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 one of the top viewed distributions on Distrowatch and is available on Raspberry Pi.
The perfect choice for a review :).
The easiest way to install Manjaro on a Raspberry Pi is to use Raspberry Pi Imager. Manjaro is available in the OS list of this tool, so it can be flashed directly on an SD card or USB drive from there. Raspberry Pi 3, 4 and 400 are fully supported by the developers.
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.
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What is Manjaro?
Manjaro is introduced as a fast and user-friendly Linux distribution.
It’s based on Arch Linux, a system we don’t see too much on Raspberry Pi due to the installation complexity (compared to other distributions).
So Manjaro brings fresh air to Raspberry Pi, and will delight fans of Arch Linux.
This operating system is available in many versions, with different purposes:
- Official versions : For desktop computers.
- KDE Plasma
- Community editions : Manjaro also supports many community projects to offer more choices for the end users.
- Cinnamon (same as on Linux Mint)
- ARM architecture: You are probably here for these versions today, most single board computers are supported.
- Raspberry Pi 4
- Rock Pi 4 / Rock Pro 64
- PineBook and PinePhone
- Odroid (C4, N2, HC4)
- Khadas Vim (2/3)
Today, I will use my Raspberry Pi 4 for this post, and not write longer about the other versions.
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 version I’m testing for this article is 22.06 and was released in June 2022.
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’ 🙂
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 Raspberry Pi OS.
And the next two parts will be shorter, with just a demonstration of the XFCE and KDE versions.
To download the Manjaro image, you need to go on the official website:
- Click here to open the page
- Then, scroll down to Manjaro ARM Team.
- Select “Raspberry Pi 4” in the dropdown list.
You can use the same image on Raspberry Pi 3 and 400, but older models are not supported.
- You’ll have a screenshot of each version, with a short text explaining their differences.
- If you don’t need a desktop environment, just get the Minimal version.
You can use torrent or direct download as you prefer.
- The download will start directly.
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:
- 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.
Note: as explained in the introduction, you can also use Raspberry Pi Imager to download and flash Manjaro on your media. It will do everything for you, it might even be easier if you are not used to this process. Read my Raspberry Pi Imager guide here if needed.
Manjaro installation and configuration
Start the Raspberry Pi.
After a few seconds, the system boot is complete and a wizard appears. You’ll need to set your keyboard layout first, and then create the first user:
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
- Device host name
Try not to miss any step, as each time you fail giving it the correct information, it will restart the wizard from the beginning, which is pretty annoying…
Finally, the wizard gives you a list to confirm 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:
The Ethernet connection on a DHCP, or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, is a system that automatically assigns IP addresses to... 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 community would be appreciated.
The further I got was by using this page on the Arch wiki.
It’s detecting my SSID, but I’m unable to stay connected to it.
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
You can now use SSH to manage everything on your system (read this tutorial if it’s new for you):
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:
- Save and exit
- Restart the SSH service
Are you a bit lost in the Linux command line? Check this article first for the most important commands to remember and a free downloadable cheat sheet so you can have the commands at your fingertips.
You already get a glimpse on the Manjaro / Arch commands.
But here is a quick reminder that may help you:
- Install a new package:
- pacman is the apt equivalent on Manjaro
- To install a new package:
sudo pacman -S <package>
- To search a package name:
sudo pacman -Ss <search>
- To update the system:
sudo pacman -Syu
- Find your Raspberry Pi IP Address:
- ifconfig is not available by default, you can use this command instead:
- Or you can install it with:
sudo pacman -S net-tools
Now you can use it:
- ifconfig is not available by default, you can use this command instead:
- Get more help:
For basics commands, if you are used with Raspberry Pi OS/Debian or any Linux distribution, it should be ok for you.
I have a list of useful commands for Raspberry Pi OS here if you need help to start.
Manjaro XFCE Installation
So, the Minimal version was easier to install than Raspberry Pi OS (thanks to the configuration wizard that shows up directly on boot), but we also had 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 a Raspberry Pi.
You can download and prepare the SD card the same way (download + Etcher, or directly with Raspberry Pi Imager), 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 community 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 the environment, created by KDE for Linux systems.
And we’ll try it now 🙂
On the first boot, you’ll get asked similar questions as with the Minimal edition, but you’re doing it in a graphical interface. Complete the configuration wizard, reboot and start in graphical mode.
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:
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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 in the community, 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 🙂
If you are interested in Arch Linux, consider testing EndeavourOS. It’s not yet as intuitive as Manjaro, but they are pretty new, so I’m sure they will work on it.
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