How mapping custom domain to WordPress broke Zoho Mail

I started blogging on WordPress. A wordpress.com free blog gives the user a <blogName>.wordpress.com address. Nothing wrong in that but to look more professional I decided to purchase a domain and map it to my WordPress blog. Everything worked beautifully or so I thought.

I am working on making my life Google-free:

  • I have stopped using Google Search. I use DuckDuckGo instead.
  • I have stopped using Gmail. I have a free account with Zoho Mail. I am trying Fastmail.
  • I have some documents in my Google Drive and am removing them
  • I have installed CyanogenMod on my Samsung GT N700 or the Note 1. I have not installed Google Play and other Google apps (gapps).
  • I got rid of my Blogger account too

The last point is the reason for this post. I got rid of my Blogger account. This was a tough decision because I had started seeing a huge increase in the traffic.

I had to find another blogging platform. I found Ghost. I love it. It is a great platform. I had made up my mind to stick to it. I thought deeply and found that if I were to grow, Ghost may not scale up as easily as WordPress would. The flexibility is not there. I cannot host my blog somewhere else if I wish to. Yes, there are ways to extract static pages from Ghost and host them for free on GitHub Pages. This is just too much work for a guy who just wants hassle-free, flexible publishing. The decision to stop using Ghost was a difficult one as I had started getting attached to it, but a full CMS like WordPress would do me good in the long run.

I had purchased a domain from GoDaddy and mapped the MX records to Zoho Mail. When I moved to WordPress, I decided to move my domain too. The movement was straightforward. WordPress wanted to have full control over my DNS and I was fine with that.

I stopped receiving mails. Somehow, I could send mails but receiving was impossible. I was not aware of this fact because I do not normally receive many mails, but 10-12 days of mail drought was just too much to believe. I raised a question on Zoho’s forum a couple of days ago. A few minutes after I posted the question, I realized that there was a weird connection between my movement to WordPress and the start of the mail drought. I went to my WordPress Dashboard and looked at my DNS records.

There were no MX records!

I added the appropriate MX records and mails started raining and inundating my inbox 🙂

I answered my own question on the Zoho forum. Today I received a mail from a Zoho support person stating facts that are quite obvious to me now :). Zoho is a good service with really meaningful support.:

Generally when you transfer the domain from one provider to another, or when your domain gets expired and you restore it, the DNS records of your domain get reset to the default settings. Hence your website, email etc may not work.
You need to update the A, CNAME, MX records etc in the DNS for the websites, redirections, email to get the settings back to working.

A good short adventure.

SUSE Studio: Create a custom Linux distribution with an openSUSE core

SUSEStudio_dister-waiterINTRODUCTION

openSUSE is one of the most robust and thus respected Linux distributions. It is a very polished and professional distro. There are many options available when it comes to downloading openSUSE, but the most exciting feature that is available to the user is the ability to create a custom distribution with an openSUSE core. Yes, it is true. The user can create a distribution with all the packages he needs and nothing more. I am talking about the venerable SUSE Studio. This is not a new feature but not many know about this. SUSE Studio provides the infrastructure for the user to create, test and distribute the custom distro.

I have been a diehard fan of openSUSE from the 11.x days. openSUSE has never let me down. openSUSE’s KDE implementation is one of the most seamless and beautiful work of art.

I like KDE but it is just too huge. I have many physical and virtual machines. I update all of them twice a month. With Desktop Environments (DE) like KDE and GNOME, I would end up with huge downloads during updates. This is not a trivial issue in countries like India. I had to look for a better DE or a very capable Window Manager (WM). I tested openbox, Xfce, Lxde and Enlightenment. I liked Xfce the most. Xfce is an excellent DE. It has a small disk and RAM footprint while providing a rich set of features. It is based on GTK+ 2. It is very customizable too.

The only problem is that openSUSE has no official spin for Xfce. What are my options?

  • Get Xfce from the openSUSE repositories and have it installed alongside KDE
  • Get Xfce from the openSUSE repositories and remove KDE. This is pure pain in the rear. Never do this.
  • Use the Net install and choose the DE to be installed
  • Use SUSE Studio and create own distro

The last option is by far the best one for any student of Linux. Thus, I decided to create one. There are many other reasons, apart from the one I mentioned above, for creating a custom distro based on openSUSE:

  • to learn
  • for fun
  • to create an ownCloud server or any other type of server for that matter
  • to scratch any other itch 🙂

What follows is a detailed explanation of how to create a custom distro, using the great SUSE Studio and based on openSUSE core. I am logging whatever I did for getting an Xfce system for my personal use. The packages to be selected may be different for creating other types of distros but the general principles will remain unchanged. I am detailing as much as possible so that even enthusiastic newbies can go ahead and play with SUSE Studio. This was a great learning experience for me.

SUSE STUDIO

SUSEStudio_SignInPage

Sign in or create a new account. One can login in many ways.

SUSEStudio_SigninORCreateNewAccount

Once the login is taken care of one enters the beautiful greenish world of SUSE Studio. The adventure is about to begin. So, be ready for it 🙂

SUSEStudio_Home

On the Home page, under the heading Actions, is the link to the real adventure. Click on the Create new appliance link and the following page opens up. The options available are very clearly explained.

CHOOSE A BASE TEMPLATE

As I  had decided to have the latest openSUSE as base, openSUSE 13.1 Just enough OS (JeOS), was the best choice. A light minimalistic DE is what I was looking for. Thus, there was no point in choosing the GNOME desktop or the KDE 4 desktop. One should avoid Server option because it is more suited for building a server, but can be used as base for creating a desktop too! Anything is possible in the FOSS world.

SELECT YOUR ARCHITECTURE

The architecture should be chosen based on what hardware we intend to target. The really old PCs may not have 64-bit CPUs. This restricts one’s choice to 32-bit. I have a Pentium D dual core 64-bit CPU with a chipset that supports 4 GB DDR2 RAM only. Thus, there is not much that I gain from having a 64-bit OS on that machine. I have many other modern machines too. They are all 64-bit. Thus, I benefit from having just one 64-bit distro ISO that would be capable of getting installed on all my PCs. Such things need to be considered while choosing the architecture.

NAME YOUR APPLIANCE

This is the most difficult thing to do. Wasting too much time here is not good for society.

CREATE APPLIANCE

The green enticing button needs to be pushed and a brand new base appliance is ready for further modifications.

SUSEStudio_CreateNewAppliance

Now that a base template appliance is ready for further tweaking, one should just move ahead without wasting any time. Let me get my custom distro ready before earth stops spinning. SUSE Studio took me to a page where one can edit the base template appliance. There are six tabs available on this page. I will move through all of them but let me first jot down a few words about each:

  • Start

The welcome tab where one can name/rename the appliance

  • Software

The tab where one can select packages from the openSUSE repositories. There is so much to choose that it can be a bit overwhelming.

  • Configuration

As the name suggests, here is where one can configure the various aspects of the system

  • Files

Files added here will be copied into the appliance after packages are installed. Adding files is optional. Single files will be copied to the specified directory. Archives (.tar, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tgz, or .zip) will be extracted into the directory specified. Permissions and hierarchy will be preserved. Using archives is a great way to add many files at one time.

  • Build

Well, this tab helps build the appliance.

  • Share

Let the world know.

START TAB

Nothing much to do here apart from naming/renaming the appliance and viewing/reviewing the choices made till now. Only choices made on SUSE Studio can be reviewed here. Life’s choices can only be reviewed after death if the notion of God has any truth in it and if that God is really hell bent on doing a post-mortem of my life 😉

SUSEStudio_EditBaseAppliance

SOFTWARE TAB

This is where most of my time was spent. There are just too many packages to choose from. SUSE Studio has made it easy for the user by categorizing the packages and arranging everything in an intuitive way. Still, a new comer may be distracted. There is a logical way of breaking down the whole task of choosing the packages. The desktop distro needs the following components to work:

X Windowing System or X11 is a client-server system. X Server provides a mechanism for the X Clients to create GUI elements and manage them. A Desktop Environment like Xfce or KDE or GNOME has a X Client component known as the Window Manager that works in tandem with the X Server.

  • A Desktop Environment. I chose Xfce.
  • Package management/system administration tools. The command-line package management tool, zypper, is available by default. This may not be enough for all. Yast – Yet Another Setup Tool, the openSUSE system administration infrastructure can be added. Yast has many other system administration tools apart from package management.
  • Drivers
  • Network tools
  • Firefox Browser
  • VLC audio/video player
  • Office suite. Libre Office has very little competition here.
  • A Display Manager for graphical login. I chose LightDM. Without this component one would have to type in commands to login to the machine and launch the Desktop Environment.

This break-up made the task easier for me.

There are many ways of getting the packages. There is a search box that allows user to input search pattern strings. Also, there are various package groups available. When a package is selected, SUSE Studio does a good job of including all the required dependencies for the user. This makes the whole job very easy. Imagine if the user had to manage dependencies too. That would have been hell.

SUSEStudio_ChooseSoftwareOptions

The X Server packages

Type X11 in the search box and hit enter. SUSE Studio will list all packages matching the X11 pattern. The X11 X Window System package is the most important one. A lot of dependencies will be auto selected. The good thing about the table generated after during the search is that it can be sorted based on various parameters. Just click on the column name and the column can be sorted. Popularity column is the most interesting because that helps in understanding what package has the most popularity for a particular search pattern. This is a good indicator but not the absolute one:

SUSEStudio_ChooseX11Packages

Desktop Environment, Xfce packages

There are a lot if packages to be selected. The good thing is, the whole Xfce package set is very light. 70-100 MB would be enough to have a fully functioning DE. So, search for xfce4 pattern and add all the packages OR go through each package and choose what really is needed. The latter option may consume some time but helps in avoiding unnecessary packages. Once Xfce packages are selected, make sure that the following packages are also selected:

  • gtk2-engine-murrine
  • gtk2-engines

How do we know what package to choose from the list?

It needs some research and some experimentation. The package names are really self-explanatory and that helps a lot. The SUSE Studio Testdrive option also comes to the user’s assistance. To know about Testdrive keep reading…

The Xfce DE is extremely configurable. Xfce is based on GTK2 and needs the above-mentioned engines for proper working of external GTK2 themes. Now, these themes are easy to get from deviantArt and GNOME-LOOK.org. Installing these themes is easier still. That is the beauty of Xfce.

Yast, Yet Another Setup Tool

A one-stop shop for configuring everything on an openSUSE system. The following image shows yast2 in action. The complete openSUSE system can be managed from this application:

openSUSE_Yast2

Now search for yast2. Again, one can add all the packages OR go carefully through the list and add what is needed.

I had a lot of trouble getting the GUI for yast2 working. Whatever I did, yast2 would only run using ncurses after throwing the following error:

qt gui wanted, but not found, falling back to ncurses

I struggled a lot and found that the libyui-qt5 is necessary for yast2 to run with a GUI.

Drivers

This needs further breaking down:

Input drivers

The keyboard and mouse drivers:

  • xf86-input-keyboard
  • xf86-input-synaptics (This is needed for the laptop touchpad)
  • xf86-input-mouse
Video drivers

The display/monitor driver and graphics (ATI/AMD Radeon and NVIDIA etc.) driver:

  • xf86-video-intel
  • xf86-video-vesa
  • xf86-video-ati (opensource ATI/AMD Radeon)
  • xf86-video-nv (opensource NVIDIA)
  • xf86-video-fbdev

Network tools

The following packages should be enough:

  • NetworkManager
  • NetworkManager-gnome
  • wireless-tools
  • wpa_supplicant
  • wpa_supplicant-gui
  • yast2-network (this should already be in the selected list)

Firefox Browser

There are many choices when it comes to browsers. Firefox is the one that I use mostly. I have Midori too. Chromium is good too, but Google cannot be kept out of it. Search for firefox.

VLC audio/video player

There is not much competition for VLC on the desktop irrespective of the platform. Search for vlc.

Office suite

Libre Office is really good. Search for libreoffice.

Desktop Manager

There are just too many choices here. LightDM is light and beautiful. Search for lightdm.

CONFIGURATION TAB

This tab obviously helps the user to configure the distro being created 🙂

SUSEStudio_Configuration

There are many options available here:

  • General

Choose Default locale, Default time zoneNetwork, Firewall and Users and groups

  • Personalize

Choose Appliance logo and Appliance background:

SUSEStudio_Configuration_Personalize

  • Startup

Choose the Default runlevel. A desktop distro is being created and a Graphical Login would be the best option. The EULA option is mostly for corporate environment but an ordinary mortal too can include an EULA:

SUSEStudio_Configuration_Startup

  • Server

Skip this.

  • Desktop

 Nothing really to write in detail here.SUSEStudio_Configuration_Desktop

  • Appliance

The Appliance can be created in various formats. That is, one can have a VMWare image, for example. Here one can configure how much RAM and Disk space should be allocated to the VMWare image:

SUSEStudio_Configuration_Appliance

  • Scripts

One can create scripts and:

Run script at the end of the build OR Run script whenever the appliance boots

For a normal user, nothing needs to be done here but this is really a cool feature:

SUSEStudio_Configuration_Script

FILES TAB

This is where one can add custom files and archives to the appliance. The single files will go to the destination the user mentioned while the archive gets extracted to the desired location after the installation of the package. In case of VMWare images, the appliance will have these files already extracted as part of the build process:

SUSEStudio_AddFilesORArchive

BUILD TAB

Well, what else would one want to do after all that he has been through till now :)?

SUSEStudio_BuildApplianceThere are options here too:

  • Live CD/DVD (.iso)
  • USB stick / hard disk image
  • Preload ISO (.iso)
  • VMware / VirtualBox (.vmdk)
  • OVF virtual machine
  • Xen guest
  • Hyper-V (.vhd)
  • SUSE Cloud / OpenStack / KVM

These options are fully explained in the Selecting Appliance Formats article. Reading that is really essential for an easy life in the SUSE Studio world.

One can select a default format to build while also selecting multiple additional formats. What did I choose?

I chose Live CD/DVD (.iso) and USB stick / hard disk image. Why?

Live CD/DVD is basically what one gets from the official download locations of almost all distros. The Live CD/DVD helps the user get a feel of the complete system without really installing the distro.

USB stick / hard disk image is really helpful during SUSEStudio Testdrive. It has other purposes but its utility stands out during the Testdrive.

So, choose the correct formats and hit the big green build button SUSEStudio_BuildButton

A progress bar appears and indicates the build progress. The build process can build only one format at a time.

SUSEStudio_BuildProgressOnce the build is done the image is ready for Testdrive and Download. The Build additional button appears if other formats were selected in addition to the default format. Hit that button and the other format gets built.

SUSEStudio_BuildDone

SUSE STUDIO TESTDRIVE

Testdrive lets the user test the appliance in the browser using Flash plugin. No downloads at all. This test can be done using any format but the USB stick / hard disk image is the most important format. One can modify system files during test drive and get it included in the Files Tab only if one uses the USB stick / hard disk. So, test drive using the USB stick / hard disk and get the system properly running and then build other formats.

SUSEStudio_Testdrive

I had a problem with the LightDM Display Manager. I could not get it to work. I found that the /etc/sysconfig/displaymanager file needs to be modified. Just make sure that the beginning of the file looks like below:

## Path:    Desktop/Display manager
## Description:    settings to generate a proper displaymanager config

## Type:    string(kdm,kdm3,kdm4,xdm,gdm,wdm,entrance,console)
## Default:    “”
#
# Here you can set the default Display manager (kdm/xdm/gdm/wdm/entrance/console).
# all changes in this file require a restart of the displaymanager
#
DISPLAYMANAGER=”lightdm”

I modified the file while test driving the USB stick / hard disk image and got it included in the Files Tab. Now LightDM greets me when I try to login to my machine.

SUSEStudio_displaymanagerFile

SHARE TAB

After all the hardwork, let the world know about it:

SUSEStudio_ShareAppliance

My appliances:

The package list can be found here.

The package list can be found here.

Install FreeBSD 10.0 using memstick IMG file on Virtualbox

When FreeBSD 10.0 arrived, I headed straight to the FreeBSD website and downloaded the FreeBSD-10.0-RELEASE-amd64-memstick.img file. I usually do not burn DVDs. It is just not flexible enough. Writing the installation media on to a USB is easiest thing to do when you are addicted to installing OSs in your free time.

Most Linux distros publish their installation media as ISO images while the FreeBSD team creates an IMG image in addition to the ISO. While the Linux ISO images can be written to a USB (ISO -> USB), the FreeBSD ISO cannot be  written to USB. That is where the FreeBSD IMG file comes into picture. While the IMG file is good for writing onto USB drive, one will surely have a horrid time installing FreeBSD as a Virtualbox guest using the IMG file. Virtualbox does not recognize the IMG format.

What is the solution?

Just run the following command:

VBoxManage convertfromraw -format VDI [filename].img [filename].vdi

Once this is done, a VDI file is generated. This is the virtual hard disk file format used by Virtualbox. Now this file can simply be attached as another storage device in Virtualbox. During the boot process, hit F12 key and enter the virtual BIOS menu. One can select the attached drive and boot from it, in case Virtualbox does not automatically boot from the attached drive.

To write FreeBSD IMG file to USB, I use the following command:

dd if=FreeBSD-10.0-RELEASE-amd64-memstick.img of=/dev/<device> bs=64k

The general command is:

dd if=<Any compatible ISO or IMG file> of=/dev/<device> bs=64k

Yes, dd command works on Linux and FreeBSD

Be very careful while using the above command. The changes are irreversible. Thus, if you select a wrong device, you will definitely lose all data.

Further reading:

Manjaro Linux on a Western Digital USB hardrive with sleep disorder ;)

This is a problem that had me baffled for a long time. I had, very long back, during the very initial days of Manjaro Linux, installed it on my Western Digital(WD) My Passport HD. WD My Passport is a 160GB yellow colored cute little thing. Everything worked great. Manjaro is undoubtedly one of the best distros out there. After a few minutes of inactivity, the hard drive would go to sleep and the XFCE desktop environment would stop obeying my commands as if it had suddenly been gripped by dementia. Icons would vanish. The few that would remain would throw weird error messages. Rebooting was the only option. But I had no trust in such a system. I tried Fedora, openSUSE and some other distros too. Heck, I even tried FreeBSD. The results were no different.

I searched all the forums I could but did not receive an answer that could satisfy me. I downloaded the gnome-disk-utility and looked at the drive settings. I tried playing with all settings without any success.

Then I experienced an epiphany. I thought why would a drive go to sleep if there is constant activity? So an infinite loop with a periodic disk write activity would suffice to keep the drive awake for as long as I please!

Here is the script:

#!/bin/bash
while true
do
echo -e "\e[31m---prevent hdd from sleeping script running...\e[0m"
echo "do not let him sleep" >> /home/msiyer/Documents/KeepTheBloodyHDDAwake.log
echo -e "---wrote into the \e[31m/home/msiyer/Documents/KeepTheBloodyHDDAwake.log\e[0m file"
echo "---now sleeping for 30 seconds..."
sleep 30
done

Virtualbox on OpenSUSE 13.1: vboxdrv troubles and troubleshooting

I installed Virtualbox on my openSUSE 13.1 system using the following command

sudo zypper in virtualbox

I created a Windows 7 VM. Everything worked. I updated the system later and found Virtualbox reluctant to start. It simply said

Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908)”

AND

WARNING: The vboxdrv kernel module is not loaded. Either there is no module available for the current kernel (3.5.0-18-generic) or it failed to load. Please recompile the kernel module and install it by sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup You will not be able to start VMs until this problem is fixed.

The kernel was definitely updated and the Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS) did not work. If it had I would not have seen the above errors. I tried running

sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

This failed. I understood from the logs that there was no make module installed on my system. I read further and understood that I was missing quite a lot of packages essential for compiling the driver. I did the following:

sudo  zypper install make gcc  gcc-c++ kernel-source kernel-syms

The log had mentioned about the KERN_DIR parameter(kernel directory) being indeterminate. This meant I needed the kernel-source package. kernel-syms(kernel symbols version) package is needed for the following reason:

Kernel symbols such as functions and variables have version information attached. This package contains the symbol versions for the standard kernels. Installing this package before compiling kernel modules outside of the kernel source tree adds symbol version information in these modules. Modules without symbol version information can only be loaded on exactly the kernel version for which they were compiled. Modules with symbol version information can also be loaded into more recent kernels as long as none of the symbols exported by the kernel changes. (This provides a reasonable level of confidence but does not guarantee that the module will still work.)

Once this was done, I executed

sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

Virualbox has no starting troubles now.

Virtualbox Guest Additions for Debian sid guest

The whole process is very simple:

  • Login as root or do a su root or better do a sudo
  • Update APT database with
apt-get update  
  • Update the system with
apt-get dist-upgrade  
Note: The next step is needed the first time only
  • Install the following packages
apt-get install build-essential module-assistant  
  • On the Virtualbox Devices menu, click Insert Guest Additions CD image…
  • Mount the CD via command line or File Manager
  • Open terminal and run
sh /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run  

If, for some reason, the Insert Guest Additions CD image… does not make the CD available in the guest, it can be from the .VirtualBox directory in the home directory of the host machine:

/home/<USERNAME>/.VirtualBox/
VirtualBox_ChooseCD-DVDtoMountInGuest

Virtualbox Guest Additions for FreeBSD Guest

I had to test something on FreeBSD. I was not sure how the test would turn out. Virtual machines help a lot in this regard. Virtualbox is one of the best tools available that helps in creating virtual machines. I can easily create virtual machines on Virtualbox and test to my heart’s content. Back-ups are possible. Throwing away the virtual machine too would cost nothing(apart from the time one invested in creating the virtual machine).

I installed FreeBSD on Virtualbox and everything went fine. I installed XFCE 4.10 on it. But most of the features that make Virtualbox a pleasure to work with need Virtualbox Guest Additions to be installed on the guest OS. This includes sharing the clipboard, mouse pointer integration, shared folders, full screen/scale-mode etc. Installing Guest Additions is a trivial step in the Windows guests and on most Linux distributions. It is however a different story with FreeBSD. It is still simple but one needs to go through the FreeBSD’s unparalleled documentation.

The FreeBSD Wiki and FreeBSD Handbook have clear details of how to install Virtualbox Guest Additions to the FreeBSD guest. The gist is:

  • First, install the emulators/virtualbox-ose-additions package or port in the FreeBSD guest. This will install the port:
    cd /usr/ports/emulators/virtualbox-ose-additions && make install clean
    

The above process needs the port to be installed on the system. Each port has complete data needed for compiling and installing the application. However, the source code is not downloaded when you install the ports collection. The Makefile in the port will fetch and compile the source code and then install. This may not be suitable for all. About ports:

Each port’s Makefile automatically fetches the application source code, either from a local disk, CD-ROM or via ftp, unpacks it on your system, applies the patches, and compiles. If all went well, a simple make install will install the application and register it with the package system.

I did not have the ports tree with me and did not want to compile. I decided to install the virtualbox-ose-additions binary package. Luckily, it existed and did not have to go through the process of compiling everything. I did the following:

pkg_add -r  virtualbox-ose-additions

That was it. Done.

Add these lines to /etc/rc.conf:

vboxguest_enable="YES" 

vboxservice_enable="YES"

That is all. There is nothing more to it. Everything now works as expected.

Edit: for FreeBSD 10.0

When I installed Xorg packages on the FreeBSD guest, I ran the Xorg -configure command too. After that I installed the guest additions package. But the FULL SCREEN mode did not work. That is when I re-ran the Xorg -configure. The vboxvideo driver was recognized and xorg.conf.new file was generated at some temp location. I copied this file as /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Everything works now.

Manjaro Linux: So stable that it is boring!

How I got Manjaro:

Arch Linux installation is a terrible pain in the butt. It was designed to be like that. Geeks and power users would not want it to be any different. Minimal and fully adhering to the KISS philosophy.

I love Arch Linux and have it installed on my Pentium D 2.8 GHz, 4GB DDR2 beast.
Beast? Yes, because it can run Windows 7 64-bit without breaking a sweat! I also have a Arch Linux virtual machine for testing new things.

A few months ago I had broken my system beyond repair. I needed to get another ready, but had no patience or energy left for an Arch install. I searched for alternatives. Arch Bang was an option but it has an openbox edition only. I wanted my beloved Xfce. I searched and landed on Manjaro’s website. They had an Xfce edition. Done!

What is so good about it?

  • Manjaro makes Arch Linux accessible to mere mortals and people too lazy or too tired for an Arch install.
  • Manjaro’s installation is super easy
  • Manjaro community is a pleasure to work with
  • Manjaro has own repositories with packages taken from Arch Linux. They do thorough testing before rolling out packages. This also means that they are a bit behind Arch Linux.
  • Manjaro is a rolling release distribution like Arch

Manjaro’s website says this:

Manjaro is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on the independently developed Arch operating system. Developed in Austria, France, and Germany, Manjaro provides all the benefits of the Arch operating system combined with a focus on user-friendliness and accessibility. Available in both 32 and 64 bit versions, Manjaro is suitable for newcomers as well as experienced Linux users.

They deliver!

Manjaro’s character

I have been running Manjaro Xfce on my systems for the past 7-8 months.

It is very much like openSUSE, in character. No surprises. No breakages. No crashes.
It is so good that it is boring. It is so stable that it is boring.

This is also a tribute to the greatness of Arch Linux.

Spicing up Manjaro Xfce:

Xfce has been doing great on my system but I was bored. I wanted something different. I thought of installing GNOME:

sudo pacman -S gnome

I entered the sudo password and got this on my terminal:

:: There are 41 members in group gnome:
:: Repository extra
1) baobab  2) empathy  3) eog  4) epiphany  5) evince  6) gdm  7) gnome-backgrounds  8) gnome-calculator  9) gnome-contacts  10) gnome-control-center  11) gnome-desktop  12) gnome-dictionary
13) gnome-disk-utility  14) gnome-font-viewer  15) gnome-icon-theme  16) gnome-icon-theme-extras  17) gnome-icon-theme-symbolic  18) gnome-keyring  19) gnome-screenshot  20) gnome-session
21) gnome-settings-daemon  22) gnome-shell  23) gnome-shell-extensions  24) gnome-system-log  25) gnome-system-monitor  26) gnome-terminal  27) gnome-themes-standard  28) gnome-user-docs
29) gnome-user-share  30) grilo-plugins  31) gucharmap  32) mousetweaks  33) mutter  34) nautilus  35) sushi  36) totem  37) totem-plugin  38) tracker  39) vino   40) xdg-user-dirs-gtk  41) yelp

Enter a selection (default=all): 

Evidently, each package has a number associated with it and the Enter a selection prompt can be used to decide what needs to be installed. Hitting the ENTER key would fetch all packages. Nothing wrong in it, but I already had some apps installed on my system. I did not wish to select all the packages in the list. pacman allows the use of a caret(^) followed by the number of the package for deselecting that package. If multiple packages need to be deselected, type all the package numbers separated by a space, each number preceded by the caret sign. For example, when the Enter a selection prompt appeared, I typed the following:

^2 ^4 ^36 ^37

pacman moved ahead but reported a conflict. The mdm display manager and the gdm display manager could not co-exist. I had to choose one. I chose gdm.

MDM – the Mint Display Manager – is designed for use with any desktop environment. It supports theming, automatic login, and the automatic detection and use of multiple desktop environments. Ported over from Mint and adapted by the Manjaro Team, this is the default display manager for the XFCE flavour. It is also highly recommended for newcomers, particularly as it comes with a very easy user-friendly app to configure and change its appearance… and lots of themes to go with it.

GDM – the Gnome Display Manager – is designed for use with Gnome 3. It supports theming, automatic login, and the automatic detection and use of multiple desktop environments. Specifically for those using Gnome 3, a configuration application is also available to easily customise the login screen and enable automatic login without having to edit any configuration files.

Once this conflict was resolved, pacman went ahead and installed GNOME on my system. The only thing left was to disable mdm and enable gdm in systemd. Uninstalling mdm does not disable it from systemd. The following commands did the trick:

sudo systemctl disable mdm.service -f
sudo systemctl enable gdm.service -f

If the above steps are not performed, gdm will not start and graphical login will not be available. Terminal login, of course,will be possible.

If gdm needs to be started immediately, type the following after running the above commands:

sudo systemctl start gdm.service

In the end

Manjaro is absolutely wonderful. It is very stable. It is the only distribution apart from Ubuntu that has binary driver package available for my latest Broadcom Wifi which I got with my Dell Optiplex 9020 desktop. It has Arch imprint all over it. I never feel that I am not in an Arch machine.

I would recommend it to anybody without thinking twice!