The next version of the PinePhone to ship will be the Manjaro Community Edition version which is currently up for pre-order for $150 and up. But if you already have a PinePhone, you can try out the Manjaro software that will be shipping with that phone.
Manjaro ARM Beta1 with Phosh is now available for download, and while it’s still a little rough around the edges, it’s already one of the most polished operating systems available for the PinePhone.
While Manjaro can support several different user interfaces, the version that will ship with the PinePhone uses Purism’s phosh phone shell, which is a phone-friendly UI that includes a lock screen, app launcher, task switcher, notifications, and quick settings.
It’s the same user interface that’s used for the postmarketOS Community Edition PinePhone, so when I first booted my phone into Manjaro, I had no trouble navigating.
But this build of Manjaro comes with more applications pre-installed than postmarketOS, including a recent build of the Megapixels camera application that supports both the front and rear cameras, and which supports auto-focus and offers the options to use manual or auto settings for ISO and shutter speed.
There’s also a version of the Nemo file manager, calculator and calendar apps, document and image viewers, a text editor, a maps application with support for GPS location and data from OpenStreeMap, and utilities for analyzing system resource and power usage, among other things.
The Software app is also more functional, allowing you to browse and search for applications and install a variety of packages. Not every app I installed was actually able to run, but I was able to install and run a couple of programs and simple games.
While the PinePhone still isn’t a speed demon and it takes several seconds to launch some applications, once apps are up and running they tend to run reasonably well. Firefox feels a little faster and more responsive with Manjaro than it does with postmarketOS, and I was able opt play YouTube videos in the browser.
There are still some buggy or missing features in Manjaro ARM Beta 1. The developers removed support for auto-rotate, so you’ll have to manually tap a button if you want to switch between portrait and landscape orientations. I found the auto screen brightness to be a little finicky, so I disabled it and adjusted the display brightness manually. And while there’s a sound recorder app pre-installed and the Manjaro team says the audio recording should work, I was unable to make a voice recording using the app.
Still, Manjaro ARM is already looking pretty promising. And it’s just one of 19 or so operating systems that are currently under development for the PinePhone.
How to run Manjaro ARM on the PinePhone
The steps for loading and running the operating system are ridiculously simple:
- Download Manjaro ARM Beta 1 with Phosh.
- Install Etcher for Windows, Mac, or Linux.
- Insert an 8GB or larger microSD card to your computer using a card reader.
- Run Etcher, select the file you downloaded in step one, select the SD card, and hit the Flash button.
- After the process is complete, eject the card, insert it into your PinePhone, and then reboot the phone.
While the PinePhone has built-in eMMC storage, it’s designed to boot first from any bootable microSD card, which makes it easy to try out different operating systems without replacing the OS that came with your device.
I actually tried two different SD cards: an older SanDisk class 4 microSD card and a newer, faster SanDisk Extreme UHS class 3 card and performance was noticeably better on the SanDisk Extreme card.
One other thing to keep in mind that when you run this version of Manjaro ARM from an SD card, there are two premade users by default. You’ll probably want to change the usernames and will definitely want to change the passwords if you’re doing anything other than quickly poking around.
You can find more details in the Manjaro ARM Beta1 with Phosh announcement.