A few ideas about handling the installation and updates of software in Manjaro after 1 year of experience

Manjaro is very easy to use in all regards but I have some suggestions for you from my 1+ year experience of running a Manjaro spin called TROMjaro.com.

The main problem that I've seen users experience is with installing and updating stuff.

INSTALL:

The Add/Remove software is very easy to use, yet not easy enough for most users I've noticed.

What seems difficult:

  • the popup dialogues and choosing of words: open Pamac and you see a list of apps. That's great. Click the "install" button and then "apply", seems very straight forward. What breaks the experience is the popup window called "transactions"


    Although I get the logic of this window, for new users this looks a bit complicated. What is a "transaction" people asked me....and why is the "cancel" button highlighted? It means that we suggest them to click it? Users already chose to install that "app" and clicked "apply" already. Now they have to do it again. Another issue is with the little lag between clicking the first "apply" button and the "transaction" window, since the process triggers a refreshing of the databases. Click "apply" > triggers database refresh for a second or two > then it displays the "transaction" window. Some get confused and try to click again since they don't see an immediate response.

  • When users enable AUR they see a "build" button instead of "install" and that looks a bit confusing. Why not all have the "install" button?

  • When the install process is going on, the tiny bar at the bottom of Pamac is not very visible and users may try to close Pamac, not seeing that it is installing stuff. Would be best if the installation process will be as visible as that popup window with the "transactions" so that users clearly understand that they should wait for the installation process to be done.

Overall I would try to get rid of the popup "transaction" window and replace the "build" text with "install" for AUR, plus make the entire process take over the entire window so users are fully aware of what is happening.

UPDATES:

Manjaro pushes a LOT of updates, almost on a weekly basis. I love that, but pretty much everyone I know who uses our spin, dislikes them. And that's because they are so many and so often. I do not know what to suggest in this regards but maybe to push updates less often so you increase the stability of the Stable version? For the past weeks I've seen updates ranging in the 700MB, almost every 10 or so days if not more often. People want to use their computers, not to update all the time. And kernel updates require a restart if you want to use the new updates, yet no one knows about that.

January 4 updates, February 6 updates, March 5 updates, April already 5 updates. This ia more than 1 update per week.

Also, the more updates, the more likelihood of errors during the update or after the update is done. I thought that Manjaro Stable will be a better Ubuntu in this regards, like pushing updates more often, but it is pushing updates so often that for some users it creates the Windows effect, where updates create a stress for the user. Some TROMjaro users pretty much hate the updates because they are so often, so many, and at times they break things here and there.

I do not know what to do about this but maybe Manjaro should reconsider their Stable branch and make it more "conservative".

Another issue I've seen is how the updates are "processed". Like the installation process, the update process itself is not very visible and people may forget that the system is still updating. Some close their computers without realizing updates are running. Make it super visible if possible and prevent computers from going into suspend mode or being restarted if possible. If users restart their computers or like it happened recently with one of our users, the laptop goes into suspend mode, this will break their system for sure. Speaking of which, would be best o integrate automatic backups before any update and an easy way for users to restore their system in case of a complete system failure after the updates. We use timeshift-autosnap for TROMjaro and although it is a primitive way to do this, it saved a few users in such situations. Would be fantastic to see a complete solution for backups and restore in Manjaro. Like if the system cannot start, users to be able to restore it in a graphical way to a previous backup.

In Sumamry:

Make the installation process easier by maybe removing the "transaction" window and/or making the process itself much more obvious. Second, the Stable version may need a more "conservative" approach and push less updates less often + make the update process a lot more visible and create automatic backups before every update.

Manjaro does a fantastic job and I love it. But these are a few things I observed over the past year of managing our Manjaro spin. Maybe some of you can take them into account.

Cheers!

Here's my opinion about the stuff you highlight.

I think the dev has called it transactions, because it's a transaction of packages. The list can contain packages to be installed, removed and built.

Because the user needs to know that the package is going to get built on their machine, and will probably take a lot longer to "install" than packages from the repo.

I do agree with this point. The process bar can be easy to miss, depending on the theme in use.

in that case, a rolling release system is not for them. They should look for a versioned release model instead.

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If you don't use Pamac (or only use it as an app store), most of the OP's complaints vanish.

Just update using pacman (preferably in the TTY, after logging out from the graphical session). And use timeshift. If you follow those two tips, you'll have an almost perfect user experience with Manjaro.

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I understand for sure. But maybe installing flatpaks is also mostly downloading and will take longer than installing from repos. Yet you see an install button for flatpaks.

I know this is always an answer in the Linux world, but the truth is most people simply want their computers to work and not to bother them with constant updates. I kinda hate those people haha, since I love updates and tweaking my computer. But I'm just giving you my experience with them. And Manjaro is very close to being super easy to use for those users too, maybe it is because they push too many updates too often.

I get you, but this was mostly about improving the main Manjaro tool that is used for updates and installing/removing packages.

That's pacman. And pacman does not need any improving.

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It needs a way to search the package names only.

The fact that the download may be large is very different than software that might have to be built from source consuming lot of CPU resources for potentially hours depending on the package and your system.

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I'm not sure what you mean. What's wrong with -Ss?

Definitely not. About two weeks between large updates is perfect. If you want a distro that updates less, you have millions to choose from. Use Linux Mint, it's great.

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It searches the descriptions and the package name. When you are searching for something with a common word you get massive results so you end up needing to do shell acrobatics to get a reasonable result list.

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Oh, I see... It's a valid point, but that's a really minor complaint, that can be fixed with a simple shell script.

Speaking of minor complaints how to improve pacman, every time someone runs -Sy without u it should prompt "Think about the consequences of what you're about to do. Are you sure? [Y/n]". And this prompt could only be disabled by editing pacman.conf and adding: "TrustMeIKnowWhatImDoing" :rofl:

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Yup. I only use Pamac to search for software when I don't want to go all the way to the Arch website. I don't use it for install or updates, but since we're geared towards the newer, while maybe not brand new user we definitely still need to have a complete GUI experience.

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I think it's very condescending to say that new users need the GUI. Using pacman is not rocket science. A complete idiot can update an Arch-based system, after being shown how to do it.

Make a video tutorial for new users and have them watch it after installing Manjaro :smiley:

You know what's much more difficult for new users than typing pacman -Syu in the terminal? Repairing an unbootable system after updating from the GUI.

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I guess that makes me condescending, but that's fine by me. If you want to be a terminal only distro, you're just not for beginners.

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I understand but then why not use the word "download" for flatpaks? In any case, using "install" for all packages can be less confusing.

Sending me to another distro does not address my points about Manjaro. A stable distro, labeled as such, may not push updates every week or so. Maybe that's just me, but that's how it seems to me.

Humans do very well with visual cues and most operating systems out there (based on user base) rely on these. I understand you, but I think it is better to have both of those worlds. A great user interface that's simple, and a non-interfaced system (a terminal like/command line) for power users.

sudo pacman -Syu
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pacman has this it is not as easy but it exists

pacman -Ss '^clock'

but it is not perfect :wink:

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I am not sure there is a big difference between those two methods. People can break their systems either way. They both take the same care.

That searches names and descriptions that begin with "clock". It doesn't search only package names.

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In my opinion this window is very useful. It's last point when you can cancel package installation and show list of packages which will be installed as dependency, which helps keep system clean.

It will be problematic for users with older CPUs and not everybody has the same backup routine. Operating System is not a toy, so better teach users how to use it, not make software dumber imo.

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I will steal this quote and use it almost every day, from now on. Beautifully said. :+1:

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We tested the timeshift-autosnap and works very well. Users are not even aware of it working in the background before every update, yet when things go very bad they can at least restore to a snapshot before the upgrade. it is a safety net. Nothing dumb about it I'd say.

That's atrocious, in my opinion. If this is the philosophy Manjaro adopts, I won't use it, as much as I love it. I've had enough of that when I was using Windows. And Ubuntu.

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