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Closer to the Heart


raymac46
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I was thinking the other day about how as  Linux users get more experienced, they tend to gravitate away from the "beginner friendly" distros to the more techy "parent" distros like Debian, Slackware, Arch.

Of course, when I was a new user, even Ubuntu was not all that "beginner friendly" unless you had a CD in hand and were connected by Ethernet. I can remember burning a few coasters, and a download was excruciating with low bandwidth Internet. Also wifi was a piece of work. No Network Manager if you wanted decent WPA encryption - you had to fiddle in the Terminal. And don't even get me started on Broadcom. Fortunately for a new user today that is just a bunch of old war stories. It's plug and play with Mint or Ubuntu nowadays.

So why does a more veteran penguin head over to the parent side of things? I can think of a few reasons:

  • Control. Maybe the default setup doesn't excite us, and it's easier to build up from the base than to add to or tear down an install. Adding LXQt to GNOME for example brings in quite a lot of overhead you may not need.
  • Customization. Either you don't want what the beginner friendly distro has done, or you want to modify it. The parent distro makes that easier.
  • Freedom to break it and repair it. By now you probably have experienced a creash or two and you have learned to back up your data just in case. You'll also know if a simple chroot repair or nuke and repave is the way to fix things.
  • Sense of accomplishment. A Debian netinstall or an Arch install isn't rocket science, but it does take a bit of knowhow to understand the steps, and you feel great when it works.
  • Always learning something new. Whether it's configuring Conky or setting up a Reflector service with systemd, it keeps you interested with a hands-on distro.

I continue to run Linux Mint because it's great for people who are coming from Windows, and if I install LM  for a friend or family I want to be able to support it. But for my own use, it's Debian or Arch.

 

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securitybreach

Yes and no. While a lot of user start with "easier" distros, some of us jumped in head first into Slackware and later Archlinux. 

 

That said, most people do not realize that you can make any distro look and act like any other distro. The only thing that differs is the package manager and even then, you can change that on certain distros. Like you can install apt on arch.

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I was the opposite.  I started out using several versions of Slackware including floppies lol, Debian sarge, RedHat 7...RedHat7 was a pain. I was still figuring out the partioning thing... I think I bought RH at Office Max....  next bought Suse something....  but I always went back to Slackware.  Years later I did try Ubuntu but didn't care for it.  Today, my Thinkpad is split, Slackware 14.2 and MX19.  I'm using MX19 90% of the time.  But one thing I forgot to mention.  Back in them early daze, I would finally complete the install.  Then I'd set up the modem for dial-up internet.  Then I would start tricking it out, installing every package that was available lol.....then it would break!  I did that a lot...lol.... 

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I started off in computers back when we had the OS on one 8" floppy and the programs and data on another.  Of course, everything was text.  No such thing as GUI.  And it galls me when I think about how much of my resources are wasted on "pretty pictures".  But now, at 81 yrs old, I'm no longer enamored with the "nuts and bolts"'.  I'm quite happy to be able to "point and click" rather than having to reach for my keyboard and type in commands.  I'll leave Arch and Slack to the younger folks and click away happily with my Mint box.😉

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I started with Ubuntu. Then I got an old Compaq Armada laptop which could only run a deprecated version of Vector Linux or the fans wouldn't run. When I got another old Dell Optiplex desktop for multiboot and distro hopping, the boys here walked me through a Slackware install. However Slack never stuck with me mostly because I feared dependency heck and I didn't like KDE 3.6.X at the time.

Later I tried out Mandriva with the GNOME 2 desktop but it was buggy. When Ubuntu went to GNOME 3 I decamped to Linux Mint.

Later on I tried out antiX on some old 32 bit netbooks. By this time I had circled back to GNOME 3 on Debian. I still run Debian Bullseye on a Thinkpad from 2013 or so.

Lately I uninstalled MX Linux on another old laptop and installed Arch Linux. I am keeping MX Linux on a thumbdrive as a rescue install. Posting this note from it now.

I plan to continue with Linux Mint, Debian Bullseye, and Arch for a while. That should keep me busy enough.

 

 

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Hedon James
3 hours ago, securitybreach said:

Yes and no. While a lot of user start with "easier" distros, some of us jumped in head first into Slackware and later Archlinux. 

 

That said, most people do not realize that you can make any distro look and act like any other distro. The only thing that differs is the package manager and even then, you can change that on certain distros. Like you can install apt on arch.

 

Huh?  What?

 

First of all, you can?!  2nd of all, what are some reasons someone might do that?  Inasmuch as the Arch repos, and AUR, are designed to work with Pacman, why install and USE apt?  I'm curious, and hoping to learn something new?

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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, after much nagging and pushing from Urmas and another pal (Sweet Lou) from my Private Forum, I finally installed Ubuntu 6.06 in summer of 2006. After playing with it for just a short while, I started branching out to other distributions. My first non-Ubuntu experience was with Debian 3.14 (Sarge). The N-curses installer almost made me pee myself. I did get it installed though.

 

Shortly thereafter, I bought a few books on Linux. Then came the day when I ran across Slackware. This all happened within 4 - 6 weeks of installing that Ubuntu, you understand. I also showed up here about that time, again at the behest of friend Urmas, who had ranted and raved about a fellow here named Bruno Knaapen. Some of you may remember him. ;)

 

After Bruno taught me a couple quick tricks and about this or that, he made a comment to me one night here at Scot's (it's still in the archived posts somewhere around here), "Eric, you'd make a really good Slacker." And the rest, as they say, is history. I first installed Slackware because of the old adage, "If you want to just use Linux install Ubuntu. If you want to LEARN Linux, install Slackware." And that I did. It's like a comfortable ol' bedroom slipper nowadays. I couldn't imagine using another distribution.

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V.T. Eric Layton

P.S. I never had any Dependency Heck issues in all the years I've run Slackware. However, that is mostly because I can use Slack out-of-the-box. I rarely need software that is outside of the Slackware repos. When that occasionally does happen, though, SlackBuilds are a wonderful thing. :)

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I think one of the great things about BATL is that - aside from lack of ego - there is at least one contributing person who if not an expert is a steady enough user on a given distro. That means that any question you may have can get an answer or a suggestion where to look for one - right here.

And no I don't want advice on how to install apt in Arch. I do remember when Synaptic was used in PCLOS although it was otherwise a spinoff from Mandrake.

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Hedon James

I did a LOT of research before I jumped into the Linux pool, but started to realize quickly that I didn't know enough to know what I didn't know.  Distro research was a rabbit hole!  But long story short, I started my Linux experience with Ubuntu 9.04; upgraded to 10.04 once I learned about LTS, and pretty much stayed in that Ubuntu camp until recently.  But PCLOS was one of my early forays into distro-hopping.  I really liked PCLOS, and still find it intriguing.  Fun fact, PCLOS is an RPM DISTRO, but uses APT for package management.  You got that?  APT package management for a ROLLING RELEASE(!) distro that employs RPM software packaging!!!!  As far as I know, it's the only distro that does that?! 

 

While that's an interesting setup, it's one of the things that keeps me from using that distro as a full-time daily driver.  The second thing is that it's driven by a single guy, Bill "Texstar" Reynolds, who is rumored to have health issues on occasion.  I don't know what the "second line" of developers looks like in PCLOS.  When/if Texstar is no longer driving the distro, will the distro be able to continue in his absence, or will it crash & burn, like the Mandrake distro it's descended from?  While it's got everything else I want in a distro, those 2 issues are deal-breakers for me....at least for the time being.  But PCLOS continues to hover in the background, and everytime I open my mind to a distro decision, PCLOS starts whispering in my ear again...

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Mandriva lives on in a distro called Mageia which in my view is sadly unappreciated. That said, I have no plans to run yet another package management system and Mageia has a bad habit of crashing in VirtualBox.

I did give PCLOS a spin in my distro hopping days and the DE was very nice. However I found it to be a funky, rather idiosyncratic distro. I had my problems with updates. There was no update schedule to speak of, and then you'd get a massive number of packages that took forever to acquire on my (then) low bandwidth. After all that, my system was entirely borked. I was too new at the time to do anything but nuke and repave, so I moved on to something a bit more reliable.

Single player distros can thrive (like Slackware) or crash and burn (like SimplyMepis) - who knows? But I think I prefer something with a community behind it.

 

 

 

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It is so much easier to choose a distro these days. Any of the 'buntus, LM, OpenSUSE, MX-Linux, POP! OS, or even Fedora will likely be fine for a new user. There are excellent YouTube videos which show the look and feel and give good advice on which one would be best for you. The most important choice may be which package manager you like.

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I started out with the penguins as I had bought a secondhand pc that unbeknown to me had a pirated version of XP on it. I could not afford a legal copy at that time (eventually I bought a legal copy of XP and customised it to suit and apart from some blue screens I found it to be a very nice os) but saw a article on the free linux distros and how you could customise them to suit yourself. Great I thought as there were a few things I did not like about how XP was set up.

So I tried Ubuntu with Gnome. However you I could find no way to get rid of the task bar at the top of the screen. So that was dumped.

Mandriva caught my eye with the fabulous can do everything and is as pretty as can be KDE most modern version. It was pretty , it could do all sorts of neat stuff , it was modern  and it kept crashing nearly as offten as Windows. That got dumped.

Tried a Puppy . Nice but like a real puppy it needed a lot of care and attention.

Tried a Knoppix, asked a question on thier forum and the developer himself replied. Was most impressed and still think it is a great distro.

I was pointed towards Scots by Urmas and advised that Arch may be what I was looking for.

An by gum it were.

I find it reliable and it has done everything I need. Takes very little maintenance as long as you keep an eye out on the latest updates and follow advisory info. I use it as my daily driver with MX as my secondary os.

 

😎

Edited by abarbarian
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Some interesting posts in this thread. Many of you are smarter (or braver) than I am. You have jumped right in to the more advanced distros fairly early on.

I am a fairly techy person, and I have a more than 50 year history of working with computers. However in all that time IT was a means for me to do something else - scientific calculations, costing of prototypes, statistics in production, even Web surfing. Even my recent applied knowledge of networking came about because my family needed to share wifi bandwidth when they visited.

I got into Linux because I needed to replace Windows Me on an old desktop and didn't want to pay for an XP licence. I probably would still happily be using GNOME 2 had Canonical not decided to move my cheese. Of course being retired I have more time for investigations into persistent USB sticks and what-not. Plus the folks here are willing to help out if I want to learn more about the advanced distros or novel DEs. 

It's been a fun ride.

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I never used it but I remember seeing Caldera back in the day.  Abarbarian mentioned Knoppix.  I remember burning that onto a disk.  That was kinda like the Swiss Army Knife of the Linux distros...in fact I think the book they had out called it that.

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I came at things very slowly. I messed around for about a year on a notebook that came preinstalled with Linspire. I was also toying around with Knoppix. At the time I was still using Windows for work, and I was too busy to do much with Linux. Later, Mepis was the first distro I installed on my own.

 

That's one reason why "easy" distros are so important. Lots of folks simply don't have the time to really learn Linux. There are too many other things higher on the list of priorities, sometimes. I had heard about the 10,000 hour rule, and I figured I'd take my time and "get there" eventually.

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I must be getting old and forgetful.

 

I remembered that I had used Mandriva but had forgotten that I used it as my main driver for two years back in 2008 to 2010. I must have been very stubborn back in those days.

 

I had forgotten that I had also used the super Kanotix. As I recall I would have used it as my main os but at the time I was still learning all about the basics of linux and their main forum was in german. They did have an english forum but it was pretty small and in those days I needed loads of information quickly. I did keep Kanotix around on a usb drive for quite a long time and used it as my get out of jail os when things went bottoms up with other os's and I needed rescuing. I only had the one pc back then so a Live os was a must have.

 

KANOTIX Home site

 

I was quite taken with the distro and did a very comprehensive walkthrough with detailed screenshots of every step.

 

Installing Kanotix to a USB HDD with a /home partition .

 

I was tinkering with the idea of trying to make some loot as a penguin promoter but life seems to have got in the way of that as it does. Still it was a pretty good first effort even if I say so myself considering how little I knew about penguins. 😎

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It seems crazy to me now, but for many of my new-to-Linux years I made the choice of distro based on the default DE packaged with it. When I first came here most of the members were solidly in the KDE category, whereas I used GNOME and Xfce. I did not move away from Ubuntu until GNOME3 came out. That is when I did some distro hopping and eventually ended up with Linux Mint. There is some method to my madness because normally the mainstream distro developer does a desktop like Cinnamon better than anyone else.

Nowadays I would choose based on the package manager. Pacman is fantastic and the latest APT is pretty good. Hence I find myself using Arch Linux with LXQt. I also find that GNOME3 is quite a lot better than I thought originally so I use that with Debian.

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I've always had some sort of live O/S around to save my butt. However I have never been a fan of using a USB key for long. In my early days I had a special test PC and chainloaded a bunch of distros. Then I moved on to testing in VirtualBox. Now I just chill and install one distro per machine. It's all good.

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1 hour ago, raymac46 said:

Nowadays I would choose based on the package manager. Pacman is fantastic and the latest APT is pretty good. Hence I find myself using Arch Linux with LXQt. I also find that GNOME3 is quite a lot better than I thought originally so I use that with Debian.

 

Yeah, pacman and apt are great.

 

I stuck with Synaptic for years in Debian, Kubuntu, and any other Debian derivatives I've used. I'm no longer using a GUI front-end at all, doing all package management from the command line. I keep cheat sheets on-hand for pacman and apt, but I mostly pull up the commands from History (Ctrl+R for "reverse-i-search", I love it!).

 

I'd probably stick with only Arch and Debian at this point, but I still enjoy using Kubuntu LTS, and I like having access to the Ubuntu repos. (If that snaps stuff gets pushed on me too hard, I think I'll drop Kubuntu, though! So far I've simply removed all that stuff, and there have been no issues with apps I've installed bringing any of it back in.) I may end up running KDE Plasma in Debian Stable instead.

 

But, yeah, for me it really is about those two package managers, pacman and apt. I don't know which I like better, I just really like them both.

 

I liked GNOME 3 almost from the start. The one time I didn't get along with it so well, it was my first look at it in Fedora, which I think was the first distro to have it. That changed with the next Fedora release, as I recall, and I've enjoyed it and felt comfortable with it ever since.

Edited by saturnian
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securitybreach

Yeah. Besides pacman, I have always been a fan of apt over other offerings. I guess its because I have more experience with apt over things like rpms and such.

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GNOME3 has a lot of nice features but there was a learning curve for those of us who had used GNOME2 for some time. I felt a bit like the Windows 8 users did - where's my Start button? The GNOME3 folks were slagged a lot, and it seemed to me that they thought they knew better than anyone else about how to use a DE. Certainly the fact that some major players abandoned GNOME3 had something to do with my bias against it. Im sure a lot of KDE3 users felt the same about Plasma when it first shipped.

I'm still not a fan of vanilla GNOME3 but the extensions make it quite palatable. Even my wife uses it without complaining.

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securitybreach

I was a fan of Gnome in the 2.x days and KDE in the 3.x days. By the time they changed, I was already using window managers.

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Hedon James
On 3/20/2021 at 8:34 AM, raymac46 said:

It seems crazy to me now, but for many of my new-to-Linux years I made the choice of distro based on the default DE packaged with it. When I first came here most of the members were solidly in the KDE category, whereas I used GNOME and Xfce. I did not move away from Ubuntu until GNOME3 came out. That is when I did some distro hopping and eventually ended up with Linux Mint. There is some method to my madness because normally the mainstream distro developer does a desktop like Cinnamon better than anyone else.

Nowadays I would choose based on the package manager. Pacman is fantastic and the latest APT is pretty good. Hence I find myself using Arch Linux with LXQt. I also find that GNOME3 is quite a lot better than I thought originally so I use that with Debian.

 

Again, my journey and my thought processes were similar.  I came from Windows XP and Windows 7, and KDE looked like a super-polished and slick version of Windows....if Linux was as stable as I heard, this Linux OS thing was gonna suit me just fine.  Then I discovered Gnome 2.x and had an "AHA!!!" moment.  There was no "getting used to it", it clicked right away.  Gnome2 made sense...I read from top left to bottom right, and Gnome2 layout accommodated that.  I had never thought about that until I experienced it, and I loved it right away.  The bottom taskbar, with menu that reads up, was stupid....how did this ever catch on?  Gnome2 was genius, and it was STABLE...the Linux thing was GAME ON!!!  Eventually, I checked out XFCE and LXDE, with similar layouts, but Gnome2 seemed more complete and polished.  I especially liked the NautilusFM and its Samba "share" plugin features.  Considering what a PITA it had been to setup network shares in Windows, this was a killer feature for me.

 

Things were good for 2-3 years until Ubuntu introduced the Unity layout.  HATED IT!  There was NO WAY I was using that horrible interface....why couldn't they leave perfection alone?  I started checking out other DEs and realized Gnome3 was even worse, IMO.  WTH was going on in Linux land, changing perfect desktop layouts into lesser versions of themselves?!  Looked at XFCE and LXDE again, but that built-in Samba share of NautilusFM was just too good to give up on.  While I was doing all this, I was starting to understand, grow accustomed to, and actually LIKE the Unity interface...indeed, WTH is going on here?!  That was about the time I got a new monitor, and the industry was in the middle of a shift from 4:3 ratios to 16:9 ratios, and all of a sudden, the Unity layout made more sense.  The top and bottom panels in a Gnome2 layout, stretched across a wide screen, gave the appearance of a "minimal viewing area" for work; while the left-handed launcher bar seemed to solve that problem.  Plus I could access those programs in ONE click, rather than TWO.  I became a Unity fan.

 

But Unity seemed to get heavier, more bloated, and less responsive with each release.  About the time 16.04 LTS came around, I had enough.  Started looking around again and discovered that Ubuntu Mate had a very polished desktop that returned the Gnome2 looking desktop, but had an alternate layout called Mutiny, which was a Mate Unity layout.  I was pretty pleased with that, but before I made my final decision, wanted to investigate LXDE further, as I read a random blog some guy put together about "How to create your own custom LXDE desktop".  I immediately figured out how to customize LXDE panels to make them look like Unity.  Easy peasy.  Replicating Samba network sharing with PCManFM was a little more involved, but do-able, and with those 2 hurdles cleared, I was SHOCKED to see a fully functioning LXDE Unity-look-alike hovering at around 170-180MB from boot.  This was about HALF the Ubuntu Mate Mutiny desktop.  That was the exact moment I became an LXDE man.  I wasn't looking for lightweight, just "lighter weight", and once I stumbled onto the notion I immediately saw the wisdom of running fully-featured softwares on lightweight DEs.  I've been there ever since.

 

I would easily continue with LXDE.  It's lightweight, fully featured, and probably the most stable DE I've experienced in Linux.  But it's based on the GTK2 toolkit, and I can see the handwriting on the wall.  Either GTK2 gets bumped to GTK3, or GTK2 becomes less and less stable, possibly extinct.  And the main developer of LXDE, the main developer of PCManFM, decided that QT was a better path forward for his vision of PCManFM and the LX desktop.  It's only been in the past 12 months that LXQT finally got to the place that I consider it to be fully useable for my tastes.  But here we are....I'm now an LXQt man, running on Debian 10 (Buster); which is a long way from Gnome2 on Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackaloupe?).....or is it?  LOL!

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@HJ I like LXQt a lot but I've got the setup with the bottom taskbar that looks like Cinnamon. Horses for courses. It's not that lightweight as with the basic desktop and Conky running I have around 580 MB. I can remember how happy I was to have my old Dell Dimension 4100 with a tricked out 512 MB of RAM.

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