Which Version of Linux is Right for You?

Do you know how many times I’ve heard that question asked in the media or various Linux magazines or what not? Too many. So I’m going to tell you KISS, Keep it simple, stupid. That is the philosophy of the Arch Linux distribution, but for those who are just starting out with Linux, I highly recommend Keep it Simple, Stupid by just going with Linux Mint. I use Linux Mint KDE when I use Linux Mint.

Now I’m an experienced user. I’ve used all kinds of distros from Arch itself as well as offshoots like Manjaro and Antergos to Gentoo and Slackware. I’ve used Debian, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Linux Mint, SolyXK, Fedora, openSUSE plus I use an Android phone (Android being a derivative of Linux developed by Google).

I’m not talking about installing these operating systems in a virtual box. I’m talking about actually installing it on my computer as my sole and only operating system for weeks, months or years at a time. So I really know what it’s like to live and work in a computer that runs Linux as it’s operating system.

This blog post – posted inside Linux. Although once I was also a kind of Windows XP expert, but I don’t even like, trust or understand Windows anymore. Everything I need is here on my computer and I pay nothing for the privilege of using any software I need. I’ve learned to meet all my needs inside a “Linux box” as we call it.

There’s people going to tell you to install this version or that version, and that’s fine. But if you’re just starting out, go with the most popular, robust and driver friendly version of them all that works right out of the box every time on every computer. Linux Mint.

Revenge: Installer for Arch Linux

Even though I’ve said senior Arch Linux forum members have palpable antagonism toward Arch derivatives Antergos, Apricity and Manjaro Linux, you can still easily install Arch yourself and have a regular, pure Arch system.

The installer I have enjoyed is called Revenge. It is a fancy installer that draws what it needs only from the Arch repositories in the installation process and leaves you with an Arch installation, nothing more nothing less. There are no forums, wiki or special repositories. Revenge is not a distro or derivative. It’s an installer.

I have a theory why the creator of Revenge calls it Revenge. It’s revenge against the Arch hard-liners who want you to install Arch only using the Wiki method. Now you can install Arch in 10 minutes – graphically.

Many of these YouTube trolls who go around installing and reviewing Linux distros in Virtualbox claim that Antergos itself is only an installer. I run Antergos and this is not true. Antergos is in fact a derivative of Arch with it’s own repositories, wiki and forums.

Revenge, however, is none of that.

It’s an installer. You download it, you do put it on a DVD to install, and you wind up with nothing more or less than a pure Arch installation of Linux which you can then play with and refine on your own using pacman and yaourt to install software as you require.

Why anyone would prefer an Arch installation over Antergos is beyond me, though. I still use Antergos on my main machine and still feel absolutely secure and safe. I like that they have their (friendlier) forums, as does Manjaro Linux, and their own repositories and graphical software installer and updater.

That being said, get the Revenge installer here: download and read a detailed article about the Revenge installer by clicking here.

Too Many Options

I cannot decide. There are too many options. A Microsoft Windows person would have no idea.

It’s all the fault of Linux, or more properly “GNU/Linux” pronounced “Gah-New Lin-ux” or sometimes “Gah-New Lin-ox.” Much to the distress of the GNU people who provide all the software for Linux and BSD systems, nobody wants to say “Gan-New” before “Linux.” The harsh reality is this: the vast majority of the public just calls it Linux.

First decision: Which Linux? There are hundreds and hundreds of versions of the open-source, free operating system. It’s already running on devices you probably own, like your modem, router, Android Phone, tablet and smart TV. At my house it also runs my Desktop Computer.

I feel secure in Linux. No viruses. No compromises. Safe, functional, beautiful, incredibly powerful.

So for the first choice I decided I wanted a “rolling distribution,” or one that once installed, it never had to be installed again. It will update itself forever, including the Linux kernel. I am tired of the versions that get outdated and have limited support after an expiration date. There is no need anymore to put up with that. There are both stable and “bleeding edge” rolling versions of Linux out there that do everything that Ubuntu or Mint do. Tough it out.

Next I needed it to be functional. Out of the box working, for the most part. At least in major areas. I shouldn’t have to have a command line prompt and build the entire operating system from the ground up like with Arch or Gentoo. I have no time for that. I wanted a version of Linux which made disk partitioning easy and left me with some kind of graphical interface when I’m done installing and at the same time which gives me complete control over what I’m putting on my computer.

Finally, I wanted to be slightly off the beaten path, but not too far off. I didn’t want Debian/Ubuntu/Mint family versions, or Red Hat versions, Gentoo derivatives or Slackware. Something different. I decided on Arch derivatives, and I narrowed that down to one: Antergos-OS. I did, in the process, over the years, explore all of the above options.

Second decision: What desktop environment? This is where Microsoft Window users are lost. They just have to accept whatever Microsoft has decided for them. They can customize their desktop to some degree, but not with the flexibility and complete range of power that someone using Linux has. In Linux we have many “DEs” such as KDE Plasma, Gnome 3, Mate, Xfce, Cinnamon, Deepin, Enlightenment, Openbox, Lxde and so on. Each of them handles things a little different, look a little different, have different functionalities, strengths and weaknesses.

The Desktop Environment is where I falter.

The desktop environment sits on top and is what your Window Manager serves up to you to interact with your operating system – I think.

For years I used a well-known desktop environment called Mate, and pronounced it “Mate” like the British version of a friend. Only recently I figured out it’s not pronounced like a British friend, but a two syllable word “ma-tay,” which I have trouble getting my head around.

I also used Cinnamon, but didn’t like it so much. Mate was my DE for years.

Then I got bored with it. I tried Unity. Hated it. So I went with Xfce, which is pronounced exactly like the letters of the alphabet. I couldn’t figure out and didn’t seem to like KDE Plasma. We’ll get back to that.

Then I migrated to Gnome and discovered that half the YouTube world mispronounces it as “Nome” when the developers want us to pronounce it “Gah-Nome” because the G means something – what I don’t know, but it’s really supposed to be pronounced “Gah-Nome.”

Then I went back and looked at KDE Plasma, the most popular of all.

Now I have all three on my computer. I can switch from one to the other: Gnome, Xfce and KDE Plasma. I have them all set up. They are all beautiful, have rotating wallpapers, intense functionality and so on. I can do anything. I can place Facebook games, watch Netflix, watch Amazon Videos and YouTube, work on my spreadsheet, write and update this blog – all from any of them. It’s hard to remember which DE I’m in at the moment. Let me check … Behold – I’m in Xfce, which is weird because for the last few weeks I’ve been inside Gnome and the last two days I’ve been setting up Plasma. Xfce was my first of these three.

With it all set up so nicely, I can’t decide. I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.

I guess if you don’t like this kind of problem and like having to pay money for an anti-virus subscription just to protect your computer from software you have to download from questionable sources, then go on using MS Windows. In Linux all our software comes from trusted “repositories” and is safe and sound, and we don’t have virus problems. See my earlier post about Linux Virus protection.

So for now, if I get bored, I just switch. Why should I be nailed down to some boring window environment when I can have anything I want and complete freedom with my computer?

Those are some of my reasons I run Linux on my desktop computer.