New laptop, new Linux distro!

I’m a Linux user. Perhaps that should have read “I’m a Linux fan”. At work (for the last 8 years) I was forced to have a Windows workstation, but VMs and my personal laptops have been running Linux since 2001, and so have many of my work computers. Next month, in my new job, I’ll have a Linux machine again! I like it better than Windows, which I have used often for work, since 2013, and some versions of MacOS, which I have used for work while in the US (2010-2013). I’m not quite a distro-hopper, but I do try to switch every once in a while. Getting a new laptop is a great incentive to try something new (I have to install something anyway!) and I happened to get a new private laptop three weeks ago. It’s a Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i. I’m not a gamer, but GPUs have more than one potential use (some specs in the image below). To use it properly, I need to get rid of Windows asap, obviously.

Before, I have used Fedora and RHEL, and a whole bunch of Ubuntu based systems: Ubuntu (until they started Unity), Mint, Kubuntu and Xubuntu. I thought I never was a big fan of GNOME. After my recent purchase, I was struck by the enthusiasm for Pop!_OS that I saw on the web. A distro that is basically just another Ubuntu fork, with some tweaks to the GNOME desktop environment. I was a little bit skeptical, but I was also looking to see what distro I would in September put on my work laptop (and, during work hours, I don’t want to be bothered with stuff that doesn’t work, so I’d rather try it out first). I gave it a try and was planning to try OpenSUSE or some Arch-based distro like Manjaro as well (not that I feel the need to feel very hardcore, but some people are fans, right?). Pop!_OS 21.04 was just out, so I created the bootable USB stick and went ahead. Installation was ultra-easy.

I’m not moving back, nor away! I like the look and feel of Pop!_OS very much and became a fan of a tiling window manager in just a few hours. Only marginal tweaking of default settings was needed for me, and not a lot of bloat-ware was installed (but I did remove vim, HA!). The fact that their desktop environment is called “Cosmic” and that they have a lot of desktop art in that general theme appeals to me as well. One of the really nice things is that they have an iso for computers with NVIDIA graphics, that makes the gpu work basically out of the box. Moreover, you can set the computer to use the internal graphical card (intel) only, the NVIDIA only, a hybrid scheme (internal only doesn’t let you use a second monitor…) or… a setting in which the NVIDIA card is only available for computation. Great for battery life. Also, the seamless integration of apt and flatpaks is quite nice. I feel confident to throw this on the cute Dell XPS 15 that I will get next month and I will likely be up and running in just a few hours. (And then I hope the web-based version of the whole 365 suite will not let me down…because yes, also this employer is quite MS-based in their tooling).

Terminal art, and some hints of what the desktop might look like.

So… Who’s gonna convince me of another distro to try? Suggestions, preferably with some arguments, are welcome!

2 thoughts on “New laptop, new Linux distro!”

  1. I am curious what you would think of a Chromebook. I use Ubuntu on my desktop all the time but I am very happy with my Pixelbook from 2017 (bought in the USA) with an i5 and 8Gb RAM. It works like a dream and is enough for Python and web development (Android Studio). Datascience might be a bit difficult because of the lack of a nice GPU but the money you save on a Chromebook can then be spent on a cloud GPU. That said, I would like to upgrade to an i5 10th gen and 16Gb RAM but there are no chromebooks with those specs in The Netherlands yet.. anyway.. enjoy Linux 🙂

  2. Hey Rob!
    I’ve never really considered a Chromebook. I do use some heavy calculations sometimes (that don’t necessarily need a GPU, but a fast CPU and quite some memory are nice). For both work and private I use recent-generation i7’s and 16 or 32 GB of RAM. Also, storage can be a thing on Chromebooks. I really don’t want to read in the GBs of data from the web everytime I need. Now I could move all of that to the cloud, but then you can really only work when online, plus the price tag would be use dependent (and can in fact rise substantially, too). I don’t have a lot against google (like many do), but being tied to whatever they would give me on those machines seems iffy. You could just throw a linux distro on them, but then we’re at the same point where I am now, I guess. 🙂
    Cheers, Marcel

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