There’s a lot of debate among Linux users when it comes to choosing the best distribution. Any beginner user looking for the appropriate distribution can find many videos, posts, articles, and comparisons between all distributions. Linux distro reviews can sometimes leave you lost without knowing the best distro for you. Irrespective of all the debate from various Linux distribution enthusiasts, there are some clear winners. But, before getting there, we better understand Linux first.
Linux is not an OS; it’s the core of the OS that is a kernel. The kernel is supplied with the GNU/Linux software with other additions to make it a specific Linux distribution. Another strength of Linux OS is that it offers customization and performance. Hence, the reason behind many Linux distributions is that they are purpose and user-specific.
So, there is no such thing as “general” Linux, and the debate behind the best distribution is very subjective. However, some distributions outdo the rest of them due to various reasons. For instance, Arch Linux closely converges to the best Linux distribution based on top advanced user recommendations. Similarly, Linux Mint as an Ubuntu-based distribution is considered ideal for beginner users.
As an Information Security enthusiast, I have used various Linux distributions like Kali Linux, Parrot Sec OS, Linux Mint, RHEL, and Ubuntu. But I prefer Ubuntu over Kali Linux, and I have been using it for the last few years. Since Kali Linux comes with preinstalled tools, it is famous for penetration testers and ethical hackers. However, Ubuntu is much more user-friendly and efficient, and installing penetration testing tools on Ubuntu isn’t much of a big deal. Hence, it’s always preferred over Kali Linux. Also, if compared with Ubuntu, Kali is pretty unstable and comes with a lot of bloatware. And for a regular user like me, it’s also a little hard to find help online if you run into any drivers’ issues, etc., because Kali has less user base as compared to Ubuntu.
Nevertheless, Ubuntu has its own downside. Over the years, I have faced a lot of problems with Ubuntu. Precisely speaking, they include outdated packages, instability, graphics, and display issues. Most importantly, it always has some driver issues after 5-6 months. I had some other issues as well, such as the screen suddenly freezing or the display causing problems when you don’t restart your PC for a couple of days. Moreover, when I begin to face these issues more frequently, I have to reinstall it all over again.
As a security engineer, I have to test various network and computer applications that demand up-to-date tools and applications. Since the Ubuntu system installs dependencies on its own, in some cases, the dependency version isn’t always available in the repository, and the system gets confused as it has no solution to it, which results in an error.
For instance, when I registered for OSWE (a web app pentesting course offered by Offensive Security), they provided me with a test VPN for their internal labs. It required OpenVPN version 5.0, which was not available in Ubuntu’s latest version repository at that time as it was still using some 4.XX version because you don’t get package updates right away in Ubuntu. So, I ended up downloading the Kali Linux Rolling release just to test my VPN.
The reason behind this is, each version release goes through layers of security testing and fixes. So, no upgraded packages are available in the official repository even if the new versions are released. Hence, before the latest Ubuntu release, it freezes packages to assure all components go well with each other. Freezing packages might be an effective solution against security loopholes and bug issues, but again, the availability of new versions takes months.
Similarly, the installation of some utilities causes a lot of package dependency errors as well. Such that some users out-of-control system-level problems or decisions during installation issues lead to broken packages. For instance, in a scenario where I require two Ubuntu utilities that are dependent on two different versions of the same software, the package manager won’t be able to handle both, and the applications will crash. The error outputs like “unmet dependencies” and “you have held broken packages” in the command line terminal indicate dependency conflicts.
Another major problem I have faced with Ubuntu is whenever I hibernate my system or put it into sleep mode for a long time without restarting, it starts causing problems. So, my friend, who is also a security engineer, informed me about a new Arch-based distribution, that is how I met Manjaro. As a rolling release distribution, Manjaro resolves all of the package management problems.
Its community developer’s continuously roll out new software releases, but they don’t come out as fast as Arch Linux. The reason is that Manjaro includes additional layers of testing. It holds off each new package to ensure they will not cause compatibility problems to provide users with a stable and user-specific environment.
Manjaro offers a lot more software package support in comparison to any other distribution. Such that, there is no need to worry if you can’t find a particular package from Manjaro mirrors, as the package manager also supports AUR, snap, and Flatpak.
The Arch User Repository is heaven for Linux users. It’s a software repository maintained by the Arch users’ community. Even though there are some valid security concerns and there is a risk of broken or outdated packages. However, users still trust the AUR packages based on ratings, reviews of the developer, and software. Besides, the Manjaro package manager Pacman, which is developed and maintained by Arch Linux developers, adds a cherry on top. It allows users to not only use Manjaro’s official repositories but also AUR, snap, and Flatpaks.
Hence, the acknowledgments this release has been receiving so far are well deserved. It comes with all the right features to be this much appreciated. Another distinguishing feature of this distribution is the Manjaro Hardware Detection utility (mhwd). It automatically detects and configures system hardware and provides a command that supports easy maintenance and management of multiple Manjaro kernels.
The article is not a review but includes my personal story on how and why I switched from Ubuntu to Manjaro. In this article, I share my personal opinion on reasons to prefer Manjaro over any other distribution. There can also be several other reasons why people prefer Manjaro. I hope this article will be helpful to people who are about to try this distribution.