Manjaro is based on the Arch Linux release which first debuted in 2002.
Ubuntu is Debian based, like the Raspberry Pi OS. Debian has been a part of the Linux lineup since as early as 1993.
The software kernel is responsible for bridging the communication gap between applications and machine hardware. It controls things like the CPU by communicating with it directly on behalf of applications. Having the latest kernel means you have the latest open-source software features but it’s not as thoroughly tested as older editions.
Manjaro is guaranteed to always run using the most recent kernel. As of writing, the current release is 5.8.
Because Ubuntu does not update as frequently, it's currently relying on kernel version 4.15.
The desktop environment refers to the GUI of the entire operating system. It determines things like what windows look like and how they respond when used.
Manjaro has a few editions that use either KDE, XFCE, or GNOME. The final result looks like a typical desktop with a taskbar and start menu. Windows can be resized, closed, and minimized.
Ubuntu only uses GNOME. The end result is an interface that somewhat resembles Mac-based operating systems.
One of the most notable differences between the two is the update schedule. This can be a dealbreaker, as it determines how up-to-date your system is and how often you need to maintain it.
Manjaro is designed to rely on rolling updates, this means it receives continuous updates from the developers as they are needed.
Ubuntu only updates once every 6 months, often requiring a new installation for the latest build.
The package manager is responsible for handling software/application installation.
Manjaro uses pacman for package management.
Ubuntu relies on dpkg for package installation.
Both operating systems have a strong community. This is critical when choosing a Linux distro as questions are bound to arise and you want support to be an option!
Because of Ubuntus seniority, it has a much larger community to rely on. However, Manjaro is catching up quickly with a fast-growing community of its own.
Determining the best OS for you starts with listing out your operating system needs.
If you're looking for a well-supported Linux distro and don't mind running behind a few kernel editions, you'll probably appreciate Ubuntu. It's a full-featured OS with a huge online community and access to plenty of software packages to get you started like Skype, Spotify, VLC, and even OpenOffice.
If you want a smooth desktop experience that's always up to date, you may find Manjaro preferable. It's a much lighter package with more versatility and options when it comes to desktop environments. But it has just as much software support as you would hope from a modern OS. You can install a big selection of Linux applications or emulate Windows through something like Wine. It even comes pre-loaded with Steam.
If you're still undecided, try them both out! It won't cost you a dime. You can check out our guide on how to install Manjaro to get started.