Linux (yes, Hashnode, this is a meaningful title)


5 min read

It feels like a lot of people on here who use Linux like to talk about Linux. I am not an exception, so here's my journey/opinions on Linux.


My first exposure to Linux was in a virtual machine and it was OpenSUSE. Which I remember very little about now, except that I thought it was quite fun. I mostly just looked at it a bit, but I liked it.

Unknown (with some Mint)

When Netbooks came out, you could get a 9 inch one with Linux on it. I don't remember which distro was on it, but it wasn't a common one. I don't think it said when it was sold, I googled to find out. It was more of a useful little computer to have on your lap on the sofa for odd little bits, so the OS didn't make a great deal of difference. But the computer not being very powerful meant Linux was better on it than Windows.

I don't remember what it was like, but I do remember it getting slow and following instructions to switch to an XFCE desktop. After that change it felt like I could do a lot more on it. I think the original desktop environment may have been limited in what you could change.

Eventually it got old and I put Linux Mint (Cinnamon) on it, and plugged it into my TV and stereo, so I could use it to watch internet videos on my TV and play music from the internet on my stereo. I thought Mint was colourful, but otherwise didn't do anything with it.

Ubuntu (with a bit of Puppy)

When I needed a new Netbook you could no longer buy one with Linux already installed. So I bought a Windows one and put Ubuntu on it. I liked Ubuntu. It was similar to Windows in looks, so I was familiar with it. And it gave me the opportunity to learn more about Linux and how to do things on it. It also had a flying toasters screensaver, which I loved.

I had a whole load of problems with the hard drive, which eventually necessitated a new hard drive. But before I got one, to fix them I used Puppy Linux on a DVD. I only used it for the terminal, but I loved that it barked when it started up.

The version of Ubuntu I had on it eventually went out of LTS and I had to upgrade. Except by then, Gnome had had an update and Ubuntu looked really different. So much so that I wasn't keen on changing to it. But there was Linux Mint, which looked like the old Ubuntu, so I switched to that. And discovered KDE...

Linux Mint KDE

I loved the KDE desktop environment. It's just a bit mad. Loads of programs start with a K (Kate is my favourite little text editor). As far as I can tell everyone hated it, but I loved that the icons bounced when the program loaded - at least I could be sure it was loading. And there was a weather widget that gave you a choice of temperature in Celsius, Fahrenheit or Kelvin.

So I was happy. So much so that when I was consolidating my computer use down to just one that I could use on my desk or on my lap, I chose Linux. I kept my old Windows computer for the few things I needed Windows for (Steam games, Adobe Digital Editions for library books), but Linux was what I used daily.

Linux Mint Cinnamon (with detours in Manjaro and Kubuntu)

The only trouble I had with my Linux Mint KDE love was that by the time my LTS ran out, Linux Mint no longer had a KDE release. It was time for a change. I thought Manjaro KDE looked good, so I installed that.

And then when I came to install programs, I realised it's Arch. And I have some files I downloaded to install, as they weren't in the Software Centre and they're Debian, so were no longer of any use to me. There wasn't a lot in Manjaro's Software Centre, so some programs needed to come from people in the community who'd written them and Manjaro hadn't taken them up yet. Which makes sense because Arch is designed so you can completely build it yourself, but that's more effort than I'm prepared to put in. I preferred Debian.

The obvious solution was Kubuntu. Except that my computer couldn't handle it: it was so slow it was unusable. So I went back to Linux Mint. I remembered liking Cinnamon on my old Netbook, so I put that on. And then followed instructions to install and select the KDE desktop environment.

It worked to the extent that I have all the KDE programs and I can even change the KDE desktop settings. What I can't do is change my desktop to it. Something is wrong somewhere, and has been for a while as my icons had stopped bouncing in Mint KDE. I suspect I need to do a fresh install and copy my files back, but I just couldn't face it after spending two days mucking around with distros. Plus, by that point, I'd spent enough time using Cinnamon to fall in love with it. I just liked that it was colourful. And since I had the KDE programs, I could still use Kate.

I discovered after a month that since my computer was still a bit slow, I should have gone for MATE, rather than Cinnamon, as it's better on slower computers, but I couldn't work up the enthusiasm for doing all that again.

The future

I'm changing jobs soon and at my new one I'm getting Ubuntu (I have Windows at my current one). Which still looks like the version I didn't like the look of years ago. I'll get to find out if I still don't like it (I had the choice between Ubuntu, Windows and Mac, and I still chose Ubuntu despite my dislike).

I still can't work up the enthusiasm to change to MATE or do a fresh install, ten months after I put Linux Mint Cinnamon on my current computer. Sometime in the future when I need a new computer I will be sticking to Linux Mint. And at this point I don't know whether I'll choose Cinnamon or KDE. I've come to love them both.