Many people claim that rolling releases may require more maintenance, i’m not sure what it actually means but feels like a disadvantage.
Rolling releases perform better in multiple areas, file system, disk I/O, GPU and CPU, gaming, responsiveness, desktop smoothness and performance.
Rolling releases bring the latest software such as DE, kernel, drivers, all this brings performance improvements.
GNOME 41 is butter smooth when compared to GNOME 36 that Ubuntu uses
Kernel 5.16 brought Futex2 which reduces CPU usage in games and improves frame rates
Kernel 5.15 brought a new NTFS driver which greatly improves copy and write speeds of NTFS formatted devices
Latest drivers improve graphics performance not only in games but in general
Latest kernel improves CPU performance, file system performance, compiling speeds
Latest desktop environment version improves UI performance and responsiveness
There are many factors that make a rolling release perform considerably better than point releases, those factors i have mentioned are just a few that i know of, the main reasons are latest DE kernel drivers, and they improve performance in many ways.
Point releases usually freeze their packages, they only bring new features and improvements on major upgrades, which means you won’t get any new shiny stuff until a new version is released.
Thanks for the comprehensive explanation and categorization of information, makes it easier to learn as well.
Quite honestly, I don’t think I am knowledgeable enough to even describe exactly what I want from a Linux distribution. Perhaps performance, security and ease-of-use with a steep learning curve. Personally I like using the terminal too, and seeing and comparing some of the basic pacman syntaxes against Debian’s apt kind of put me off a bit, but I’ll give Manjaro a try. I don’t plan on becoming a computer programmer or work with development or anything, I just choose to stay far from Apple and Microsoft products/services that’s all.
I like the philosophy of opensource and this seems to be good Linux community with lots of good people contributing to it.
What it means is that rolling releases have no good way to keep breaking changes out of regular updates unless they want to be stuck with outdated software forever.
Thing, e.g., of a major (first-digit) new release of KDE Plasma (e.g., Plasma 5 when it was new, or probably soon Plasma 6). What a non-rolling distribution will do is to stick to the old version for the lifetime of the stable distribution release, and offer the new upstream version only in the next distribution release. That, together with continued support for the old distribution version (for a limited time, which may be as short as 1 month after the new release or as long as 10 years total, depending on the distribution), allows users to pick their own schedule for the potentially breaking upgrade. Of course, that comes at the price of sometimes running outdated software.
A rolling distribution obviously cannot do that, because there is (by design) no “next distribution release” to begin with. It can delay major updates for some time so that they can get some amount of testing (and in fact Manjaro does that, even for minor updates), but ultimately the update will have to go out. There are really only 3 things the rolling distribution can do:
ignore the new upstream version forever – obviously not a reasonable thing to do,
automatically upgrade users to the new upstream version – usually the most reasonable thing to do, but can require maintenance if the upgrade breaks something, or
require users to manually upgrade to the new upstream version (e.g., by installing a differently named package that conflicts with the old one) – sounds like a good idea, but is actually the most maintenance-intensive approach, and risks users unknowingly being stuck on an old version that is no longer updated (by upstream and/or by the distribution).
One example is the switch of the telephony backend in Plasma Mobile from ofono to ModemManager: The new feature release of Plasma Mobile with the switch went out to Manjaro ARM stable pretty quickly, users were upgraded automatically, but had to manually disable ofono and enable ModemManager for telephony to actually keep working. There were also some regressions fixed in later updates. A non-rolling distribution would probably only have offered the new version in a new release (but on the other hand, this makes non-rolling distributions not very useful for Plasma Mobile at this time, at its current pace of development).
Maybe things have changed since, having not used Ubuntu in a long time. I remember Ubuntu being frustrating due to so many bugs and lack of latest software. I moved away from Ubuntu to Debian for much less bugginess. But not having access to up to date software on Debian got frustrating, so I eventually moved to Arch. Having up to date software on Arch was nice but was more configuration and breaking than I wanted to deal with (likely due to my own configuration issues). My experience with Manjaro has been almost the complete opposite of Ubuntu, with the benefits of Debian and Arch combined. Manjaro is my first recommendation to anyone moving to Linux for the first time.
The only major issue I have ran into with Manjaro is that since it is a rolling release, you have to keep it reasonably up to date, else you might end up needing to do a fresh install after some months to get up to date. I experienced this after leaving a laptop unused for some months.
While that may be true to some extent with the Unstable branch of Manjaro, Manjaro unlike Arch and most Arch based distro’s has a Testing and Stable branch. Packages move from one to the other as bugs are worked out. The Stable branch of Manjaro is rock solid. The packages may be a month or so older than Manjaro Unstable, but still newer than most static release disro’s like Ubuntu.
If you want newer packages than Ubuntu Manjaro Stable is a good choice. While offering newer packages it is still stable. I have been running stable for over two years and have had few bugs.
If you want stability there are things you can do to ensure it. First install timeshift and timeshift-autosnap (creates a restore point before upgrades). That way even if a bad update happens its easy to reverse. Second be selective in your use of the AUR. Adding applications is safe, the worst that can happen is the app doesnt work. Do not install system components from the AUR unless absolutely necessary.
Its true that pacman doesnt work with the AUR. But Pamac the Manjaro gui package manager can be configured to work with the AUR. That being said, refer to my previous comment about being selective with the AUR.
I think the only thing that Ubuntu has over Manjaro is that the LTS version can do live kernel updates, that is, you’ll never have to reboot your system at all, even after a kernel update. I know some people really don’t like doing updates and rebooting afterwards. If you’re that type, Ubuntu LTS is probably better for you than Manjaro. With Manjaro, you’ll need to be more prudent with updates and probably reboot at least once every couple of months. Otherwise, in terms of stability they’re similar from my experience. In terms of software availability, Manjaro is better because of AUR.
Many good pros and cons regarding rolling vs. point release have been mentioned already in this thread. Coming from a point release such as Mint or Ubuntu, there is that risk of breaking your system somehow with an update. The first time (and so far the only time, lucky me…) it happened, it was a shock to see a black screen after booting. I’ve seen another instance where changing the screen resolution on a laptop rendered the laptop screen black. The important thing is to keep calm and not take hasty actions if this happens, this forum offers plenty of support and chances are that others have experienced the same issues you have, or at least know how to fix the problem. That’s the cost of having up-to-date versions of lots and lots of software. If this sounds too much cost, it’s better to stick with point releases.