manjaro linux in 2021 - it's finally usable
It's rare I do computer nerdy articles, but this is worth talking about.
Finally, after all these years, I switched over to Linux. I've been trying to do this since the late '90s if you can believe it.
This is a really big deal for me because I've been a Windows user forever. The only OS I used before Windows was MS-DOS. Before DOS, I was just a little kid mostly plucking around on VIC-20 and Commodore 64 computers. And the only thing I ever did on those was play games like Radar Rat Race.
2020 is when I started using Windows 10. Did I like it? No. I greatly preferred Windows 7 (I never used 8 or 8.1). So why did I switch to 10? Because official support from Microsoft for 7 ended in early 2020.
While true one can get along just fine with Windows 7 as I write this in January 2021, I'll tell you exactly when that OS will officially be dead. It's when either Mozilla or Google decide not to make a web browser for it anymore. When you see the announcement that no more Firefox or Chrome will be available for Windows 7, that's when that OS will be dead as a doornail, because without a modern web browser, a PC is basically useless.
When will Mozilla or Google stop making web browsers for Windows 7? Could be in 5 years or 5 months. Nobody knows for sure.
As far as my experience with Windows 10 is concerned, I never had anything blow up on me. The OS ran well. I also greatly appreciated the fact I could run ancient (and by that I mean over 20 years old ancient) software without emulation. Windows definitely has the best legacy support, no question about that...
...but it was no Windows 7. That OS, when properly set up, was slick, fast and truly a joy to use. And it had just enough customization options to where I could make it look exactly how I wanted.
So why Linux?
It got to the point where I was fighting with Windows 10 trying to make it act like Windows 7 and was losing.
If you've got an hour to spare, this is a very good video mostly on the subject of the Windows 10 GUI:
The majority of the issues mentioned in that video don't exist in the Linux environment because you can basically customize anything.
My issues weren't just the GUI, but overall I just got sick of fighting with 10 and wanted something else. One should not have to fight with his own PC just to get stuff done.
First reason: Not Debian.
Manjaro uses Arch Linux. I like this better than Debian because it seems to be lighter on resources. The lighter the OS is, the better it runs.
Second reason: XFCE first.
This is the first download offered by Manjaro and for good reason. It's a lightweight desktop environment which suits Arch very well. Not as pretty as GNOME or KDE, but has maximum app compatibility. I've had stuff that outright won't work in KDE but does work in XFCE flawlessly, and that's why I stick with it. Consider it the "Windows 2000" of Linux GUIs (that's a compliment, as Windows 2000 had the best GUI Microsoft ever made).
Third reason: Better app handling.
App management in Manjaro is some of the easiest I've ever used. Installing stuff is easy. Uninstalling stuff is easy. I also dig the fact that if I install something from the command line with pacman, it actually also shows up in the graphical pamac. I can also do things like sort my installed stuff by date. Another nice thing is that pamac will actually give you appropriate warnings for certain uninstallations, as in "Dude, you can uninstall [this] if you want, but it will break [that], so like, y'know, just letting you know."
Fourth reason: I DON'T THINK ABOUT IT.
The absolute best compliment I can give Manjaro is that I can use the OS without thinking about what I'm using.
When I was using Windows 10, things would periodically happen that would remind me that yeah, I'm using Windows. And not in a nice way, either. Nothing happened that was outright horrible, but things did happen that sometimes broke me out of my workflow and annoyed me.
Manjaro not only doesn't annoy me, but I actually forget the fact I'm using Linux and can concentrate more on my work.
With Manjaro, I got back the computer experience I had with Windows 7. Fast, light, works and I don't have to think about it.
Am I telling you to switch to Linux?
No, I am not.
Most people who use PCs and laptops are totally okay with Windows 10 because it works for them. And that's fine. If you use 10 and like it, keep using it. I mean that sincerely.
I needed something where I could a) have modern web browser support for a good long while, b) get back the things I had with Win7 that I lost in Win10, and c) stop fighting with my own computer...
...and I got that with Manjaro. But I'm not about to say for one second that you should use what I use. You need to use what works. Windows just wasn't working for me how I liked. Manjaro does.