Manjaro 21.0 Review – Well Built and Gets the Job Done

5 min

Manjaro Linux is one of those Linux distributions which is slowly evolving to reach great heights of Linux desktops. Manjaro 21.0 was released a while back and hence it’s time for a Manjaro 21.0 review.

It’s been a while I tested Manjaro. As per I remember, the last time I checked Manjaro 18.0 “ Illyria” which was released in 2018. A lot has happened since then. And obviously, Majnaro as a project evolved. Today, Majaro is not only a desktop environment for Laptops. It is being preferred for ARM-based Linux Phones as well. That itself tells explains the project is evolving to its vision.

Manjaro 21.0 Ornara Desktop (Xfce)
Manjaro 21.0 Ornara Desktop (Xfce)

Manjaro 21.0 Review

Test Bed

I have tested Manjaro 21.0 in both Virtual machines (GNOME Boxes 3.38) and physical devices. And while doing the Manjaro 21.0 review, I found no difference in performance as such in both types of installations.

Manjaro 21.0 offers three official choices of desktops – KDE Plasma 5.21, Xfce 4.16, GNOME 3.38. This review is based on the Xfce edition of Manjaro. There is a reason I have picked up Xfce. It’s lightweight and can be adopted by any user or use-case. It’s versatile while keeping the traditional menu-driven desktop alive.

It is worth mentioning here that the Manjaro community also offers other window manager and desktop flavors such as MATE, LXQt, Budgie, bspwm, Awesome WM…, etc.

Live Medium

All three desktop flavor .iso files having the almost same size. Xfce image is having a little less size ~ 2.4 GB. The other two are around ~ 2.8 GB. A little warning though. The files are hosted in SourceForge and download mirrors are slow. No torrent files are available.

While downloading I found one interesting fact. At the time of downloading, the GNOME .iso downloaded 15k times, KDE Plasma downloaded 25k times and Xfce downloaded ~26k times. Well, I might be reading too much on these stats. This doesn’t mean a complete installation and long-term user base. But you get the idea, which desktop is popular with Manjaro.

It took a couple of seconds to boot up the LIVE medium to LIVE desktop via my USB stick created using Etcher.

No surprises on the LIVE desktop. You get an icon to install Manjaro natively on the desktop, Xfce desktop looks clean and nice. Good wallpaper with Manjaro logo and so on.


Manjaro uses Calamares installer which is used by many other Linux distributions. Calamares is very good at what it’s supposed to do. The installation is smooth. Language selection, keyboard layout, disk partition – all are streamlined. No errors or surprises.

Calamares Installer
Calamares Installer

In my test virtual machine install, it took around 4 minutes for a basic install which is super fast in my opinion. Although it had SSD, still it is faster than others it seems. I mean, if I compare Fedora installation in the same configuration, it would be longer.

Quick note: If you planning to upgrade from earlier Manjaro 20.0 a quick Pacman command would update to Manjaro 21.0. No re-installation is required.

sudo pacman -Syu

First Impression

Virtual machine booting time is a couple of seconds on the first run. If you keep using the system and install many applications, packages – I do not think that boot time would be any slower – thanks to the Arch Linux base.

At your first boot, a welcome screen (Manjaro Hello) greets you. It is very handy for new users. This screen gives direct access to help, forum link, wiki, and quick installation of applications as per your need. So, if you are a new user, you feel at home at the very beginning.

Get your favorite app easily using Manjaro Hello
Get your favorite app easily using Manjaro Hello

Manjaro uses a customized version of the Xfce desktop. The Xfce 4.16 desktop itself is clean and with a Manjaro wrapper, it gives a much better look at a first glance. Important desktop icons, the system tray is pre-loaded with necessary panel items such as Date, Time, exit icon, list of workspace, show desktop.

Automatic reminders - Manjaro
Automatic reminders – Manjaro


The release announcements don’t have many changes in Manjaro 21.0 really, besides the usual Desktop environment updates specific to theirs. The only Manjaro 21.0 specific changes are the Linux Kernel 5.10 which is the latest long-term support (LTS) kernel, and the updates to the Calamares installer.

The major change that you may see in Calamares while installing is the auto-detection of language and keyboard layout based on GeoIP which works as a “best guess” by the application.

Hence, mostly the changes are in respective desktops – Xfce 4.16, GNOME 3.38, and KDE Plasma 5.21.

If you want to go into detail about their respective features, read the following coverages.

Xfce 4.16 features
KDE Plasma 5.21 features
GNOME 3.38 features

The Xfce edition pre-loads almost all necessary applications. So, you do not need to additionally install anything else. For example, Thunderbird, GIMP, Scan tool, Steam runtime, Firefox, VLC Player – they have included apart from the usual file manager, text editor, etc.

But LibreOffice package is not included by default. Probably due to its size. So, you need to install it via Pamac. Pamac is the Manjaro specific package manager which works great for new Arch users. Manjaro 21.0 features pamac 10.0.5.x.

Resource Usage

Resource usage - Manjaro 21.0 (Idle - after boot)
Resource usage – Manjaro 21.0 (Idle – after boot)

Although I have used the Xfce edition for this test, overall Manjaro 21.0 performing very well performance-wise. Just after boot, I kept the system running for an hour with small activities here and there. Manjaro 21.0 Xfce is consuming around ~578 MB of RAM out of 4GB – that is around 14% memory usage. That is impressive.

Memory is mostly used by the Xfce window manager, Xfce Panels, and init system.

If you use KDE Plasma, GNOME – I believe it would be in a similar range. Memory consumption would probably be a little higher than Xfce, but not that much. This is mostly because Arch Linux itself is very lightweight and fast.

So, that’s about it with Manjaro 21.0 review. If you are interested you can download Manjaro 21.0 from the below link.

Closing Notes

It’s always good to see when a Linux Distribution is performing as it is supposed to perform. No high expectations, no funky widgets, no finger gestures, no too-much animation, etc. And that should always be the objective of every distribution. I think traditionally Manjaro is the best Arch Linux-based distribution that works out-of-the-box. You get the .iso and install. That’s it. You have a ready working desktop for your daily chores. No tweaks are needed, no need to search and install an additional app to do some basic configurations.

If you love rolling release and Arch Linux-based system which is stable and work-out-of the box then Manjaro is the one. It created its own identity over the years among hundreds of distribution out there. For beginners who are stepping into Arch Linux, Manjaro is the best starting point before they get their hands dirty on installing vanilla Arch from scratch. Silently Manjaro doing its job while evolving at a slow and stable pace.



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