Manjaro Stable vs Testing vs Unstable

what are your experiences, i’m on stable right now but i want to know how unstable are testing and unstable branches and what can happen or already happen, tell me your experiences.

Well, Testing and Unstable branches are not that “unstable” that you cannot use them. Testing branch is almost as good as the stable branch, with a few very small issues that may appear (in my experience). The Unstable branch is closest to upstream Arch with almost no holding packages back (which is what you would want to use if you want to have the most bleeding edge stuff).

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While I can’t say I have had issues on Unstable branch, it definitely is not an easy path to walk on. Unlike Stable and Testing, where you can simply read about possible problems in Announcements threads, here you have to deal with all incoming incompatibilities first. It is vital to read everything pacman spews back at you as you have started it, ignoring anything may lead to unbootable system with you having no idea what’s gone wrong.

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well it’ll be 3 years next march since i 've started using manjaro as my daily driver. i wont call myself a linux noob, but i’m definitely NOT an expert. coming from years using fedora and debian/ubuntu based distros i approached manjaro with lot of skepticism associated with rolling release distros(thanks to what i read mostly before using), and vowed not to venture beyond the stable branch.

i think stayed in stable branch for about a year, and then grew restless like everyone else about delayed packages. and stepped into testing branch thinking people in unstable must be insane or maybe its just the manjaro internal team using it. i just dont know when it happened, must be some jobless afternoon i ended in the unstable branch and here I am.

i think irrespective of the branch you are in there are some healthy practices that can avoid undesirable results of system updates;

  • keeping manjaro live-media to chroot
  • read announcements and user feedback before updating in stable/testing branches
  • get to know critical components of the system (graphics stack, desktop stack, new kernels,etc.) and delay the pending update (by few days in stable/testing branches) if any are in the update. if making out critical components is way above your head, then unstable is not recommended.
  • use AUR packages only as necessary stick to internal repos
  • refrain from using third party components/plugins unless you know absolutely what you are doing.
  • stick to Manjaro/Arch-Wiki for your tweaking endeavours

this is absolutely meant to encourage you to “progress” you towards unstable branch earliest (at sane speed ofc), because personally i regret the time “wasted waiting” in the previous branch after everytime i did the branch hop. as aforementioned, unstable is mostly whats promoted to Arch stable, if you are not using cutting-edge hardware and nvidia GPUs (and other HW vendors having shitty OS support) it is mostly safe.

to put concisely the three branch experiences is as follows;
stable;
without question the safest bet if you want to play it safe. chances of running into trouble is far lesser than in other two, but not immune. it is the branch used by major majority of manjaro users. even when issues do make it into stable branch it doesnt take that long to get reported with the sheer number of users and combinations of setups they use. the announcements threads are often littered with posts from people bothered with having issues of entitlement rather than the technical kind. dont be disheartened but sheer number of issues reported in the stable branch threads.

testing;
is what i would recommend anyone who wants to play it moderately safe. only packages that are vetted from unstable makes it here {loosely vetted twice arch testing → arch stable(mjo unstabe) → mjo testing}. I am of the opinion that testing branch breaks systems lesser than they do in stable branch because the updates come in more leaner batches vs the big bang batch updates of the stable branch.

unstable;
personally i have nothing to complain sofar, but YMMV. updates keep coming all the time. i just decide when to update(deciding on the contents) without taking too long in between updates, which i think has helped. if you update often you dont get huge cluster of package updates, not as big as they are in testing (or worse stable) anyway. the fewer the number of packages that could have caused a break, the easier it is downgrade back.

remember you can also hop reverse into a more stable branch than what you are in and then downgrade anytime.

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It will depend on your acceptance level.

Manjaro repo contains almost the same packages as Archlinux default repo.

Manjar repo differs from Arch in the following places

  • Arch specific packages is not available (kernels, nvidia drivers, arch specific scripts)
  • Overlay packages
    • Packages existing on Arch but rebuilt for Manjaro or has a different meaning (e.g. pacman-mirrors)
    • Packages developed specifically for Manjaro (some may be backported to Arch using AUR e.g. pamac)
    • Useful AUR packages adopted by a team member and maintained by the team member (e.g. polybar). Such packages may be dropped without notice.

This structure leaves the possibility of human errors in packaging, coding etc and therefore the initial point is called unstable.

This indicates that errors will occur from time to time - they are rare but it happens.

That said - when I discovered the structure - I switched to unstable branch - to be as close to upstream as possible - and I have never had any showstoppers - bug yes - they are usually fixed very quickly - most of them has actually happened during my own maintenance of various applications and packages.

So while the name could signal trouble - if you accept the possible challenges - you will find the unstable branch as stable as you are.

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Are you thinking of switching to testing/unstable to help the manjaro team troubleshoot and report bugs or do you just want to get updates quicker? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.
From a usage point of view you’ll not notice much difference between stable and testing. I’ve been on testing for over 12 months now with hardly any issues but I switched to try and give back to the team. My coding skills are terrible but hopefully I can give feedback and report bugs before things get to stable

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