My Experience With Linux Distros

Note: This article is outdated.

 

Hello Everyone!

Since I started using Blender for all my 3D design needs, I have fallen in love with “Open Source Software”. Despite the fact that it’s free, yet it’s very advanced and powerful. I then thought “How about that operating system that is free and open source?” I immediately thought I’d give it a try. Today I’m writing this article to give you a quick summary of my Experience with the Linux world, because it is usually very confusing for new comers.

First of all, I don’t claim that I know everything about Linux and all of its distros. I only have been trying to experiment with some distros for the last couple of months. All I’m trying to do, is to write about my feelings towards this experience.

My story with Linux began back in 2004/2005 when a friend of mine gave me a copy of a live CD of a Linux distro called “Knoppix“. He told me that I can boot a complete operating system from that little CD with all of its needed software without having to install a single byte on my hard drive. I liked this idea a lot, that I can test it without messing up with my PC. I gave it a try and I was really happy. I even called it the magic CD, because at that time I had several problems with my Windows which used to crash a lot. So I thought whenever my Windows would crash again, no problem, I have the magic CD, I can boot from it and do whatever I want to do.

Then I knew that Linux isn’t just Knoppix. There are many other “Distributions” or “Distros” for short, which are somewhat different. I tried some “PCLinuxOS“, “Slax“, and “Morphix“. At that time, I was just trying the Live CDs. I never had the courage to install any of those Distros. Besides, most of my applications worked under Windows only. Hence, I wasn’t ready to convert to Linux at all and I stopped trying any other Distro.

Years have passed since then, and I haven’t used Linux at all. Specially that I bought a genuine copy of Windows 7 Ultimate and it is working just perfect. Not until recently that I have decided I must check the current versions of Linux, maybe they got a lot better nowadays.

I started with Ubuntu, which is the most popular Linux Distro according to Distrowatch.com. I installed in on an 8-GB flash memory and then started booting my PC from it. I loved it. Although some people didn’t like the new Unity Interface of Ubuntu 11.04, but I did. I think it’s simple and elegant. sometimes a little buggy perhaps, but overall it gave me a good look and feel. I liked the idea of having my OS in my pocket, anywhere I need it I can bring out my flash memory stick, insert it in any PC, and here I am working on my favorite OS with my favorite applications.

However, I believed I should move from Ubuntu and try other Distros, due to the following reasons:

  1. The Unity Interface fails to start if you run Ubuntu on a computer with a graphics card that doesn’t support 3D acceleration, or it does support it but its driver wasn’t recognized for a certain reason. In this case, Ubuntu still works, but it falls back to the Gnome 2 interface, which I personally don’t like.
  2. After installing Ubuntu, I had to download a lot of things, such as, codecs, Java, flash, applications, … in order to make it a usable OS. These extras aren’t provided by default due to some legal issues I guess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very simple and easy to download these extras and once done, Ubuntu is just perfect, but I needed something that works out-of-the-box.
  3. There are many Ubuntu-based distros. These basically are derivatives from the basic Ubuntu, with additional stuff. So I thought one of them could be what I’m looking for.

I then installed and tried all of the following:

  • Kubuntu: Ubuntu is using by default the GNOME desktop environment, and Kubuntu is its derivative that uses the KDE desktop environment. Kubuntu is very elegant and customizable. It’s the one I’m currently using to write this article. I’m really happy with it. But for those who want something that works out-of-the-box, Kubuntu is not the one. Like Ubuntu, you still have to download the extras I mentioned earlier. Besides, for me, I had to install most of the applications that I need, Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, VLC, … Those don’t come by default.

Kubuntu Screenshot

  • Lubuntu: The LXDE desktop environment Ubuntu-based distro. LXDE is known to be fast and lightweight. Although it’s not an out-of-the-box working operating system like Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but I fell in love with it. I installed it on my old laptop (I had since 2005) and it transformed it into a beast. It’s very quick and responsive compared to Windows XP on that same laptop. I started using that old laptop again after I left it for a long while. I really recommend it for those who want to be able to use their old computing machines.
  • Fedora 15: This one isn’t an Ubuntu-based distro. It’s the RedHat’s sponsored Linux-based OS. I tried it and played a little with it, but to be honest, I didn’t like the GNOME 3 interface that much. Maybe that’s why I turned away from Fedora immediately.
  • Linux Mint: This distro is my second favorite. It’s the one that has a DVD version with all the codecs and extras needed to make it out of the box. It’s fast and customizable. I had stuck to Mint for a while as I really liked it and felt that it’s what I needed. During that time, I hadn’t touched my Windows 7 Ultimate (which is, again, perfect) for a while. However, there was still something missing I felt. That until I found …
  • Pinguy OS: This is absolutely the ONE I was looking for. Out-of-the-box, tons of applications, nice looking, fast and stable. Of course you can transform any of the above Ubuntu-based distros to be the same as PinguyOS, but it’s great to have something like this ready for you. I recorded the following video on PinguyOS to summarize this article and to show you how it looks.

Tips

  • For Installing the latest Blender on Ubuntu-based Linux

Open the terminal, copy and paste the below commands line by line, and hit enter.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cheleb/blender-svn && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install blender
  • For Installing Thunderbird 5.0 on Ubuntu-based Linux

Open the terminal, copy and paste the below commands line by line, and hit enter.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/thunderbird-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install thunderbird

Finally, I would like to hear from you and read your comments and suggestions. Tell me what is your favorite Linux distro and why. Please consider participating in the above poll.

I hope this was useful. Thanks for reading.

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