Which Linux Do I Turn To In My Hour of Need?

RIP Ubuntu. Ubuntu was great. For years, I kept trying to get my own Linux box up and running, initially so I could relive the halcyon days of UNIX and later so I could avoid Windows. But every time I tried to get Linux working some key thing would not be configurable or would not work. Well, I'm sure it was configurable and could work but configuring it and making it work was beyond me. Those were also the days when what little support was available on the Internet was limited mostly to the sort of geeks who prefer to give answers that are harder to parse than one's original problem. In other words, studied unhelpfulness was all that was available to the novice. Then, one day, two or three forms of Linux that were supposed to be installable and usable by the average computer-savvy person came on the scene at once, including Suse Linux, some thing called Lindows or Winlux or something, and Ubuntu. I tried the first two because they seemed to have more support, and I got results, but the results still sucked. Meanwhile, I has a computer working on downloading an install disk for this strange African thing, Ubuntu, which seemed to have a problem with their server being really slow. But, because it was South African, and at the time I was living about one fifth the time in South Africa, I thought that was cool so I stuck with it.

Eventually, I had a usable install disk for Ubuntu, I installed it, it worked. I installed it on a laptop as a dual boot system with Windows, and on a spare desktop. Within a few months, I installed it on my main desktop instead of Windows, and a few months after that, I realized that I had never booted up the Windows system on the dual boot laptop, so I reconfigured that computer to be Linux only. And that was it.

Ubuntu was based on a version of Linux called Debian. There are many Linux families out there, but the two biggies are Debian and Red Hat/Fedora. The former is very non-commercial and very free-as-in-software free Open Sourcey, while the latter is all that but also has a significant business model. People like to pay for their operating systems, so Red Hat/Fedora gave large companies and institutions the opportunity to pay for what was really free, and in so doing, they would get (paid for) support and training.

In a way, Debian is what makes Linux go around, and Fedora Linux is what makes the world (of the internet, etc.) go around. Sort of.

Debian and Fedora are two different systems in a number of fundamental ways. All Linux families use the same kernels, the underlying deep part of the system. But this kernel is associated with a bunch of other stuff that makes for a complete system. This includes the way in which software is installed, upgraded, or removed, and some other stuff. Each family has it's own (very similar) version of the original UNIX file system, and so on. Back when I was first messing around, I did get to play with Fedora and its system a bit, and I quickly came to like Debian's system better than Red Hat/Fedora, especially because of the software management system (apt/synaptic) which I thought worked much better than the Fedora system (yum).

As I said, Ubuntu was based on Debian, but from the very start, Ubuntu included some differences from the standard. For example, the exact configuration of the underlying file system was different. The original Debian file system was there so that software would know what to do, but everything in that file system (or almost everything) was a pointer to the Ubuntu file system. This actually made messing around under the hood difficult until, eventually, a strong Ubuntu-only community developed. You would see people refer to Ubuntu as opposed to Linux, which is a noob mistake and wrong, but over time, in fact, Ubuntu, even though it was based on Debian, became fundamentally different from both Debian and Red Hat/Fedora to the extent that it really had to be thought of as a different family of Linux.

And that was fine as long as Ubuntu was doing what most other Linux systems did, meaning, remain configurable, don't change the work flow or how things operate too dramatically, don't make up new ways of doing things just to make everyone upgrade to a new product, don't try to be Windows, don't try to be a Mac, and always follow the UNIX Philosophy, more or less. Over the last several months, though, Ubuntu has in my view, and the view of many, jumped the shark. It may well be that future new desktop users will appreciate Ubuntu as a system, and that's great. If Ubuntu continues to bring more people into the fold, then I support the idea. I just don't want it on my computers any more.

I have a desktop that I've not upgraded in way too many releases because I've not liked the new versions of Ubuntu. I have a laptop that I upgraded to the most current version of Ubuntu, then undid a lot of the features, and I'm using the desktop Xfce instead of Unity, the desktop that Ubuntu installs by default. And, I want to put Linux on a G5 Power PC.

So, this is the part where I ask for suggestions. I have a feeling that there will be more suggestions on Google+ when I post this there, so please be warned: I'll transfer actual suggestions from G+ over to the original blog post comments sections, at least in the beginning of this discussion, unless a commenter tells me not to.

The following table shows what I want to do. Notice the question marks. There is an advantage to having the same system on all three machines, but that is not a requirement. The desktop has two monitors, and assume I want to run a 64 bit system on it, and the laptop is a bit slow. The primary uses for all the computers are simple: Web browser and running emacs for text writing, and a handful of homemade utilities for managing graphics and files, and a bit of statistical processing with R-cran now and then.

So, what do I fill into this table?

Hardware Base System (Ubuntu, Fedora, Etc)? Desktop
Older intel dual core HP workstation ? ?
Dell laptop ? ?
Mac G4 PowerPC ? ?

I'm intentionally avoiding a lot of details. I'll get a new graphics card for the desktop if I need it, and other adjustments can be made. Also, this workstation may well get replaced with a different computer that makes less noise than a Boeing 747 taking off during a hurricane. The point is, desktop with dual monitors running a 64 bit system.

What do you think?

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I've been very happy with Linux Mint KDE.

But I have told you that before. Using Plasmoids in place of filling up my desktop as I did before was a bit confusing at first but now it makes sense.

By Michael Haubrich (not verified) on 29 Sep 2012 #permalink

I'd have to agree that Ubuntu has stumbled recently, but I'm not yet ready to count it out. My experience with Ubuntu is that it goes through cycles where it tries something new, introduces new problems and bugs, irons out the problems, and ends up better. I keep thinking I might learn to like Unity, but so far I admit that I am just putting up with it. I'm pretty patient, so unless Ubuntu really really screws up, I'll stick with it for a couple more releases.

If/when you make a switch, I'll be interested to see what you pick.

Mike: Mint-KDE questions for you:
1. Is there a plasmoids "how-to"? The very concept confuses me, though it seems like it shouldn't.
2. Are there major releases for Mint like there are in Ubuntu?
2a. How disruptive are they if so?
2b. Are they "backwardly disruptive" like they are in Ubuntu (i.e. will I be forced to gin up a repository hack just to get a new version of software that I need that isn't "supported" in my current version, or is this just a non-feature that's inherited from Debian)?

By John Moeller (not verified) on 29 Sep 2012 #permalink

Arch Linux on the desktop + laptop, fast, simple, not bloated and rolling release means you stay up to date while also not having this problem again in the future. Doesn't take long to learn basic tasks and you reap many benefits from learning them. Have a play with the different DE/WM combinations to see which you prefer, personally I use awesome on everything as I find it extremely efficient without sacrificing anything important. But, you can just as easily install something like KDE or XFCE. Maybe try out E17, see if that suits your needs. Good luck!

I find Ubuntu 12.04 pretty slick, although Unity does get me annoyed at times with it's lack of configurability. Other stuff just works though, like wifi, on-the-fly dual monitors and virtual machines (using the LXC system).

So I'd suggest sticking with ubuntu and change the window manager to what you like.

By Nick Andrew (not verified) on 29 Sep 2012 #permalink

Gentoo... enough said ;)

By Robb Dawson (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

Have you thought about using a BSD? I would suggest using PC-BSD since how stable FreeBSD it is based on is stable. However, I think I would wait since version 9.1 is about to be release for both FreeBSD and PC-BSD.

By Kerry Chhim (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

Any of the Mandriva forks, Mageia for example with it's KDE desktop, or ROSA, also with KDE desktop. Mandrake/Mandriva was the original easy to use distribution, that Ubuntu strove mightily to emulate, The Mandriva forks continue that tradition.

By tracyanne (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

I just switched to Lubuntu. This seems to give all the advantages of Ubuntu while side stepping the whole unity fiasco. A lot less eye candy but I prefer to save my processing power for apps & resent it being swallowed up by the desktop interface.


1 http://ubuntu.paslah.com/the-kde-4-desktop/">Here is a tutorial for the plasma desktop and plasmoids. and it is straightforward.

2. Mint releases updates on the same schedule as Ubuntu, since they share repositories. One big difference is that Mint upgrading is a matter of backing up data and saving software selections and then running a clean install and restoring data. The MInt Backup tool makes this relatively painless.

I found this disruptive at first, but it certainly avoided conflicts. You may need to add a repository to your sources list in order to get a new version of a package installed. I haven't run into that, but I am sure that your needs are different from mine.

If you don't want to go with KDE, Cinnamon is very cool and it is maturing very quickly. MATE is also available for mint if you prefer that route.

The next release (14) is coming out in November. As with Ubuntu there are LTS releases and Mint follows the Ubuntu schedule.

Mint isn't going to do the Amazon integration.

By Michael Haubrich (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

Note to Greg: Would NatGeo allow you to turn on the "Edit my comment feature?" Be nice to be able to fix that link.

By Michael Haubrich (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

If you want all three systems to be the same I wouldn't go for Mint. The x86 versions of Mint are based on Ubuntu, the PPC version you need for the G4 is based on Debian.
I would rather recommend to go for plain Debian, either with KDE or XFCE, depending on how much RAM you have in the G4.

Your Ubuntu experience reminds me of my own. I have recently tried Scientific Linux, and CentOS because they have very long support cycles. They have both been rock solid, but updates seem to take forever, and like you, I prefer the Synaptic approach to pkg mgmt. I'm typing this on a beta version of Ubuntu Gnome remix, but it runs slow on this laptop, so my next stop is the cinnamon version of Linux Mint, and if that doesnt work, then Debian Wheezy with xfce. Can't wait to read what you decide. Good Luck.

Bodhi Is based on ubuntu but has a whole different feel to it. It uses the enlightenment desktop. It is fast and very usable. Baring that you might as well stick with Debian!

From G+:

James KaraganisYesterday 9:27 PM (edited)
I've been using Linux Mint on my desktops, and headless Ubuntu server for my server machines. Mint offers a number of different GUIs right out of the box.

I too was a Ubuntu desktop user until they got ... weird. The server package is quite nice, however.

Michael Lopez Yesterday 9:26 PM
Can't help u my halcyon days are over, went Mac.

James Karaganis Yesterday 9:27 PM
+Michael Lopez Oh. I'm sorry.

Greg Laden Yesterday 9:28 PMEdit
Macs are great, and I even use one. But we're talking about the Linux boxes right now!

Greg Laden Yesterday 9:29 PMEdit
Ubuntu server is a distinct possibility. One can throw any desktop on that. But why not just use Debian then?

James Karaganis Yesterday 9:30 PM
There's a new OpenSUSE out, I've heard, but I've not had a chance to evaluate it yet. I always did like that distro.

James Karaganis Yesterday 9:33 PM (edited)
I'd give Mint a shot. It's Debian/Ubuntu-based, but they've taken the GUIs in a more traditional direction. Very polished for a Linux distro.

Mark Hughes Yesterday 9:59 PM
In the same place. Giving xfce a try and praying that unity gets hugely better--because it sucks now.

Adam Alexander Yesterday 10:17 PM
Personally, I prefer CentOS (Red Hat). It's the distro that's on the servers I use at work as well as VMs to simulate dev environments, I'm strongly considering moving my work's desktop to it, and once I'm fed up enough with Ubuntu to go through the trouble of installing a different OS, it's what I'll be using at home.

Mike Allred Yesterday 10:19 PM
+Lubuntu is my current favorite.

Hervé Musseau1:40 AM
I switched to Mint (Cinnamon) as well, for the same reason. Hated Unity (still do, when I use my folks' computer), was spending a lot of time uninstalling and replacing too many components, and declining to upgrade. I liked several features of Ubuntu, though, especially apt and the large number of available programs (including the .deb ones) and the large community, so I looked to Mint. After trying the popular Mate version (derived from Gnome 2) and the less popular but more future-oriented Cinnamon one (from Gnome 3), I went with the latter one. Had some trouble with a rather high end graphics card (fanless 7750) but that's also because I wanted to stay with FOSS drivers (it worked with ATI's, but I don't much like their drivers), so I downgraded rather than troubleshoot; until there's big games for the platform (Valve may help with that) it will probably remain so. I had very little to adapt from standard release to fit my needs. I even used my old /home without trouble.

Wherever you live one fifth of the time now, see if there's any local putting together a distro, and choose that.

istok: Apparently that point needs clarification. Working in the post-apartheid New South Africa on anthropological research, conservation, and social justice, one tends to want to support the local businesses.

It's only just getting going, but Manjaro is already looking very good. It's an Arch derivative that comes with Xfce (primary), KDE and Gnome desktop versions. I've put it on my main laptop in place of Kubuntu.

Yes, agree with you. Ubuntu has improved a lot these days. I personally love Unity a lot. It has improved my productivity. The dash and lenses are very revolutionary ideas. HUD is also worth mentioning. In-fact, I feel all other desktops (even Windows 7) as outdated after using Ubuntu.

By Deekshith Allamaneni (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

what do you mean by " Within a few months, I installed [Ubuntu] on my main desktop instead of Linux" ?

By cornel panceac (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

First of all I am not sure why this showed up on lxer, but in deciding on a Distro you need to consider these points:

(1) how much work you want or how lazy you want to be
(2) the community
(3) the eco system
(4) the desktop

From an eco system standpoint I consider Mint (except for LMDE), Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and every other distro that is binary compatible with Ubuntu to be part of the Ubuntu eco system.

Rip Ubuntu? If Ubuntu were ever to truly die, then all the distros built on top of them would suffer. Every Mint install is a win for the Ubuntu eco system.

If you like the Ubuntu eco system, then choose a different desktop if you don't like Unity. Many people like Mint (which is also great for people who want to get to work and not fuss with the OS).

Based on your background and preferences, I would say go with something based on Ubuntu, but using the desktop that you resonate to the most. Debian has a lot in common with Ubuntu (apt-get for example) so if you had a server, Debian Squeeze would be a natural.

With respect to yum versus apt-get, I find them to be functionally equivalent. I can install software successfully using either, depending on the distro I am using at the time.

mint cinnamon

cornel: Error ... fixed. Instead of Windows. I just don't like to type that word, I guess.

I like Linux Mint with Cinnamon 1.6 a lot - but it's based on Ubuntu and I also look into alternatives. On my 2. computer I play with Sabayon Linux 10 KDE - based on Gentoo quite user friendly and rolling. IThe idea for the moment is to stay as a solid main workstation with Linux Mint 13 (5 years support) and if the second computer doesn't roll anymore ... I just reinstall it :)

sjt: Manjaro sounds interesting.

Mat, my posts often show up on Lyxer. I suppose because it is an aggregator for Linux related posts. Like this one.

By "RIP Unbuntu" I mean in my house. Please note that I also state that Ubuntu seems to be liked by lots of people and I said very positive things about this.

As I said, it is not the Ubuntu ecosystem I like. I do, however, like the Debian ecosystem, of which Ubuntu seems to have been a subset for quite some time.

I may well go with Ubuntu, but I remain concerned that the underlying setup (beneath the desktop) will be oriented towards the apparently evolving (into a form I don't like) Ubuntu approach.

Mike: Note to Greg: Would NatGeo allow you to turn on the “Edit my comment feature?” Be nice to be able to fix that link. I've given up on making suggestions to National Geographic. Unless something is deeply broken, in which caste they do a good job at fixing it, there is no use in making suggestions that would improve the site. I've done it numerous times and all m suggestions are summarily ignored.

Give Linux Mint 13 XFCE a try and youll find it offers what you need yet is still configuarable yet uses resources smartly. It runs as light as Lubuntu or LM12 LXDE yet has XFCE and far more features built in plus a lot more polish than Xubuntu 12.04.

Bodhi 2.1 is excellent and just as light wattOS R6.

I run Kubuntu 12.04 for my everyday OS and its been quite the workhorse plus it allows whatever level of configuration or feature change you wish yet remains easy to use and update. KDE 4.9.1 so far has been far more resource friendly.

By crosscourt (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

I've avoided all the controversy over Gnome3 and Unity by just using Knoppix(or Kanotix or Aptosid) from the beginning.

-As easy to install as a live DVD - no wasting time configuring your packages.
-Access to huge Debian repository.
-Can dual-boot a Squeeze and a Wheezy,and just chroot into whatever one you need.




Overall I personally find it a little easier than Arch,a little less buggy than LMDE,less invasive than Ubuntu, and it's worked for me for years.

I agree with the auther on both Linux discussed here, Though I much prefer openSUSE. As they say, different strokes for different folks..

By Stephen Green (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

sudo apt-get install gnome-panel
log out, change to gnome classic log in
works for me

I have found ubuntu to be a good all around desktop distro. I have many aging boxes lying around, and have been able to run it on what constitutes "ancient" machines. I like unity when it came out with 11.04, but then next release unity was too quirky, but Linux is all about choices so no need to suffer with a desktop you hate, and I tried gnome shell and actually fell in love with its simplicity. I've got an old Dell Precision with a P4 processor and ubuntu 12.04 runs just fine on it. Have an older Dell Precision laptop with CoreDuo processor evil Broadcom wi-fi chipset, runs great on it. Ubuntu is wonderful if you happen to run a BUSINESS and need something non-windows that will allow you to accomplish most of what a buisness needs to do WITHOUT having to resort to Windows. Which is my case - I am a Linux person but my clients all use Windows. I get along just fine with ubuntu and my clients have no clue I don't use Windows... :)

I'd use Pinguy OS for the desktop, or if you want something similar to Ubuntu, there is Linux Mint, which works best with the Cinnamon DE. If you like XFCE, you can try Xubuntu as well. i would also recommend checking out Ubuntu 12.10 when it comes out.

By Distro Jumper (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink


Quite a crowd of exUbuntuers has adopted Mint. I have been using Lisa for a while now on my laptop, with the 'Classic gnome' setting. I understand that Mate has become quite mature, and I have just downloaded Maya/Mate.
I plan to install Mint on both desktop and laptop.

My Desktop is still running Ubuntu 10.10...gack. I've been very happy with Mint (Lisa), I'm looking forward to having both machines back to running the same OS. Maya is a LTS version, and I probably will keep it until 2017.

Linux Mint Debian Edition amd64 with XFCE on all three computers.

I'm an IT professional with over ten years experience in GNU/Linux. My company specializes in 100% FOSS solutions for professional clients like schools, administrations, small companies, etc. Desktop and server solutions are all based on Slackware Linux. I've been working with RHEL, CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu LTS in the past, but now, it's 100% Slackware. I just don't want any other system on any one of my machines anymore.


By Niki Kovacs (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

Bodhi - Ubuntu e17 distro - really good project brilliant docs.
Manjaro - Arch Linux made easier - fantastic distro (Arch)
Sabayon - Gentoo made easier - new version is very slick

Basically though if you have been using Ubuntu for ages then why not whack in Debian stable or Ubuntu Server and build your own system from the ground up - should be good fun?

By Stephen Murcott (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

I really tried to stick with Ubuntu and Unity. I really respect what they've done and the progress they make with third parties like Valve Steam, OpenStack and the large scale installations you hear of like the 200,000 desktops in Spanish schools recently.

However Ubuntu really eats computers and I've seen benchmarks that its getting worse in 12.10. The Amazon fiasco which is actually sending data direct to Amazon and is a confirmed bug on Launchpad was the end for me.

I recommend ARCH LINUX (All caps shouting for how awesome it is) with any of the desktop environments. The beginners guide looks a little scary and may take you an afternoon to run through. But its actually pretty simple. Arch runs like a dream, very lightweight, its so quick and the repositories are full of the latest untouched upstream packages almost immediately.

You wrote: "I upgraded to the most current version of Ubuntu, then undid a lot of the features, and I’m using the desktop Xfce instead of Unity..."

You've answered your own question. An Xfce desktop with the added benefit of the Ubuntu software repos and support cycle. Xubuntu on all my machines.

By David Crews (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

Debian Unstable. No question. I've been running it for years, it's what Ubuntu is based on, and despite the name, it's very stable. Unstable just means it's still being developed. Debian stable is frozen, and only gets security updates. it is extremely stable, but it gets very old. Sid (stable) is, IMO, the ideal operating system. It will run on almost any hardware, more than any other non-Debian OS, and run well. I'm actually considering installing
it on my Android tablet.

I highly recommend Xubuntu. You have the Ubuntu underneath you are familiar with combined with the more traditional XFCE desktop.
Failing that Linux Mint Debian Edition with XFCE is pretty good.

By Barney Matthews (not verified) on 30 Sep 2012 #permalink

I prefer to run Fedora Linux on my systems, but I'll openly admit it's because I used to be a full-time systems administrator for a bunch of Red Hat systems - so Fedora was a very familiar distro to me. It works really well and is very up-to-date. It's also dead simple to install. I think my cat could install Fedora on his own, if I let him have a go.

The latest Fedora (17) is 64-bit. There's also a 32-bit version, and a PPC spin that should run on your old Mac.

If you don't like the new GNOME, then you may want to run LXDE, which is a very nice desktop environment that stays out of your way. It looks a lot like GNOME2. I used to like XFCE but lately I've really come around to LXDE.


32-bit and 64-bit, LXDE (or XFCE, or GNOME, or KDE):

I feel your pain......after all of this disaster with gnome3 & unity not to mention I have found the release it every 6 months if its ready or not to be a PITA.

So anyway I have adopted the philosiphy of keeping at least 2 distros in my life as a contigency plan. OK so I am running fedora on my station at work (we are running RHEL based systems for our servers so it fits for me in my workflow at the office). At home I am running opensuse on my netbook I am writing from so if either distro looses their mind I am ready (and then will find another to replace the one then went whacko).

All of that said I try to stick to the "major distrobutions" on distrowatch......to me it seems like all the derivatives are not enough of an improvement on the original to bother with.

Right now I am running KDE on both systems (it has come a real long way)......but xfce & lxde are really nice lately.

In your case I would probobly recommend fedora xfce it reminds me alot of ubuntu of old. :)

Not sure about PPC, but ZorinOS 6 is very good:
1. Ubuntu 12.04 underneath (so no learning curve, LTS benefits and lots of pre-packaged software in repositories and online)
2. A Windows 7 default feel - with AWN panel and GnoMenu; this may feel like a disadvantage if you're specifically looking for something trying not to be Windows, but I'd suggest just looking for something trying to be good.

Nothing compares to ARCH LINUX. It is pure awesomeness.

1. Install it once and just upgrade it with a one-liner thru years

2. Very transparent. You know your system like in no other distro, Slack excluded

3. Excellent documentation and supportive forums on-line.

4. Works on every bit f mentioned hardware

ARCH Linux is the way to go. I use Arch Linux on my Toshiba Laptop (L505D-S5983) with KDE and dual monitors at my school. On the other laptop at home I have Ubuntu 12.04 with Unity, installed that just few weeks back. I think I like unity too.

I personally tried many distros and finally settled down to Ububtu 12.04 running xfce and openSuse 12.2 running KDE. Fedora is always beta, maegia is not upto mark.

By Ashish Yadav (not verified) on 01 Oct 2012 #permalink

I don't know if you're going to read down this far, Mr. Laden, but I'll add my two cents.


1) You've already used Ubuntu, so you're accustomed to having "billions and billions" of F/OSS applications not only at your fingertips, but also vetted and proven to work the first time and install without trouble.

2) While Ubuntu did mess with some things, this is not going to be an environment where it will take all that long to adjust to the "way things are done".

3) Choosing what you want, from minimalist window manager to full "Desktop Environment" is not just easy, it's seamless. Every window manager accesses applications native to every other "Desktop Environment". Older hardware? Choose XFCE. Everything and the kitchen sink on your i7 or AMD Phenom2? GNOME or KDE4, or both.

Here's a good article on this particular aspect of Debian:

4) Stable or Unstable is entirely up to you. Backports for Stable, if you need the latest version of some application, and a release cycle far more rational than "6 months hell or high water".

5) Where do you think Ubuntu got the idea for seamless upgrades-in-place? The Debian team pioneered the idea of allowing complete system upgrades without reinstalling.

6) Debian Unstable is, in my 17 years of experience with Debian, just as reliable as many other distribution's "stable" systems.

By Bob Robertson (not verified) on 01 Oct 2012 #permalink

More from the Google+ post:

Woozle Hypertwin Yesterday 9:33 AM
Cinnamon still lacks some features that I use; hopefully it will catch up eventually.

I've been using Lubuntu for many months, but recently added MATE on top -- and I like it better, some glitches aside.

Greg Laden Yesterday 10:24 AMEdit
What glitches?

Woozle HypertwinYesterday 10:36 AM
mate-settings-demon doesn't want to start; some apps (e.g. Evolution, Nautilus) show up with black text on black background in certain areas. I suspect these problems are related.

Alon Lischinsky 4:18 AM
What'd be the problem with plain old Debian? The installer, which used to be quite clunky, has improved massively, and the repository system beats any alternative hands down. Plus, you get to choose whatever desktop environment you see fit (on a per-user basis, if you need).

Osmo Laitinen 5:50 AM
Basically I'm quite happy with Ubuntu 12.04 and Unity (it could be faster with my mini pc like lubuntu is). It doesn't matter too much how I open browser or terminal. However, for me it looks that they focus more on coming releases and not fixing issues with already released, although it's has label LTS. But might also be that those few (minor?) bugs which affects me aren't that easy to reproduce or debug. Arch looks interesting due it's rolling release model. Which is quite opposite to my plans to stick with 12.04 for awhile (no need to upgrade since browsers are constantly updated, kind of "rolling release for browser". Another good reason not to switch from Ubuntu (and Unity) is laziness: might be too much to learn new system and it's ecosystem and whatnot, I've got other things to do as well. And it's not just me, also the other people (even more nontechnical) who uses the same computers.

But I'm interested to see your conclusion and maybe I follow one day...
Collapse this comment

Woozle Hypertwin 8:35 AM
I do have to check out Debian again. I keep hearing that it's more stable and sensible than Ubuntu, but I had problems with the installer -- which, as you mention, has apparently improved greatly.

Debian ISO downloaded; will try out next time I'm messing with distros.

James Karaganis 11:00 AM
Ubuntu (like so many other distros) is Debian-based. As I mentioned above, Ubuntu Server is quite nice: my last upgrade to our server has been running with zero downtime for about four months now.

Ubuntu's desktop ... yeah, I moved away from that. Unity just didn't do it for me. From a GUI perspective the stock Debian is rather plain compared to distros such as Ubuntu or Mint.

Woozle Hypertwin 11:13 AM
I've been using Xubuntu on a couple of servers for several years now, and have been reasonably content with it.

I have gone through a very similar process recently.

I tried Mint and fedora 17 - both with XFCE - and would be happy with either.. but..... I ended up with Manjaro and XFCE.

As previously mentioned, it is still in its infancy, but I am liking it a lot - Arch without the headache (touch wood)

By Colin Bakewell (not verified) on 02 Oct 2012 #permalink

Try going "upstream" from Ubuntu to the testing (not stable) release of Debian; mixing in a few packages from the unstable/sid and even experimental releases can keep you more up to date. You may have to do a little digging to deal with things that involve DRM, software patents, etc. (the open-source Adobe Flash Player doesn't really work with most Flash content, for example). Other than that, I've found it to be a better experience than Ubuntu recently although you may want to avoid the GNOME Shell/GNOME 3 if you dislike Unity.

By Matt Wittmann (not verified) on 04 Oct 2012 #permalink

I, too, am now running the Linux Mint Debian rolling distribution (amd64) with XFCE on my computers.

The rolling distribution is great - there have been 5 update packs since it was introduced, which serve as good syncpoints, but I no longer have to do complete re-installs of new releases, with all the tinkering that re-installs require to get things just-so. And it's not Ubuntu based. I'm happy with it. XFCE is more flexible and usable than Gnome 2 was, too.

I use Slim as the login manager, and boot with the Extlinux bootloader of the Syslinux bootloader family, which is much simpler than Grub.

By Edgar Manhattan (not verified) on 07 Oct 2012 #permalink

I use PCLinuxos LXDE and really like it! (moved from ubuntu for same reasons as you). It has a magazine with issue/article search, howto's, plus a great forum!
2 other suggestions are: Scientific Linux 6.3, this you might really like as it has a Gnome-like desktop with Long Term Support! the program updater/package manager is synaptic like and uses apt as well as yum. Runs pretty good on older hardware. SL is sort of a bridge Linux between the RH and Deb worlds.
The other suggestion is AntiX 11, again gnome-like interface and runs well on old hardware.

All 3 above are very easy to install and configure

The above 3, I mentioned have a gnome 2-like desktop,

Slackware hands down. Been running it on my 100%-uptime inet servers since 1995. Once you get Slack you never go back. These other distros are like phoo-phoo. Coiffed poodles.

By Joe the Stack (not verified) on 13 Jan 2013 #permalink

I occasionally encounter Windows and find it really inferior and slow, compared with Linux, I believe that when people see just how good Linux can be, Windows is set to become a lot less popular.

I used to like Ubuntu, but I didn't like the switch to Unity. So I switched to Mint Cinnamon. When my old desktop died, I tried Ubuntu on my new desktop as part of a multiboot, but there was some driver conflict which made it impossibly slow, so I'm back with Mint cinnamon which is quick, stable and I'm very happy. Knoppix is also good. Reading the comments has inspired me to examine some of the other distributions.

I am now using Fedora. I've experimented with a few desktops. I got a nice KDE configuration but KDE does more stuff than I wanted to and, surprisingly, the configuration is not perfectly stable, which is unnecessary in a desktop. So now, I'm using XFCE. I want more accommodation for a vertical panel, such as a clock and calendar that works, but for that stuff I just made a little self-hiding panel in the upper left.