Distro-hopping Is Good for You


Pinoy Techie
It's about two-and-a-half years since I escaped from the clutches of Microsoft and started to explore the exciting and immense world of Linux. It has been fun, and I have learned a lot along the way. At each step, I have had to be careful. My PC is my office - it's where I work every day - so it must work; I cannot compromise on that. Fortunately, there is a way by which it is possible to run other setups in a virtual environment on a computer without endangering the main system. One of these is Oracle VirtualBox, and I have tested many new operating systems safely in this way.

At first I wanted something that was as easy to install and use as Windows. After trying a few, I settled on Linux Mint, as it fitted that role perfectly. I installed it to dual-boot with my existing Windows setup while I found my feet, but it wasn't long before I found that I can do everything I need to do in Linux, and I was able to remove Windows completely from my computer.

As the months passed, I became confident enough to stretch my wings and fly with some other Linux distributions, and at each step I have found more speed and flexibility. From Linux Mint, I progressed to LMDE (the Linux Mint Debian Edition, from the same team as the 'main' Mint editions). LMDE requires a little more experience than the regular Mint flavour, but it is a little lighter and faster. Linux Mint and LMDE are both based on the Debian operating system, as is Ubuntu, from which Linux Mint sprung. As I used them, I gradually became familiar with the way Debian works and some of its syntax.

At this point, I also began to experiment with different desktops. After Windows, it was a revelation to me that it could be possible to have a real choice, not only of operating system, but in the whole look and feel of the computer setup.
My PC is quite old, and I also use a netbook to enable me to continue writing while travelling. The constraints of the netbook led me to try the Xfce desktop environment, and now it is my DE of choice in every situation. The combination of LMDE and Xfce gave new life to my old netbook, and on my PC it was amazing.

Then I was introduced by a friend to another branch of the Linux family distributions based on the Arch operating system. There are fewer of them than are based on Debian, but the number is growing. The first I tried was Manjaro, which aims, like Linux Mint, to be an easy-to-use system 'out of the box'; and it is. Manjaro worked so well for me that last year I made it the main system on my PC. It has not let me down; it is stable and easy to use, with many helpful things built in.

But my curiosity was growing with my Linux skills and confidence, and soon I was trying other Arch-based systems, and Arch itself. Arch is quite tricky for a beginner like me, so I was delighted when I found a distribution that is close to Arch, but a bit easier - Antergos. Antergos has a nice installer, and delivers what has proved to be the ideal setup for me. It is fast, reliable, and can do everything I need.

Now I am building up a bank of knowledge that I hope will enable me to build an Arch installation that has all the goodies I like in Antergos, and all the tools I need to do my work. After all, Antergos is just Arch with a few frills, isn't it?
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