Ubuntu

Nice and Quiet

Sometimes a quiet day or two is just fine. No bad storms, no asteroid collision, no interesting tech news, just dull mediocrity. Yes, there’s been some Linux Distro releases, and Apple product announcements, but nothing to lose any sleep over. There’s no real reason to upgrade to a new laptop, no real need to update my iPhone, there’s really nothing going on to get all worked up about, and that’s not so bad. I can hold onto my wallet for a while, because I can’t think of anything new recently announced that I really feel like I’m missing out on. That’s good for me, but probably no so great for the industry.

Too much excitement can sometimes cause real interesting news to get lost in a wave of noise. It’s all perception. If you’re actively looking and waiting for a particular hardware or software development, than maybe all other events are just distractions you can disregard. I’m not waiting for any particular sign that would cause me to change anything I’m using or working with. I’m always interested in any type of application or device improvement, but I also try to resist the impulse to chase after the latest fad or something I really don’t need. If you’re happy with what you have, than you’re probably in a good place.

Now is a good time to get things done without wasting too much energy chasing after the next great thing. I am looking forward to the next Ubuntu 19.10 release “Eoan Ermine” slated for October 17th 2019, and will start playing with the beta release – hopefully on September 26th.

The Latest MX 19 beta (2.1) is really solid, so I’m also looking forward to the Official release (traditionally released in December) It might be a toss up between the two distro releases for me. I expect both to be worth the wait. For now I will continue to use the latest beta, but as far as new hardware I’m actually keeping my eye on Chromebooks. I don’t see any reason to pick up a new iPad, PC Laptop, or Macbook, but the iPhone 11 Pro is interesting.

Interesting doesn’t necessarily translate into exciting. More and more it looks like laptops are easily replaced by smart phones, and even tablets seem to be less of a primary computer platform for many users and more of a compliment to a smartphone. I still use laptops, but I’m not so sure I will continue to use any for a daily driver. It’s the iPhone for me, and yes I do think about moving to the new Note 10.

I expect things to get more exciting in the next few weeks as everyone starts preparing for the Holidays. This temporary lull wont last long.

Expect the Unexpected

I started off on this holiday weekend expecting to write about a simple text based calendar/scheduler program I can run from a Linux shell. This was “calcurse”. It’s a nice simple program that works for me and is in line with the “Keep It Simple” philosophy.
Well, that was the plan.
I didn’t stick to the plan.
I got sidetracked playing around with a few Distros and ended up spending more time than I should have with some old computers and the latest releases of AntiX, Ubuntu Budgie, and Netrunner.

It’s fairly easy to while away the hours setting up and trying out multiple Linux distributions. 
I wouldn’t say it’s a waste of time because I always learn something new tinkering with my computers.
These are all very solid Debian based Operating systems, but that doesn’t always work out to being perfect for the systems I have – most of which are fairly under powered compared to some of the newer hardware that’s on the market.
Ubuntu is getting better, and the Budgie Spin is probably my favorite looking desktop. Netrunner is very elegant, the Debian based version at least.
AntiX is probably the fastest and probably the best suited for older hardware. MX has been my daily driver for a while now, and very close to AntiX, but AntiX does almost everything I need and feels a little faster. For a minimal approach I’d have to give the edge to AntiX, but I’ll continue to use MX for now on my main machine. I duel boot NetRunner and Ubuntu Budgie on my more powerful laptop – mostly as a testing setup.
While going through this exercise I found myself thinking I was still looking for a total replacement for Windows 10, and should probably install Microsoft on one of my machines to see how the latest update compares, but I usually don’t keep Windows for too long before getting disappointed. The only saving grace is PowerShell, which I admit is probably the most interesting thing I’ve found useful on any Microsoft OS machine.
I even tried getting GhostBSD running this weekend – and it does work on one of my older laptops, but it’s not something I would really use as a daily driver. 

I do recommend trying it out if you have a spare machine to install it on purely for learning how Unix compares to Linux based distributions. Distro hopping can be fun and insightful, but it can also be frustrating if you can’t find an operating system that meets your daily work requirements. Worse yet is the realization that you often find that you’ve wasted a lot of time. You can go the Virtual machine route, but I never consider that a true test unless you dedicate all your machines resources to the operating system your testing. That’s just my own personal opinion of course. I know a lot of people run Virtual Box on Windows machines to test Linux Distros.
That’s just not my thing. Duel booting seems to be a little more realistic, but that sometimes can be an issue if you tend to encrypt your hard drive. 
Someday I may settle on the one perfect Distro, but not today. I should probably schedule these testing forays with a decent text based scheduling program.
Oh ya, that’s what I started out doing. I wonder which Linux box I should run that on.

I can appreciate all the time and effort developers put into each of these projects. These are very good options, or should I say alternatives to what I have used in the past. I can get a lot of work done without adding very many new applications. Everything I need usually comes included in the distribution, and anything I usually need to install is available from the main repositories.

I am looking forward to the next major Ubuntu LTS, but until then any of the latest Debian based spins could work for me, as could the various Ubuntu flavors. I will probably not use the KDE desktop, but will continue with Xfce on most of my systems mostly because it always seems a better fit for how I navigate around the system. KDE looks great, but Xfce looks good to me also.

There’ll be more interesting distributions to try, and I probably will test drive a few in the hope that the unexpected is more dazzling than the expected.

None of these Linux distributions will replace my Chromebook. If all you need is a laptop to write with, a Chromebook is so simple and fast, you’ll spend less time tinkering and more time creating content. That was something I did not fully expect. I still will use Linux full time – except when time is limited. Maybe what I’m really looking for is a Linux/Chromebook hybrid. They might just be working on that. We shall see. One more thing, my Chromebook has a real nice calendar app that’s perfect for scheduling

Manjaro Linux

Quest for Distro

We may never find the one “perfect” laptop/OS combination that works best for everyone, but sometimes I think I get close. Yes, I reluctantly dual boot Windows 10 and a Linux distro, but it’s because it’s sometimes practical to have both operating systems on one machine.

Trying out different distros on underpowered laptops is very therapeutic in a way. Yes, it takes a little time, and may often seem bewildering to the uninitiated, but it’s sort of a hobby of mine. Of course there are many I haven’t tried, and some that I knew immediately were a waste of time. I’ve tried many of the “Standard Distros” and found the majority useful, but the perfect one still eludes me. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the work of the developers and most of the Linux community.

Admittedly, I still find that Windows 10 is quite handy to have available. I feel somewhat defeated when I find myself logging into Windows more than my other Operating System on my laptop. The only Distro that I really think could alloManjaro Linuxw me to completely abandon my dual-boot philosophy would have to be Manjaro.

 

I like it a lot more than Debian, Ubuntu, or Red Hat based distributions. It just works, and it seems to be fast, although that’s possibly not a very scientific analysis on my part. I thought I would stick with Mint a while back, and then I started to use Ubuntu Mate, and I thought, “Yeah this is the one”. Then I tried “Arch based” Manjaro and really liked it at first, but then thought maybe I should start using Antergos since it actually has “Arch” in the system description.

You get into that Distro hopping groove and feel like you’re on a quest or something. All the while I’m still dragging my Windows Operating system around – because I might need it for something. Someone might want me to work on a project that requires “.Net”. Use Wine you say? I’m not a fan, if you need to work in Windows, then work in Windows.

The trick is to not have to work in Windows and do everything in Linux. Unfortunately I’m not quite there yet. As a matter of fact I think I may just go back to using a Mac. In the end I will continue to use Windows 10, Linux in one form or another, and of course OSX. The quest will continue for the perfect Linux Distro. Not everyone will agree on what that is, but for now I’ll stick with Manjaro for a while. I’ll keep checking other Distros out, stability is always important, and rolling releases can be problematic sometimes. LTS releases are more practical, and Ubuntu has just updated their current LTS, so there is that to consider. If Manjaro continues to work for me, then I guess that’s the deciding factor I’ll go with.

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