Hello again! My New Manjaro Gnome Installation Log 2022

I used to be a Manjaro Linux user. However, since I bought my new MSI Prestige 15 laptop as well as left my software engineer job about 2 years ago, my journey as a daily Linux user paused.

Few months after I bought my new laptop, I actually tried to install Manjaro in an external harddisk to get a taste, but the experience was not very good: I found many optimizations provided by MSI to this Windows laptop don’t have a good and simple alternative on Linux. For example, the audio optimization powered by Nahimic, optimized color profiles by True Color, power and battery management in Creator Center. Especially the last one allow me to set battery charging limit and CPU power throttle in just a few clicks, which is so handy, keeping my battery health and usage time very well. Some hardware couldn’t work either in that Manjaro installation, like the micro SD card reader and the fingerprint sensor. Even the wireless module couldn’t always be detected. Since then, I chose to stick back with Windows and WSL.

Even so, I can’t stop thinking about using Linux as my daily system. The smooth and elegant UI/UX that Gnome DE gave is unforgettable. (Especially I can never get comfortable with the dull taskbar and the non-tabbed file explorer in Windows 10) Furthermore, while Linux should be one of my major career skills, I have a feeling that my experience with it is fading. I know that even if I don’t have the energy to dive into a serious Linux project at the moment, I should still work with Linux more often, passively refresh my knowledge. So, even if I expect that installing Linux on my laptop may not give me the best all-rounded user experience, and I may encounter system problems from time to time, spending extra time to resolve them (in some sense it is what I want now), I still want to give it a try again.

Installation

At first, I install the Manjaro in an external harddisk to get a look and feels. After having a satisfactory felling, I decided to install it in the internal SSD of my laptop, alongside with Windows.

This time, the installation process was fairly smooth and simple. Surprisingly, dual-booting Windows and Manjaro is now as simple as installing an application, except a few extra risky steps that I struggled for a moment. Actually, all I need to do are to boot into the live USB, shrink my C drive (and the stupid MSI recovery partitions) using gparted and then go through the normal graphical installer. The shrunken space would be the partition for Manjaro’s root. The Windows’ boot partition can be kept and mount to /boot/efi to hold the grub bootloader. The installer took magically less than 3 minutes to land Manjaro in the laptop’s internal SSD. After a reboot, the grub bootloader can be recognized by the UEFI directly. I only needed to change the bootloader’s boot order in the UEFI firmware. Ding! Manjaro Gnome is here in my laptop again, and Windows can still run as usual. No data was lost.

The partition table I am using

Noticeable Changes since Manjaro 19.x to 21.3

Compare to my previous Manjaro Gnome 19 installation, I notice quite a lot of differences. Overall, I feel the whole desktop environment is improved quite a lot. Here are what I notice:

  • Gnome upgraded to 42.3
  • UI changes:
    • Global dark theme support
    • Dash-to-dock is at the bottom instead of at the left side in the preset layout
    • Default theme changed to Papirus-Dark, where blue is the auxiliary color instead of green, and the main color is dark gray
    • gnome-theme-maia is pre-installed to make Firefox’s UI more integrated to Gnome (but I don’t really like it)
  • A salted zsh becomes the default shall. Some nice features include:
    • Powerline
    • Auto-completion hints
    • Colored command validity check
    • Git status indicator
    • Command return value indicator
    • Suggestion to correct invalid command
  • New system features:
    • Power modes
    • New window screenshot option in context menu
  • New/ Improved pre-installed applications
    • Layouts switcher (switch between different preset of Gnome layout, and other DE appearance settings)
    • 4 games pre-installed (Mines, Chess, Reversi, Quadrapassel)
    • Dynamic Wallpaper
    • Touché (3, 4 fingers gestures support)
    • Screenshot improved (It now gives a nice UI to choose how to capture when printscreen is pressed. Captured screenshots are stored in both the clipboard and a dedicated screenshot folder)
    • Web app (It turns web apps into dedicated browser windows and application icons)
    • More pre-installed Gnome extensions (e.g. but many of them are not very useful to me)
  • Changes of pre-installed applications
    • LibreOffice is replaced by OnlyOffice
    • Steam is not pre-installed anymore
    • No more MS office online wrappers
    • Evolution is replaced by Geary
    • And a bunch of other Gnome applications and tools are not pre-installed anymore, keeping the whole system quite clean
  • Fonts:
    • Noto Sans becomes the default font instead of Cantarell
    • Source Han Sans and Noto CJK are pre-installed to provide better support to East Asia characters
    • Source Code Pro is pre-installed, which is my favorite monospace font
  • System behavior changes:
    • Bluetooth is not turned on upon startup
  • System stability and hardware support:
    • WiFi runs normally (previously Manjaro couldn’t always detect it)
    • The internal microSD card reader is supported
The UI of gnome-screenshot is much pretty
zsh becomes the default shall
New power mode options in Gnome

Todo-List After Installation

List of tasks I did after installation (not strictly in order):

  • Update UEFI boot manager to boot grub by default
  • Update packages
  • Update preference of pamac
  • Set RTC to local time (so as to keep Windows’ clock to run correctly)
  • Go through the settings and tweak
  • Go through extension settings
  • Bluetooth setup
  • Setup Firefox
    • In Layouts Switcher, Turn off Gnome theme for Firefox
    • Login Firefox Sync
    • Go through preference
    • Restore extensions
    • Import extension settings
  • Install Gnome extensions
    • system-monitor
  • Change gedit’s theme
  • Update terminal’s font to source code pro
  • Install and setup Chinese font (Chiron, Noto Sans/Serif CJK)
  • Install and config other applications that I use (Later I may list out the applications I use)
  • Generate and import SSH key
  • Setup swap
  • Keyboard key remap (My esc key is not working well so I have to use another dummy key to replace it)
  • To be explored

Final Words

So far I feel using Manjaro Gnome is more comfortable than Windows when it comes to web browsing, school studying, and programming. Battery time is even better than Windows in MSI’s super battery mode due to much lighter background load. Nevertheless, there are still something I must switch back to Windows, like some kind of gaming or working with Adobe/Autodesk software. So far, I’ve already spent quite some time to setup/ optimize the system, exploring and revisiting different items regarding Linux. Also, I am being inspired to write something, like this article. This maybe a sign of learning, or a waste of my valuable university study time…

Hope this article will help people who are going to install Manjaro Gnome in the near future, and also be a good reference for me when I reinstall the system.

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