I have had a fair deal of distro-hopping over the years. The journey was well worth it and fun to take, so I wanted to share the highlights with you.
Here is a chronological table of the linux distro’s per year:
At one point I ran a linux-triple-boot on my PC to test several operating systems. Yeah you read that right, triple. OS-prober had as much fun as I had maintaining it.
A walk through time
The good old days
So I started out as a Windows user. Out of a curiosity for alternatives, the idea that an OS doesn’t need to be one monolith peeked my interest. After all, if an OS has different parts, why are you not able to swap them out?
Switching to another OS when still needing being able to use one is a challenge. In the period you take the leap, it is the most difficult, while you are the least prepared. So there were two ways to make the switch easier:
- Keep Windows to fall back on
- Start with something that has roughly the same workflow as Windows.
This by no means made it easy, there were still enough hurdles to overcome. But those were not to blame on the alternative; The Windows way of doing stuff was so baked in, which wanted to keep me going.
So I asked which alternative would get me going, and picked ZorinOS as a start with the low-end laptop.
So after getting started, it surprised me how much easier it was than anticipated. I wasn’t using it differently than the Windows install yet, except when it came to package management. Having the option to update whenever you want, whatever you want, however you want was so much better!
The OS was also good in still having every option in a GUI, while being able to configure the internals if you would like.
There was one thing still bothering me: As it was running on a T60P, performance was still an issue. Compared to Windows 10 on that thing (it came with Windows Vista originally), this OS was actually usable. But it was far from snappy. If only there was something lighter.
Lubuntu; Light-weight Ubuntu
And that was the point where Lubuntu came into the picture. The extra experience gained with using ZorinOS was enough to try this distro out. And it actually running well on the old Thinkpad.
It also got me into the whole family of Ubuntu based distro’s, so I decided it was finally time to try one of those on my main PC. The distro of choice was Linux Mint.
Linux Mint & Pop!_OS
Mint worked flawlessly, and is still a solid distro to start to start with if your previous experience was Windows.
It was because of Mint I stayed with linux as my main OS, Windows was biting dust by now But as I was still feeling adventurous, and I wanted to say goodbye to Windows for good, so I completely moved to Pop!_OS.
Because I had it on a live USB, why not try to boot it on the Thinkpad? That worked well, which I could not believe at first. This was so hilarious, that I also installed it on there and kept it like this for the next 3 years.
And then came Arch. I tried out Arch from scratch and learned a ton. I upgraded the laptop so it did not have to run a minimal operating system anymore. Configuring it all from scratch once was enough for me, so I switched to LARBS to learn how the installed programs can work together.
Although the arch based distro’s do work well, there is elegance to using a stable release instead. It does not feel needed to have the newest software, and the updates also tend to be large. As I already had experience with systems based on Debian, it is trivial to use and some would even say boring as it just works.
So it was quite a trip to finally end up with one of the most straightforward choices. Along the way I got to experience the differences between the distro’s, and now know much more about them.