Deciding on a Desktop Linux Distribution⁠🐧︎
Updated  2022-January-14

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News

2021-November-2  Published this evolving⁠[1] article.

Introduction

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.

 

My nix-nux background

I’ve been using Unix-like operating systems since the 1980s, but most of that experience has been at a command line, including …

I am a newbie to the world of Linux desktop environments (GNOME, Xfce, etc.).

 

Why I want to use desktop Linux now

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.

 

Reverse chronological timeline

2022-01-14:  KDE neon 5.23.5

As of 2022-January-14, my inexpensive 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  in some Linux distributions, for example in KDE neon.

 

2021-12-23+:  Zorin OS

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.

 

Zorin OS logo

 

12-25+  Zorin OS 16 Lite

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…

  1. Zorin Lite’s XFCE destop environment does not have this issue and

  2. 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.

 

12-23:  Zorin OS 16 Core

I tried Zorin OS 16 Core and liked it enough to install it (rather than running it off a USB drive).⁠[2]

💡
TIL that the Windows key is called the Super key in the nix-⁠nux world.

 

2021-11-29:  Taking a break from distro shopping

Since…

  • 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.

 

2021-11-28:  EndeavorOS

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).

 

2021-11-18:  Ubuntu 21.10 (Impish Indri)

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.

 

2021-11-14+:  Playing with my new laptop

OMG Windows S Mode⁠[3] 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.⁠[4] I finally got F10 to work by pressing it repeatedly during boot (rather than holding it down).

 

2021-11-13:  Bought USB drives

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.

 

2021-11-12:  Bought an inexpensive (~$400) HP Windows 11 S laptop

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.

 

2021-11-03:  Linux Mint 20.2 “Uma” Cinammon Edition

This version of Linux Mint is my current first choice for a Linux distribution I might use on my computers.

 

2021-11-03:  Elementary OS 6 “Odin”

Nope because it’s a macOS clone and I dislike Apple even more than I dislike Microsoft.

 

2021-11-03:  Solus 4.3 Budgie

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

 

2021-11-01:  Pop!_OS 21.04

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:

  1. advertisments

  2. 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.”

 

References

See also

Endnotes


1. Many Infinite Ink articles, including this one, are evergreen and regularly updated.
3. According to Microsoft, S Mode is “designed for Security and performance” but to me it means Stupid Mode.⁠🤣
4. Nowadays most computers use an Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) rather than a BIOS firmware interface. For details, see wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Extensible_Firmware_Interface.

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