Manjaro vs Ubuntu | Which Cycle is Better

Both Ubuntu and Manjaro are some of the leading open-source Linux distributions that have been designed to meet different needs. Ubuntu Debian distro that features a GNOME open-source desktop environment and is offered in three versions: Ubuntu server, Ubuntu Desktop, and Ubuntu Core. 

Manjaro, on the other hand, is an Arch Linux distribution that has been designed to offer all Arch Linux features in a more stable, secure, and accessible environment. This makes Manjaro better suited for beginners and Ubuntu ideal for seasoned Linux users. 

Again, Manjaro is suited for personal use, especially when used as a server to host services. Throughout this guide, you will learn how the two Linux-based operating systems compare and contrast. 

What is Ubuntu? 

First released on October 20, 2004, Ubuntu is a rather popular Linux distribution that is mainly based on Debian. It comes in three main editions: Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Desktop—a great operating system for use in PCs, and Ubuntu Core—suited for use in Internet of Things (IoT) devices and robots. 

Although Ubuntu comes with GNOME as the default environment, you can also get several other variants, including: 

  • Lubuntu – comes with Lxde/Lxqt desktop environment 
  • Kubuntu – a version of Ubuntu that features a KDE desktop environment 
  • Xubuntu – features an Xfce desktop environment 

Ubuntu is a great operating system for Cloud computing applications. Additionally, the distro offers support for OpenStack (Wikipedia).

What is Manjaro? 

Manjaro is an Arch-based Linux distribution that was first released on July 10, 2011. It is known to be a rather powerful distribution that is very intuitive and allows for easy customization. With Manjaro, you will still get all the features and benefits of Arch Linux. 

Additionally, the developers put more emphasis on developing a more stable, secure, and accessible system. You will find the distribution to be user friendly and comparatively easy for beginners to get started with Linux. 

With regards to the desktop environment, Manjaro offers such options as GNOME, XFCE, i3, KDE, and Cinnamon. Manjaro also features in-built support for multiple kernels and allows for easy installation in each case. Even so, it is the LTS kernel that makes the distribution more stable and less buggy.  

Differences Between Manjaro and Ubuntu 

Although Ubuntu and Manjaro are both Linux distributions each is designed differently to suit different applications. As such, each of these Linux-based operating systems (OS) has a unique set of features and benefits to offer. 

To help you make an informed choice between the two, here are the key differences between the Ubuntu and Manjaro distributions:

Package Managers 

A package manager in any Linux distribution is responsible for the installation, updating, and removal of packages on the operating system. Both Ubuntu and Manjaro distributions use different package managers. 

By default, Ubuntu uses APT as the package manager. However, the system also allows you to install and use the SNAP package manager if you so wish. Manjaro, on the other hand only supports the Pacman package management.

The three package managers may have a different syntax, but their overall functionality is more or less the same. In either case, you will have an easy time applying updates and upgrades as well as searching for specific packages. 

Software Release Cycle 

This refers to how often each of the operating systems is updated. On average, the Ubuntu distro avails an interim release once every six months. The interim releases in Ubuntu feature the latest features and updates. Each of the releases is supported for just nine months. 

In addition to the interim releases, you should expect a long term support (LTS) release of the software once every two years. The LTS release updates of the Ubuntu software are supported for up to five years following their release. As opposed to Ubuntu, Manjaro offers a rolling release update cycle. 

This means that the software is continually updated, and users do not need to download and install a new version of the software with every update. Instead, you only need to keep your Manjaro system updated through the Pacman package manager

Which Cycle is Better? 

Each of the two update cycles has a unique set of pros and cons to offer. For instance, the fixed release schedule offered by Ubuntu ensures that the users know what to expect in the upgrades. Again, their LTS release is comparatively stable, and predictable as it has been rigorously tested and improved. 

However, the upgrade process is lengthy and too drawn out for some users. The rolling release schedule offered by Manjaro is easier for users to keep up with. With such a distro, you will only need a couple of minutes to update the software every time an update is available  

However, the new features availed by rolling release updates may be unstable and unpredictable as they have not been tried for long. If you are looking for stability, then the Ubuntu LTS release schedule is the right choice. 

Level of Customization 

Both Manjaro and Ubuntu distributions come with a number of pre-installed applications to suit different uses. For instance, both systems have a word processor, email client, and internet browser pre-installed. 

While this is the case, different Ubuntu distribution versions tend to have more pre-installed apps than the Manjaro distribution. This makes Ubuntu more suited for beginners as they will need to install fewer Apps after installation. 

Since the Manjaro distro only has a few pre-installed apps, it is comparatively more customizable. In this regard, the OS allows you to customize the Linux system with only the Apps you require. As such, Manjaro is suited for the more experienced Linux users.

Intended Application 

The Ubuntu distribution is a bit different from the Manjaro distro, with regards to design and functionality. This makes the two distributions suited for different applications. The Manjaro distro, for instance, is meant to be easy to install, configure, and use. 

Manjaro is best suited for Linux enthusiasts who would like to have a more customizable system. This makes it ideal for customized OS, gaming, and running Windows applications. The Ubuntu distro is meant to be one of the best PC operating systems for beginners. 

It presents users with an easy-to-install Linux OS that is stable and reliable. This makes Ubuntu ideal for programming, and workstation applications. 

Software Support 

Right out of the box, the regular Manjaro version has all the basic tools you need to get started. You may also customize the Manjaro system by installing a myriad of applications using the Pamac package manager. In addition to the official Manjaro respiratory, this OS also supports the Arch User Repository (AUR).

The Ubuntu distro also comes with all the basic tools pre-installed. With Ubuntu, you will be able to install custom packages from independent developers. Usually, this is done through the Ubuntu PPAs. Manjaro makes it easier for you to keep track of the additional packages than it is to monitor a bunch of PPAs on Ubuntu.

Desktop Environment 

This refers to the graphical user interphase (GUI) of the operating system. Among other things, the desktop environment in Linux determines how windows appear and behave when in use. Manjaro offers a number of OS editions that use either GNOME, XFCE, or KDE desktop environments. 

In either case, the final appearance is similar to a conventional desktop with a Start menu and Rask bar, much like the Windows desktop. Regardless of the edition, you are using, Manjaro allows you to resize, close, and even minimize open windows.  

By default, all Ubuntu versions use the GNOME environment. As such, Ubuntu gives an appearance that is similar to a Mac-based operating system. If you are looking for enhanced ease of use, the Manjaro desktop environment is a perfect choice. 

Kernel Support 

The kernel in a Linux-based operating system bridges the communication gap between the hardware and applications. It is designed to control such things as the CPU, and communicate with it on behalf of the various applications. 

The ability to use a newer kernel version means that you have access to the latest open-source software features. However, the latest kernel version may not guarantee stability as it is yet to be tested and improved. Manjaro runs on the latest kernel version at any given time. 

As mentioned earlier in this guide, Ubuntu is not updated as often as the Manjaro distro. As such, you should expect it to be running on an older kernel version at any given point. Although this will not offer you the latest capabilities, it guarantees stability. 

Final Verdict 

The Ubuntu and Manjaro Linux distributions are essentially designed to address the needs of different users. If you are looking for granular customization and access to AUR packages, then you should go for the Manjaro distro. 

Manjaro will always keep you updated with new features and updates every now and then. It also offers a much lighter package with more versatility and more desktop environment options. The distro comes preloaded with a number of the basic packages, including Steam, but also leaves room for you to customize your OS. 

If you would rather have a more stable, reliable, and convenient distribution, then Ubuntu will be a great choice. Ubuntu will also come in handy if you are just a beginner in Linux systems. Ubuntu is a distribution of choice for the users looking for a well-supported option and do not mind running behind a few kernel editions.