Manjaro vs EndeavourOS: An In-Depth Comparison

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If you’ve ever tried using Arch Linux, you know it’s nearly impossible to install without proper documentation and Linux knowledge. That’s the charm of Arch Linux, actually.

But since Arch Linux is on the expert end of the Linux distro spectrum, there are several Arch-based distros that try to make things easier for ordinary people.

Manjaro and EndeavourOS are two of the most popular choices for an “Arch-based Arch alternative”.

So let us see the differences between these two. Why choose one Linux distribution over another?

Office variants

These two distributions come in several flavors. Manjaro has three official versions: Xfce, KDE and GNOME. There are also community editions for Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, Mate, Sway, and i3.

Endeavor OS officially offers a lot more variants. Besides what Manjaro has, it also has LXQT, BSPWM, Openbox and Qtile.

Since each flavor has a different desktop environment and its own DE-specific bundled apps. This ends up not having a “strict” baseline of minimum system requirements.

Here is a list of system RAM requirements according to the EndeavourOS website (this should also be the same for Manjaro) by desktop environment

  • Xfce – A minimum of 2 GB of RAM, but 4 GB is recommended
  • Mate – A minimum of 2GB of RAM, but 4GB is recommended
  • Cinnamon – A minimum of 4 GB of RAM is required
  • Gnome – A minimum of 4 GB of RAM is required (assuming the same for KDE)
  • Budgie – A minimum of 4 GB of RAM is required
  • Plasma – A minimum of 4 GB of RAM is required
  • LXQT – A minimum of 2 GB of RAM, but 4 GB is recommended

Get ISO

As I mentioned above, Manjaro and EndeavourOS come in a wide variety of flavors. This means that I cannot direct you to a single ISO download link. But, for the intentions and purposes of this article comparing operating systems, I’ve gone with the default offering – the Xfce flavor ISO.

Installing the operating system

Both EndeavourOS and Manjaro use the Calameres installer and give you some useful options in their grub boot menus.

Installing EndeavourOS

When you first start EndeavourOS, it will present you with a GRUB menu with the following options

  • Boot using Intel/AMD drivers (default option)
  • Boot using the proprietary NVIDIA graphics driver
  • Run Memtest86+ (RAM test)
  • Run HDT (Hardware Detection Tool)

Once EndeavourOS has started, its welcome screen will offer you a few options.

The options are to manage partitions, install community editions, update mirrors, and start the installer.

01 effort options
list of options on EndeavourOS installer

There are two options for installation

  • Online – Gives you the option to change your desktop environment to something other than Xfce
  • Offline – Gives you Xfce desktop with EndeavourOS theme

As mentioned earlier, EndeavorOS uses the open-source Calameres installer. But besides that, it also gives you some options for better control over user experience and installation.

The available options provided by the EndeavorOS installer are listed below.

  • LTS kernel (next to latest stable kernel)
  • XFCE4
  • KDEGenericName
  • GNOME
  • i3WM
  • Mate desktop environment
  • Cinnamon desktop environment
  • Budgie desktop environment
  • LXQT
  • LXDE

The list of accessibility tools available in the EndeavourOS installer is as follows

  • espeak-ng: open source text-to-speech synthesizer
  • mousetweaks: accessibility improvements for pointing devices
  • orca: script-compatible screen reader

Install Manjaro

When you first start Manjaro, you will see a GRUB menu with the following options

Aside from the branding and OS-specific changes made by the developers at Manjaro to the Calameres installer, there isn’t much difference between the Calameres installer and what you get. on Manjaro.

Manjaro welcome

Calameres is not the only installer for Manjaro

If you want a custom install on Manjaro, you can use the Manjaro Architect ISO for a fully custom CLI install.

Keep in mind that as of this writing, the Architect version of Manjaro appears to be unmaintained due to an unresolved package conflict. Please help maintain the project if you have the necessary skills and the time to commit 🙂

Which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you ask.

In my opinion, if you’re new to your first Linux distro as Manjaro, it’s best if your options are limited.

This means less barrier to entry that would be caused by a list of alternate audio servers, display servers, display managers and/or window managers to choose from.

Once you’re comfortable enough with Linux distros to tinker with your system, you can spice things up to your liking.

If you are looking to customize your installation, you will need to do so after your operating system is installed.

First start

After installing Manjaro or EndeavourOS you will get a welcome screen with some options for someone new to Linux in general or new to Manjaro or EndeavourOS or Arch based distros.

Options available in EndeavourOS include things like updating mirrors, updating system, changing display manager (lightdm, gdm, lxdm, and sddm), browsing AUR packages, installation of packages like libreoffice, chromium, akm (A Kernel Manager) and more.

On the Manjaro side, the options presented to you are what I would consider limited compared to EndeavourOS, but I would say “limited enough”.

It’s just the right amount of stuff you’ll need (as a beginner) to get started with Manjaro.

A few options available in the Manjaro home screen are a link to the official Wiki, support forums, mailing list, involvement in Manjaro development, installing and/or removing apps , etc

The welcome screen on Manjaro and EndeavourOS also gives you the option to donate if you like the project and its direction, but only do so if you have the money to do so.

Software packaging

Let’s face it, installing the operating system is only part of a Linux distribution.

The package manager and the way software is packaged plays a major role in the stability of a Linux distribution.

If you update/install a package and it updates an already installed library – that other packages depend on, well… that’s bad. This creates what is called “dependency hell”. A package manager should take care of that.

So how do Manjaro and EndeavorOS compare in this regard?

Well, since Manjaro and EndeavorOS are based on Arch Linux, they use the pacman package manager used by Arch Linux. One of the many features of pacman is that it manages dependencies for you.

Manjaro

Even though Manjaro uses the pacman package manager, Manjaro has its own repositories.

Packages are pulled daily from Arch Linux and “mirrored” into the Manjaro Unstable package repository, then passed to Manjaro Testing for – you guessed it – Testing.

Once the packages are deemed stable, they are pushed to the main repositories for anyone to install.

However, security updates are pushed directly to public repositories through what Manjaro calls “Fast-Tracking” for faster issue resolution.

04 manjaro rest
Manjaro tests Arch Linux packages for stability

This method of testing packages ensures that there is no unexpected breaking of packages because ‘xyz’ has been modified.

But it also means that users have to wait a few weeks (usually 2-4 weeks) for the new version of their software to be available for installation.

EndeavourOS

EndeavourOS does not have its own software repositories. They depend on the main Arch Linux repositories, and in doing so, you get the most “vanilla” experience if you’re using EndeavourOS.

If you were to install Arch Linux and EndeavorOS on the same machine, almost everything except the desktop environment or window manager and/or their themes and installation experience should remain the same.

Packages included

Now, you might notice a trend in the differences between Manjaro and EndeavourOS.

EndeavourOS

EndeavourOS prioritizes being closest to Arch Linux in terms of philosophy.

Do you have a custom install? To verify.

Install only the packages needed for a full desktop experience? To verify.

Do you have the most salient packages in the distribution repositories? To verify.

EndeavourOS gives you the opportunity to want to learn Arch without learning all about EFI, driver research and installation (looking at you nVidia), desktop environments/window managers, display managers, etc. . all at once.

It will configure everything at once and give you time to learn the inner workings of Arch Linux yourself, at your own pace.

03 neofetch efforts 1
mandatory neofetch screenshot of EndeavourOS

Manjaro

Manjaro, on the other hand, holds your hand (see what I did there?) the whole time you use it. It handles everything from installation to package stability, while giving you fairly instant access to security updates.

It is intended to be used as a general purpose operating system for your computer.

It installs quite a few open source apps by default. This is extremely useful for a new Linux user.

It has a few apps installed for you like audio player, graphical firewall (gufw), GIMP, HP Device Manager, email client (thunderbird), video player (vlc), office suite (editors only Office).

02 nefetch manjaro 1
Mandatory neoftech screenshot from Manjaro

What should I use?

Well, that’s your call. I can only recommend one or the other based on their use case and target audience.

If you are someone who considers yourself a casual computer user who only needs an Office suite (LibreOffice, ONLYOFFICE), a media player and a web browser to do your job, I recommend you try Manjaro because of their own repo for [mostly] stable packages and hassle-free installation.

But, on the other hand, if you are someone who has used a distro like Ubuntu before, Pop! _OS, Linux Mint, ElementaryOS, Fedora, etc. yes, ricing GRUB is a thing). So if you need a simple Linux distro like Arch to start with, EndeavourOS is what I would present to you as my recommendation.

Now you too can say: * fedora tips * I use Arch btw ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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