manjaro linux 18.1 – not ready for virtualization prime time

I read of a new group selling Linux computers, Tuxedo Computers (https://www.tuxedocomputers.com), which is bundling Manjaro Linux with the hardware. All the commentary about Manjaro is laudatory, especially when running on the Tuxedo hardware. So I navigated over to the Manjaro Linux site (https://manjaro.org) and downloaded the latest ISO release, 8.1.

I run a number of Linux systems virtually using Oracle’s VirtualBox on my Mac, all successfully. Before installing a Manjaro guest VM, I updated to the latest VirtualBox, 6.1.2. The update was no problem with my existing VMs, which are a mix of RHEL/CentOS/Oracle Linux 8.1 releases, and various Debian/Ubuntu VMs as well. I was able to update the guest extensions on all of them with no issues whatsoever. Keep that in mind.

Installation of Manjaro was absolutely smooth with no issues. It was attempting to install the guest extensions in the VM where I ran into issues. I tried the regular way of installing them by mounting the extensions CD image and running the installation script. I installed the minimal image, which meant I had to install the kernel header files matching my kernel, gcc, and make. I then ran the installation script and had no failures. On reboot unfortunately the extension that enabled folder sharing of the host’s filesystem failed. The dmesg error indicated a lack of kernel symbols. I then went looking in the Arch Linux forums (Manjaro is based on Arch) and discovered there was an Arch package with those extensions pre-built. Fine. I uninstalled the extensions I installed, then installed using pacman. On reboot the extension still failed to load because the module “taints the kernel”. The message is part of the screen capture at the top of the post.

I won’t put up with this. I would love to run this distribution because its tools are up to the very latest (gcc and Python in particular), and the kernel is the near-latest version 5.4. There’s an awful lot to like about this distribution. But this problem with the VirtualBox kernel modules, especially ones provided via pacman, is a show stopper for me. I need the ability to share files between my VMs and my Mac, or between VMs using the Mac shared folder. That feature works like a charm with every distribution I have except for Arch in general, and this version of Manjaro.

There’s also one other aggravation with Arch/Manjaro I really don’t care for, and that’s the attitude that crops up in the forums, and is exemplified by the comment “that’s not the way we do things in Arch.” Fine. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it all worked without drama, but it doesn’t. And I’ve already had my run-ins with Arch on my Raspberry Pi (3 and 4) systems as well as an attempt in times past to just get an Arch VM running. The Raspberry Pi installations eventually all failed to properly update after a time, and the VM never worked, including the VirtualBox shared filesystem module.

In April Ubuntu 20.04 will be released with the latest kernel and tools, and I’ll step up to that and call it a day. If I need to keep on the bleeding edge, there’s always the non-LTS Ubuntu releases as well, and there are also ways to keep a Debian installation on leading release tools. I don’t need Manjaro and the Arch attitude that comes with being derived from Arch. All the other distros Just Work. In the future when my clients ask what Linux distribution to install and run, Manjaro won’t be one that I recommend.

I might be retired but I still do a bit of consulting.

in the cockpit with centos 7

Several posts back I commented on running RHEL 8, and one of the really nice features of RHEL 8, Cockpit. Cockpit is a web-based set of dashboards for managing an instance of Red Hat/CentOS linux. It’s provided and maintained by the Cockpit Project.

I installed an instance on a CentOS 7.6.1810 VM I’ve got running on my MBP under VirtualBox. I’ve had this instance for some time now, having exported it out as an appliance (primarily as a backup) and imported it again a number of times. It now has PowerShell 7 Preview installed as well as Visual Studio Code. And now it has Cockpit. Installation and enablement are on the Cockpit Project website, and it’s extremely easy to get going. What follows are a few extra screenshots showing just a small aspect of Cockpit’s capabilities on CentOS 7.

There’s not much more to say except if you’ve ever had to remotely manage a Windows Server instance with RDP, then remotely managing a Linux instance (besides logging in via ssh) is like paradise compared to RDP. The Cockpit dashboards are more than just adequate, and for this instances where you really need a shell/command line, the web interface will provide that as well. The only actions you can’t do are starting a GUI application. Otherwise it’s just really nice to open multiple web browser tabs for multiple Linux VMs.

If you haven’t looked into Cockpit, then you should. I believe it’ll be worth your time and effort.