The popular Arch based distribution Manjaro have just released a brand new update across all of their different editions bringing us up to version 21.0, Ornara. Some of the new features and improvements of Ornara include; LTS Kernel 5.10, XFCE 4.16, KDE 5.21 and GNOME 3.38. There has also been some improvements to the Calamares installer which is what Manjaro uses for system installations. Calamares now includes a table of ‘best guess’ languages when GeoIP is enabled. Click here to read more about whats new from the Ornara release announcement!
I took the time to check out their different editions on offer starting with their KDE version. As KDE is my desktop environment of choice I was excited to see what Manjaro Ornara brought to the table. Their KDE edition is ‘all about upgrading the looks and usability of Plasma’ and I think they’ve managed to do exactly that. The out of the box implementation of Plasma is well polished and easy to use. They opt for a single panel layout positioned at the bottom with a nice combination of themes and icons out of the box. There is also a new module for the KDE system settings to manage your firewall however you will first need to install ‘plasma-firewall’ to activate it. Once that’s done you get an easy to use configuration section to manage your firewall straight from within the settings for KDE. One thing I really like about their KDE edition is that they support all 3 universal packaging formats Snap, Flatpak and even AppImage. To make using AppImages more user friendly they include AppImageLauncher out of the box which will integrate the applications in your system for you.
Shortly after checking out their KDE edition I decided it was time to have a little run through of their XFCE edition. Much like their KDE version you get a nice, simple and easy to use desktop with a single panel layout positioned at the bottom of your screen. Now shipping with XFCE 4.16 which brings with it some of its own new features and improvements. Some of these include improvements to compositing, GLX and more. The display settings have also seen their own share of improvements in this release. You can now use fractional scaling and it will let let you know the preferred resolution of your screen with an asterisk. The display settings will also now display the aspect ratio next to the resolutions. The default file manager for XFCE hasn’t been neglected either. Thunar received a lot of fixes and improvements as well as new features such as independent view settings per directory, the ability to pause file transfers and support for transparency in GTK themes. I almost enjoyed my little run through of their XFCE edition as I did their KDE edition. Like the KDE edition their XFCE edition does support some universal applications out of the box but is missing AppImage. Snap and Flatpak support is baked in and accessible in the Pamac-Manager.
All in all I think Manjaro do a brilliant job at packaging Arch into an attractive and user friendly distribution that can be enjoyed by all users regardless of their level of experience. I’m still yet to try their GNOME edition but so far their Plasma edition is my favourite and it’s going to take a lot for their GNOME version to take that crown.
What do you think of Manjaro Ornara? Let me know in the comments below!