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My linux distribution odyssey (so far)

Last year I wrote a post about trying out Ubuntu, but then moving back to OpenSuse.   I was very happy with OpenSuse, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anybody.  However, when Ubuntu 8.10 was released I moved to it.  Some people just can’t make up their minds, I guess.  Then I moved to Ubuntu 9.04, and a couple of weeks ago I upgraded that to 9.10.  All of these worked great.

I used to tell people that the linux distribution they chose is a matter of taste, and there were several perfectly good choices, but I’m not sure I really meant it.  In my linux life, I’ve used Redhat, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, Conectiva, and several small specialized distributions.   I ran KDE for years, and was clearly superior to all those Gnome users.  Now (since the release of KDE4) I run Gnome.  I somewhat expect that at some point in the future I’ll find myself back on KDE.  My longest chunk of time was on Redhat, before they came up with the whole Fedora thing, and for me that was clearly the winning choice.  During that time (and a while after) I wouldn’t touch anything with Debian in its lineage.  Then I got a job in which I inherited some Debian servers, and I was pretty miserable for a bit, but I got over it.  I have a long history of being a distro snob of one kind or another.  I have at some point or other fervently disliked some of the best software out there.

For now, I’m pretty happy with Ubuntu.  It works really well, and long gone are my days of hacking at some perl script or trying to figure out why code distributed with the distro would not compile on my box.  For some time now, stuff just works.  I still occasionally find a use for dusting off my perl skills, but not because I couldn’t find good tools from somewhere else or because basic components of the software I need don’t work.  In fact, its pretty rare to not be able to just run a search in Synaptic, install something, and be on my way when I need some new application.  My hacking time is spent solving the problem I’m actually trying to solve, instead of on getting to the point that I can start working on it.

Things have really come together in the last couple of years for Linux.  Its amazingly good.  Things work amazingly well, on every piece of hardware I ever use.   My kids and my wife still use Windows.  Its fine for games.  Ubuntu is easier to install.  Its easier to maintain.  Its easier to install and manage software on.  Its easier to patch.  Its even easier to use.  If I want to get stuff done, I never choose Windows.

And the message, I think, of my odyssey through all the different linux distributions is that it doesn’t matter.  I’ve used several linux distributions.  I’ve used KDE, Gnome, and Enlightenment (and probably something before KDE, but I don’t remember what).  The key to my computing world is choice.  Use what works for you for what you are doing now.

That’s not what life is about, but it is what computers are about.  They are tools.  Use what works.  Use what you like.

If you haven’t tried Ubuntu yet, you should.

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