I don’t want to get head of myself, but I would like to appreciate that I’m in a good place as far as using and learning different distributions right now.
With my chosen OSs, Salix, Slackware, Mint, and Fuduntu, I’m getting more and more comfortable configuring and installing and updating. Basic tasks. I’m picking up new knowledge more quickly.
A week ago, it was all frustration. Now, the process is decidedly more stress-free and methodical. Things like editing text files, sorting through mirrors, configuring wireless connections through the command line are becoming less difficult. I even learned some basic vi usage. Man, that’s a weird little program.
The only OSs that are giving me some pain right now are Arch and Archbang, but that’s because they make my little lappy overheat and freeze up. Right now, tinkering with those two is postponed. But, I’m deeply appreciative of Arch, because setting it up made me comfortable with some basic things like visudo and wpa_supplicant commands. Now, if I could only get Gnome to start up properly at “startx”…. I can’t get too angry at Arch, though, because I figure success with Arch is directly correlated to time spent reading the Arch Wiki (which is great!).
I feel like a small breakthrough came when I successfully compiled, installed, and booted into a 3.3.1 kernel in Slackware 64, then activated my wireless card using the command interface.
I’m sure more challenges are coming, but my brain is starting to wrap itself around fundamentals — and I’m very grateful.
One more note. This has to do with the “You use Ubuntu, you learn Ubuntu, you use Red Hat, you learn Red Hat, you use Slackware….” quote.
Well, I feel, after revisiting Mint, Fuduntu, and Salix, and exploring even more distributions, that if you learn any decent, mainstream distribution, then you can port those skills easily to any other distribution. You just have to try. Some, like Arch, force you to do just that. But it returns me to that old adage: You get what you put in to it.
(I’m also beginning to understand the spirit of community that keeps these OSs going. Fuduntu, in particularly has a community with quite some character (subtly hidden by its goofy personality). Salix’s forum is a nice one, too, very calm and helpful. The only other forum I find myself going to for help is Linuxquestions, mainly because I find the mystique of Slackware quite funny and intriguing. And because they have lots of peopos, of course.
If I had to choose one distribution to contribute to (obviously 2 or so years down the road or whenever), it would be Fuduntu. I like Salix equally, but they seem to be thoroughly on the ball. Not to say that the Fuduntu team aren’t — in fact, they seem extremely capable (with flair, too!) — but the Fuduntu design philosophy requires a lot of interaction with users and on-the-fly modification to repositories. Plus, I dig their light touch and slightly trollish humor.)
Fuduntu or Mint 12
I have Fuduntu and Mint 12 set up as my main operating systems, and I realized that, for reasons of practicality, it’d be better to have One main operating system for work. I think I’m going with Fuduntu, and I’ll try to break down why in a sort of mini-review.
This is based on my requirements and user experiences, and is, of course, entirely subjective. I like setups where basics like log-in, wi-fi work out of the box. Programs I use are pretty simple: Libreoffice, Rednotebook, Gedit, Chromium, Firefox, Xournal, GPartEd, AWN, and Multiboot. Both OSs suit me well, but I need to pick one or waste time configuring an extra OS.
- User experience: ease of use; aesthetics.
- Power: available software; convenience, configuration. — what it can do, in short, and how easily.
- Versatility: hardware support, system requirements. — where it can do it
- Support: community, documentation; security, updates.
- Stability: does it crash or hang or glitch?
Ease of use
Both OSs call themselves user-friendly and both live up to that. I think Mint takes the ease of use category, because it does almost Anything by default, without sacrificing too much performance. Also, the software center is much more transparent and easy to navigate and setup. Then again, Fuduntu shouldn’t take anyone long to learn, though its more spare nature, in terms of provided features and software, might make it harder to get used to at first.
Fuduntu 8/10. Mint 10/10
I like Fuduntu’s custom icons and default backgrounds. They have AWN set up already, and since I always add that in Mint, that’s a plus. Mint is pretty pedestrian, but clean and unoffensive. And easy to customize.
Fuduntu 8/10. Mint 7/10
Oodles of software, measured in assloads, Mint has. It definitely wins in terms of available software. And it’s easily available, too. 3.5 assloads of software. Fuduntu has an amount that’s just about right for what I need. The developers are very attentive to the community and add reasonable requests fairly quickly to the testing repositories. But it’s 2 assloads to Mint’s 3.5, and who knows what needs will later arise. Multiboot is also Ubuntu-family only, I believe.
Fuduntu 8/10. Mint 10/10
Convenience and Configuration
I like having stuff set up beforehand. And if it’s not, then configuring it should be relatively simple. I like Fuduntu’s defaults, but Mint is definitely a more mature product and has very transparent configuration options.
Fuduntu 8/10. Mint 9/10
This is a big one. My traveling PC is a netbook. If an OS is great, but you can’t run it, is it still great?
Fuduntu was designed for eee PCs and works remarkably well on my 1201t. It also has Jupiter built in for battery management. Mint and Ubuntu suck battery life like a vacuum cleaner inhales sea monkeys. I honestly haven’t tested Fuduntu strictly on battery, but it will be hard to get less than the 25 minutes I got on Mnit 12 vanilla. (Didn’t try it on LXDE, either, but I realy prefer to use the Gnome desktop).
Fuduntu isn’t blazingly fast on the 1201t, and it consumes about 300/1800 MB of RAM on idle, but is noticeably faster than Mint 12.
Fuduntu 9/10 Mint 7/10
Community and documentation
Mint’s community is larger and just as friendly as Fuduntu’s, so I think they have a considerable lead here. Also, having been around a long time, the documentation is more thorough. I haven’t needed to do much browsing for OS-specific stuff, though. Mostly just reading things to shore up my basic knowledge of Linux.
I imagine a lot of Fedora documentation still applies to Fuduntu.
Fuduntu 8/10. Mint 9/10.
Security and Updates
Security and updates are where Fuduntu wins big for me. I want to set up and forget. Not only does the OS have a fast update schedule, it’s rolling release. Mint 12 is supported until April 2013. Mint 13 will be supported for 5 years, which is huge, but I still need to work between now and the end of May. The only knock is, Fuduntu is a small project, and until it gains traction, it’s hard to say if it will be around until, say, 2017. I guess that’s why I’m throwing in with Fuduntu!
Fuduntu 10/10. Mint (12) 7/10.
Neither of these OSs have an issue with this.
I’ve honestly logged more hours with Mint, so I’ve seen it glitch more, but they’ve mostly been minor. Some apps will cause things to hang a little bit, using the auto-hide extension from Webupd8 will cause some icons to white out on the panel, etc. Probably the only one that irked me is a graphical glitch where Chromium started to flicker when I had more than two or three tabs open. It’s gone away now since installing the NVidia drivers. I know better than the mess with Compiz, too. Fuduntu has small glitches, too. Repositories require manual tweaking, and the autohide is finicky at times for the top panel. The developers are aware of most of the problems, which is a good sign. Again, nothing major.
Fuduntu 8/10. Mint 8/10.
I intially chose both because I genuinely like using them both. Fuduntu is just a little more my style and fits my needs a little better. I also realized that using any Linux, you have to keep tabs on the community, because bugs and developments are usually not too far away. I can’t devote that time to multiple OSs.
Mint 12 was the OS that turned me away from Windows for the time being, some 1.5 months ago. If someone wanted to try out Linux and had a fairly powerful computer, I would feel very safe installing Mint for them, knowing the experience would be pleasant and user-friendly. I’ll probably keep a copy around for Multiboot, or in case there’s other Ubuntu-specific software I need. And I am very interested to see what Mint 13 brings, though it’s unlikely I’ll be using it much on my eee PC until battery usage improves.
Fun to use
Interestingly, I’ve found that some Linux OSs are just a joy and pleasure to use. With Windows, there was always nagging issues of maintenance, which is a pretty decentralized process on that OS. (It was also slow.) On the plus side, Windows 7 was very stable and could handle most of what you threw at it.
Some Linux OSs tended to pose the opposite difficulties. While they were centralized and minimal, and fairly simple to set up for basic tasks, creating a fully-featured desktop for everyday computing was an outright project. I liked the idea of Puppy, SliTaz, and Crunchbang, and used them for short whiles, but didn’t like having the feeling that a problem was always around the corner. Again, the fixes were there, but it’s not a situation you want with a productivity desktop. I did enjoy the speedy “feel” of both SliTaz and Crunchbang, though. SliTaz, especially, impresses me with how much functionality it contains in 30-40 mb. Maybe when 4.0 comes out, I’ll give it another try.
I first noticed while using Fuduntu that it was something you’d forget you were using which, to me, seems to mean it’s a well designed desktop OS. It’s feature-filled enough so that you’re not running into errors trying to do simple tasks, yet not bloated to the point where those same simple operations will stutter. The Gnome default setup is also quite nice, being simple, clean, and easily customized. That’s the kind of distraction free desktop I like to work on. Linux Mint 12 vanilla and LXDE also fell into this category, though 12 was a bit slower than Fuduntu and LXDE requires quite a few extra steps to do things like change the wallpaper.
I have high hopes for Mint 13, likely released in May, and Ubuntu 12.04. 11.10 would have been a good productivity desktop, but it just felt slow which, in itself, is a distraction. (Fuduntu was apparently targeted at eee PCs in its first iteration, which probably explains why it runs well on my 1201t.)
Oh yes, and Chakra. I’m keeping an install of Chakra around mainly to learn how to use it. It’s a great project and the OS itself is very capable and well-designed. I don’t see myself doing a lot of work on it, though. I get distracted by all the little KDE doodads. It is, however, very complete, and very pretty, as well as quite fast for an OS filled with eye candy.
So, basically, I’m going to be doing the bulk of my work (editing and writing) on Funduntu and Mint 12 (and 13). I like the balance of speed, capability, and clean design. I don’t have any hardware that really necessitates the use of “light” OSs, so these two should do it!
(Sorry for the disorganized rambling; trying to organize my thoughts after weeks of learning new OSs and deciding, meh, this doesn’t feel right.)
[Edit: Honestly, it was a lot of fun playing with new OSs, but I realized I can’t keep learning to do the same tasks in different environments. I figure an Ubuntu derivative, an Arch fork with KDE, and a Fedora 14 fork ought to keep me occupied and set for the oh-so complicated tasks of word-processing and PDF editing.]
So, I’m lucky enough now, after three weeks of intensive experimentation with different Linux distributions, to know sort of what I’m looking for in an OS.
2. Ease of use/customization
Bloathi and E17, as well as Kororaa annoyed me a little by their lack of focus. There wasn’t communicated to me a sense of unifying design, which is in abundance in Mint, Ubuntu, Fuduntu, and Chakra, as well as Slitaz, Puppy, and #!.
I’ve settled on Fuduntu and Chakra for now.
I’m comfortable with the Ubuntu and Debian package manager, and their terminal commands, but learning the Fedora commands (for Fuduntu) and the Arch commands (for Chakra) isn’t too different.
I have Mint 12 LXDE running on the small laptop now, and Chakra and LMDE running on the big laptop. I’m likely to remove LMDE. It’s good, but I prefer the functionality of Mint 12 Gnome. Judging from outraged Linux bloggers about a year ago, Gnome 3 was one step forward, two steps back. Well, I guess I like that one step forward, because the Gnome MGSE desktop of Mint 12 was more comfortable for me than the Gnome 2 desktop of LMDE.
LMDE (which I’m typing this in) is very fast and stable, though. I can’t seem to make “tap click” work, which is another thing. Though, really, I only need one OS on this computer. It’s a powerful laptop, so I figure I might as well run Chakra on it.
Fuduntu is on my external hard drive. I tried to install it on a USB drive, but one is loaded with Linux ISOs and the other is a tad too small, at 3.7 GB. It was a bit of a trial, but if you tell the bootloader to write to the MBR (not just the boot partition) of the external drive, it works.
When Precise Pangolin comes out, I’ll try it out, and probably use the Mint version of it as my main desktop. It’ll be supported until 2017, so it will be comparable to the rolling release distributions I’m using. Rolling release was the reason I wanted to use LMDE, but if I can get Gnome 3/ Unity functionality with the long term support, I think I’ll go that way.
Hey, got my Linux setup
So, I’m typing away in Linux Mint “Lisa”, the x86_64 version right now. It’s good. Nice and customized for productivity (I edit, by the way).
I’m using Mint as the main OS, because of stability, ease of customization, and familiarity. The huge repositories don’t hurt, either (Thanks Debian and Ubuntu).
I have Crunchbang on the second HD, along with Chakra and Fuduntu. I like Crunchbang for its snappy response time and the sparseness of it (have to get usb auto-mount working, though).
I fell in love with Chakra from first use. It’s gorgeous and eminently functional (and powerful). Kubuntu was another KDE OS I liked, too, but Chakra is better integrated with KDE. It was a very nice change after testing Kororaa, but that had more to do with the Fedora base than anything else.
Fuduntu. I like their style. What can I say? From their website to the default background the icons they’ve preloaded in the AWN dock. It’s also based on Fedora, but they apparently forked a while ago and have made it more user friendly, and put it on a rolling release schedule (++).
So, yeah. I’ll be doing most of my stuff in Mint, but it’s been a great journey finding different OSs. It was definitely not this easy (Multisystem!) when I tried this two years ago. Ease of access and polished desktops backed by consistent, large, dedicated teams will bring Linux desktops more into the mainstream. Products like LiLi, UNetbootin, and Multisystem help with that for sure (who doesn’t have a USB drive these days?) Broadband internet! And rock-solid releases like OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Mint, Chakra, Fuduntu, CentOS which are easy to set up for productivity or play are going to appeal a lot to the mainstream Windows or OS X user.