Manjaro 19.08 Xfce Pinebook review

As I have stated many times, I have a 14-inch Pinebook which I play around with it once in a while. This time I have decided to give a shot to Manjaro 19.08 Xfce which released mid of the last month. And see how it works. I have installed it on SD Card and tried it, so far so good. In this post I review Manajro 19.08 Xfce Pinebook.

Download and installation

The Manjaro 19.08 Xfce Pinebook is available in four DE/WM flavors, KDE, Xfce, i3. It is downloadable from this link:

Besides that, there’s an eMMC installable version which I have not tried yet.

Installation is a no-brainer. All it’s needed is to download the file, extract it and then burn it on a SD card with a tool like Etcher.

Why NOT i3 and Xfce instead?

Some of you may think with yourself why I didn’t test i3 version and instead went for Xfce. Especially, when I’m a hardcore i3 user and advocate.

The answer is rather simple,

the Pinebook keyboard is crappy.

And the wireless dongle of my external keyboard is broken (don’t ask how I managed to screw it up). Hence, to avoid torturing myself, I decided to go with Xfce.

Just FYI when the system loads without doing anything say goodbye to 500MB of your RAM!

Manjaro 19.08 Xfce Pinebook review

By contrast of the previous version of Manjaro, this time my experience is quite positive. To be honest, it’s the most stable Linux version I have found for Pinebook so far. And believe me when I say that. I have tried many distributions with different versions for three years. Prior to Manjaro 19.08 Xfce Pinebook, I would have recommended Armbian Xenial or Ubuntu 16.04 by ayufan (which they used to ship the device with). And as you may have guessed already both use legacy unsupported kernel version.

However, Manjaro 19.08 Xfce is a game-changer for me. From the stability point of view not only it has nothing less than the distros with legacy kernel but it also even more stable and faster.

The great thing about Manjaro 19.08 is the new kernel. It is shipped with kernel 5.2 which is new and came with tons of goodies. So we are not trapped with legacy kernel anymore. Besides that most of drivers has already merged to upstream and not much of funky tweaks needed to make things working.

Additionally, there is a huge performance boost which to me is beyond my imagination. I was pretty disappointed with the Pinebook performance. Even at some points was considering to get rid of it. But this release has changed my mind and after three years finally, I’m seeing some remarkable improvement in Pinebook. All thanks to Manjaro guys. They did an amazing job with 19.08 release.

Lastly, before talking about what works and not, I’d like to especially thank the theme designer of Manjaro 19.08 Xfce for coming up with such a gorgeous, elegant, and beautiful theme. It’s consistent and fascinating. Have a look at some screenshots I took,

I have been running Manjaro 19.08 Xfce for three days already and below is my summarized findings,


  • Actual web browsing on Firefox. Without any tweaks, I have a smooth experience with web browsing with Firefox. I can open multiple tabs and even YouTube videos.
  • Audio including volume keys and audio jack plug/unplug.
  • Bluetooth sending/receiving files and even sharing the internet.
  • YouTube videos are playable in Firefox without any frame drops in 480p and little drops in 720p. One thing I noticed is the CPU consumption jumps to 100 when watching YouTube videos. But it’s doable.
  • Java 11. It has full-fledge JDK 11 and works like a charm.
  • Battery status and the percentage is shown properly

Partially working:

  • WiFi card works but it’s very unstable. With my router, the speed fluctuates like crazy and most of the time the download speed is 100 Kbps which is a huge pain when upgrading the packages. However, by contrast of the older Manjaro release, it doesn’t disconnect at all (which is very good).
  • Video with MPV works with lags on 720p videos, specifically this video. Something that was working with the legacy kernel.

Not working:

  • Charging when running the system or even when it’s off. I gotta take out the SD card. At least the indicator is not turning on. Something to check further.
  • My WiFi dongle. I have a TP-Link AC600 Archer T2U WiFi dongle which I managed to get it to work with legacy kernel on Armbian, see here. But now I can’t make it work at all. Well, the kernels > 4.20 should have support the dongle by default but I guess the guys didn’t add the driver module when compiling the kernel. And more sadly, the official and unofficial drivers are not supporting the kernel 5.

Not tested:

  • HDMI output
  • Sleep (closing lid)
  • Webcam
  • 480p video playback in MPV


I highly recommend Manjaro 19.08 Xfce to any Pinebook owner. It has a significant performance boost and is very stable. The most stable Linux I’ve ever found for Pinebook. It also comes with the latest kernel (5.2) and all the packages are updated. This release makes Pinebook a workable device for the average Joe. At least I can do the basic day to day tasks rather easily. On the other hand, the only hampering issue at the moment is unstable WiFi which I hope to be solved soon.