Distro Fever VIII: The Maddening?

So I think I’m broken.

I seem to be spending the majority of time looking at various linux photographers youtube channels, and looking at what Linux Distro and Desktop Environment they use, rather tha paying attention to what they are teaching in their videos, e.g. videos on latest darktable features etc.

Part of me thinks “If I install X distro, who Y uses, I’ll be better at making decent images”. This tends to result in me hosing my system, installing another distro and apps, finding irritations with it (normally lots of paper cuts from KDE Plasma on Kubuntu), then decide to reinstall my previous distro, get bored of that, then try something else, then get fed up with that, then back full circle to the original distro & desktop environment (Usually Linux Mint Cinnamon).

Then repeat the whole cycle every few weeks.

And I’ll be honest this messing around a) isn’t helping my mental health dealing with the stress of reinstalling everythig and b) isn’t helping me at all try to be more productive. In fact I’d say my repeated Distro Hoping (spot the Freudian Slip?) seems to be a way for me to procrastinate actually doing things (like my photography website I’ve been meaning on getting on with for the past few years).

Or even just reading up on photography tips / techniques, or even reading photography magazines, which I buy, and tend not to read every month (I’ll read it next month when my distro is better)

Although I’ve never had any issues at all on Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition (apart from the lack of flexibility in editing the main menu). Lol, and there I go again, trying to pick minor issues with a distro, to justify the whole rinse and repeat distro hopping cycle…

I really wish I could just stop messing around Distro Hoping, hoping that my next distro, will be my distro home (like Sam Becket in Quantum Leap?).

So I guess I’m a bit broken at the moment! Excuse me while I sit in the corner and say “wibble” while rocking back and forth gently…

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Seems like your problem is with the selection of applications that the distro has chosen to bundle together for you, rather than the distro itself, though I feel your pain as I experienced similar when I started out in Linux. I’m not going to push a particular distro (though I use Arch Linux) but I will suggest that a “build-your-own” style distro like Arch Linux might allow you to have the sort of control you want. Instead of picking a pre-packed distro and living with the choices you’re given, you start with a bare-bones (in the case of Arch, just enough to run a CLI) system and install what you want, building it up (and learning about it) as you go.

For myself, I want the DE to just stay the hell out of my way (the apps are the thing) and I try not to do too much to it. So I use XFCE and steer away from the more bloat-heavy DEs. But YMMV.

At the end of the day, pick a distro and stick to it, then work on customising it to your liking. If one part of it doesn’t work you can almost always replace it with something else, without ditching your whole system. A rolling distribution is usually best for this sort of thing as, once you’ve done all your customisations you really don’t want to have to do it all again.

But all this requires you to get your hands dirty, and make mistakes, and sometimes distro-hopping can be a way to avoid that necessary pain (though, in your case, perhaps replacing it with a different type of pain).

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I don’t think it’s anyhing to do with the preselected bundle of applications which a certain distro provides, more me always thinking things will be better on another distro.

Personally a build up from scratch bare bones rolling distro does not appeal at all, as I could see that meanig I waste even more time researching the best of everything to install as I build up from bare bones.

Perhaps. Although you can do that in a much more methodical way, one app at a time (there are only very few apps where there is loads of choice) and once you’re done, move on to the next. Again, though, this is just what worked for me and silenced my obsessive search for the best. And in the process I learned tons about how my system works.

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Possibly, however rolling distros still give me the fear that they’ll break during an update!

For me, I’m leaning more towards an LTS type of distro, install once, then no need to worry with a major upgrade until the next version is out in a couple of years.

Perhaps your problem is that your problem is I’ll defined. You want “the best.” But the best of what?

Putting that aside, what is wrong with Mint that you need to change? The more specific you are the easier things will become.

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Yep, youre broken, just stick with Mint! Since going Linux a few months ago it was the first distro I installed, and I haven’t looked back or tried anything else (except some other distros in virtual machine, but that was before going Linux). Only real issues I’ve had with it are to do with my lack of Linux knowledge, rather than the distro itself. Cinnamon doesn’t look that pretty out of the box, but themes are easy to download.

Now the only annoyances are app based, which is not something any other distro would fix. I too like my distro to stay out of the way and not break, which Mint seems to do nicely.

Otherwise I second paper digits comment. Make a list of the specific things you need in a distro, in order of priority, then find the one that does them best.

I’ll try not to sound too pessimistic, but if there ever is a “best” of anything, it will not maintain it’s title for any great length of time. Something “better” is always looming in the imaginations of philosophers, engineers, etc… dreamers of all things yet to be realized. So, long live optimism. :star_struck:

@Brian_Innes I mentioned it before. There was a time this madness took me in: when I did this every waking hour. It was a bad half-decade or so for me. I wiped and redid my systems so much that I literally wore down at least 3-4 computers with supposedly robust hardware. Now, you are nowhere near that intensity but just be careful. Maybe step away from the computer for a day or two per week. Easier said than done.

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Take more pictures so you don’t have any time to piss around with your OS… just edit the photo’s :slight_smile: Everybody goes through a bit of this but it sounds like you have developed a misguided obsession…spending hours to possibly save a few milliseconds here and there…

This notion of best is a tough thing to nail down at the best of times … and for tech stuff it usually degrades quickly to a useless back and forth of one up’s man ship…

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Come to think of it, VMs would be an option for @Brian_Innes. One benefit is that one wouldn’t have to wipe the host OS or reboot to launch another OS to try new things.

@afre out of interest, what do you use now?

This is why i stick with Ubuntu LTS. Yes it may not have the latest applications or kernel but it works and I have very few issues.

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I too went through a short phase of doing this until I questioned what on earth I was doing spending my time on this and made a conscious decision to stop.
The fact that you have questioned what you are doing is a first step. Stick with mint if it works for you, and find some other project to replace this frustrating quest such as taking more photos or even something not at all related to computers.

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@spidermonkey I certainly never have any bad experiences with Linux Mint, so perhaps that’s what I’ll end up back on.

I always find some gremlins with KDE, but on Cinnamon on Mint, never any issues.

Maybe I need to repeat to myself “I’m a Photographer, not a Distro Hopper”.

Anyway, I know I can get Mint installed and up and running pretty quickly, so that’s probably what I’ll do, and then just delete all the other linux distro ISOs I have downloaded, as well as unsubscribe from various distro testing / review youtube channels to stop me being distracted by the Promised Lands of X, Y or Z distros. :slight_smile:

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Yes it is an extreme form of procrastination! It comes in lots of guises: finding the best software for editing, sorting and veiwing your photos etc. Go out and take some photos, you will feel much happier!

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Honestly if I had an OS that opened to a pretty much blank screen with maybe an icon for settings and a list box with my selected apps which honestly would likely be no more than 10 maybe with a more button on the bottom for special selections not in that list I would be fine. If it supported my hardware was fast and lean I wouldn’t care if there was any desktop themes backgrounds…in fact if I was barely aware that there was an OS I’d be happy. :slight_smile:

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I think that if you stick with mainstream desktop oriented distros (Fedora, Ubuntu (not LTS), Mint, etc.) then your Linux experience is not really going to change much. Besides a few outliers, the Linux experience today can be pretty homogeneous for an end user who doesn’t have niche requirements. All the major distros more or less have the same packages (either installed by default or installable), installers for multiple desktop environments, and will work on modern hardware. The differences are mostly backend stuff like update systems, certain libraries, and some quality of life improvements. Sometimes there are unique bugs, but even those are getting rare nowadays. However these things probably won’t affect you unless you have specific requirements or are picky.

I would suggest downloading the live CD version of distributions you’re interested in to see if you like it and to figure out what desktop environment you prefer. I would also suggest not using a LTS distro because with today’s rapid software development cycle you can really miss out on improvements if they aren’t backported. For example, I don’t believe Ubuntu LTS keeps their Darktable version up to date, so you can quickly fall behind unless you’re comfortable installing it from another source or building it yourself. (Regular Ubuntu updates every 6 months vs 2 years for the LTS version.)

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Although with regular, not LTS releases of distros like Ubuntu, they can introduce things, which break your workflow (like Wayland on Gnome on Ubuntu, not supporting colour management, nor working very well on NVidia GPUs), or the latest version of Gnome, breaks the extensions you were quite happily using.

I tend to install darktable from the Opensuse Open Build Service page (as per the instructions on the darktable website). Other software like Kdenlive, Shotcut etc I install via appimage / flatpak.

It is better I think to have a stable base distro, than one which needs an upgrade / fresh install every 6 months.

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That’s fair, and it all depends on your preferences. Personally I use Fedora for desktop because I like its quasi-rolling release schedule. But on my server I use Debian because it stays stable for years.

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