The Manjaro community has been putting an incredible amount of effort into the ARM architecture. The ARM team is now part of the main Manjaro infrastructure and their current release 20.04 comes with official images for:
- The Pinebook Pro
- The older Pinebook
- Raspberry Pi4
- Rock Pi4
- Rock Pro 64
- Khadas Vim 1
- Khadas Vim 3
The phone version is still in Alpha stage. It probably won’t be a viable option to Android or iOS for quite some time but it’s nice to see development is ongoing after Canonical decided to stop all their development of Unity 8.
The official Manjaro images come with either Xfce or KDE Plasma as their desktop environments. In some cases the i3 tiling window manager is also available as a default install option. These are all very light weight.
The KDE plasma edition is quite elegant and modern looking. Manjaro has done an excellent job with the theme. Frankly, it’s hard to believe it uses just ~450MB of Ram out of the box.
The people at Pine64 have been working together with Manjaro to make the KDE Plasma edition the default operating system for their $199 Pinebook Pro.
Reviews have been very favorable overall.
A cool feature of the Pinebook Pro is the ability to install any compatible distro through it’s SD card slot. Just remove the card and it’ll boot back into the default distro from the emmc storage. So you can test through a bunch of operating systems and whenever you find your favorite, simply install it to the emmc to make it permanent. Emmc does offer noticeably higher performance compared to the SD card.
On the Raspberry Pi4, both the Xfce and the KDE Plasma versions run quite well. Performance is a lot better, though, when the Pi is overclocked to 2.0Ghz. There are plenty of tutorials on that online. Active cooling would be required. Debian based Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) still has a lot more resources and solutions online and might be a better fit if you need support for services like Netflix playback.
BigDaddyLinux made a Youtube interview with Dan Johansen, the guy who brought us Manjaro ARM on the Pinebook Pro. One gets a bit more insight through the lengthy interview. Basically, Manajro ARM’s aim is to make it as easy as possible to install the Arch-based system on any supported device. I suppose that is what Manjaro has been always about, making Arch Linux accessible to the wider general audience. He did sound a bit skeptical on the topic of phone/desktop conversion. Right now, they are using Plasma Mobile “which is just a rotated mobile screen” when used as a desktop. They are also looking at Librem 5’s interface and see whether they could integrate it in the future.
For the latest news on Manjaro and Manjaro ARM, checkout their site at: https://www.manjaro.org/news/
Have you used Manjaro ARM on any device? Share your experience with is in the comments below!