I’m in the midst of choosing a Linux distribution to put on one or more of my computers. This article contains my ongoing notes about this process in reverse chronological order. This is basically a note to self, but maybe it will be interesting to others.
Because of Windows 11 Home and other Microsoft invasions of privacy, I’ve decided I want to try to change my primary desktop operating system from Windows to Linux. To read some of my thoughts about this, see Thinking About Windows 11 Pro and Desktop Linux.
I’ve been using Unix-like operating systems since the 1980s, but most of that experience has been at a command line, including …
telnetting or ssh’ing to FreeBSD, Linux, Xenix, etc. servers,
using Mac OS X’s Terminal,
using WSL 1 (not WSL 2),
I want out of the box support for:
keyboard shortcuts to move a window between monitors, maximize a window, etc.
easy backups via something like snapper
GUI package manager that makes it easy to get the latest apps I use, including:
gvim (note to self: on KDE, use Muon to install vim-gtk or vim-gtkN)
File manager that includes context menus for:
duplicating a file
I want a system that out of the box…
does not require an account at any remote service provider and
does not phone home (e.g. to send telemetry info).
I do not want Windows 11 Home, which does #1 and #2.
I do not want Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, or Xubuntu, all of which do #2. I learned about this from distrochooser.de, which told me “We cannot recommend this distribution for you because: Connects to third party sevices by default” — thank you distrochooser.de!
I’ve been using openSUSE Leap 15.4 for more than 5 months and it’s fine and maybe it will be my ultimate choice. But, because Linux package management is a pain in all distros, I’m thinking about giving up on Linux and trying FreeBSD.
Since, as discussed below, I wasn’t able to install openSUSE Leap 15.3, I tried to install Leap 15.4 Beta, and it worked.👏
TIL how to use Flathub and Homebrew on Linux and wrote about these in Infinite Ink’s Linux Package Management.
While researching the problems I had trying to install openSUSE Leap 15.3, I learned about openSUSE Argon, which might be what I really want anyway.
Unfortunately, I had the same problems I had trying to install openSUSE Leap 15.3 (see below) so for now I’m using Kubuntu.
Snap Store Desktop App
I was in search of a GUI package manager that could
install extended Hugo. This
Snap Store Desktop App
works because there is a
drop-down menu in the upper right labeled
Source that lets
I spent a lot of time trying to turn off telemetry, which I’m not even sure Kubuntu does. I was worried about telemetry because…
distrochooser.de told me that Kubuntu “Connects to third party services by default”
and there was a pop-up notification that disappeared before I read it that said something like “help us”. My pessimistic guess was that this was notification about telemetry.
Trying to install openSUSE Leap 15.3 produced this message:
It was not possible to propose an initial partitioning layout even after adjusting the Guided Setup settings:
do not enable snapshots for /
do not propose swap
Please use "Guided Setup" to adjust the proposal setting or "Expert Partitioner" to create a custom layout.
Clicking Guided Setup produced this:
Select Hard Disk(s)
Select one or more (max 3) hard disks
But there were no hard disks listed. Since I’m a newbie, I do not want to mess around with the Expert Partioner option.
Even though KDE neon is not considered a rolling release, every day there are a lot of updates so, unfortunately, this is probably not the distro for me.😞
that Calamares sometimes fails
with this error message:
This distro confirms that I like KDE Plasma but I’m probably not going to stick with it because:
I’m having a lot of issues with the default GUI package manager, Pamac,
and I’ve decided I do not want to use a rolling release. Instead I want to be left alone about OS updates.
Thanks to KDE neon, I’ve decided that I really like the KDE Plasma desktop environment. Because there are some things about KDE neon that are harder than they should be (IMHO), I’m still distro shopping and am now trying openSUSE Tumbleweed with KDE Plasma.
As of 2022-January-14, my ~$400 HP laptop (discussed below) is set up to dual boot Zorin OS 16 Lite (discussed in the next section) and KDE neon. One of the things I like about KDE neon is that the following keyboard shortcuts work out of the box:
Meta+Shift+→ moves the active window to the next monitor
Meta+PgUp maximizes the active window
|TIL that the Windows key is called the Meta key in some Linux distributions, for example in KDE neon.|
After a couple months of reading, experimenting, shopping, and mulling, I’ve deleted Windows 11 and installed Zorin OS. I’m not sure this will be my ultimate choice for a desktop Linux distribution, but it’s good enough for now.
Because I couldn’t figure out how to easily put a random app or file icon on the Zorin Core GNOME desktop, I’m trying Zorin Lite. The good news is that…
Zorin Lite’s XFCE destop environment does not have this issue and
for me, it’s usually a good idea to use a “light” system so that most of my system resources can be used for the apps and hundreds (literally) of browser tabs I often have open.
this process is overwhelming and time consuming,
and I’ve decided I don’t yet want to (accidentally or on purpose) remove Windows 11 from this computer,
… I’m going to take a break from this decision-making process.
EndeavourOS, which is based on Arch, is a maybe but I have a lot to learn before I can decide yay or nay about this distro.
|TIL that using a USB 2 drive is significantly slower than a USB 3+ drive (both when burning an ISO and when launching a Linux distro).|
I like that it’s called “Impish Indri” (which has the initials ii😃) but probably I’m not going to use this. Details about this Ubuntu release are at discourse.ubuntu.com/t/impish-indri-release-notes/21951.
OMG Windows S Mode is a PITA😱. As of 2021-11-18, I’m trying Linux distributions on this new laptop and I don’t care if I destroy all remnants of Windows 11 that are on it.
BTW, it took me a couple days to figure out that F10 was how to get into the BIOS. I finally got F10 to work by pressing it repeatedly during boot (rather than holding it down).
Before I started using my new computer, I decided I better buy a bunch of USB drives to use for a Windows recovery disk and Linux distribution ISOs. So I went shopping again.
Since this Costco HP Windows 11 S laptop was on sale for $379.99 (instead of $499.99), I bought it with the plan that I would 1) try Windows 11 and 2) use this laptop for Linux. Here are some of its specs:
14" Display (1920 x 1080)
11th Gen Intel Core i3-1125G4 processor
Windows 11 Home in S Mode
This version of Linux Mint is my current first choice for a Linux distribution I might use on my computers.
Nope because it’s a macOS clone and I dislike Apple even more than I dislike Microsoft.
Solus is lovely but I had to do a lot of fiddling to get a configuration I liked, for example I want:
a maximize button on each window
a light theme
My first test was Pop!_OS by System76. I carefully followed the instructions on these pages:
The second page above recommends etcher.io for burning an image to a USB drive. I used this and I was shocked and disappointed to discover that it includes two things that are forcing me to leave Windows:
default auto update (aka phones home)
Despite this disappointment, I tried Pop!_OS and, after sleeping on it, decided this is probably not the distribution for me, mainly because of Etcher, which reminded me that “Oh yeah, system76.com is a for-profit company and probably they are getting a cut of those (and other) ads.”
For more about nix-nux, see Infinite Ink’s…