Jul 10, 2014

Manjaro GNU+Linux: Installation and Some Tips

You know, I like these combined short reviews with a how-to. So here is one more. I scrapped the recent installation of Linux Mint 17 KDE in favor of this "Manjaro 0.8.10 KDE Edition" which is based on Arch.

Before you start to shivering, I wrote "is based on Arch" not that it is Arch. The Manjaro team has own repositories to assure a stable system and still having a rolling release. Octopi for updating and package selection seems like a good thing to me. If you want you can use Arch repositories, but this is really not recommended.

The installer, available as with simple GUI or shell UI for advanced configs, is very easy to understand, looks clean and runs off the live-cd. You can try it on an USB drive and it might be as catchy for you as it was for me. Really a good default selection of software. Yakuake, Rekonq, VLC, some theme editors for KMail and Contact and so on. I like the decision to deliver a KDE system with Konqueror and Rekonq set as the default browser. That comes handy for me, I banned Mozilla completely off my system for several reasons, and Chromium is only an emergency option. However, you can install one of them with octopi quickly. This is the way it should be imho. KDE should have a free KHTML browser as default.
See later how to get Chromium work with Flash, as this is horrible on newer versions, but not the fault of the distribution. Chromium is to blame. Another reason for Rekonq, as this works with Flash out of the box.

So the system is complete after install, and you can go right into productive mode. Or install some additional software. The system runs stable, and demands to install the last wave of updates. Over 200 packages including a kernel update. Update went smooth. the second update this morning (2014-07-10) with about 170 packages also went smooth with again a new kernel. Runs like it should!

After the first installation, it was a bit tricky to get the encrypted home-dir running. more to that later. And that brings us to some problems. First, there are no options to encrypt your home folder and set everything up at the installation. This should be mandatory in 2014 with all the things going on. All packages are installed, but you need modprobe it (really? Coming from Mint/Ubuntu it's illogical to get a service manually running after you installed it).
Then there is the graphic driver. I have the video-hybrid-intel-nouveau-bumblebee running. And its performance is horrible. I don't know why. This configuration runs very smooth with Linux Mint 17 and Ubuntu derivatives. On Manjaro 0.8.10 don't even try to use Chromium with hardware-acceleration enabled. It's unusable. Stuttering around even on text-scrolling. After disabling it, it's usable. Video output is okay, but you can clearly see the sluggish rendering. Also when moving windows fast or scrolling quickly through text in a web browser. I'm pretty sure this will get better in one of the coming updates. Keep in mind that it's a 0.xx release. So nothing to be dramatic about.
All in all it's a great distribution, and I totally like it. Recommended for sure. It's a real fun distribution that you can <3.

Now for the fixes and (ugly) workarounds for some problem that occur for me

To get your Garmin GPSr working with it, I have written a dedicated short article.

To encrypt your home directory you can partly follow the instructions on howtogeek for Ubuntu. You need to do a sudo modprobe ecryptfs before even trying it, since the module is not loaded by default even though ecryptfs is already installed. It is recommended to just log in your root account instead of creating a new user. Then you can migrate your home folder. Also follow closely the instructions on screen. You must login as the user with the migrated home BEFORE you reboot. And also do a ecryptfs-unwrap-passphrase . Do not forget to encrypt your swap partition, too. But be careful to choose the correct partition marked as swap.
Then you need to make some changes in /etc/pam.d/system-auth according to this article on Arch-Wiki (please follow closely).

To get Chromium running with Flash you need to install pepper-flash, since no other method is possible with newer versions of Chromium. Do so by typing sudo yaourt -S chromium-pepper-flash in the Konsole. Answer all questions about edits with no. Mind the warning that it might not be a good idea to build this as root. However it worked for me. After that, Chromium has Flash support again.

The everlasting xbacklight / brightness problem. You can solve it with almost the same instruction from this old article for Ubuntu. Just care about some differences. You need to change the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT like this:
Insert after "quiet splash": "acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor"
Do not alter anything after "resume=..."
The line should then look something like this (UUID depends on your system):
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor resume=/dev/disk/by-uuid/xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxx"

Last but not least, the printer driver (HL-2030) does not work. I tried many different drivers that came with Manjaro. None of the Brother driver did work (HL2030, HL2035, HL1250).
Visit http://www.openprinting.org , select your printer and download a PPD-File.
Then select "Manually provide a PPD-File" in Settings-> Printer-> configure-> select custom driver.
It works great with the driver from openprinting.

As always, use these tips and workarounds at your own risk.

Have a lot of fun!