Manjaro Linux 21.0 “Ornara” with new versions of Gnome, KDE and Xfce

One of the most popular Arch Linux derivatives has been updated: “Ornara” brings new versions of the desktop environments, but also updates to the base system.

 Manjaro Linux 21.0

The developers of Manjaro Linux have released a new edition of their Linux distribution: version 21.0 (codename “Ornara”) replaces version 20.2 from December 2020.

The popular desktop distribution based on Arch Linux impresses with its high level of stability and yet allows you to adapt even the smallest adjustment screw of the desktop to the needs of the user. Manjaro Linux traditionally appears in three official editions, which differ from each other in the desktop environment. ‘Ornara’ updates the available desktops Xfce, Gnome and KDE and also includes some updates for the Manjaro base system.

Of the three available Manjaro editions, the one with the Xfce edition probably brings the most comprehensive changes this time: The system has been updated from Xfce 4.14 to Xfce 4.16. For the most part, Xfce development is a bit slower than other desktop environments, and there aren’t that many differences between Xfce versions. Experienced users will still notice some differences between Xfce 4.14 and 4.16. Version 4.16 uses a new set of standard icons that follow a uniform design specification. This also includes a reduced color palette. This makes the desktop appear more coherent and tidy, at least as far as the Xfce components are concerned.

 Manjaro Linux 21.0 "Ornara" ; with new versions of Gnome, KDE and Xfce

The configuration dialog in Xfce 4.16 also looks tidier than in previous versions. There are massive improvements in multi-monitor support, especially when the different monitors do not use the same resolution: Here Xfce finally masters the scaled display of screen content, with a specific scalability value per display. The Xfce panel, the dialog for configuring Xfce’s energy-saving properties and the “About Xfce” dialog have also received updates and performance improvements. In future, the latter will also show the resources available on the computer.

The previous Manjaro version still had Gnome 3.36 on board. Gnome 40 has been available since yesterday, Wednesday. However, it was finished too late for Manjaro 21.0, so the Gnome edition of “Ornara” unfortunately can only come up with Gnome 3.38. It will take a few weeks for the AUR packages for Gnome 40 to make their way into Arch Testing, from where they will eventually load into Manjaro as well. In practice, it will soon be possible to install Gnome 40 on Manjaro 21.0 – but officially this option will only be available in the next Manjaro version.

But Gnome 3.38 also offers various improvements. The developers have removed the “Gnome-initial-setup” dialog, which temporarily helped users with the initial setup of their Gnome desktop, after a lot of negative user feedback. The Gnome application menu is no longer split into an “All Applications” and “Recently used” view, but always shows all applications. However, the user can use drag and drop to store apps in folders and organize them freely in this view. The Gnome Shell works faster than in version 3.36.

If you combine Manjaro with KDE, you get the Version 21.0 a fresh version of Plasma, namely 5.21. This provides better support for the Xorg alternative Wayland and a new start menu for applications. The latter is now divided into two parts and is now easier to use with a mouse and keyboard. The system firewall can now also be configured from the system settings if Firewalld is used.

Next desktop updates is Manjaro Linux 21.0 also various updates of the basic system. You can choose between the LTS kernels 5.4 and 5.10. The system needs the two kernels to enable support for older hardware. Here the developers probably thought mainly of Nvidia, since their 3D-accelerated driver often only works moderately with newer kernels. On top of that, Nvidia removes support for older graphics cards from current versions of the driver with a certain regularity. The graphical tool for package management, Pamac, comes with Manjaro Linux 21.0 in the new and graphically greatly improved version 10.

Finally, there are also updates to the Calamares installation routine: it can now automatically find a suitable mirror server for determine the installation and also select a language and a location based on your own public IP address via GeoIP localization.

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