Manjaro - is it appropriate for non-technical users switching from Windows (friends and family)?

#1

Hi guys,

I’ve recently switched to Manjaro from Solus and have been a happy Budgie user. I also help friends and family with their Linux systems when they want to move away from Windows. In the past, I always installed Linux Mint for them, with its “just works” model, letting me not to worry about maintenance and support of these systems unless something goes wrong, and it rarely does. The issue with Ubuntu based distros is difficulty in finding certain software in the software centers and a non-rolling release schedule, making it difficult to upgrade to major new releases.

So, my question to the pros here. Do you feel that Manjaro is appropriate for new users who don’t know much about Linux and just want to use their computers without much maintenance? I like the fact that all software is available through the package manager and of course the rolling release model, keeping the system up-to-date. After the initial installation and setup, I want to have a very minimal involvement with these systems from friends and family.

Appreciate your thoughts on this…

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#2

if my retiree club succeeds, why should not others succeed
By the way, they are all almost 70 years old

give a little help from time to time, everything is fine :joy:

another article
News: Rentner benutzen Manjaro

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#3

Ouf, this is a difficult question to answer. My guess is that you’ll find good arguments for both sides in the replys to your topic.
If I was in your situation, I would not take the risk of a rolling model. Especially if the machine has no need of some weird special software or does not rely on always having the latest software available, my pick would be Ubuntu LTS.

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#4

My feeling is that it’s not quite suitable because of the rolling nature. Frequency of issues cropping up is marginally higher than with LTS based distributions. While the forum here is an excellent channel of support, the problem with recommending to friends and family with no experience is that from experience they would bother you first rather than try to fix it themselves.

I’m actually recommend UbuntuMATE for Windows users tempted to jump ship with no or little linux experience. The welcome screen is the best I have come across at introducing new users to an ‘alien’ desktop environment.

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#5

I’ve used Ubuntu MATE in the past and I agree that its a good distro for new users. The only issue is that the Brisk menu sometimes crashes. Also, error messages are often displayed, which can confuse new users (this can be dealt with by disabling error reporting). So, for these reasons I’ve used Linux Mint which typically works “out of the box” and requires almost no maintenance for new users for extended periods of time. The issue with Linux Mint is the upgrade path to major new releases.

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#6

No, it’s not suitable. It will bite in the wrong moment. But if the users are willing to learn, Manjaro is ok. It has good User Guide, a Wiki, the Arch Wiki and the best forum around.

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#7

brisk menu may be the default now but the advanced menu is still available as an alternative and is a tad more reliable. I usually do an OEM install for them on their machines and set up the default interface across all profiles to resemble windows out of the box, make sure all the necessary codecs are in place. Then all they have to do is turn it on and create a new user account, read through the welcome screen and away they go.

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#8

I think it all depends what do the users do with their computers. Are they just users, like they were on Windows systems, then why not use Manjaro?
My wife uses Manjaro as a user, she starts and uses programs to do what she wants to do. Just like my neighbor who also uses Manjaro now. My neighbor can manage just fine doing the updates, my wife doesn’t even know the password so she can’t do anything wrong with the system.
If something is wrong then I’m here, but as said my neighbor hardly calls me anymore.

Plus what is the difference with Windows nowadays? Also 10 has a rolling release model, so why not use Manjaro?

As long as there is somebody close at hand who can save the day thenI see no objections.

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#9

Manjaro can be suitable for a specific subset of non-tech users. Specifically the ones who are willing to learn to maintain their system or have someone to do it for them.

Manjaro requires regular updates, and you need to know how not to do them. But other than that, manjaro xfce should remain pretty stable and uneventful if you don’t tinker with it.

Just

  • update regularly
  • don’t do partial updates
  • don’t reboot after interrupted (kernel) updates

However, merely doing updates can be intimidating for a non-tech user. If they can’t handle updates, they cannot handle manjaro.

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#10

The core of your question.

So, my suggestion would be no. Can I suggest a Debian stable distro? Maybe something like Neptune or Sparky OOTB.

Otherwise, it’s hard to go wrong with a LTS *buntu spin like Xubuntu. Simple, snapshot and the stability of Xfce. Even the simplicity of Lubuntu could be a great choice. LTS version updates are now handled by the package manager.

Just a couple of ideas.

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#11

Following on from GreenMartian’s post, I note that not only do the users themselves not want to have to do much maintenance, neither do you on their behalf.

So the answer is twice no.

I suggest MX 17.1 Linux. Install it for them, show them the following (some of these should be highlighted in the welcome window upon first startup):

  1. the update notifier in the panel, and how they can just click on it to initiate updates when it turns green.

  2. MX Package Installer and the ability to install curated popular programs and packages with a click.

  3. Synaptic if they want to make a full search of all packages available for installation.

  4. the manual in pdf form in the Whisker favourites menu

  5. MX-Tweak for customisation of panel orientation, icons, themes

  6. MX-Tools in general for GUI tools for various tasks.

Then leave them to it.

Hopefully you won’t need to check in with them again until 4+ years have passed and the long-term security support for the present MX17.1 has ended and you need to install the then-current version (the home partition can be preserved as part of the installation).

On the other hand, if the user is the adventurous sort, Manjaro is fine, particularly if he or she is willing to do web searches to look for solutions or visit the forum to ask for help instead of contacting you all the time.

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#12

Because of its richness of features MX Linux might be too challenging for the described type of users. The forum members will ask to read the manual if they notice a complete lack of understanding. But the manual is excellent for new users.

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#13

Yes they might, but they will be very nice about it!

And you are still likely to get your answer anyway. :slight_smile:

ALso, if the new user just keeps to the tasks in points 1, 2 and 5 in my post above, not going any deeper into the richer features of MX, they might not even need the manual.

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#14

MXLinux is a really good distro. But, I’d suggest it’s targeted toward a middle-weight semi-power user with it’s collection of Mx Tools.

The folks over in the forum are very helpful, but expect you to have done your due diligence before posting for help. It’s a smaller environment.

The terminal-based update manager is very nice for more experienced users, but perhaps just a little too advanced for the newbie crowd.

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#15

Yes, my friend never (I mean never) update Windows, when it broke, I replaced with Manjaro, she is really happy with it. Will she update Manjaro? Probably not :smiley: But there are shortcuts on her desktop for all common tasks including updating.

She is from Zimbabwe and some of the sites she visits to keep up with news from home are quite frankly dangerous, virus factories and have really intrusive advertising, took me a while to make them safer, even on linux (one I put in her hosts, it was that dodgy :smiley: so she will not go back even accidentally).

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#16

I installed manjaro xfce on my sisters machine. She was happy with it and had mostly no problems with it. But it was a dual boot system, so she ended up with update requiring manual intervention. I was able to talk her through it without visiting. There were maybe 1 or 2 instances where she needed help over 3 years.

It really depends on the level of non-tech person. Can they follow simple a update routine? Manjaro would work for my mom with some initial couching, but definitely not for my mother in law.

Manjaro is best suited for a user who can read english, google their error messages on don’t freak out if something unexpected happens. A user who does not install or configure anything, just uses a few apps and can follow update routine is the minimum requirement. However, Manjaro doesn’t have anything special to give to such users. Something like Suse leap or lts Ubuntu mate would be just as good if not better for them.

Manjaro has relatively low initial skill requirements, but the real reasons to use it only come up on more advanced usage.

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#17

Thank you guys - all good points.

I run Manjaro for all 5 or so computers in the household, since I am available to manage these systems. But, for friends and family not in the immediate geographical area, who are older or non-technical, I think I will stick with some variant of Ubuntu LTS (probably continue with Linux Mint) with Teamviewer installed for remote management if needed. As I mentioned, I want to minimize my support requirements for these types of users and maintain a maximum stability of their systems.

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#18

Not at all.

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#19

As a fairly recent windows refugee (still reluctantly dual boots,) I’d recommend Mint over MX-Linux and Manjaro for non-techies. Otherwise, if they are comfortable with updates and aren’t intimidated by using a terminal, then recommend whatever you are using or are comfortable supporting. It’s important to distinguish between a linux newbie and a computer novice! If both, beware of the help vampire.

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#20

I highly agree with you about Mint over MX-Linux and Manjaro for most non-techie folks. That said, I have my dad on Manjaro since that is easier to support then both of us using different distros.

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