Some days ago I awakened from my sleep several hours early. I knew I would be unable to return to my slumber. I rose, took a very hot shower, started a wood fire, made and ate breakfast while browsing RSS feeds.

The cause of my early rising?

Stress. I have been troubled of late because I am stuck in a proverbial rut. I want to return to using my computers as tools and not as daily test beds. I am weary of constant tinkering to make things work. This includes all of the distros I use.

All of the current Linux desktops have usability problems and quirks.

In addition to those foundations, I recognized I was locked into certain apps. This is not vendor lock-in. Rather, these apps keep me locked to a specific computer because the data files are user-centric, not centralized, and the respective data files are stored only on that one computer.

I need to break these dependencies if I hope to centralize access to my data and files.

While I learned a lot the past 18 months or so, as desktops I decided my time with Fedora and CentOS probably should end. I like the app availability in Fedora, which does not exist in CentOS, which is designed and intended as the name implies, for enterprise users. Non technical and home users please go away. Using Fedora means being a member of the kernel-of-the-week club. The continual updates are fatiguing. I like the slow changing environment of CentOS, which does not exist in Fedora, but the lack of focus on non enterprise users leaves me always feeling like I am squeezing a size 10 foot into a size 8 shoe. I want to continue using CentOS to learn more about servers, but as a desktop I should stop my illusions.

One avenue for a wide selection of apps is something based on Debian or Ubuntu. Another possibility is OpenSuse, although I never traveled that path.

Part of my stress levels come from maintaining too many systems. Pragmatism tells me to reduce the overhead to two distros, both using a common desktop and common apps and tools. Learning through exposure is good and often fun, but not when stress levels become intolerable. Time to cut back.

Installing Linux for other people means I should focus on at least one distro that supports me and other people. Eating one’s own dog food or something like that.

I was using LMDE for other people. LMDE seems relegated to the role of black sheep and after thought. Time to move away from that system too.

Recent testing of Xfce in both Mint and Xubuntu showed me I could exist with either distro. I have no taste for the Ubuntu sudo illusion, but restoring a root account is straightforward and thus, not really a quarrel point. Mint Xfce does not have this problem but is based on Ubuntu 14.04, which is based on Upstart. I do not want to learn another init system, especially when Upstart is a dead-end now that the Canonical folks have adopted systemd.

Both Mint and the Ubuntu family have large software repositories and would make a good choice for Windows converts.

As I use Slackware on my server and main office desktop, that would seem to indicate my two distros should be Slackware and Xubuntu. Yet of late I have my eye on Ubuntu MATE.

Perhaps Slackware has limits in my future too. Part of me has grown weary of building and compiling packages when a simple point-and-click fetches the software I want to use. Yes, I know that somebody has to make packages — why not me? Generally though, in the large distro ecosystems package building is mostly automated.

While derivatives such as Salix or Zenwalk and some personal repositories could fill some of the void, the bottom line is the focus of Slackware and derivatives is technical users and not non technical users. While I have enjoyed Slackware for many years and “being in control,” I am nonetheless weary of the tinkering.

I do not see me leaving Slackware completely because that is what is on my server. I have everything configured the way I want without systemd entanglements. Comfort zones and all that. So Slackware will remain for a long time unless or until the day arrives when I can tinker on that.

For desktop usage I do not see a need to remain tied to Slackware. Right now I am looking at Xubuntu and Ubuntu MATE. Some might find hard to believe that a long-time Slacker would consider an Ubuntu distro. Fatigue has its way of convincing people to change.

I will leave Fedora, CentOS, and LMDE installed on my laptop for a while for configuration comparisons as I consider a new distro.

Then move forward with my app dependency obstacles.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: CentOS, Fedora, General, MATE, Mint, Slackware, Xfce, Xubuntu

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