This is a post outside the current norm for me. I’ve been playing around with Linux, and have some beef to output, so I’m doing it here. I could use G+ or even to some extent Twitter for broader exposure, but I write better here, so here it’s going to be. I might link to here from G+ later.
First, a little background to segue in with.
I’ve been running Linux in one form or another for at least 20 years now. While I’ve never been able to use it as my main computer for everything, I’ve had it at my side in one way or another pretty much all that time. I’d use it here at work as my main machine if I could, but we’re a Windows shop, basically, with the need to share files. I know. LibreOffice, Wine, all that. Yeah, it’s there, but then I’d have so much Windows stuff on my machine that it wouldn’t be worth running it on Linux. So, my work machine is currently running Win7 and that’s all there is to it.
Over time, I migrated to Ubuntu. I really liked the ability to modify what I wanted as I wanted and the interface was nice and simple. Heck, I geeked out and with careful preparation and one eye on my radio clock, I grabbed Maverick on 10.10.10 at 10:10:10 MST. That’s when I hit the enter key to trigger my download. Hee! Hee!
What I didn’t know then is that same instant I also started the end of an era for me.
11.04. 11.10. Ubuntu has never been the same since 10.10.
With 11.04 came that horrid Unity.
I know. Change is necessary to stay alive…if you don’t change you risk being left behind to wither on the vine. I have a whole bunch more cliche’s related to change.
I accept that change is going to happen. I’ve enjoyed the changes since my first Linux installation. Boy, have I ever enjoyed the improvements in the installation process!! Let me tell ya…um, ok, maybe another time.
11.04 and Unity. At first I detested it. Eventually I came to accept it. Then I began to think it wasn’t so bad. I could still run everything I wanted to, it was just more clunky to get to stuff. Seriously, in my mind, Unity seemed a huge step backwards. Ubuntu had been lean and streamlined. Or at least my version had been, I confess to tweaking things.
By 11.10 I was reasonably comfortable even with Unity, but I found that I preferred 11.10 with Mate from LinuxMint, an Ubuntu branch. Then came some update(?) or upgrade(?) and I found one of my favorite programs, Stellarium, would no longer run on my Ubuntu system. That was just too much.
Over the last few days I’ve been playing with various distros, looking for that one Linux that appealed to me.
Naturally, the first I tried was LinuxMint’s Lisa. After all, I was already running Mate to get the interface I preferred, so why not try LinuxMint straight? That was a mistake. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, that distro ran ungodly slow. I actually bitched about it as being as slow as a snail stuck in molasses on the back of a turtle mired in mud. Ubuntu 11.04 had been similarly slow and I managed somehow to speed it up, so I persisted. Unhappily, I just could not get LinuxMint to be as fast and with some programs I used the speed I had was just unacceptable.
Off shopping for a new distro I went. I grabbed Puppy and LuPuppy to try. I was really happy with LuPuppy, but no matter what I did, I could not get it to install to the hard drive properly. I’m sure it had something to do with a problem between keyboard and chair, but after repeated tries I gave up trying to get LuPuppy to run off the hard drive. I still like Puppy and think it’s a great distro, but until I figure out someday how to force it to the hard drive it’ll remain a bauble to play with.
Through various distros I went, including UltimaLinux, OpenSuse, and three or four others. One result of all this is that I discovered I’m partial to the Debian side. None of them were exactly what I wanted, so now I had a problem: Just how bad did I want Stellarium on that particular machine? Granted, I really wanted it, and I’d even tried changing the repository so I could get the latest version. Unhappily, Ubuntu remained my preferred Linux distro. The others either didn’t offer stuff I wanted or didn’t offer/support the most recent versions of some of my old standbys. Or they ran unbelievably slow on this particular piece of hardware.
The end result is that like it or not, Ubuntu is where I want to be. So, I’m back to having just finished installing 11.10 on this machine again, getting it updated, and restoring it to a simple clean install that’s up to date.
I’m going to have to think about whether or no I want Mate on here. I admit to enjoying the older interface, but I’ve also become comfortable running Unity. Add to that I have to deal with the upcoming Win8 stuff at work and in comparison it’s really not that big a deal running Unity. So, I will probably keep using Unity rather than putting Mate back on here. I will, though, be looking for tools and utilities to let me tweak it to my heart’s delight.
As to Stellarium, I found that if I went with the proprietary NVIDIA drivers, Stellarium would run again. I’m guessing that one of the updates deactivated the NVIDIA driver I had originally activated. Unhappily, Stellarium is now running so slow as to be virtually unusable.
Ubuntu 11.10 has its quirks and little things that aren’t quite as nice as they could be. It also has Unity, which while tolerable is still a PITA to use sometimes and the system as a whole is just not as easily configurable as 10.10 and earlier versions.
I may well redo all this again this summer, just try as many Linux distros as I can and see if there’s some other distro I’ll like as much as Ubuntu. Especially if 12.04 turns out to be as bad. For now, though, I’m going to continue using Oneric and take my time deciding on Mate. Then we’ll see what happens in the near future.