I have laid my eyes on a new distribution that bakes in i3 with it: Manjaro Linux i3 Community Edition.

It has some rough edges, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be ironed out rather sooner than later, given Manjaro’s rise in popularity.

What I can say is that Manjaro Linux feels nimble and agile, meanwhile Ubuntu starts to feel bloated and sluggish.

So, what follows is a very opinionated guide for installing Manjaro Linux on a MacBook Pro from Mid 2014, and leave it in a perfect state for desktop and software development usage —kind of what I currently have in Ubuntu.

Still on the quest for a perfect OS. Let’s start!

Download

  • Direct downloads and checksums: here.
  • Torrent downloads: here.

Preparing the live USB

You need another Linux machine, or a way to make a Manjaro Linux live USB stick.

Once you have downloaded the .iso image you can follow these instructions to prepare the USB drive.

Booting from USB

Turn off your machine, insert the USB drive, then turn it on, and as you hear the distinctive sound when it starts, press and hold the alt key until a boot menu appears. Select the one that says EFI.

You’ll be presented with a preconfiguration screen. Select your timezone, keyboard distribution, language, free drivers, then: Boot: manjaro.x86…

Installation

You’ll be presented with a dialog with many buttons, click on the one that says: Launch installer.

You might see a couple of unreadable warnings, they usually are about:

  • The machine is not connected to a power source.
  • The machine is not connected to the Internet.

When you get to Partitions select Erase disk to get rid of everything on that Mac (don’t worry you’ll always be able to recover OSX if you really want to —but not your data though, so be careful!).

While you are at it, click on the Encrypt system checkbox and pick a nice and long passphrase for it, then click through the install wizard and wait for it to be finished with the installation process.

Configuration

I usually remove the quiet option from grub in /etc/default/grub. I like my startup process noisy.

If you edit the grub file, don’t forget to:

sudo update-grub

I also like to activate UFW at the start:

sudo systemctl enable --now ufw

HighDPI screen

Check the supported modes for your screen with:

xrandr

If the initial DPI is too much for you —it is for me—, try a couple of resolutions and see what you are comfortable with, in my case I usually settle with 1680x1050 or 1400x900.

Try this out:

xrandr --output eDP1 --mode 1680x1050

To make this permanent, edit ~/.i3/config and add this line at the end:

exec --no-startup-id xrandr --output eDP1 --mode 1680x1050

Keyboard

Let’s swap the Alt and Cmd keys out, with immediate effect:

echo 1 | sudo tee /sys/module/hid_apple/parameters/swap_opt_cmd

Let’s enable the function keys by default, with immediate effect:

echo 2 | sudo tee /sys/module/hid_apple/parameters/fnmode

Wireless

I solved this by first connecting through an USB Ethernet cable —this one has worked great.

First, update your system:

sudo pacman -Syy

Then upgrade any packages:

sudo pacman -Su

Then let’s install the driver:

sudo pacman -S broadcom-wl-dkms linux-headers

In my case, I selected option 9 for the linux49-headers.

Let’s restart to try out our configs so far!

You should be able to use WiFi now.

Sound

This came as a surprise, sound is not working out of the box. Good news is it only requires a little tweaking to make it work.

Edit this file:

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

And put inside:

options snd_hda_intel enable=1 index=0
options snd_hda_intel enable=1 index=1

This one requires a system restart.

After rebooting, you should have sound coming out from your computer, and a working set of multimedia sound keys.

Usage

Copy & pasting

I found you can paste using a 3-finger click on the trackpad.

Software

Utils

sudo pacman -S calibre namcap pacaur redshift

To execute redshift on init, edit ~/.i3/config and add this line at the end:

exec --no-startup-id redshift

Don’t know what redshift is?

File manager

If you miss the cozy space of a file manager, you can get a good one with Thunar:

sudo pacman -S thunar

Browsers

This distro comes with the Pale Moon browser. If you want, to install the other two, try with:

sudo pacman -S firefox
pacaur -S google-chrome

Daily workflow ready?

I’ll be playing around with this distro to see if I can setup everything I need for my daily workflow —there should not be any problem at all, I think. I hope.

Code editor

pacaur -S visual-studio-code-bin

Links


— lt

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