jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

A little rant about why I stopped distro hopping :linux:

#Linux #Debian #ArchLinux

https://jhx7.de/blog/why-i-stopped-distro-hopping/

zirias,
@zirias@bsd.cafe avatar

@jhx Makes sense to me 😉 I guess I couldn't really fall for that because I started exploring "alternative" x86-PC operating systems in a time before internet at home was a common thing, let alone with a speed suitable for downloading larger software distributions 😁 (plus getting some "Linux distribution" to work correctly on your machine was a lot more work, e.g. no way to do this without manually editing a monolithic config file for if you wanted a GUI). So you were thinking twice before "starting over" 😅

I started with some old , because that came bundled on a 💿(!) with some magazine. Soon I wasn't happy how its "yast" tool fought over changing all sorts of config files etc ...

Also found first on some magazine disc (2.1 "slink") and managed to install this as a server offering a few services. For the desktop, I tried for a while, back then it was one of the few with largely working and sane auto-configurations... but as just felt better (simple and powerful management tools you could understand, so they didn't interfer with your manual configurations), I finally got that on the desktop as well. Stayed with that for a long time until it grew in complexity and I had hard to solve issues (also related to when it was first introduced in Debian), so looking for alternative, I figured it was time to say goodbye to Linux. Tried and this worked awesome for me! For some software, you need Linux, and when I do, Debian is still my choice...

In general, I developed a habit of never changing stuff "just for the sake of it", only when I can name things I'm unhappy with. So for example, I use neomutt instead of mutt now (lots of added features I like that were only available as unofficial patches for mutt), but when people tell my I should try neovim, I just ask myself, why? After all, I'm perfectly happy with vim.

So I also never tried so far, because I see no need for my usecase, as works perfectly fine for me. Currently even experimenting with programming "directly" (using ) instead of using some UI toolkit. 🙈 Of course, in C only -- there's little you can't do in that veteran language 😎

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@zirias
Quite a cool story you have there! 😉

Ah, Debian, the rock 🙂

That will be quite some fun doing X11 programming... sure will lead to some interesting facts down the road!
Of course, C it is

zirias,
@zirias@bsd.cafe avatar

@jhx I already discovered a strange "fact" (probably better called bug): If you render some color glyphs to a 32bit (ARGB) offscreen pixmap and then use this pixmap as a source for alpha-blending the same glyphs to a 24bit window surface, you get a random number of randomly sized undrawn rectangles in the result. 😖 Of course, no idea where this bug is located (core Xorg, XRender, DRI, maybe even my GPU driver, ...?). XRender seems most likely though ... a shame development stopped in 2009 at XRender 0.11 😕

I can avoid that by just using a 24bit pixmap (without alpha channel). I don't need one as long as the glyphs themselves don't need to look translucent 😂

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@zirias
Already some fun going on with X11 programming 😂

sourcerer,
@sourcerer@bsd.cafe avatar

@jhx Gentoo covers all my needs ... but GNU/Linux doesn't have a tooling like FreeBSD ...

In Linux world i do not distrohop,
3,5 years on Gentoo and i still don't see a point for a change.

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@sourcerer
Used Gentoo for quite some time on the desktop.
The best meta distro - period.

At the moment I love my Debian and Arch and will not change. They both fit the bill.

The BSD's are very different in a great way 😉

sep,
@sep@snabelen.no avatar

@jhx welcome to nirvana ;)
I was distro hopping a lot in 1999. Ended up on debian potato. And have been running that installation since ;)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@sep
Thanks 😉
1999 is before my Linux time for sure - started in 2009 😀
Debian sure is like digital heroin... one can't leave it for sure 😎

msdropbear42,

@jhx Nice. Some thoughts:

  • yeah but the grass always IS greener! 😜
  • it's nice when one does reach their Zen-state of Penguinism, but i still opine that for those of us of an inquisitive bent [i concede not everyone is], the #distrohopping phase [be it physically, virtually, or a bit of both] is an "essential" rite of passage. One can't reach Zen sans the journey.
jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@msdropbear42
Good arguments!
I personally reached this state of distro/Linux Zen for myself - it might not be the case for others - since we all have different views on the subject matter.
If the journey through distro land is Zen to you than I would say you have found your piece of the puzzle 🙂
It all depends on the person.
For me, the revelation came from the fact that hopping did not make me happy personally.
Thanks for the input 😉

75watt,
@75watt@mastodon.world avatar

@jhx
I agree, but also think that it would be a bad move to stop entirely.

I first did the wrong kind of distro hopping, trying to find the distro that fixed my knowledge gaps, when I needed to focus and learn one.

Later I did it wrong again, trying to find something interesting, but without leaving the Debian family.
It was when I tried Arch and Fedora that I started to see interesting differences.

Now I have an eye on Atomic distros, Silverblue, MicroOS, Vanilla OS...

Things are happening

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@75watt
For me the hopping was a restless undertaking that did not much benefit me - this is my experience. (YMMV)

Experiencing something new is nothing bad. I'm not against finding and trying something new... it is the fact that changing rapidly from one distro to another while endless searching is quite bad.

For me: I've settled and have everything I want/need

But this is of course up to the person itself 😎

75watt,
@75watt@mastodon.world avatar

@jhx
Yes, a week or two is enough to detect perhaps a total failure, but not to appreciate the devil in the details.

I satisfy my curiosity testing distros in a Virtual Machine, only a few seem to me interesting enough to give them a years long ride in a real pc.

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@75watt
A virtual machine is a great testbed for some fun thinkering with something new for sure!

snonux,
@snonux@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Why Arch additionally to Debian? Arch because of more recent software? And Debian because of the reliability?

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@snonux
Arch has some things I like. Vanilla packages, bleeding edge stuff and for some dev tasks it is nice to have the option.
All in all it was my first distro and I know it - intertia to some extent.
It perfectly fits into my ecosystem - YMMV

snonux,
@snonux@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx now I have FOMO and think I have to try out Debian again after so long time! All because of you! :-)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@snonux
Oh my 😂
You don't have to try Debian if what you got works 😉

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Mostly same path for me. I had a lot of fun in my distrohopping stage, I have learned stuff and what's more important, now I know what works and what doesn't for me. Ubuntu for dev; Arch, Void and Debian Sid for tinkering, non-dev stuff, and test drive the latest software. None is absolutely perfect (nothing is!), but I get the job done and I'm quite happy with them. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
The hopping itself can be fun. But for me it was more of a hassle than fun to be honest.
Sure, things were for sure learned while doing so. 😉
Arch and Debian is my thing 😎
Used Void before for some time - was pretty solid.
But these days are over, two left 😀

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx I got to shortlist to just four... But there's many others I still love and would use: MX, antiX, Kiss Linux, OpenSUSE, Fedora... Or the *BSDs, if I just owned some hardware well supported, which I sadly don't.

Arch and Debian are pretty solid choices, and both are in my shortlist. If I have to finally ditch Ubuntu at some point (because annoyances), Debian is the most likely candidate to live in my dev machine. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
Debian is quite the allrounder. I use Arch mostly for fiddling and dev stuff - since the bleeding aspect helps there.
On the BSD side I use Open/FreeBSD

They are indeed good choices 😉

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx One of the differences between Ubuntu and Debian that matters to me is the release timeline... In Debian it's one new version every about 2 years, so with time some stuff may tend to get stale, newest hardware may not be well supported, etc. In Ubuntu you can stay in a LTS if it fits the bill, or try the newest 6 months release if it doesn't. Fedora and Debian release models, all into one, and this has proved advantageous in my case. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
For me it has always been alright. I've once had a new system that was not yet supported. But right now I'm only using used hardware - nothing new or bleeding at all. So it is less of a concern to me.
But yes, when dealing with newer hardware this can be a challenge... but: there is always backported kernels and one can use testing 😉
It all depends on the hardware in the end.
Fedora is "faster" with it's 6 month release cycle. Debian is more conservative. And Ubuntu is in between

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Maybe now that I'm using Java again, and my dev laptop is about 2 years old, the release model would not be much of a problem... I don't need the latest Java -far from it-, a ~2 years old kernel should support my HW and as you say, there's always backports and other potential workarounds if I should need something newer. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
Even if you need newer stuff: There most likely is a repo, package, container, etc. available to get it 😉
I for example get Ansible directly via pipx - just because I like to have the newest release.
2 years old should be totally fine for
New hardware also mostly works - it rather is bleeding edge tech that get's fiddly.
(Besides, building a kernel if nothing else is available is also not too hard)

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx I've built a kernel and yeah, it's doable, but I needed to spend quite a lot of time researching and essay-and-error testing my builds (of course it needed some try to just boot! XD), and there's an absurd number of build options, so I was never sure I got that right. And then you have to maintain your kernel manually too... But worst case scenario you're right, it's still an option. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
You can leverage the existing kernel config and just build a new kernel - either tweaking via nconfig/menuconfig or just building it directly 😉
But backported kernels are available for sure in the end.
Yes, the number of options is crazy - esp. dealing with device drivers... which you can purge for the most part 😂

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Fair enough, my kernel-building days were the Kiss Linux days (which had everything built from source), and I built my kernel from scratch. Once you have a working config you can maybe still tweak sume stuff but yeah, next built will be piece of cake. Anyway I think I would try backported kernels first, if I was in need of a newer one! XD

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
Once the config is set it is quite easy indeed.
Sure, the backported kernels are also tested and working 😉
A custom baked kernel can, depending on the config, be not working 100% correct

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx What I noticed was how amazingly lightweight everything was when building the system from source in Kiss Linux... Running Xorg with a simple WM and st displayed ~60 Mb of RAM used, which is the lowest I've seen in any of my machines and with any distro, not even antiX was so lightweight. ;)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
That is the same story with a Gentoo install. Used to do Gentoo/Xfce before. You can certainly compile out a lot of stuff (Given USE flag magic and custom kernel configs).
In the end I do not care too much about that anymore. Besides, Debian with a netinstall is quite light in itself.
antiX is a great spin 😎

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Yeah, same for me. I used to buy the cheapest machines I could find, knowing that, with Linux, I could have a performance well tailored to my needs, and more if I could tweak stuff, as with Kiss Linux. But since I started programming IDEs and stuff that needed more resources pushed me on a more beefy laptop, and now a few Mb up and down don't quite make a difference. ;)

antiX is great for underpowered machines and a paradise if you like CLI tools, I really love that distro. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
A small machine can go a very long way, let alone the lower power consumption!
I love smaller systems - they are a huge fun to tinker with.
Sure if you need more power the hardware also needs to scale up.

antiX is for sure great. Devuan is also near and dear to my heart.
Also, makes for a great live distro if troubleshooting is needed. 😉

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx You are always a voice of reason and well manners, see, it mustn't be that difficult to be coherent, respectful and polite... Any community would actually be perfect if this were the rule, no exception. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
Thanks 🙂
Indeed, that would be great if any community would be inherently positive and welcoming.
A sad fact, or problem, esp. in the Linux land is so called elitism - people pushing their views/distros onto others since they are above everyone else... seen that many times.
To each there own I'd say 😉

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Yup. I say to myself I don't actually mind the elitists and -generally speaking- trolls, but then I have often seen myself justifying, for example, why I use Ubuntu, or why I like Java or PHP, which are usually targets for some "superior" minds. This is why I posted this: https://fosstodon.org/@array/112360125565817471 ;)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
I like to recommend the distros I use BUT I do not force them on anyone. Everyones needs are different, that is a fact of life.
I totally do not care what distro/coding lang/etc. anyone uses.

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx Same. I've lost count of how many times I've been recommended to switch to the Jetbrains IDEs whenever I mentioned I use Eclipse (at home, and now at $dayJob, just as the whole dev team). I love Eclipse, same as I'm pretty convinced of the quality, even maybe superiority, of the Jetbrains (proprietary) IDEs. But I don't have any interest in pushing my choices on anyone's throat. I share my own choices out of pure joy, but each person find joy in different things and that's OK. :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
Yeah, people like to push there stuff onto others.
This is a ongoing thing sadly.
Eclipse works, so that's all that matters in the end 😉
Heck, if I'd be happy with writing articles on a C64 or VIC20 than so it is 😎
Joy can be found everywhere!

array,
@array@fosstodon.org avatar

@jhx I still remember the unending load times with those C64 cassettes... But I would totally understand, and retrocomputing is actually a thing, which sure sparks joy on their enthusiasts, so nothing wrong with that, on the contrary! :)

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
I did not directly grow up with a C64 - but for me it was NES, SNES, etc. 😎
It is indeed a very fun hobby to have fiddling with retro systems 😉

jhx,
@jhx@fosstodon.org avatar

@array
Don't think about all the negative people!
By the way: They argue because they themselves have some issue... it is not yours.
Run any distro you like and code in any language you like - period!
If for example like C# and PowerShell... can you hear the trolls already?
Don't care about it.
Life is about having fun and experiencing joy - not about being miserable and arguing.
This is the internet... it's all over the place.
Your post indeed speaks the truth!

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