I’ve been using Linux as my primary operating system since early 2000. Similarly to many Linuxers, I’ve done my share of distro hopping. Here is, as far as I can recall, some of the distributions that I’ve used seriously (where seriously means for more than 6 months at one time) in order:
- Mandrake (yes, that was before they changed their name)
- Arch Linux
Though I had known of Linux for a couple of years, it was only when I bought an issue of Linux France magazine that came with a Mandrake 6.1 CD and clear instructions that I decided to install Linux. I was quite lost at first, but after buying O’Reilly’s “Running Red Hat Linux”, I could do most of what I wanted to do.
Later on, I decided to try Slackware, because apparently that was for more hardcore users, and I wanted to be hardcore. Then came Debian, because I had heard great things about apt-get (and boy was I impressed the first time I used it!). I used Debian for a solid 4-5 years before Ubuntu appeared on the radar and started making a solid impression on the Linux world. I decided to try it out, and I really liked that it took away some of the drudgery of Debian.
I then had a foray of a year and a half with Arch Linux before I came back to Ubuntu, but this time I used Lubuntu since the first thing I did after booting Ubuntu was to uninstall over 100 packages relating to Gnome. As time went on, I kept using Lubuntu, but I became less and less happy with it, always hoping that the next major release would solve my issues, but it became clear that it wouldn’t happen.
Among the issues I had with Ubuntu were:
- The upgrade process never worked for me, I always had weird issues that were usually resolved by reinstalling the entire OS.
- The release process produced distributions that were less and less stable.
- Ubuntu quickly pushed new products that didn’t feel like they had anything to do with the Unix philosophy
- I had some weird bugs that I reported, but went without solutions.
- If I used lightdm and the french Canadian keyboard layout, pressing and holding certain keys (the right and down arrow keys for examples) would not repeat them; changing the login manager or the keymap fixed the issue, but this was weird.
- plymouthd (a piece of software that I just don’t understand) constantly used 5-7% of my CPU. Uninstalling it was not an option since so many packages depend on it. Disabling it caused other weird issues with the display
- It seems that Ubuntu is becoming less and less a Linux distribution, and more and more its own OS.
Last week, I just had enough. I want a stable and simple operating system, and I was no longer getting that from Ubuntu. Debian Wheezy had been released a few weeks earlier, and I decided that it was time to go back to my ol’ trusty distro.
I downloaded the LXDE Live DVD, booted it and less than an hour later the system was installed and ready to roll. I added some repositories to have access to Chrome and the latest Emacs snapshots, the only two programs that I want to be as up to date as possible. In less than two hours, I had a system that looked and worked exactly like my Lubuntu setup (except that the load average was closer to 0.0 than 1.0 as with Lubuntu!)
It’s been a week, and I have had no problems with Debian. The first time I used Ubuntu was because of the promise of easy hardware configuration; Debian Wheezy has that. My sound card and video card were automatically recognized and properly configured, I only had to install firmware-realtek to get my Wifi card working, my integrated webcam worked without me having to install or configure anything, so did my multiple gaming controllers.
The Debian folks have produced a truly fine operating system. For the next two years, I’ll be doing my M.Sc and I most likely won’t have the time or the inclination to fiddle and hack my OS, so I think that this stable Debian installation will suit me perfectly.
It’s good to be back!