Manjaro & HP 14 Laptop

Manjaro with Gnome on HP 14 Laptop


Time progressed and I needed to put a general-purpose Linux distro, instead of the security-focused Kali, on my HP 14 laptop. I first moved Kali to a boot-able USB drive so I could still run it when needed. My initial choice in selecting a general-purpose Linux distro was Ubuntu because I was quite familiar with it, both Desktop and Server versions. I had just finished building a new home server running Ubuntu Server 22.04 LTS without any issues at this point so I had no reason to doubt Ubuntu Desktop 22.04 LTS would not meet my objective on the laptop. The installation was straight forward but a major problem surfaced right away post-install — the laptop screen stayed blank when wake from long sleeps. Short sleeps were fine though which puzzled me. It is worth noting that I did not have any similar problem with Kali.

I installed Ubuntu Desktop 22.10 to see if the issue was fixed in the newer release. It sadly was not. Ubuntu’s kernel became my prime suspect. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and 22.10 were still using Linux Kernel 5 which prompted me to start looking for a non-Ubuntu distro that has the newer Linux Kernel 6 for the laptop.

I decided to go with Manjaro for several reasons after some research. One, Arch Linux and its derivatives, including Manjaro, were gaining popularity in recent years. Valve’s SteamOS, which powers its Steam Deck, is based on Arch Linux. Two, it adopts a rolling-release model. Three, it is bundled with Linux Kernel 6. I selected the Manjaro installer with minimal Gnome desktop option because I prefer Gnome over other Linux desktops. I also favor minimal install so the operating system is not bloated right from the start and I can add only those applications I want afterward.


There are four important things to do right after Manjaro is installed. The first thing, even before updating the system, is updating the list of mirrors with the fastest mirrors. The risk of skipping this step is a possible chance of slow system update. The command is:

sudo pacman-mirrors –fast-track

The second thing is obviously updating the system. The command is:

sudo pacman -Syu

Next is enable TRIM for SSD. I assume most people are installing and running Manjaro from a SSD. If you are not, ignore this step. The command is:

sudo systemctl enable fstrim.timer

The last thing is enable the firewall. Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) is installed but disabled by default. To enable it, just run the command:

sudo systemctl enable ufw.service

After taking care of these four things, I tweaked Gnome, configured Firefox, and installed additional software.

Gnome Desktop

Manjaro’s minimal Gnome desktop is quite bare so it is not recommended for beginners. Gnome’s biggest strength is its extensions and I have a list of favorites as shown below.

  • Blur my Shell
  • Burn My Windows
  • Coverflow Alt-Tab
  • Dash-to-Dock
  • Frippery Move Clock
  • Hide Activities Button
  • Improved Workspace Indicator
  • OpenWeather
  • Pamac Updates Indicator
  • Removable Drive Menu
  • User Themes

Manjaro wants to install all software, including Gnome extensions, through its pamac/pacman interfaces. It actually would not let users install extensions through its version of Extensions application. There are definitely advantages to this method as it streamlines and simplifies software updates. There are also downsides though. First, the core repository only has a small number of Gnome extensions. In fact, most of my favored extensions are not found in core repository. I know you can enable AUR (Arch User Repository) which vastly expands software package selections on top of core repository but I want to tread carefully here. Supply-chain attacks on various software repositories have exploded in recent time and no one can say that every package in AUR is safe to use. Because Manjaro’s Extensions application is limited in capabilities, I turned to Firefox with add-on to install the Gnome extensions I wanted.

I left the default themes in place except for the icons. I downloaded and installed Candy icons from site. I usually like to use a Mac-inspired icons theme for familiarity but the Candy icons theme looks too good to pass up.

Manjaro’s default Gnome Terminal looks pretty slick, better than Ubuntu’s default version. However, it can not do transparent background (Ubuntu can). There is another version of Gnome Terminal in core repository that has Fedora patches (gnome-terminal-fedora). That version can do transparent background and has other enhancements as well. I am using that version instead of the default one.

Here are some applications that I have installed in Manjaro. All of them are available in core repository except for Geekbench 6. Geekbench 6 binaries (from the official site) work in Manjaro without any issue.

  • Filezilla
  • Geekbench 6
  • GIMP
  • Inkscape
  • VLC

The screen capture shown on top of this blog post reflects the result of all the modifications mentioned here. I definitely try to make my Gnome desktop look and act like a Mac desktop.


I ran Geekbench 6 from the command line to see how fast is the laptop’s CPU and GPU. This exercise was mainly for fun and information as this inexpensive machine was not going to break any speed records by any means.

Geekbench 6 CPU Score on Battery
Geekbench 6 CPU Score on AC
Geekbench 6 GPU Score on Battery
Geekbench 6 GPU Score on AC

Final Words

Getting Manjaro up and running was a pretty smooth experience. No sleep/wake issue like I encountered with Ubuntu was a major win. Will I ever switch back to Ubuntu on my HP 14 laptop? Only time will tell. I have a feeling that Manjaro will probably stay on my HP 14 laptop for its remaining life span.

I created this post with Firefox in Manjaro on my HP 14 laptop.