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casual distroreviews
Aug 12, 2016
5 minutes read

In the last few weeks, I took a look at 17 different Linux distributions. Why? Because I had nothing else to do and thought it was interesting to see, how the different systems feel. For the first round of this, I looked more at out-of-the-box, beginner-friendly-ish distros, because I’m lazy. I don’t want to say something about all of these distributions, but only about those, which were interesting or special in some way. Anyway, this is the list of all distros I’ve looked into:

  • Apricity OS RC2
  • Architect Linux (31.7.16)
  • BunsenLabs Hydrogen
  • Chalet OS 16.04
  • CentOS 7
  • Debian 8
  • Elementary OS 0.3.2
  • Fedora 24
  • KaOS 2016.07
  • KDE Neon 20160811
  • Korora 24
  • Linux Mint 18
  • LXLE 16.04
  • Manjaro 16.6
  • Peppermint OS 7
  • Solus 1.2
  • Ubuntu 16.04

Maybe I should be saying, what kind of Linux I use at the moment. I use Arch Linux with i3-gaps or OpenBox as window managers. So, I like clean, lightweight environments for my PC and straightforward ways to configure my system.

Architect Linux

Anyone, who has ever installed Arch, will understand the wish for a more simplified or guided installation process. I mean, I liked the installation of Arch as an educational process, but I sure like the idea of a good interface, that helps me to not forget anything, without having to have the ArchWiki open in another PC or phone all the time. That’s basically what Architect Linux does. You can choose different presets, but always also the manual way. You can install different kernels, lots of desktop environments and windows managers, wayland, etc. It makes the installation easier without giving up too much of the freedom of choice Arch offers you. So, if you install Arch for the first time: Don’t use Architect. Just try to learn how you assemble your distro. But when you like it and know what you need, Architect will be a time-saving tool, whenever you want or have to install Arch.

Elementary OS

Yeah, I know, Elementary OS is or was a bit in a controversy, because their main (?) developer said, downloading it for free is like stealing. But I tried it anyway. What I realized too late was, that it still bases on Ubuntu 14.04, so I was a bit easier on it.

What can I say? I liked it. It looked nice, tidy and consistent. That is, until you install a new software. Then that software looks ugly and out of place. I liked, that there were just the essential things preinstalled, but at least a decent word processor, maybe Abiword with a skin, and not just a text editor in the distros design would’ve been nice. Another thing, that looked inconsistent sometimes, were the icons. They were too colorful in some applications. But overall Pantheon is a nice DE. I think, you shouldn’t use Elementary OS as an OS, if you are just coming to Linux, but if you are really into consistent design and nice looking GUIs, like I am, you could use it.

Linux Mint

Another Ubuntu-based distribution. But it is cool. Well at least with Cinnamon; I don’t like MATE, it looks boring and old. In fact, I don’t care about Linux Mint, it is a solid distro with solid choices, but Cinnamon with the Mint-Y-Dark-Theme just looks awesome. I wouldn’t use Mint, because I like to have a bleeding-edge system, and Mint has some quite conservative choices made about package updates, but I could see me using Cinnamon with this damn theme. Besides that it is just a nice and tidy DE which obviously integrates well with the GNOME 3 application stack. So beginners of Linux, just use Mint Cinnamon and be happy.

Peppermint

This is a cloud oriented OS. What means in this case: You can link webapps to your system like “normal” applications. To make this possible, the Peppermint team wrote the ICE Site Manager, which allows you to do exactly that. And it works quite well. But what I really liked about this OS is the implementation of LXDE with Xfcwm4. It was fast, it looked good and was easy to configure. In fact, I liked it more than the version of LXDE, which LXLE ships. The problem, again, is the release system based on Ubuntu LTS. I don’t like this. Stop doing it. But maybe Apricity OS, with a similar focus, will be a more suitable alternative for me in the future.

Solus 1.2

This was the most impressing distro, I tested. Despite being very young, it was just a simple, clean and straightforward distribution. Budgie looks nice, has interesting features and integrates with the GNOME application stack. I liked the installer they used a lot, too. The number of package is quite limited, because the distro is built from scratch with a custom package manager. But under these packages there are interesting ones, like a helper package to integrate Steam into Linux, which was very cool. If they’d shipped a better software center, maybe just use GNOME Software, I would recommend it as a perfect beginner distro, but with the limited packages and the rather unintuitive software center, I won’t. But maybe I will give Budgie a try…

I’m going to look at a few more distro and also a few other OS, like *BSD, the next days, weeks or month and surely will write about it sometimes. For now, this was it.


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