Unveiling the Ultimate Linux Leap: My Epic Journey from Manjaro to EndeavourOS

Unveiling the Ultimate Linux Leap: My Epic Journey from Manjaro to EndeavourOS

Unveiling the Switch: From Manjaro Linux to EndeavourOS Discover why this experienced user made the leap, as comfort and satisfaction dwindled with Manjaro over time Delve into the Arch-based alternatives and the key differences that led to this transformative choice

I’m Hardly What You’d Call a Distrohopper

After enjoying the benefits of Manjaro Linux for almost two years, I began to realize that it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. While Manjaro is a commendable distribution based on Arch Linux, I eventually found that EndeavourOS catered more effectively to my specific needs and requirements. As a result, I made the switch from Manjaro to EndeavourOS.

I first delved into the world of Linux in the mid-1990s, starting with RedHat Linux. As time went on, RedHat transformed into a commercial offering known as RedHat Enterprise Linux. Eventually, a derivative of the final free version of RedHat Linux emerged, giving birth to Fedora Linux.

Fast forward to today, Fedora has gained a reputation for being a reliable and stable distribution. However, two decades ago, I experienced some difficulties with compatibility, as it was quite selective about the hardware it would run on. This was not unique to Fedora, as it was a common aspect of using Linux at that time. Resolving these issues became a routine part of the Linux journey, although it did become tiresome after a while.

I began to hear positive reviews about Ubuntu, a new and versatile distribution that does not require specific hardware. It had significant support and was expected to have a lasting presence. The philanthropic values driving this distribution also resonated with me, so I decided to try it out. I believe it was Ubuntu 5.04, known as the Hoary Hedgehog, when I first started using it as my primary operating system. However, in Autumn 2019, I made a switch to Manjaro, a decision I have previously discussed in detail.

Two years after moving to Manjaro, I migrated to EndeavourOS. Here’s why.

I’ve Used a Lot of Distros

I may not be someone who hops from one Linux distribution to another, but I have certainly installed numerous distributions throughout my journey. Most of these installations were done within a hypervisor such as VirtualBox, allowing me to explore their features without any consequences.

Occasionally, it's driven by sheer curiosity. I find it intriguing to delve into the ideology and reasoning behind yet another Linux distribution. Other times, I require a thorough understanding of a distribution that I am going to administer or support in some capacity. By running it in a virtual machine, I can freely experiment and familiarize myself without risking any damage to someone's live production system.

All in all, I’ve installed many different distributions, pondered their differences, and asked myself “Why did they do that, that way?”

Underneath the Surface

At its core, Linux is the driving force behind all Linux distributions. Comprising the Linux kernel and the GNU core utilities, these components form the majority of the operating system files. Accompanied by the boot and init systems, as well as other essential components, they complete the fundamental architecture.

The variations between distributions lie in their underlying philosophies, choice of supported and default file systems, shells, and desktop environments. The package manager and the size and quality of software repositories also play significant roles. While most distributions are derived from well-established ones, a few are entirely unique creations. In such cases, they rely on the package manager of their upstream ancestors.

Some distributions may include exclusive tools for system administration or to facilitate a smooth transition to the new distribution. These tools simplify various aspects of managing a Linux computer but add an additional layer of abstraction between the user and the authentic Linux experience. This can be compared to the customized versions of Android offered by different cellphone manufacturers, each overlaying their own user interface, applications, and utilities onto stock Android to varying degrees.

So although it’s true that if you look deep enough below the surface all distributions are the same, you still need to grapple with the idiosyncrasies of each distribution.

Manjaro and EndeavourOS Are Both Arch Based

Manjaro and EndeavourOS, both derived from Arch Linux, operate on a rolling distribution model. This means that they receive regular updates, allowing for immediate release of operating system and application changes once they have been approved. In contrast, point release distributions have infrequent releases, typically once or twice a year, that encompass all the changes made since the previous release.

The ArchWiki stands out as the most extensive and reliable source of Linux documentation and information globally. Its unparalleled quality makes it a trusted resource not only for Arch-based distributions but also for users of all other Linux distributions.

Arch is known for its speed and efficiency. When you install Arch, you only get the essential components to get started. The rest is up to you as you have the freedom to choose and install the software you need using the pacman package manager, which is designed exclusively for Arch.

There are two types of software repositories in Arch. The standard repositories consist of packages that have been approved by the official Arch maintainers. On the other hand, the AUR (Arch User Repository) is a vast collection of user-generated build scripts. These scripts allow you to download the source code of an application and build it on your own machine.

The Differences Between Manjaro and EndeavourOS

When it comes to being Arch-based, both Manjaro and EndeavourOS have that in common. However, the construction and usage of Manjaro deviates significantly from Arch. Even the official documentation acknowledges that Manjaro is a unique and distinctive entity.

The disparities between Manjaro and Arch are significantly more substantial compared to the variances observed in the widely used Ubuntu distribution and its numerous derived versions, including Mint and Zorin.

Manjaro possesses its own sets of repositories, and users are able to access the AUR as well, despite it lacking official support. On the other hand, EndeavourOS has its own considerably limited repository for the handful of EndeavourOS-exclusive applications it offers, such as the welcome program, while relying on the Arch repositories for all other software. EndeavourOS also has the capability to access the AUR.

Manjaro follows a carefully curated rolling release approach, where updates and patches undergo thorough testing and approval for a period of approximately two weeks before being released. This cautious approach ensures a safer user experience by keeping you slightly behind the cutting edge. On the other hand, EndeavourOS, unlike Manjaro, provides updates and patches simultaneously with Arch users.

Another notable feature of Manjaro is its user-friendly GUI-based software installation tool called pamac, which serves as a convenient front-end to pacman. While the AUR (Arch User Repository) is not officially supported by Manjaro, pamac does offer the option to enable it with a single click. However, caution is advised when using the AUR on Manjaro, as it may lead to serious system issues.

Unveiling the Ultimate Linux Leap: My Epic Journey from Manjaro to EndeavourOS

In simple terms, when it comes to compatibility with the AUR, EndeavourOS may not be perceived as a typical Arch variant. However, it closely mirrors the core attributes of Arch, allowing seamless utilization of the Arch repositories and the AUR.

Manjaro is not exactly a carbon copy, but more like a famous twin. However, due to the delays caused by Manjaro's updates and patches, the AUR may end up utilizing outdated libraries and applications on your computer. When I mentioned that the AUR requires you to use pure Arch, I wasn't entirely truthful. It actually expects you to use a modified version of up-to-date Arch.

Overall, utilizing the AUR on Manjaro is a risky endeavor. As someone who heavily relies on the AUR, I have unfortunately faced numerous and frequent losses in this risky game.

So If You Don’t Use the AUR on Manjaro You’ll Be OK?

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Manjaro has been increasingly failing in various aspects. On multiple occasions, they have allowed their security certificates to expire, resulting in the loss of access to important resources, such as the archived old forum, the Manjaro software center, and even the Manjaro download page.

Setting up automatic certificate renewal should be such a straightforward task that it should never happen again. However, the real issue here is one of governance. The initial incident should have served as a catalyst to implement a preventive process. Unfortunately, this did not occur or was not done effectively.

Editor’s Note: We contacted the Manjaro development team to inquire about the situation. They informed us that the archived forum has been shut down as the migration to the new forum is now complete. Additionally, they have developed internal tools to monitor software center certificate problems, and the certificates for the Manjaro download page are now managed by their content delivery network.

Patches submitted to open-source projects undergo a thorough review and testing process before being included in the stable release. However, Manjaro has a tendency to incorporate unmerged and unverified patches into their software packages without proper validation, distributing them to users. It is important to note that work in progress is still ongoing and not yet finalized, making it unfit for end users. While Manjaro is not the only distribution guilty of this practice, it has gained a reputation for its repeated offenses. As a response, the "Do Not Ship It" website was created as an open letter to Linux distributions, supported by nearly 20 open source developers and maintainers.

Ironically, merging work-in-progress patches undermines the security and stability that holding back updates and patches for a few weeks is supposed to improve.

Why Use EndeavourOS Instead of Arch?

On some of my laptops, I prefer using Arch. However, for my primary desktop, I desired the best of both worlds. I wanted Arch, but with a fast, user-friendly installer that presented me with various installation options, including software and desktop environment choices.

While the Arch archinstall installer has made noticeable improvements, it can still be easy to make incorrect selections, especially when trying to expedite the process. When my work computer needs to be rebuilt, time is of the essence. EndeavourOS offers the familiarity of the Calamares installer, making it easier to avoid mistakes and ensure a successful installation.

When the installation is complete, you are left with an Arch-based distribution that utilizes the standard Arch package manager and the original Arch repositories. Additionally, EndeavourOS provides full support for the AUR. EndeavourOS, being an Arch-based system, seamlessly meets all the requirements and expectations of the AUR. With its customized theme and lightweight utilities, using the AUR on EndeavourOS proves to be just as reliable and stable as it is on Arch.

Your Manjaro Mileage May Vary

Manjaro, a widely favored distribution, no longer feels suitable for my personal use. Nonetheless, this should not dissuade you from giving it a try. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine what best meets your needs.

If Manjaro doesn't meet your requirements, and you are seeking a distribution similar to Arch but not quite Arch, consider giving EndeavourOS a go. The only alternative closer to Arch is Arch itself.