How To Pick A Linux Distro

Updated: Mar 11

This post is only for Linux enthusiasts. If you are not, save your time.

I have suffered from distrohopping. Now that I have settled for the last two years, here are some tips to save your time- 1. All distros run the same operating system at their core, Linux. They are more similar than different. Hence, the marginal cost (time) of looking for a better distro is much more than the marginal benefit of it. 2. Say no to distributions made for specific purposes like Kali, CentOS, and OpenSuse. OpenSuse is great, but it is made for enterprise use. An everyday user won't ever need most of its features. To maintain it will be a waste of time. The same goes for the RedHat family. 3. Instead of trimming Suse, you better pick a distro made for everyday people, such as AntiX and SolusOS. Read their descriptions and target users on Distrowatch.

4. Avoid technical distributions like arch, its forks, and Gentoo. They are for the programmer types. If you are not one, you will likely break it. Updates tend to be massive and very frequent. And you can't install a new package without updating first. You don't want to deal with this. If you want it only for AUR, just learn to compile. More on this later (8). 5. Say no to most desktop environments (DEs) besides LXDE and LXQT. Prefer window managers (WMs) for maximum performance. DEs can be buggy and cause distraction. They increase boot time and update size. It may be reasonable to rule out all distros that don't come with a window manager so you don't have to do the work post-installation. Know the rule-- the less stuff you have, the fewer things you can break, the fewer problems you will face. Keep it minimal. Don't allow the bling-bling to distract you. 6. Try out different Init systems. Every since systemd was adopted, Linux has started to feel like Windows, complex and out of hand. Personally, I avoid systemd because it's hard and complex, no hate though. I do have it on Manjaro (but I did have to mask a couple of unneeded services to lower the boot time). A particular init system might work better on your specific hardware. Try some isos on a virtual machine. 7. Avoid forks because they simply are not different enough. In addition, they tend to carry their parent distro's issues on top of their own issues. And the developers can do only so much about it. Independent distributions can fix issues more quickly because they can. Prefer original and independent distros. 8. Don't worry about software availability. Just learn to compile from source code. You can learn it in less than an hour. It will free you from the fear of trying things beyond the Debian/Ubuntu world. Furthermore, package managers like Appimage and Flatpak allow you to install softwares on any distro. Avoid snap. It slows down bootup and doesn't allow you to control app updates. This may change in the future though.

9. Prefer rolling distros. Reinstallation is boring and it takes a long time to set everything as you want. When you apply the filters presented above, the complicated world of Linux may yield a few distributions that you can try on a virtual machine. Finally, work hard; be open to learning; don't waste time on fancy GUIs. Use your computer to maximize your life. Don't let it waste your time. You have very limited of it.

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