Newbie: ZFS/BTRFS in Architect + encryption + sleep/swap mode questions

Hello, i as a Linux amateur user considering to install Manjaro on my 2015 laptop and asking for Your kind feeback regarding following:

I was thinking that if i want to try ZFS for my external data drives, maybe it would be somehow beneficial to setup it also on system drive? The Manjaro installer will guide me to setup ZFS or BTRFS filesystem? UDPATE: yes there is automatic configuration in Architect installer(desktop icon in Live CD/USB system), unsure about default installer. (i read good things about ZFS and it made me want to setup zfs pool out of my external drives, but my system drive is small, though my external data drive is large with alot of data. Maybe better to setup regular FS for systemd rive and ZFS pool then for external drives right?). Is better to use BTRFS (mutschler dot eu/linux/install-guides/manjaro-btrfs/)?
At same time i would like to use encryption (maybe rather full disk even i read (forum.manjaro dot org/t/manjaro-architect-full-disk-encryption/570/2) that thanks to grub it is slow to boot it. Though i do not shutdown computer often, i rather want to suspend it. Someone also says full disk one is overkill, but if the problem is only slow boot, then this is not a problem for me…).

i guess i do not need this to do simple incremental backups of the system drive to external drive?

For sleep mode, should i use swap file or swap partition? I want swap because my free RAM is quite low on current OS. Can this swap be encrypted too, any option in installer? I want to setup zswap too: wiki.manjaro dot org/index.php?title=Swap#Using_zswap_with_systemd-swap

I do not know which desktop to use, i was using XFCE, LightDM in previous Linux distributions and in outdated File managers (old version Thunar) i was lacking some features. But i heard KDE is more demanding mainly RAM despite it is more customizable and feature rich. My searche engine not finds any tutorial on how to install and switch between desktops in Manjaro. UPDATE: i read that more desktops simultaneously is not advised: wiki.manjaro dot org/index.php/Install_Desktop_Environments#The_Risks_of_Using_Multiple_DEs

Thank you

Because of your indecisiveness and lack of experience and knowledge, I would really recommend you to test your preferences yourself. In a VirtualBox or on a second PC.

The archwiki has many explanations, which also apply to Manjaro, that can be very helpful:

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First of all I do agree with @megavolt that you should test your use cases in a virtualbox first before doing it for real.

Secondly, I am answering here as a long term zfs user. Although manjaro architect is supporting the installation on a root zfs I would not recommend to do that for a simple reason: desaster recovery.

You can not find any official live ISO image that would allow you to boot your system and mount the zfs root to fix things. Therefore, for the root filesystem I would always use an officially supported filesystem. That is the reason why my root is on XFS. But you can pick any other filesystem, like btrfs.

But all other filesystems on my PC are on zfs. And that includes /home. And some of the datasets are encrypted, natively with zfs. This is something btrfs can not do. btrfs either encrypts a full partition with LUKS or single folders with tools like gocryptfs.

LUKS is fine, but not flexible enough for me. It does not allow to only encrypt single folders. gocryptfs can do that. But it is really slow compared to native zfs encryption - very slow.

For external backup drives a filesystem with checksum support like btrfs or zfs make total sense. And btrfs+LUKS is ok for such a setup. Although I would always prefer zfs for various other reasons :wink:


I think the OP has a better understanding of the problem than most people who are starting with such a project. They usually want to include Timeshift into the equation and LVM.

My recommendation is to keep it as simple as possible.

  • a FAT32 1 GB partition to mount on /boot (not /boot/efi), then your system won’t be slow to boot.
  • a btrfs partition for the whole OS incl. home, a LUKS encryption on top of it
    • I think you should be able to do it in Calamares installer, it would also create @ and @home subvolumes automatically
  • later a swap file on the btrfs partition, see Swap - ArchWiki
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Thx all, i still welcome next replies and feedback though.
@eugen-b here is what i did in my test installation on Virtualbox ( @megavolt suggested it ):

(if i remember correctly i set first one as type swap and other as btrfs and ticked encryption tickbox next to both.)
Does the setup on the image look good (encryption and other reasons) or how else it should be? I tried swap partition instead of swap file due to worries about hibernation to work - uncertainty regarding hibernation Power management/Suspend and hibernate - ArchWiki

In regards to your advice, i am uncertain if it is not efi and why 1GB - how big difference it would do comparing to 512M. No need to answer though, i will figure myself.

PS: I would tend to rather use XFCE than KDE because of worries about more RAM and CPU used… still not certain.

A warning, just to be sure: you mention a lot of data on your external drive. Please make sure you have adequate backups before formatting or repartitioning!

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