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Distro Hop or Customize?

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#1 OFFLINE   raymac46


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Posted 09 September 2017 - 08:36 PM

I recently posted here about Distro Farming and pointed out I was still using several different distros - primarily for their desktop look and feel.
Josh quite rightly pointed out that I could just as well choose a distro based on its package manager and after that install whatever desktop I wanted . Linux is after all perfectly modular.
Yet I don't work that way. Maybe it's laziness or lack of skill but I still distro hop to get the desktop I want. Why?
  • Just the defaults, ma'am. I recommend Linux Mint for new users I migrate to Linux. A 90 year old lady doesn't want a customized spin - she just wants a Start button, a few icons on the desktop and a browser to check Facebook and email. Maybe she likes to use Libre Office occasionally. I find that Linux Mint's Cinnamon desktop gives her what she needs and I didn't have to tweak Arch or Debian to get it. Plus it looks great. You can get Cinnamon on many distros but Linux Mint does it best in my opinion.
  • Wow that's purty. I could never get a vanilla Xfce install to look as good as MX-16, Antergos, or Manjaro. I just don't have the designer skills. So I distro hop.
  • Horses for Courses. SuSE and Mageia really do a nice job with Plasma 5. Fedora and Debian have a great GNOME desktop. Each one doesn't look as good with the other guy's specialty. Trust me. I used to use Mandriva with GNOME and it was buggy as heck.
  • Well sometimes it's better to keep it simple,stupid. When I installed Arch on my netbook I just wanted Xfce and a few simple programs for vacation use. I installed exactly what I needed and no more. It doesn't bother me that I don't have a drop dead gorgeous Xfce desktop in this case. I did put in a dark theme and that's about it. I don't think any other distro would have been so customizable - and I wanted to customize.
So that's my story and I'm sticking to it - how about you?
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#2 OFFLINE   saturnian



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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:13 AM

I like KDE in openSUSE -- I don't know if anyone does it better. But I never stay with the default setup. I also like Xfce in MX, but post-install, I'm gonna customize that, too. Same with Openbox in Antergos -- it looked nice and pretty out-of-the-box, but I've moved everything around to suit my own tastes.

I generally prefer to work with the DE (or WM) from "upstream." Like what you get from Arch. I'm not installing for anyone else but me, though. The underlying distro is a lot more important to me than the default setup on the desktop. Half the fun of doing a Linux installation is the post-installation tweaking!

I've been multi-booting (but not using a VM at all); lately, though, I've cut back on the number of distros I use, and I'm mainly going with only Debian, Arch, and a few close derivatives of those (Antergos, for example, but I also have BunsenLabs and MX installed here, at the moment). GParted Live (based on Debian sid) is handy to have around (on a flash drive). I'll probably keep MX around on a flash drive only, to use for live sessions, although MX (like Mepis before it) is nice for doing a quick installation on a spare or test computer.

#3 OFFLINE   Dr. J

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 06:49 AM

I think the way I desktop/distro hop generally aligns with my own personality... I just can't sit still! :teehee:
I did use Manjaro and Xfce for quite a while before switching to KDE, but after I put Debian with KDE on the SSD I quickly switched to MATE, and changed a setting nearly every time I booted up the machine!

To be completely honest, I've distro hopped again... I'm using Ubuntu MATE now. I'd heard a lot about it lately and made the switch to 17.04 a couple of weeks ago, more or less driven by the prospect of using the latest Firefox, instead of the ESR version that Debian ships.

Right now I have it kitted out with Compiz and Plank Dock, and I'm planning on leaving it that way for now...

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On the other hand, my netbook is still running Debian stable with LXDE... I only really use it when I go on holidays, so it generally isn't the machine I happen to be sitting at when I get the urge to fiddle with something... :shifty:

#4 OFFLINE   abarbarian


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Posted 10 September 2017 - 06:59 AM

Well I seem to have caught the Window Maker bug and there are not many distros that come with Window Maker as their default desktop. So I am using Arch as my base because a) I am familiar with it, B) it allows me choose the very few programs I use easily and c) I do not want the hassle of learning say Slackware or Gentoo.

I have set folk up with Mint but lately I have been suggesting MX-16 as it is very stable and updates do not seem to bork installs. Also it is very easy to install to a usb stick with persistence which is very handy as a backup os. This is a most useful feature as with normal usb os's they tend to get out of date quite quickly.
MX-16 looks pretty and I particularly like the bar on the left which can very easily be customised to suit. The distro also comes with just about all the common programs you need and accessing external drives is an easy task. I have it running on my backup pc which is quite old and it runs sweet.

I do not have the time or motivation to distro hop at the moment but I do keep an eye out for news of esoteric distros and will probably have a go at some in the winter.

Over the years I have tried quite a few distros. All the ones running KDE and Elementary both of which look great have all borked up on me and were instrumental in me choosing Arch. I never got on with the Gnome distros partly as when I first looked at  them you could not put the task bar anywhere except at the top of the screen which I did not like at all.

For me as I like to customise and tweak everything I own Arch is the perfect fit as I can set it up exactly as I please. This has been no easy task as I have had some strange hardware combinations to deal with. Which I have managed to fiddle to work after some research and trial and error.

So I am a dedicated customiser with some concessional hopping for fun. :breakfast:
Install ARCH
You'll never need to install it again
"I did and I'm really happy"

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#5 OFFLINE   saturnian



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Posted 10 September 2017 - 09:50 AM

View Postabarbarian, on 10 September 2017 - 06:59 AM, said:

I have set folk up with Mint but lately I have been suggesting MX-16 as it is very stable and updates do not seem to bork installs. Also it is very easy to install to a usb stick with persistence which is very handy as a backup os. This is a most useful feature as with normal usb os's they tend to get out of date quite quickly.

I still have MX-15 on a flash drive. I used home persistence on my MX-14 flash drive. My thinking was that I didn't really use MX live sessions often enough to need root persistence. But I haven't even bothered to use home persistence with the MX-15 flash drive; and I haven't downloaded MX-16, figuring that I'll just wait for the Stretch-based release.

Anyway, I think that MX is a great distro to suggest to people. I have MX-15 installed on my spare/test computer -- and have actually kinda neglected it, not giving it enough attention -- in a dual-boot setup with BunsenLabs "Hydrogen". Both of these are Jessie-based -- the current "oldstable". Both are very nice. I think that going forward, when the Stretch-based releases of those two distros come out, I'll run BunsenLabs on the test computer and keep MX on a flash drive.

#6 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:34 PM

I've been a serious customizer since waaay back in my Win98SE daze. I can do ANYTHING with Slackware (even run Gnome, if I wanted), but it is, of course, not as easy as it is in other distros.

Some of my secrets:

1) I create custom color themes (in Xfce) by modifying code in existing themes.
2) I use GIMP to create custom icons and images.
3) I am a big font whore. I like a lot of variety in my fonts, so I seek out many fonts here and there on the Net that aren't normally included in Xfce vanilla installs. For instance, I have all the Microsoft TTF library installed in my Slackware.
4) I make many of my own custom desktop backgrounds. Sometimes, I just heavily modify others that I find online.

It's all fun. I don't do it as much these days because I have an extensive font library, image library, theme library, etc. that I carry with me from machine to machine over time. I still have some background images that I designed for Win98SE on my current Slackware system. ;)

Below is one of my favorite desktops that I use in Slackware occasionally to freak out my Windows friends into thinking that I'm running Windows again. ;)

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#7 OFFLINE   wa4chq


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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:30 PM

Excellent Eric....  excellent.

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