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And the winner is…

I was going to title this post “Three days, three distros” or “Three distros in three days”, but that is not half as captivating. Indeed, as the would-be titles suggest, this is about switching distros (again). After running for a while on Linux Mint 10, I decided it is time to upgrade.

My primary motivation for upgrading was to benefit from newer software in the repositories, because I always feel like I am missing out by not benefiting from newer releases added to the repos. One thought that always crosses my mind is: “Should I go with an LTS version of Ubuntu?” but I have honestly never delved deep enough into that option, and I always end up opting for the newest release.

Fortunately installing a new version of Linux is extremely trivial since I adopted the practice of keeping /home on a separate partition, so changing to a different Linux flavour can be done as quickly as the ladies change their nail colours in the television commercials.

Prior to running Mint, I tried out Pinguy OS for a while, but I found the carnival atmosphere of this heavily customized distribution to be a bit much. I spent a lot of time in the beginning getting rid of all the extra little applets and Firefox plugins which I found to be a complete overkill and a waste of time (and system resources). I believe Pinguy is only for those people who feel they didn’t get to go to the circus enough as children and have a need to feel like they are going to the fun fair each time they boot up their computer.

Why did I not simply upgrade Mint? Well, after reading the release notes and looking at the known issues, I decided that I cannot simply be satisfied with the possible loss of my desktop cube, and besides, I like trying out new things. Besides, on both my desktop and my laptop, I stripped away the standard panels and opted for a combination of AWN (Docky was also good) plus Gnome DO, which is the awesomest way to get things done, in my opinion. (As a side note, I really liked Docky, except for the fact that I couldn’t find an application menu applet for it, and I thought dedicating an entire applet to settings a waste, when it could have been an app launcher. Just my two cents).

Anyway, the reason for switching from Ubuntu in the first place was the imminent arrival of Unity. Like many people, I guess, I felt that I really did not have the patience for this newcomer, and so this rat just had to jump ship. Of course, it is difficult to completely ditch what is otherwise such a wholesomely functioning distro, and so it is quite natural to stick to one of its derivatives.

I had played around before with Xubuntu and Lubuntu, but I always thought they are a bit too minimalist for me (though I am contemplating revisiting them again, as I will explain shortly).

After much consideration, I finally decided: “What the heck, I will give Natty a shot” (Natty being of course Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal). And I did. I ran it for a day. And then I decided that Unity is for the birds. It also seemed like the new Ubuntu is heavy on resources. My laptop fan worked overtime the whole day, almost driving me dilly, though I don’t know if this is some bug or the CPU genuinely overheating, in which case I guess that all Natty derivatives should have this problem.

One thing that particularly disgusts me about Unity is that there is no official documentation for it. You would think that Canonical would have put more thought into documenting their new UI concept, and at least provided a guided tour for people new to Ubuntu whose first encounter is with 11.04. I feel they definitely missed the boat there.

So, after a day on Ubuntu, I decided to install Bodhi. I have always had an interest in Enlightenment, perhaps because I have a soft spot for the underdog, and Enlightenment seems to be it. I have to admit though that Enlightenment is not the most easy desktop environment to get the hang of, and especially for me it does not seem so intuitive. In addition, I hate having to download a lot of packages remotely when local mirrors exist for other distros, so after an hour of fiddling with Bodhi, I decided that this was not for me either.

And then, remembering how I read an article in which someone listed all the Ubuntu/Unity alternatives that Kubuntu is still another option, I finally burned me a Kubuntu disc and installed it. And guess what? I liked it. For the first time, KDE actually appealed to me. After spending a day with Unity, KDE is actually very, very nice. It can be summed up in one word: polished. KDE has a lot of the touches that I always wished Gnome had. I always just thought of KDE as the flashy, more beautiful sister, and I generally favoured Gnome for its practicality. But now I can honestly say that I think I will give KDE a proper chance.

Admittedly, my Kubuntu system is not the most wonderfully performing machine. Sometimes the Plasma Desktop seems a bit sluggish, but I’m going to spend some time looking into what I can turn off to counter that, because there is really so much that is nice to savour about KDE that I want to spend some time taking it all in. A CPU hog is of course a bit of a turn-off, and that would be the only thing that would make me reconsider one of the feather-light distros again (like Lubuntu or Xubuntu).

For now, however, I think Kubuntu is a winner.

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