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  1. By Jason Evangelho A few Linux distros to choose from I began my Linux journey 16 months ago with only one certainty: I didn’t want to use Windows for the rest of my life. I’ve remained in a constant state of exploration and discovery in the pursuit of finding that “forever distro.” You know, the one to rule them all. The perfect Linux OS that’s stable, checks all those feature boxes, slides effortlessly into every scenario and is just plain fun to use on a daily basis. I greet you today with a sobering and unexpected conclusion: it doesn’t exist. At least not for me. This is obviously a subjective statement, but give me a few minutes to explain what’s changed my mind, and why I’m starting to view this “distro hunt” mentality through a different lens. Part 1: The Ubuntu Phase Ubuntu was my doorway into the wide world of desktop Linux and it remained my distro of choice for quite some time. It was rock solid and attractive. The ability to find an answer to a burning question was effortless thanks to such a massive community, and it “just worked” on every device I installed it on. Ubuntu 18.04 on my Dell XPS 9370 Jason Evangelho So, why not just stay with Ubuntu? Personal curiosity took over. What else was out there? Could a different combination of distro + desktop environment (Xfce, Budgie, Pantheon, KDE, LXDE) affect my workflow, my productivity, my sheer enjoyment? Professional curiosity also seeped in. I was becoming influential within the Linux community, and there’s no denying that regularly covering Linux at Forbes was beginning to make a dent in mainstream perceptions too. If I had more knowledge and more hands-on time with everything else out there, perhaps I could make more personalized recommendations to fit an individual’s needs or wants. Ubuntu was all I knew. It was time to distro hop. Part 2: The Distro-Hopping Phase I started devouring the lesser-explored alternatives. The elegance of elementary OS, the modern slickness of Deepin, the raw power of Intel’s Clear Linux, the rewarding challenge of a pure Arch installation. Xfce hooked me with how fast and lean it was. MATE and Budgie lured me in too (through Ubuntu MATE and Solus, respectively). KDE Plasma seduced with me its endless customization yet surprisingly low system requirements. Like the entire cast of Seinfeld treated their significant others, there was always something to nitpick, but I appreciated everything that was brought to the table. I just felt unsettled, unable to find that perfect distro that not only looked fantastic out of the box and ran like a champ, but also catered to the Linux gaming crowd in various ways. Then I discovered Pop!_OS from System76. Part 3: The System76 Phase (Ongoing!) My System76 Oryx Pro Jason Evangelho I fell in love with Pop!_OS (and in fact I still love it). Much more than just a “reskin of Ubuntu,” System76 injected a personality into its distro. The company beat Ubuntu and many other distros to the punch by offering a great solution for hybrid graphics laptop users. Little things like downloading the Vulkan 32-bit and 64-bit libraries when you installed Steam, offering Lutris in their software center, and being the first to solve the AMD Zen 2 boot issue before even motherboard manufacturers could issue a BIOS update. They like to ease user friction, and I’m on board with that. System76 is a nimble company with a vested interest in keeping their distro stable but on the bleeding edge (the 18.04 LTS version of Pop ships with kernel 5.3); after all, they also sell a variety of hardware Pop!_OS needs to run flawlessly on. When I adopted the wonderful Oryx Pro laptop as my daily driver, it cemented everything. I threw Pop!_OS on every device I owned –- multiple notebooks and desktop PCs. I was content. Pop!_OS became my new daily driver for 7 months. Part 4: The Peppermint Predicament Then Peppermint OS happened. To fully appreciate the situation with Peppermint OS, I strongly suggest listening to Episode 16 of Linux For Everyone: If not, please settle for the short version: It all started when I put Peppermint OS on an ultra-budget laptop and it just screamed compared to Windows 10. It didn’t hurt that it was so polished right out of the box (something many “lean and light” Linux distros fail at despite best efforts). Then I nuked Pop!_OS from my Dell XPS 13 in favor of Peppermint OS, and was welcomed with dramatically longer battery life. I work away from the wall frequently, and battery life remains my holy grail. My 'forever distro' mentality in a single photo. . .Jason Evangelho That’s when the “forever distro” mentality crept back in. “Maybe this could be the one?” I wanted Peppermint OS on everything. The serious hurdle was replicating the same great experience I had with the synergy of System76 software + hardware. Peppermint OS CEO Mark Greaves graciously spent hours with me on Telegram – voluntarily – troubleshooting, suggesting various approaches, continuing to research after I had given up (those details are on the podcast and too nuanced for these pages). What a trooper! That’s still a quest I’m pursuing, but the outcome is irrelevant to the point I’m about to make. I was adamant on using the same distro for everything, until I learned about how Peppermint OS was “Frankensteined” together. Linux is all about choice. It’s modular. Like the Borg, it adapts to any situation. So why try to force a square peg into a round hole? Peppermint CEO Mark Greaves cherry-picked the best elements of the LXDE, Xfce and Cinnamon desktop environments! He used both the Mint and GNOME software centers. Multiple package managers. On paper, Peppermint OS should be a disaster, but it’s brilliant. It’s just not the ideal distribution for one of my machines (without putting some serious effort in, anyway). That’s when it all came into focus. I use Linux because Windows users don’t have this kind of flexibility. You want a version of Windows 10 that runs like a dream on your crappy dual-core laptop with 4GB of RAM? Sorry, not an option. But with Linux, I can use the same exact software across any distribution I choose! I can effortlessly make a backup on my Oryx Pro running Kubuntu, and restore that on my XPS 13 running Peppermint OS. We have the tools to adapt; to make it a seamless experience while using the absolute best distro that fits our needs based on the unique scenario. How awesome is that? I suppose I hadn’t realized this simple truth until Peppermint OS gave me that unexpected nudge. I don’t need to find a “forever distro.” I can keep distro hopping for years until I reach the end of the road. All I need is Linux itself. Source
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