2016-11-07

Review: Manjaro Linux 16.10 "Fringilla" Cinnamon

Main Screen + Cinnamon Menu
I was going to make this post a review of the SpaceFM file manager (RAS syndrome, I know) upon recommendation by a commenter in a previous post. Then I checked it out for a bit, and realized that while it has a lot of potential for graphical customization, I still wouldn't feel particularly compelled to write a full review about that one application. Instead, I'm reviewing the Cinnamon edition of the latest version of Manjaro Linux. Last year, when I reviewed it, it was still relatively tied to Arch Linux. Since then, it has become much more independent, using its own repositories and maintaining a semi-rolling release model (though maintaining ties via the Arch User Repository (AUR)). Given that, I figured it might be time for a new review to see what has changed. I tried it using a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After the boot menu, I was greeted by small versions of the Manjaro Linux name and logo along with a scrolling progress bar, all in teal upon a black background. That gave way relatively quickly to the desktop. The desktop is fairly standard for Cinnamon, though the panel at the bottom is slightly customized with a few more applets than is standard. One thing that annoyed me about the panel was the number of empty spaces between sets of applets; I like having these spaces to ensure that the panel doesn't appear too cramped, but this was just excessive, to the point where it appears that certain applets are missing in some groups of applets (due to the appearance of a large amount of empty space). Another issue is that a lot of the settings are activated by clicking once (rather than clicking twice or clicking and dragging), making it a little too easy to do things like accidentally removing certain desktop icons (though these changes are easily reversible). Beyond that, the "Maia" desktop and icon themes look quite nice and work well, though the only issue is that the window buttons on the titlebar are a bit too small, so it is a little too easy to miss clicking them and instead end up moving or resizing the window. Overall, the desktop works quite well.

Mozilla Firefox is the default browser. However, it seems like the norm for most distributions now is to not include any proprietary multimedia codecs by default, so I'd have to fetch them myself.
LibreOffice is the default productivity suite, and Nemo is the default file manager (as is the norm for Cinnamon). Beyond that, despite this being a Cinnamon distribution, it doesn't seem to include any of the DE-agnostic GTK+ X-Apps from the Linux Mint developers, as it instead includes the standard GNOME 3 applications.

Mozilla Firefox + LibreOffice Writer
It seems like the Manjaro Linux developers have reverted to Pamac as the default GUI package manager. It works reasonably well, and has options for enabling the AUR as well as choosing to not prompt the user when building packages from any repository. I was able to use it to install Mupen64Plus, Redshift, and Adobe Flash from the official repositories, as well as Skype and Google Talk from the AUR. Mupen64Plus, Redshift, Adobe Flash, and Skype all installed and worked without issue. However, Google Talk, while installing fine, didn't seem to be fully functional; even though I had Adobe Flash, I couldn't see my webcam picture or mic meter to ensure that the plugin would work correctly, which would be a dealbreaker for me if I wanted to ensure that everything worked fine before committing this distribution to my computer's hard drive.

The system was reasonably smooth through my testing, though there were moments when moving the mouse or clicking would result in lag, and Cinnamon overall still doesn't seem quite as responsive on my computer as Xfce or MATE might. Additionally, the system used 930 MB of RAM at idle according to the GNOME System Monitor, which is unacceptably high (though the RAM usage per se didn't cause any problems, so far as I noticed). Weirdly (given that my previous reviews of Manjaro Linux were what prompted me to make this my standard procedure in the first place), the terminal command "free" seems misconfigured, as I couldn't use the command "free -m" to accurately gauge the amount of RAM actually used at idle.

That's where my time with Manjaro Linux 16.10 "Fringilla" Cinnamon ended. The issue with Google Talk is a dealbreaker for me, so I wouldn't be able to use this myself. Additionally, that in conjunction with the minor issues from using the Cinnamon desktop added up to an experience that I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending to newbies, so only people who have a little experience using Linux should use this. I was hoping to review other DEs, but given the bad experience with the Google Talk plugin, I see no particular reason to do that right now; in the meantime, I'll keep an eye on this distribution, and perhaps review the other DEs later, in the hopes that the issue with Google Talk is resolved by that point.
You can get it here.

4 comments:

  1. Manjaro repositories exist since 2014 (more or less).
    "free" it's an alias for "free -h", look at ".bashrc", also "ls" and maybe "grep" are often aliases.
    Note: Manjaro Cinnamon is a Community Edition, I think this clarification is needed.

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  2. perhaps it is time for a Bodhi linux review?

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  3. You should review Antgeros, a much better Arch based distro than Manjaro. It is much closer to pure Arch, in fact some people call it just an Arch installer.

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  4. @Anonymous 1: It may well be the case that the Cinnamon edition of Manjaro Linux is supported by the community, but from my experience, the issues that I had with Cinnamon are not exclusive to their implementation in Manjaro Linux (and in turn, the weird aliasing of "free" would not be exclusive to the Cinnamon edition).

    @Anonymous 2: I certainly hope to check it out soon.

    @Bernard Victor: Unfortunately, I have tried on multiple occasions to do a live USB review of Antergos, with no success in fully booting and running the system on any such attempt.

    Thanks for the comments!

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