An overview of the three repositories that Manjaro uses to manage its packages can be found here
What are the advantages of a rolling model?
- You never need a major system upgrade. Just continue to run small updates as normal and you will always be on the latest version.
- The latest version of all software packages is always available, there is no need to resort to snaps or flatpaks to run current software
What are the disadvantages of a rolling release model?
- The system must roll forward as a unit so it's difficult to hold any individual package at an older version without breaking your system eventually
- Since everything is being updated when updates are available it is a challenge to run a rolling release distro in an environment where bandwidth is extremely limited
- You must update your system before installing software. Not doing so can leave your system in an inconsistent, partially upgraded state
Why are new versions of Manjaro being released?
It would seem that some confusion has arisen due to the regular (and somewhat rapid) occurrence of new Manjaro releases. This confusion has been compounded still further by the use of version numbers (for example: 18.0.2,18.1 and so on), a custom normally associated with the Standard Release Development Model, where a brand-new release of an operating system must be re-installed over an old version in order to access any new features provided. These releases are more accurately new snapshots of the Manjaro system. Just like photographs, these snapshots are in essence images that portray the Manjaro system at a particular point in its development. As such, one purpose they serve is to help the developers to both chart and evaluate the continued development of the Manjaro system, as it is of course easier to pick up on the finer details from a single image than from a moving picture.
Since Manjaro is constantly rolling forward, a snapshot of the Manjaro system will very quickly become out of date. New snapshots are therefore released in order to make life easier for new users, who may otherwise be faced with the prospect of downloading huge volumes of new software packages to update and upgrade their newly installed systems from an older ISO.
Where these snapshots most obviously differ is in the choice of pre-installed software applications provided, as well as other smaller tweaks such as the default themes used, However, the core Manjaro system running underneath is the same and any applications added or removed from a particular snapshot can also be added or removed from an existing installation. And, of course, users will tweak and customise their own systems in accordance with their own personal preferences and tastes, anyway. Again, it is not important which release of Manjaro was initially installed. Provided it is kept up to date, that system will always be running the latest version available.