Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Manjaro 0.8.13 KDE Plasma 5

I am a great lover of Arch Linux, it's one of the most versatile distributions of Linux. Back in 2006 when I first began to use Linux I never imagined that one day I would use a distribution that you personally build from the ground up. But such is the evolution of ability that develops as you use something so advanced, so educational.

However, I am no expert, and as much as I love Arch I often find myself struggling despite the great wiki. I decided that I needed a distribution that did it for me. So I have opted for Manjaro, a spin of Arch with it's own repositories - it is to Arch as Ubuntu is to Debian.

Plasma 5 is the new and shiny version of KDE, well - it's KDE5. It's fresh and in my opinion far quicker than it's predecessor, and with Manjaro's take it's quite possibly the best version of KDE I've ever used - and I've used all of them since version 3. It looks AMAZING.

My personalization of Plasma 5

All the edges are clean, and sharp, unlike previous versions of KDE that tended for curved edges, this one goes for distinct right angles on the corners. The theme itself is a gray/black sort of color with green highlights.

Manjaro has had it's issues, and I'm not talking about security flaws. It tends to try and make changes that stabilize Arch but often they cause more problems, with Arch coming direct from the upstream with only minor changes to the Kernel, Arch actually tends to be MORE STABLE than other distributions. However issues I've encountered in previous distros are nowhere to be seen at time of publication. Perhaps this comes from the newness of Plasma 5, maybe bugs will creep in?

Plasma isn't drastically different in terms of usability, I've personalised various key commands, and all the usual things such as fn keys work out of the box, I had to blacklist the nouveau driver because the newer versions are an absolute wreck, and I've opted for bumblebee with the proprietary nvidia driver - these work without issue.

Setup was perfectly reasonable, it took about 10 minutes to install on my top of the range optimus V laptop. Whereas in the previews I couldn't actually install due to UEFI conflicts - this version had no difficulty.

I can open google chrome in approx 1 second from click to display. Plasma 5 is fast!

I do have a minor issue with GTK themes, they don't display correctly..maybe I will be able to resolve this in the future.

Compositing works fine, as do desktop effects.

Bluetooth works out of the box.

One thing I love about Manjaro is that yaourt is including out of the box, this makes accessing the AUR a doddle!

All in all it's a top system, I found myself admiring it and deciding that this actually is as usable as AwesomeWM - my previous choice for a desktop. I can personalize plasma to my desire, I can remove window titles if I choose - in fact KDE is just as customizable - and usable as any window manager. Yes, it uses more RAM and a little more CPU, but on this system it's not an issue.

I would recommend this for systems with 2gb ram or more, and at least an intel core duo, have that and you'll be fine!

Anyway, Plasma 5 looks set to be the one to beat this year, having tried Unity on Ubuntu 14.04 this month, there is no comparison. Try Manjaro 0.8.13 with Plasma and I cannot see you wanting to go anywhere else, and remember - no reinstalls!