and more of a celebrity double. And, due to Manjaro’s delays with patches and updates, AUR may find itself working with out-of-date libraries and applications on your computer. When I said that AUR expects you to be working on Arch, I was lying a bit. Hope you’re working on Arch.
The bottom line is that using the AUR in Manjaro is a gamble. And because I use the AUR a lot, I lost the bet too many times and too often.
RELATED: Ubuntu vs. Manjaro Linux: Which one should you choose?
So if you don’t use the AUR in Manjaro, will it be ok?
Sadly not. Manjaro seems to be dropping the ball more and more in other ways. Several times now, he allows security certificates to expire. When the certificates expired, access to resources like the old archived forum, the Manjaro software center, and even the Manjaro download page was lost.
It’s so easy to set up automatic certificate renewal that it shouldn’t have happened even once. But for me, the biggest problem is that of governability. The first incident should have been the trigger to put a process in place to prevent a repeat. That couldn’t have happened, or it didn’t happen effectively.
Editor’s note: We reached out to the Manjaro development team and they told us that they closed the archived forum when the migration to the new forum was complete, created internal tools to monitor software center certificate issues, and that the certificates for the Manjaro download page Manjaro is now maintained by its content delivery network.
Patches submitted to open source projects are reviewed and tested before being incorporated into the stable version. Manjaro has a habit of picking up unmerged and unverified patches and merging them into their versions of software packages and distributing them to users. Work in progress is just that, a job. in progress. It is ongoing, not finished. It is not ready to be shown to end users.
Manjaro is not the only distro to have done this, but it is a repeat offender. It’s one of the reasons the Do Not Ship It website was created as an open letter to Linux distributions. It is supported by nearly 20 open source developers and maintainers.
Ironically, the combination of work-in-progress patches undermines security and stability which is supposed to improve patch and update retention for a few weeks.
Why use EndeavourOS instead of Arch?
Like I say, I use Arch on some of my laptops. But at my daily driver’s desk, I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted Arch, but with a quick and simple installer, which gave me all the options during installation that I could choose from, including basic software and desktop environment options.
The Arch installer archinstall has been greatly improved, but it’s still very easy to make the wrong selection if you’re trying to go fast. If the computer I make my living on needs to be rebuilt, I’ll move fast. EndeavourOS uses the well-known Calamares installer. You can still make mistakes, but it’s easier to get it right.
When the installation is complete, you are left with an Arch-based distribution that uses the standard Arch package manager and upstream Arch repositories, and AUR is supported. Everything the AUR expects, it gets, because EndeavourOS is Arch, with a theme and some light utilities. I have found that using the AUR on EndeavourOS is just as stable as when using it on Arch.
RELATED: How to install Arch Linux on a PC
Your Manjaro mileage may vary
Manjaro is a very popular distro, I just don’t feel comfortable using it anymore. That’s no reason not to try it for yourself. Only you can decide what works for you.
If it doesn’t suit you and you want the closest thing to Arch that isn’t Arch, try EndeavourOS. The only thing closest to Arch is Arch.
RELATED: Is EndeavourOS the easiest way to use Arch Linux?