Its again that time of my life when I go Operating System(OS) shopping. Having worked on practically all major and minor OSes from Dos* to Windows * to Linux (Redhat, *Ubuntu, etc) to FreeBSD to Solaris to AIX to Novell etc etc, I have now kind of outgrown my current Kubuntu Linux OS and want something new to lay my hands on. So what exactly am I looking for?
1. KDE Based: This distro MUST BE a KDE based distro unlike my current one which is primarily a Gnome based distro with a KDE base also put in just in case for those not wanting Gnome. As a result 100% love and efforts go into Ubuntu and Kubuntu hardly gets any care and not as much as polish as Ubuntu gets. I don’t like my Distro of choice to be treated like a Step-child thus I want it to be a 100% KDE based and KDE optimized/polished/well developed one.
2. Rolling Release: Having worked on a gazillion OSes now and installed everyone of them many times over, I think I now need an OS that does not need to be clean installed with every release “in order to be safe”. Thus comes in Rolling release OSes which promise that you never have to do a clean install once you install it once but simply do a upgrade and you have all the latest stuff in proper place automatically. My current OS Kubuntu, I have been dist-updating since many releases but it did have its share of breakage though I am relatively happy with its current avatar but I do notice the lack of polish with every release. Old config files/libraries add to the woes. So a rolling release OS that takes care of every new facet of the OS is a must have for me.
3. Fast: KDE on Kubuntu is a bit slow if you read the feedback given by most people. Though I commend the Kubuntu-KDE team to have done a good job but it is still not marvellous. I do see KDE component crashes and lack of polish I mentioned above here multiple times. KDE is indeed slow on Kubuntu considering that I am using a dual core with 2+GB Ram, I have decent KDE but not as fast as when I was using a slow CPU in my previous computer. Thus I want my new OS to be 100% KDE based so that they are more focused and have no other choice but to optimize KDE.
4. Latest Softwares: I want my new OS to ALWAYS have the latest software/security fixes etc of everything. No Excuses. In this regard, Kubuntu shines as I have rarely seen they delaying the latest KDE and many other software incl. security fixes more than a day or two. Infact I have noticed same day releases for most software packages. +1 for Kubuntu here.
5. Support for Latest Hardware/Software: Many OSes esp. in Linux world are either Hypocrite or purely Utopian in nature as they live in dreams that all world is Open Source. That is clearly not true as we do have to work with new gadgets and not everyone works or sell things for free. So without going into free vs proprietary controversy, I want my OS to be supporting all and every piece of Hardware and Software requirement I throw at it that too the latest versions. I don’t want to hear “XYZ is closed source, proprietary, non-free, patented so we wont support”. Linux is about choice. Let me have mine. May not be in the main repos but you must have alternative repositories for such support too. Ubuntu/Kubuntu does this nicely. +1.
6. Secure and Stable: Although Linux is very secure and stable as compared to most other OSes esp. as against Windows, I have seen users complaining about Kernel crash or software causing weird Display malfunction. Take for example this long standing bug I have seen on Kubuntu. I don’t know if it happens on other Linuxes too…If I keep any key depressed for a long time say I kept my Alt or Shift or Ctrl or ‘A’ or ‘Q’ or any such key pressed, the keyboard stops working. Not more Alt+Tab for toggle between windows or any key press to work anymore. Only mouse works. Things become bad when this happened a couple of time I left my workstation for sometime prompting Screen Saver with Password lock. Imagine, how will you type screen saver password when your keyboard is not taking any inputs!!. Actually in such situation you have to keep pressing the key for a looong time inorder to see it being input. So normally when you press ‘A’, it displays it immediately, but in this case, you have to keep ‘A’ pressed for say 5-10 secs to see it being displayed. I have to spend 1 min. to input a normal text of just 6-7 characters!! Any Typist job for me? :). The workaround to restore my keyboard is to logout of KDE and re-login and it again starts working. Seems like a Linux keyboard driver issue, but my question is WHY? that too for so long.
So I want my OS to have minimal of such issues. I come to work on my computer to get work done not to prove to the world I am a super hero or a linux guru. User input is computer/software’s domain not of its users.
7. Unix: Very important for me. My next OS must be Unix based as I can’t live with Windows * and keep worrying about a new virus or botnet attacking my machine. Look at me right now. I have zero Anti-Virus or Firewalls running with absolutely no worry if any such hacking or malicious code attempt to happen to me. I use Linux as my Main OS since many years now and will do so going forward. Of course among my all time favourite OS is FreeBSD. Someone put it very nicely that “God does not need an OS, but if he did, he would have used FreeBSD”. I 1000% agree with it. Simply the Worlds Best OS. Period. But alas, lack of softwares/drivers/support for it vis-a-vis Linux forced me to stop using it as my main OS and moved back to Linux. FreeBSD I just want to say, I love you and you will always be in my Heart, but I can’t compromise on my needs to get work done no matter how good and stable you are.
8. Well supported: Since its inception, Linux has been swarmed with gazillion distributions which is completely confusing the users. Thus you find XYZ distribution zealots claiming their OS superior than the other Linuxes just like we people say, my religion/race is superior to yours when the truth is ‘All is One, One is All’. We all are one. Similarly all distros are Linux irrespective of how they look and where they store their props/binary files. What makes the difference besides the above points is that certain distros have a thriving community of users and is thus well tested and well supported just in case you happen to have a new hardware or get into a problem. Though I am a long time linux user and can hack my way thru it, I still need some support just incase…
9. User Friendly: Yes Please 🙂 Please don’t ask me to compile sources which I have to fetch from 200 different sites which are only up when you are asleep but are inaccessible when you are online that too a particular version. Ohh and that too you have to patch 1..x inorder to fix this bug or that. Too much.
Nice to Haves:
1. Flashy OS: My screen is generally covered to the full with application window and I rarely look at my Desktop so I care less whether it has Weather or Stocks Plasmoid or no or it looks flashy or “ohh see it rolls on its back and makes cakes when you do this”. Of course it must look decent but more priority is on usability(which KDE takes care of 100%). Full support for my Display Hardware-Yes, Stunning animations and effects-Not interested. Nice to have.
2. Large Corp. Backing: I hardly care as you must have figured by now. As long as it has a good thriving community and an assurance that the OS is not going to disappear overnight just because the main developer is getting married or his/her dog died I am fine.
3. Debian based: Not as critical but since I am hands-on on Debian for so long thanks to Kubuntu, I prefer not to re-learn new commands and break my head over a new less than optimal package manager.
I am tilting in favour of sidux as it takes care of most of my requirements except that it does not support the latest version(as of this writting) of the software I am going to use the most i.e KDE. I am running KDE 4.4 from the day it was released thank to the efforts of Kubuntu team. sidux is nowhere supporting KDE 4.4. Why? Because Debian SID it relies on does not. Hmmm. (K)Ubuntu is also Debian based that too based on SID(albeit 6 monthly but still) and it does support. Why can’t you? This is a major weakness in sidux from an otherwise tempting OS. I also found its forum and manual less helpful than the one in (K)Ubuntu. Many users might jump on me for saying so. Did I mention some users are just zealots?
Chakra is also good, but it is currently in Alpha and as I mentioned, I want a well supported, cutting edge OS not a one that is brittle in nature. Sorry Chakra but I am very specific in my requirement though I liked what I see on their website and maybe I might try in future. Another reason to not be very fond of Chakra is because it is based on Arch Linux and I will have to learn new set of commands for package manager and many other things I haven’t gone in detail of and being a smaller community, help when breakage occurs will be tough to find.
OpenSuse also looks good too, but it fails on most critical counts such as Rolling Release, Debian Based etc.
So can you help me find a good OS fulfilling my above requirements or have comments on? Use the Comments box and let me know.