Monday, 28 October 2013

OS Reflections

You know, I've been thinking about why I've switched from the Linux (or GNU/Linux, if you prefer) distro I was primarily using, and why I chose what I chose to step into the breach.

OK - Ubuntu - a fine servant, and I've been using it (relatively) hassle-free for a few years now, pretty happily. Indeed, my main desktop still runs Kubuntu as the base OS, with everything else in VirtualBox VM's. And Lubuntu is great, too.

But - some of the direction decisions that Canonical/Ubuntu are taking just seem increasingly odd. I mean, Mir?! And that whole Edge thing, and the ridiculously defensive stance that they took (supported by the Ubuntu True Believers (TM)) just turned me off.

I flirted with Manjaro for a while, but the, er, approach of some of the Arch forum denizens put me off, although it is a rocking distro.

PC-BSD, moving away from Linux, sadly failed to really gel on my old laptop, and hung for a while whilst running from USB which put me off that as an option, nice though what little I saw of it working was.

I also tried Salix, Chakra, CentOS, AntiX, Gentoo and others, but they just didn't suit me.

My two final choices are precisely that for two sides of the same coin:

FreeBSD comes stripped back, and you have to get yourself into a particular mode of thinking - basically planning what you want to achieve before you hit the keyboard, which is an approach that I think many computer users have lost in recent years. This tabula rasa approach is really refreshing, and means that, as I found with my NetBSD VM on the desktop, you end up with a superbly quick, lean and flexible system that does what YOU want, the way YOU want it. But you have to know what you want first!

Conversely OpenSUSE comes with KDE pretty tightly integrated, and every fundamental covered with pre-installed applications. IRC? Got it. Torrents? Got it. Image editing? Got it. And so on. After a few weeks of using it I haven't had to install a single additional application. Some will accuse it of bloat, but you could equally argue that it's providing a flexible out-of-the-box system, albeit in a different way than FreeBSD.

Overall I reckon between the three - Kubuntu, FreeBSD and OpenSUSE - I've got a cracking little set of systems.

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