Here’s for another update on how the gaming distro are faring based on the latest ProtonDB data. And surprise, surprise, Manjaro seems to be on a sliding path, and now for a long time.
Manjaro has been losing share consistently for the past 6 months, so that it’s now back at a third position after Ubuntu. There can always been ups and down from one month to the next, but when the phenomenon repeats over a long period of time, it’s more likely going to be a pattern.
And in case you were wondering if it’s something that’s limited to ProtonDB data, well, think again. The Steam Hardware survey shows that Manjaro has been losing big time in the past year compared to Arch Linux that has held strong desprite the rise of SteamOS after the launch of the Steam Deck):
So, what’s going on?
What’s Wrong with Manjaro?
Nothing wrong per se, as long as what you know what you are getting into. Manjaro is built on the solid fundations of Arch, and comes with a bunch of software that is pre-installed (some will consider it as junk, prefering to install exactly what they want from a vanilla install) and its own repositories.
While this may not be related to the loss of favor as a distro of choice, Manjaro has been critized several times in the little world of Linux users.
- In the PINE64 community, there were a few waves last year as Martijn Braam decided to leave the community for a number of reasons, but also citing Manjaro has having an oversized influence while not contributing much the hardware support side of things.
PINE64 cares only about Manjaro, and Manjaro does not care about working with any other distributions. This is no longer a community that listens to software developers. As a representative of postmarketOS, there is no further reason for me to be directly involved with PINE64 if the only opinions that matter are those of Manjaro.
Manjaro has again forgot to renew their SSL certificates (4 times already, if I trust the ones who gave a count online), it’s almost a running joke with this distro that this happens so often.
Distrowatch has noted many issues with the current version of Manjaro 22.0, with numerous failure modes regardless of the desktop experience selected. If anything it seems to be much less reliable than it once was.
The Manjaro Compromise
A different problem, which is a potential flaw of the Manjaro approach, is that it brings Arch to a wider, less experienced audience of Linux users. As in, to an audience that’s not ready to manage Arch by themselves. If you install Arch from scratch by yourself, you are likely not a beginner anymore, and you are comfortable with things breaking and having to fix them by yourself once in a while. You are likely to have some grit as a Linux user.
Manjaro pretends to be for everyone by having a friendly installer for Arch, but then it suffers from the same problems as Arch (and more since they create an additional layer of problems on their own) when it comes to updates and maintenance. Arch does break sometimes (late 2022 there was an issue with GRUB, UEFI in certain configurations) and it’s not always obvious how you go around solving issues (hence the excellent community and Wiki around it).
I think every year, 3 to 4 times, I end up with a small/medium issue with Arch that requires me to check carefully how to solve it. Once it was the sudden loss of bluetooth after an upgrade, which was fixed within a few days. In the meantime, if you needed bluetooth, you had to downgrade one package. While not overly complicated, I would not expect a beginner to do that - they just want their system to work.
So there’s probably a bunch of people who land on Manjaro and who are not ready for the maintenance burden that could come with it. Which is why I would expect the Manjaro share to slightly erode while the Arch user base remains strong. If anything, Arch users will move to something superior to Arch if they find it, while Manjaro users are more likely to fall back on something easier for them. Of course, there’s certainly an overlap of Arch users who don’t want to go thru the manual install process and use Manjaro as a shortcut, but you get the idea.
Just for fun, I also asked the question via a poll on Mastodon last year:
Our followers on Mastodon are typically experienced Linux users so it’s not surprising to see a large preference for Arch. A few comments under the poll, either in favor or Arch or Manjaro:
When you are a nerd, there aren’t much reasons why you would prefer Manjaro to Arch. There are even graphical installers for Arch.
Vanilla Arch/Artix or #EndeavourOS, but no Manjaro for me
Manjaro is not perfect but good enough. It requires less maintenance then Arch so I prefer Manjaro for now.
It’s an ok distro when it works but I’m a bit averse to it given the issues in its history. Not that Arch itself hasn’t had issues, sure it has, but if I were to recommend someone a more user friendly Arch alternative, I’d give them EndeavourOS. Otherwise, Arch is great fun and very educational for first timers.
I stopped using Manjaro the second time I couldn’t boot my system after doing an update. Have been using EndeavourOS ever since.
I like Manjaro as a distro. It’s how I would want an Arch system to be set up, but without all the headache of troubleshooting every single piece of hardware and software to get it set up that way, if I had to configure it myself. But the community is starting to give me bad vibes. For the past week, there’s been a Discord update in the Arch repositories which isn’t making its way into the Manjaro repositories, and anyone who asks about it just gets a snarky deflection in response
You will see that EndeavourOS is mentioned quite often as yet another alternative.
As you may have noticed from the graph above EndeavourOS has been on a steady climbup at the same time as Manjaro was losing usage share. While we don’t have hard data apart from the above from a few comments of folks on Mastodon, it does look like there’s some flow of users from Manjaro towards EndeavourOS.
EndeavourOS was born from the ashes of Antergos (the other Arch based distro that came with an installer, but that broke so often that it was highly unreliable). Apart from the ease of installing EndeavourOS, it comes with a set of 6 different environments to install, while Manjaro only offers 3 official ones. Manjaro comes with its own repository (which are delayed from Arch ones) while EndeavourOS abides to staying as close to Arch as possible by using the Arch ones.
EndeavourOS also comes with some options to make it easy to support proprietary Nvidia GPU at install time, and several customizations on the desktop environments it can pre-install for you.
There’s also always Arch (that does include an install these days too!) if you want to do it by yourself from scratch. This is still my favorite way of getting an Arch system, because it’s just a 10 mins piece of work in the end, and you know exactly what you did under the hood to get there.
Bye Bye Ubuntu?
Arch Linux is still going strong with a very stable share overall between 22% and 24% on ProtonDB. Ubuntu seems to still be on the decline, and that may be aggravated by the recent decision to double-down on snap and drop flatpak by default, and also to include ads in the terminal for their paid services such as Ubuntu Pro so that you get security updates faster! (lol)
I mean why not, but exposing your non-paid users to security vulnerabilities longer on purpose is a good way to get rid of your non-paying customers, or to let them know to look for other options!
Till Next Time
That’s all for this time, we will be back again in a few months again once there’s some new trends to talk about.