I have been using Linux for the past 3 years or so now. I have hopped from distro to distro, sometimes on a monthly or weekly basis, and I believe that now, at long last, I have finally found the distro to call my home.
Allow me to start with a bit of back story first.
When I first started looking into Linux, believe it or not, it was because I had become interested in macOS. I had been a long time Windows user (like, 13+ years at this point), and Apple, having just been releasing OS X Maverics, had finally peaked my interest.
I started doing what I always do when something new and exiting catches my eye, I started looking into it. Scouring the search engines of the internet for any information that I could find on it.
I came to find out, via Wikipedia, that OS X was a Unix like operating system. I thought to myself “Unix? I wonder what that is.” and preceded to start looking a bit into that as well.
Many a Windows customization later, and another year or so (2014 at this point, give or take), and I start finding out about Linux.
I clearly remember this one website from when I first really started to look into Linux. Well, more so a specific page from a website. It was a sorta top ten Linux distros for something or other. The only distro I clearly remember from it was Redhat (and I think Fedora as well.)
I started doing a bit of research into Redhat and such, and started to learn more and more about this cool new ‘Linux’ thing. Eventually, and I truly cannot remember how, I stumbled upon Ubuntu. I’m not quite sure how long it was between me doing a bit of research on Ubuntu and burning it onto a DVD, but by Winter 2014, I was ready to install Ubuntu onto a machine.
Before I went and installed Linux onto anything (I don’t think I was even using virtual machines at the time,) I was still primarily a Windows user, and didn’t want to do anything that would end up with me being SoL. Thankfully, I was by no means a computer illiterate (especially for my age at the time,) and had a spare hard drive lying around.
I ended up swapping out the hard drive in my desktop, as to be sure that I did not do anything to mess up my Windows install, and I preceded to insert the disc into the drive, and went on with installing Ubuntu.
With it being the time it was, I installed Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr onto my machine, and boy was that a new experience. Trusty used Unity 7 as it’s desktop environment, and for anybody moving from Windows, without having used another OS before (not counting mobile), it was quite the change in user experience.
I found it weird and cool at the same time. It definitely took some getting used to, with the launcher and what not. I got comfortable with it eventually, and even started to use the terminal! At this point it was still something that I was playing around with, and I used it off and on with that machine for a while.
I was still using Windows 7 as my primary OS, so I was not using Ubuntu as much as I was using Windows, but I was using it enough to have it keeping my interest and wanting to go back to using it from time to time, just for a bit of change of pace.
In early 2016, I found this article through Flipboard about this Linux distro called Ubuntu MATE and it’s Software Boutique in it’s upcoming 16.04 release. By that point, I was familiar enough with what Ubuntu was and what this upcoming version was, but I had never heard of Ubuntu MATE.
I remember reading the article and thinking “Wow! This is actually a something pretty cool! I quite like the approach of this Software Boutique,” and after a couple of months had past, 16.04 had arrived. I think it was the beginning of May that I grabbed the ISO, slapped it onto an install media (I think I might have used a flash drive,) and installed it onto that same desktop from before.
I was quite honestly blown away with Ubuntu MATE. I rather enjoyed the interface, that I could easily change the panel layout between presets and customize it to my liking, and just how it felt to use it.
I used the Software Boutique to install different software as I browsed through it, and became more acquainted with the OS as I continued to use it. It definitely had it’s fair share of paper cut issues at the time, mainly with the panel when changing predefined layouts, but I enjoyed using it all the same.
I ended up installing it on a couple other of my machines, including my Dell Latitude D830, and dual booting it with Windows 7 on my HP EliteBook 8540w. Eventually, during that summer, I finally pulled the trigger and wiped my Windows partition off the EliteBook, and officially started using Linux as my full-time, primary OS. I was hooked on Linux at this point, and was ready to finally leave Windows behind.
Now that I was using Linux as my main OS, I started to get interested in other distros. Having used Ubuntu proper before, and from what research I had done in the past, I knew there was more out there. And I was ready to start trying it all out.
My first real pull towards distro hopping came in the form of Ubuntu GNOME. The GNOME 3 desktop was something quite new to me, and I was dying to try it out! I grabbed the ISO for Ubuntu GNOME, slapped it onto a machine, and gave it a go. I ended up falling in love with the GNOME desktop.
It had it’s fair share of problems at the time tough. It would slow up after using it for a while, the shell was prone to enough crashes to make it noticeable, and it would not in general run as fast on my hardware as something like Unity 7 or MATE.
I still loved it though, and I ended up bouncing between it and Ubuntu MATE for the rest of the year and into 2017. By this point, I had also given Lubuntu a run or two, and I rather liked it, but not enough to use it as much as GNOME or MATE.
It’s 2017 now. The new 17.04 releases have come out, I download the ISOs for Lubuntu, GNOME, and MATE, and have a play around with them. It wasn’t to long after this time that Canonical decided to end work on Unity 7 & 8, and switch to using the GNOME 3 desktop.
I started experimenting with Linux a lot more in 2017. I tried out distros such as KDE neon, Fedora (failed with this one, but it makes a comeback later on,) Tails, (I think) Qubes, and others, just to get a good feel for them and to quench my thirst for new discoveries and constant change.
This continued all through the year, with my mainstays being Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu GNOME, and KDE neon.
Once 2018 rolled around, the new LTS releases of Ubuntu were on their way. I finally got Fedora installed on a machine, and ended up falling in love with it and proclaimed it as my primary distro by the time Ubuntu 18.04 came out. I find the timing of this interesting, as I held an install fest for 18.04, and I was now using Fedora.
I bounced around Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, KDE neon, Fedora, and Fedora KDE throughout the year, moving from one to the other like they were seasonal clothing.
The year is coming to a close now. Ubuntu 17.10 released, I got hooked on MATE again, I even finally got a family member to have me install it on their computer!
By the end of November, I had been looking into Arch Linux pretty seriously, and was looking to give it a go. On December 5th, I installed Arch onto my desktop computer. I wanted to give Arch a go for a couple of reasons. One was a sort of right of passage, another was for the most up to date packages, and yet another was for the complete customization of the system.
I ended up installing and reinstalling Arch quite a few times between the beginning of December and the end of January. I had a few installs stick around for quite some time, but for one reason or another, I ended up doing the old ‘nuke and pave’ more times than I can truly remember.
It’s now May of 2019. I have been running Arch as my main distro for the past 6 months, without really changing to another distro. However, There was a new hat on the rack, Fedora 30, and I was dying to give it a go.
I ended up using Fedora as my main OS again, albeit alongside Arch, and this trend kept up for a few months, bouncing between using Fedora as my main and using Arch as my main. However, now I was starting to want ti finally settle down with a distro, finally have a proper Linux to call home.
I believe it’s about mid to late September now, and Ubuntu has released it’s beta images for 19.10. I had been using the daily ISOs for both proper and MATE for a bit now in a VM, and, still having a bit of distro hopper in me, I installed the Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Beta onto my main desktop.
I was quite impressed by the improvements that Ubuntu MATE has gotten since I last properly used it. The panel issues I had encountered from 16.04 were largely gone (although it does sill have it’s hiccups from time to time,) and was a rather pleasant experience all in all.
After the proper release of 19.10, I installed it onto my laptop, and upgraded the desktop to the full release version.
I am still running Ubuntu MATE on my machines, the exact same installs from before, and I have no plans on that changing anytime in the future.
Ubuntu MATE is what really got me to start using Linux properly, and it is what got me to finally make the switch form Windows to Linux. I find it fitting that it has become what I truly believe to be my Linux home, the distro I call home.
I have used quite a few Linux distros and flavors over these past few years. I’ve used distros such as Ubuntu (with Unity and now with GNOME), Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu GNOME, Debian, Fedora, Fedora KDE, Elementary OS, Qubes, and Arch, to name some of them.
I will say this though; Ubuntu MATE, I believe, is truly the distro for me. I don’t know quite what it is about it, but whatever it is, I have always enjoyed using it, I have always loved it, and I am glad that I have finally settled in with it, and am using it as my daily driver.
If you have made it to the end of this crazy long, nonsensical journey of mine, I would like to thank you for reading!
I truly believe that, whether the journey is short or long, that finally coming upon your forever distro, finding a Linux to call home, is a truly worthwhile experience.
Anyways, enough of my rambling babbling! Thanks again for reading through all the way to the end here!
I would live to hear what your experience with Linux has been! If you would like to share it with me, feel free to toot at me on Mastodon @easthighNerd. Try using the hashtag
#MyLinuxExp if you would like other people to easily be able to listen to your Linux experience!
As this is December 13th 2019, I would like to wish everyone reading this a merry Christmas! I hope you all enjoy it!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.