April 17, 2013, 10:59 AM — Monday may have brought the disappointing news that Fuduntu Linux will soon close its doors, but another young, up-and-coming Linux distribution appears to be continuing along its upward path without interruption.
Manjaro Linux, a distro I first covered only a few months ago, just released a fresh update, and it's particularly notable for the addition of a graphical installer and other beginner-friendly features.
By February, Manjaro had already reached the No. 15 spot in DistroWatch's page-hit rankings. Today, it's up even further, at No. 10. Here's a rundown of what you'll find in this promising new release.
1. A graphical installer
Certainly most notable among many new changes in Manjaro 0.8.5 is its new graphical installer, which promises to make installation much easier, particularly for newcomers to Linux.
The installer was actually forked from Linux Mint but includes tweaks to reflect the fact that Manjaro is based on Arch Linux rather than Ubuntu and Debian.
"For now, only installation on one hard drive is properly supported, but you can mount other partitions by hand if you choose the manual option," explained project coleader Philip Müller in a blog post over the weekend.
The project recommends using its command-line installers for that purpose. Those installers also make it possible to install Manjaro on Macs, Müller noted.
2. A new Settings Manager
Also promising to make life easier for newcomers to the distro is Manjaro's new graphical Settings Manager tool, which comes with wizards to guide users through the installation of language localization packages as well as handling system language, keyboard layouts, and user management. A new keyboard-focused tool, meanwhile, is meant to make keyboard layout setup as simple as possible.
3. Three desktop flavors
Manjaro 0.8.5 comes with Xfce and OpenBox as its standard desktop environments, but users can also install their own preferred alternative using the distro's Net-Edition, which includes just the basic packages and the X.org-stack. That way, more advanced users can build their system to suite their tastes exactly.
4. A guide for beginners
Adding a further note of welcome to beginning users, Manjaro 0.8.5 offers a 61-page, step-by-step guide (PDF) to installing and using the distro, including both graphical and command-line installation methods.
5. A graphical package manager
Pamac, Manjaro's default graphical package manager, got updated with this new release to include interactive searches by name, download-size information, improved sortability, and the ability to resize all panels. Numerous language translations were also added, and several bugs were fixed.
6. A raft of updates
Last but not least, Manjaro 0.8.5 includes a variety of updates to its components, including version 3.8.5 of the Linux kernel, systemd 198, and X.org 1.14.0. Also added are proprietary driver support for AMD and Nvidia graphics cards and extra multimedia support.