Confessions of a distro hopper

Josh Sherman
4 min read

Hi, I’m Josh, a born again Linux user that somehow became a distro hopper.

Sadly, I’m not entirely sure when I had lost control.

If you look at my track record prior to switching back from OS X last year, I had only really used two distros (Slackware and Ubuntu) for any notable stretch of time.

Hell, I’ve never even used a *BSD!

I guess this was to be expected though. After my time trapped inside the walled garden that is Apple, I wanted to make sure that my next stop was the right one.

Coming back to Ubuntu was the obvious choice, so that was my first distro back.

It was familiar and still as solid as I remember it out of the box. I went with vanilla Ubuntu because I wanted to see what Unity 8 was all about while using GNOME as my daily drive.

Unity still sucked, Unity 8 seemed like a shoddy alpha release so I went ahead and switched to Ubuntu GNOME.

But not before trying out Arch!

I was able to overcome the learning curve and get Arch up and running, but ran into some issues running multiple monitors that scared my ass back over to Ubuntu this time by way of Ubuntu GNOME.

Still not happy with the bloatware that is Ubuntu or the fact that I had to run a flavor of Ubuntu to get a solid GNOME experience, I started to get antsy once more.

I’m also still pretty bitter that Canonical sunsetted Ubuntu One ;)

Longing for a rolling release, I decided to give openSUSE Tumbleweed a try.

I only ran it for a week and was pretty damn impressed with the installer and how feature-rich it was. Like Ubuntu, it still seemed pretty bloated to me.

Not to mention the fact that I was battling quite a bit of self-loathing because I was running an RPM-based distribution.

Instead of running back to Canonical, I decided that I should finally take the plunge and run Debian.

Debian had the package manager that I already know and love, but also seemed quite trim in comparison to Ubuntu. Trim, but not quite as trim as a base Arch install.

Debian also has the MO of not having the most up to date packages… err, I mean, being stable. In effort to have more current packages, I went ahead and ran Debian Testing which was just before Stretch at the time.

I would have went with Unstable/sid but I didn’t like what I had read about how security updates worked for the unstable branch. Testing seemed like it would get me a bit closer to bleeding edge.

Well, not really.

Sure, it was stable as fuck, rarely giving me any issues, but I was still behind on the latest version of GNOME even at the time of this writing.

I was cool with Testing being frozen and then becoming Stretch for the major release, but I assumed that the moment after the release that packages would have been updated to something closer to the current releases.

One feature I really wanted was Night Light in GNOME. I had a version of GNOME that included it in every other distro that I had tried with the exception of Debian.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been running Debian for a few months now and love the familiar package manager and the stability that I have had, but it’s not quite up to snuff for me on the desktop.

I had somehow convinced my longtime friend Dean to give Arch a try and was subsequently re-inspired to give it a shot myself.

A lot of the issues I had ran into in the past with Arch seem to be resolved, or I am just a bit more ahead of the curve than I once was.

I have had Arch on my beater laptop for a month or so but have decided to give it an honest shot as my daily driver for the week.

If all goes well, my distro hopping days should be a thing of the past. I haven’t seen much out there in distro land that’s interested me and my major pain points (bloated and lacking the latest versions of software) are both satisfied by Arch.

I still wouldn’t dare to run Arch on a server though. Debian Stable all the way for stuff like that!

Would love to hear about what distro(s) everybody is running and why, comment below!

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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