How to Install Manjaro on Raspberry Pi?

install manjaro on a raspberry pi

I’m always looking for new Linux distributions to try, and in the last few months, one of them has caught my attention: Manjaro
Manjaro is currently the second most viewed distribution on Distrowatch and is available on Raspberry Pi
The perfect choice for a review 🙂

How to install Manjaro on a Raspberry Pi?
Manjaro is an exciting distribution to try, as it’s available officially for Raspberry Pi, with many desktop interfaces
The installation is straightforward, as it’s similar to what you probably already know with Raspbian
– Download the latest Manjaro version
– Flash it on your SD card
– Start to use your new system

In this post, I’ll give you a short introduction about Manjaro in general, and then show you how to install 3 different flavors: Minimal, XFCE or KDE Plasma

What is Manjaro?

manjaro

Presentation

Manjaro is introduced like a fast and user-friendly Linux distribution
It’s based on Arch Linux, a system we don’t see too much recently on Raspberry Pi due to the installation complexity (compared to other distributions)

So Manjaro brings fresh air on Raspberry Pi, and will delight fans of Arch Linux

Versions

This operating system is available in many versions, with several targets:

  • Official versions : For desktop computers
    • XFCE
    • GNOME
    • KDE Plasma
    • Architect (something like a minimal version where you can configure everything: drivers, interface, kernel, etc)
  • Community editions : Manjaro also supports many community projects to offer more choices for the end users
    • Cinnamon
    • LXDE
    • LXQt
    • Mate
    • Or even : OpenBox, I3, Bspwma and Budgie
  • ARM architecture: You are probably here for these versions today
    • Raspberry Pi 4 (XFCE, KDE or Minimal)
    • Rock Pi 4 / Rock Pro 64 (XFCE, KDE or Minimal)
    • PineBook (XFCE, KDE or I3)
  • 32 bit version : An XFCE version in 32 bits if needed
  • And even a developer preview of a new graphic interface (JADE)

Today, I will use my Raspberry Pi 4 for this post, and not write longer about the other versions

History

Manjaro released its first version in 2011, and was in beta stage until 2013
So it’s pretty new in the Linux history, but old enough to offer us a stable operating system

For the release names, Manjaro is now using similar designations to Ubuntu, with a version including the release year and month, and a code name
For example, the latest version during writing is 19.10 and was release in October 2019

Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

And for the short story, the Manjaro name originates from the Mount Kilimanjaro, and you can pronounce it as ‘Man-jar-o’ or ‘Man-ha-ro’ 🙂

Goals

Manjaro is based on Arch Linux, so it inherits from the principles of this distribution (design simplicity and intuitiveness for example)
Manjaro added an easy installation process while improving some Arch Linux features

The official goals of Manjaro have always been to bring usability and accessibility and make it operational directly after the installation

We’ll now try the three versions available on Raspberry Pi, and see the result 🙂

Manjaro Minimal Installation

I will start with a big part, showing you directly the operating system without interface, telling you the main differences with Raspbian
And the next two parts will be shorter with just a demonstration of the XFCE and KDE versions

Download Manjaro

To download the Manjaro image, you need to go on the official website:

  • Click here to open the page
  • Then, browse into Editions > ARM > Raspberry Pi 4 in the top menu
    (for older Raspberry Pi models, go to this page and download the image corresponding to your device)
  • And for now, select the Raspberry Pi 4 Minimal version
    Click on the red button to download
  • A new page shows up with a download link
    You can also choose to download it with Torrent if you prefer

Flash it on a SD card

Once you have the image on your computer, you need to flash it on a SD card
The process is similar to any other system
If you are not familiar with this, here are the steps you have to follow:

  • Download and install Etcher
    It’s a tool to easily flash an operating system image to a SD card
    It’s available for free on any system, link here: https://www.balena.io/etcher/
  • Start Etcher, you’ll see a window like this:
    etcher menu
  • On the left, select the image file corresponding to the Manjaro version you want to try
    Then insert a SD card (everything will be erased on it)
    And finally click on “Flash!” to start the SD card preparation

After a few minutes, the SD card is ready
You can eject it and insert it into your Raspberry Pi

Manjaro installation and configuration

Start the Raspberry Pi
After a few seconds, the system boot is complete and a wizard appears

Enter the username you want to use and confirm
Then you can add additional groups for the new user
You can keep it empty for the moment

Then, you need to answer the following questions:

  • User full name
  • User password
  • Root password (yes, there is a root user available)
  • Timezone and locale
    You can enter the first letter to go faster in these menus and the followings
  • Keyboard layout
  • Device host name

Finally, the wizard gives you a list of all the information
Confirm if everything is OK

The basic configuration takes a few seconds
Then the system resizes the SD card partition and reboot
After the reboot, the system is ready to use with your settings

Network configuration

The Ethernet connection on a DHCP network is working directly
It’s really the best way to get an Internet access

I didn’t find any way to configure the Wi-Fi on the minimal version of Manjaro
Every forum posts and tutorials I found didn’t work on Raspberry Pi
I think they are for the Architect or a Desktop version, but it doesn’t work on Raspberry Pi

If anyone knows how to do this, some help in the comments would be appreciated

Enable SSH

SSH is a must-have on a minimal system, to install and enable SSH on boot, use these commands:

  • Install SSH:
    sudo pacman -S openssh
  • Enable SSH on boot:
    sudo systemctl enable sshd
  • Start SSH now:
    sudo systemctl start sshd

If you want to use the root login to connect, you need to edit the configuration file:

  • Open the configuration file:
    sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  • Then edit the PermitRootLogin line like this:
    PermitRootLogin yes
  • Save and exit
  • Restart the SSH service

Useful commands

You already get a glimpse on the Manjaro / Arch commands
But here are a quick reminder that may help you:

  • Install a new package:
    • pacman is the apt equivalent on Manjaro
    • To install a new package: pacman -S <package>
    • To search a package name: pacman -Ss <search>
    • To update the system: pacman -Syu
  • Find your Raspberry Pi IP Address:
    • ifconfig is not available by default, you need to install it with:
    • pacman -S net-tools
    • Now you can use it: ifconfig
  • Get more help:
    • As the goal here is not to give you a detailed tutorial on how to use Manjaro, I highly recommend checking the Manjaro wiki if you need help on something
    • If you don’t find a Debian command on Manjaro, check the wiki or the forum here

For basics commands, if you are used with Raspbian/Debian or any Linux distribution, it should be ok for you
I have a list of useful commands for Raspbian here if you need help to start

Manjaro XFCE Installation

So, the Minimal version was easier to install than Raspbian (thanks to the configuration wizard that shows up directly on boot), but we some difficulties (Wi-Fi and commands)
Let see now how the graphical interface performs, and firstly with XFCE

XFCE is a common desktop environment on Linux
It’s supposed to be user-friendly and lightweight, so it’s a good choice for Raspberry Pi

You can download and prepare the SD card the same way, and the Manjaro XFCE first boot looks like as on minimal
So I will be quicker here

The same wizard will show up, and you can configure the basic parameters the same way
Configure the passwords, timezone, language and layout and continue
The Raspberry Pi will reboot to apply the configuration

After the reboot, the graphical environment starts with a login screen

Enter your selected password and continue

You are now on the XFCE Desktop and can use it as with any distribution

Wi-Fi’s connection is working well on XFCE
Click on the network icon at the bottom right, near the clock, select your network and enter your password

You’ll find all the basic software in the start menu on the left
And you can install more in packages System > Add/Remove software

Let me know in the comments if you have any issue/question about this environment, but it seems user-friendly enough to find anything you need easily

Manjaro KDE Plasma Installation

Finally, I also wanted to try the last version available on the official website: KDE

KDE is another desktop environment you’ll often find on many Linux distributions
Its probably most known, as it has always been a direct competitor to GNOME
KDE Plasma is a new version of environment, created by KDE for Linux systems
And we’ll try it now 🙂

As for the two other options, the first boot with the new SD card is identical
Complete the configuration wizard, reboot and start in graphical mode

The login screen is very basic, but it’s not a big deal:

Enter your password and login
A short animation appears and the KDE desktop is ready

Here is an overview of the KDE desktop look:

There is no big difference with XFCE at first sight
You will need to use it much to see which is the best for you
It’s a personal choice, both are working fine. It’s a matter of habit, more than performance or features

The connection to a wireless connection can be done the same way as on XFCE, on the bottom right of the screen:

Conclusion

And that’s it, this is the end of this tutorial on how to install and configure Manjaro on Raspberry Pi
It was just an introduction, the goal here is not to go deeper on how Manjaro works, but if you have any question feel free to leave a comment, and I could write other posts on this topic

Personally, I really like this system
Even if I’m not familiar with Arch Linux, I find both graphical environment easy to use
I think it could be a good option if you plan to use your Raspberry Pi as a desktop PC (especially for the Raspberry Pi 4)
This distribution will definitely get a high rank in my next update of the Raspberry Pi operating systems 🙂

Did you try it? What do you think?

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