My experience with Manjaro KDE coming from KDE Neon

Posted the same thread on reddit/r/manjarolinux. Thought it belonged here also :slight_smile:

This post is just me rambling about what my experience was/is with ManjaroKDE after coming from KDE Neon. Maybe it is interesting/helpful for some.

(Not a native speaker and due to the length of the post, there are more than likely a lot of errors. So sorry in advance)

After having just mildly infuriating problems with KDE Neon like always having to change the audio output of my bluetooth headset manually in the settings for every program/application, or the search bar in the Menu not working sometimes, I decided to give Manjaro a try. Only heard good things and also was bored and had a lot of free time.

(The problem with the search bar in the Menu/Application Starter also exists in Manjaro)

My PC is a Lenovo Yoga Convertible 720-15 with an i5 and GTX 1050 Mobile

Gonna divide the post into different parts (gaming/tablet mode/office etc...)

Installation process:

Install-USB created (5.3 Kernel at the time) and from the live image (I chose to start with the free drivers, just because out of habit) to the install part. Pretty similar to KDE Neon/Ubuntu and worked like a charm. . After the install i rebooted, well tried to reboot. It took like 3 minutes to reboot. Later on I realised, it was due to the free drivers.

That same problem reoccured with the boot up. Took 3 minutes the first time. (Kinda scary, if it just does not seem to boot after the installation)

After setting everything up like I am used to, I wanted to install the proprietary drivers because of the long boot up and shutdown and also because i like to play some games from time to time.

Gaming

Well with an Nvidia and Intel graphics device, it was not easy for me to figure out how this works:

Got to the settings menu and saw bumblebee there for the first time. After reading about this i realised that Ubuntu/Kde Neon always just installed the Nvidia driver for me and deactivated my intel HD. Never realized that. Felt like an idiot because i always wondered why installing libraries for intel HD like for chromium video acceleration for example didnt work. Well now i know -.-. I just always assumed it was the same like in Windows, with intel and nvidia activated at the same time.

Well, installed bumblebee via the Manjaro driver installation tool, rebooted the laptop and the start up was way faster than before. but still a bit longer than on KDE Neon. (Why that was, see under small tweaks at the bottom.)

Tried to play CS:GO via Steam. But Steam only used my Intel HD. Read on the support forum i had to add this parameter to the game start up: primusrun %command%. I did that, but still didn't work.
Then i read i had to manually add myself as a user to the bumblebee group. I mean what the hell. This is so unnecessarily annoyingly hard to figure out as a first time Manjaro user, that you assume it does not work in the first place and just give up. But after that it worked.

Installed WOW Classic via Lutris. Lutris would also only use my Intel HD. i found out, that Lutris somehow uses Vulkan to get DirectX to work. But Bumblebee does not work with Vulkan, or so i thought. i just had to install Primus-VK and change it in the Lutris settings to use that, but i only figured that out wayyyy later. Because i did not know that, I installed the optimus manager (Guide: Install and configure optimus-manager for hybrid GPU setups (Intel/NVIDIA)). worked like a charm with logout and change of graphic device.

But now that the new hybrid graphic driver is released everything is way simpler.

Just install the new driver and only change the start up command in Games that run natively on Linux in Steam to prime-run %command% to use the Nvidia instead of Intel HD if you have both on your Notebook like me (Steam should do that automatically to make it easier for new users). Games with SteamPlay use the Nvidia card automatically without the command. The same case is for Lutris Games (Games with DXVK), so you don't have to change anything there. Just install and play.

When it comes to performance with the new hybrid driver vs optimus manager, I don't see a difference. Tested with the Unigine-Heaven Benchmark and got basically very similar results:

Settings: Full HD, Quality:Ultra, Tessellation: Extreme and only 1 run each

  • Hybrid OpenGL: 33 FPS
  • Optimus Manager (Prime) OpenGL: 32.3 FPS
  • Hybrid DXVK (Lutris) Directx11: 30.4 FPS
  • Optimus Manager (Prime) DXVK (Lutris) Directx11 : 32.4 FPS

to compare that with Windows for those who are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgUZPZvsriM (34FPS)

same settings and i have an i5 and in the video its an i7 and i only have a 2gb 1050 and there it is a 1050 with 4gb

Virtualbox/MS-Office

Due to the fact that I am a student and because i exchange documents with other students and professors, I have to use MsOffice. (yes, have to, no other way around. I know Libre Office and i would also rather use that, but due to the fact that i have to exchange often documents; and also some profs are just are too stubborn to grade the pdf and just open the odt file with Word and there goes the format and my grade :(.

I even tried MsOffice with Crossover, but it also does not work like i want to. Even the Online-Office365 Version sometimes messes up the formating so thats also a no go.

So i use Virtualbox just for MsOffice/Windows. But Sadly with the latest update(6.1.2) and the force option to use the new VBoxSVGA and not the VBoxVGA driver the 3D acceleration in Office is buggy (you can't see anything) and i have to deactivate it. Makes it annoyingly slow without 3d acceleration, but better than nothing.

Hibernation

I had my energy settings to hybrid-standby but sometimes it just didnt work. For example it would not really go into standby and my battery was empty after i realised it, but it saved my session at least.
Or the laptop would seem to be off. but I could not start it and I had to press the power button 10 sec to force restart.
Or i closed the laptop, put it in my bag and later when i pulled it out the fan would spin full force and the laptop was hot.

So now i just use Standby. That seems to work. Kinda annoying, because i created the swap partition for the hybernation during install and now it seems useless.

Internet/Youtube

I don't understand why Chromium does not have hardware video acceleration on by default. I watch a lot of content online so it would come in handy.

Luckily in the AUR someone provides Chromium with hardware video acceleration pre-compiled. You just have to enable the Override software rendering list in the flags and restart. works like a charm. Way less cpu usage.

Battery life

Even with TLP the battery life is just not good.
On my former Windows partition i got with reduced brightness and only Office work with occasional internet browsing easily 8h.

With Manjaro i only get 4-5h with the same settings. I don't know if that is normal or I'm doing something wrong. I already checked with powertop to figure out what is the cause, but everything seems normal. If anyone has suggestions pls reply :).

Tablet/Stylus

just had to install kded-rotation-git and do a restart. the automatic screen rotation works fine.

When it comes to the stylus and the program i use for it i can't recommend Xournal++ enough.
I use it to write on the pdfs of the lectures i have. It is just amazing how good it works. The only minor problems I personally have with it is:

  • that you have to export your pdf to a new name if you want to save the changes. just save only saves your changes in a xopp file.
  • when you write with the stylus and hover for like 10 milliseconds to write the next letter it changes from the "invisible write cursor" to the mouse cursor. There should be like a 10-50 millisecond delay to hide the mouse cursor after you write something and want to write something again, so the mouse cursor does not pop up and hides all the time. Would make the writing process seem smoother. But thats just a minor inconvenience.

But i can't recommend this program enough. It is just amazing and i have not found anything close to it on the Windows side. So if you have a convertible Laptop or Tablet with Stylus. Get Xournal++

Small tweaks/settings

  • Start up process:

i realised, that the grub configuration had a 10 sec invisible wait period, where you normaly choose different startup options (e.g. other kernel or operating systems). Don't really understand the need for that, because manjaro is my only operating system and to make it invisible is just double annoying at that, because you dont realize, why there is a delay. i just changed the line GRUB_TIMEOUT from 10 to 0 in /etc/default/grub and updated grub to change that.

  • Kernel 5.4 Display freezes:

updated the kernel to 5.4 once, but got display freezes so i went back to 5.3. If the freezes are gone now with the newer kernel pls tell me :slight_smile:

Conclusion

Manjaro is an amazing distro with some complications along the way. But it's like a broken car or Ikea furniture. You appreciate it more, if you build/fix it yourself :smiley:

6 Likes

Indeed, it's not a one size fits all distribution, you get more out of it when you tailor it to your machine and your own needs. Fair write up though and considering English is not your first language it is well composed and easy to read.

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if you use the hybrid driver, the nvidia card is never turned off, it only turn off with a turing nvidia or newer. it's a part of the problem..
if you plan to be more mobile try optimus-manager and choose the intel mode when you don't plan to use the nvidia. and switch to hybrid or nvidia when you need it

2 Likes

that goes some way to explain the battery life difference

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That is why when you don't play games, it's best to switch to Intel mode. Hybrid mode seems seamless but works better on newest hardware and the technology is not optimized yet. Because of that it's very beneficial to use tools like optimus-manager so you can switch between Intel, Nvidia or Hybird mode depending on what you need at the moment. Intel offers the best battery life. Also, hybrid mode is currently not capable of outsourcing image to secondary devices so multiple monotor setups won't work with it, so here Intel or Nvidia mode comes to rescue.

Read a guide to power management options in optimus-manager:

That's a bad Ubuntu based habit. In Manjaro you can and should choose the proper drivers right from the start, less hassle and issues. Of course, there are situations where non-free drivers won't work from some weird reason and people must choose free one and then replace them with non-free ones later, but for all others who have Nvidia, non-free drivers are the best choice from the start.

This is because Proton/DXVK uses Vulkan and Vulkan defaults to Nvidia (if you have Hybrid/Prime Offloading setup), while native Linux games use OpenGL.

I heard somewhere that you can set virtualbox system to run heedlessly and start an app, so it would be to use virtualbox like a wrapper to run certain apps. I haven't figured it out yet or maybe I heard or understood it wrong but if you have time, you may try to figure this out.
As to the MSOffice comatibility, Libre has problems with it so try Free Office, WPS Office (AUR) or OnlyOffice. They are not 100% replacement for MS Office but some offer way better compatibility because of using proprietary libraries which isn't possible with Libre.

You can also install teams (AUR) or use microsoft-office-jak, or use ice-ssb to create an ssb app from ms office online. But as you said, this isn't full replacement for a desktop app unfortunately.

Try it yourself. In Manjaro you can have installed as many kernels as you want and in fact it's advised to have at least 2 installed (in case something went wrong with one of them). Besides, kernel 5.3 is EOL so better use different one and uninstall 5.3.

2 Likes

To test the battery life I now tried the 3 different options with optimus-manager (Intel/Nvidia/Hybrid) and my battery results according to powertop are:

Intel: 5.5h
Nvidia:4h
Hybrid:5.5h

It was always a fresh session with brightness reduced to 50%.
In Windows i would get like 8-9h with this configuration.
TLP was activated, I checked just to be sure.

It's not like i can't live with that amount of battery life. It just bothers me a little, because I know it is possible to get more out of it.
Maybe thats just the best there is for Linux or I just seem to overlook or not now of some method to get addional battery time.

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You can tweak tlp to increase battery life at the cost of performance but read the tlp configuration file carefully as it contains hints regarding what can and cannot be applied to different hardware along with recommendations.

There's a fairly decent guide about power saving setup on this forum actually but again, read it carefully and heed any warnings. Take a backup of your current configuration before making any changes and do them one by one just in case something goes wrong.

I also use KDE Neon alongside Manjaro KDE. There's a major difference in the way they are configured with regards power management. Manjaro ships with tlp enabled for example with a basic setup configured by one of the manjaro developers to be a reasonably compatible default but Neon does not have any power saving enabled at all apart from the KDE System Settings options.

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Libreoffice, is a great office suite but it unfortunately screws up Microsoft formatting (not their fault). I'm a student too and up until now I've been writing my papers in Libreoffice and using MS office online to check the formatting before submitting. I've recently started playing with Onlyoffice which has exchanged files with MS office flawlessly so far without affecting the formatting so you might want to give it a go and see what you think, and remember that both Libre and Onlyoffice can save as .docx.

I'll keep Xournal in mind, a new tablet is high up on my wishlist for when I have some money again.

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Free Office claims 100% compatibility with M$ Office. It's available in the Manjaro repos.

sudo pacman -Syu freeoffice
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In that case use hybrid. I guess it strongly depends on hardware and you have newer one than mine is. For me Intel is ca. 40-50% better with battery then Nvidia and ca. 30% better than hybrid but again, it also depends on what am I doing. So for me it's worth to use Intel.

Also, aside TLP settings, check installed packages. Neon is fairly minimal while Manjaro KDE is a full suite so to speak, so you get akonadi and other stuff. If you clean up your system from the extraneous daemons and packages it may gain on battery life although how much it's a different story. Powertop may help you decide what may be worth to remove.

For me battery life on Intel matches battery life on Windows, so I guess this will vary from computer to computer.

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thank you for the tip.
I installed it and opened a paper i once had to write for a university course (with tables, graphs, diagrams with error bars and and and) but it was not really the same as with MsOffice sadly. It looked liked on of those joke memes, where someone puts a picture in a Word document and everything is messed up.
Microsoft is very good at, with making it really hard to not be compatible with other software :frowning:

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Check what format is the old document and how old it is. It's possible that current office suites are aiming for compatibility with the current MS Office, so old documents may not look good. Keep testing.

You can also try WPS and Only Office:

yay wps-office (if you have yay installed, if not, install it or use another AUR helper)
sudo pacman -S onlyoffice-desktopeditors

At work, I work with Libre and MS Office and both have pros and cons.

MS Office pros:

  • business standard and when exchanging with other business partners it's best to save documents in MS Office to ensure compatibility
  • superior handling functions with good suggestions how to write proper function
  • superior handling of formats (conversion to number, other Office suites cannot do it properly)

What I hate about MS Office:

  • it's paid, so I don't have access to it in my private computer and I have to use company credentials, so it's good for work only
  • it has joined clipboard and super limited memory, often causes problems when you edit many, various documents and it's not possible to do one small step back when you did many others in different document
  • it's slower then Libre
  • it has weird and unnecessary huge UI
  • with unwrapped lists it can't jump quickly to proper position by typing the first letter

Libre pros, basically everything that MS Office sucks:

  • it's fast
  • it has more flexible and sensible UI
  • I can jump quickly to needed position of unwrapped list
  • proper working clipboard, so I can independently edit various documents
  • it's free

So when I create documents for me to work on, I use Libre. Also, for others to share, mostly (but not always, depends on the document) I will use Libre. For documents exchanged with other business partners where compatibility is the key, MS Office.

Libre cons are opposite to MS pros...

So all in all, it's good to have both Office suites.

Neon is indeed fairly minimal but unless you configure power management properly it is actually worse from experience than manjaro because it runs unrestricted through lack of default power management implementation. You have to put in the effort to do what jonathon already has with the manjaro base.

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Another often-forgotten office suite is Calligra. It is made by KDE. I don't know how it is with MS Office compatibility.

sudo pacman -S calligra
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Thanks for pointing this out, I had no idea that KDE makes different software (I thought that was just the name of the GUI), I didn't realize that was a group. actually.

WOW, I found a ton of their software here. I'll be checking a lot of this out.

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