Manjaro Linux’s tagline is “Enjoy the Simpliciy”. If you’ve ever taken Arch Linux (the distro Manjaro is based on) for a spin you will probably wonder… “How the hell can anything based on Arch be easy?” Even as a seasoned IT Pro and Developer, Arch tested my patience on my first install. This is the main reason I’ve always kind of shied away from Manjaro, as I’ve grown quite accustom to Debian and Debian based distros. Like any good Tinkerer though, I eventually wanted to try a new window manager, and had a peticular interest in trying a Tiling Window Manager. I settled on taking I3WM for a spin.
I first tried I3WM in Ubuntu, while I thought the idea of a “window snapping on steroids” was pretty cool. There were some pretty basic pieces of the puzzle missing (such as sound controls not working without additional setup/ more packages being installed.) Therefore, I wanted to give the Tiling window manager another go, this time with a distro that supported the tiling window manager out of the box. Enter Manjaro. With a ton of community supported versions, Manjaro seemed on the surface to be Arch, without a mountain of setup. I downloaded, installed, and immediately felt the difference.
Clearly, the creators of Manjaro I3WM gave a nice amount of effort to make this a much sexier version of I3WM (As I’ve toyed around with different versions of Manjaro, I’ve noticed a very good job being done with design.) Sound works out of the box, and I3’s info bar (dock) has been reworked to not only be prettier, but to also display more useful information. Many useful command line and GUI pakages are installed; ranger (file manager), yaourt, pacman (package managers), and htop (system monitor) are amongst the MVPs. The makers of this version of Manjaro had an eye for UI/UX, as there is even a quick tip section on the desktop to get you started with I3WM.
As good as this version of Linux looks, it runs just as fast. Using less than 235MB of memory on a liveCD boot, you will be damned pleased with performance on most any machine.
There really are not many drawbacks to most versions of Manjaro from what I can see. It’s sleek, sexy, and fast. However, while I love I3WM, it is certainly not for people who don’t like learning curves. It took me a while to understand how to properly snap windows the way I wanted, and to understand some other caveats of using such a unique window manager. However, with that learning curve comes great reward. After some fiddling and reading, My tiles pretty much auto populate with programs that I have set to run at start, and my workflow has never been faster.
While I think most people with the patience to learn Manjaro I3WM will love it, it takes a certain desire to appreciate the system. If you want something really simple, go for another version of Manjaro, if you want something super powerful and simple by comparison, Give Manjaro I3WM a whirl. As a developer, I’d give it an 88/100.
Some I3WM must-have documentation:
Quick Reference – http://i3wm.org/docs/refcard.html
User Guide – http://i3wm.org/docs/userguide.html
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