Personal Opinions

I can’t stop switching between Linux Distros (Distro hopping)

I can't stop switching between Linux Distros (Distro hopping)
Just Penguins / © Derek Oyen on Unsplash.

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Put simply, distro hopping (or "distro hop") is when a user keeps switching between different distros, and while this is a time-consuming hobby that won't get you far when it comes to learning new skills, for some people like me it's a fun way to spend your time. It's like gaming, people are playing to have fun and kill time, and distro hopping is something similar for me.

At the ripe old age of 29, I am a 15-year-old Linux user and a distro hopping maniac, always looking for the perfect distro, even knowing deep down that I’ll probably never find it. But that hasn’t stopped me from always finding a great reason to download, install, and play with another Linux distro, while I could use that time to do more important stuff. Or would I?

I’ve rarely used Windows lately. I don’t even remember the time that I was using Microsoft’s operating system for anything else other than playing Dying Light 2 and using Adobe’s suite of apps, Creative Cloud. Windows 11 is just there, a dusty operating system now waiting for me to start it up and have some fun, but when I am using it, I’m always looking forward to restarting and going back to Linux.

Don’t get me wrong, Linux is not perfect, and it’s surely not ready for the common user who doesn’t do anything else other than gaming. But it’s great for a big percentage of people, and even for my mother, who hasn’t used Windows in ages, just because she fell in love with Lubuntu. Yeah, Lubuntu. But she didn’t go and just installed Linux by herself, she had to use my laptop for something she wanted to do when I was out of town and then used something entirely different other than what she knew already existed.

I remember her calling me and asking me, “Hey, they’ve sent me an email, but I am not sure if it is the correct one, and I want to download the attached file, would that be an issue? Do you have an Anti-Virus installed?” I laughed and told her that I didn’t need an Anti-Virus and that she wasn’t using Windows, but Lubuntu, a lightweight Linux distro that was the only operating system my old wicked laptop could have handled.

On my arrival back home, my mother asked me to install Lubuntu on her laptop, as she didn’t have to worry about viruses and malware infecting her laptop, and because it was a whole lot faster than Windows. And so I did, more than a decade ago. Since then, I’ve also had a few friends using Linux as their default operating system, and they all seemed happy enough to stay with it, but none of them was as distro hopping maniac as I was – and still am.

But with so many Linux distributions being available to download, and with Linux users already having problems choosing the right distro for their needs, how is a Windows or macOS user going to choose and stick with one? Should they go with a Debian-based or an Arch-based distro? Do they need to choose between Snap, Flatpak, or even AppImage types of apps? How about the graphical environment? There are so many to choose from, including GNOME, KDE Plasma, XFCE, Budgie, and Cinnamon, just to name a few.

I think they were right. You know, those people who kept telling us that having fewer options sometimes is better? With Microsoft, well, you get Windows, or better yet, the latest two versions that the company is still supporting. With Apple, you get macOS, which is great, but again, the newest versions most of the time are the way to go. And then you get Linux, with so many distros, features, and options, it’s almost impossible to find the right one for your needs if you haven’t used most of them.

This is where distro hopping comes into play.

No, a stable, fast, and beautiful Linux distro is never enough. I want to test a hundred of them, even when looking at the pictures or video reviews and knowing that I’ll never use that specific distro as my main one. And when I finish with the whole list, I want to test even more. That’s who am I, and I think I am finally fine with it.

For the last few years, I’ve been using Manjaro Linux as my main Linux distro. And while I am using KDE Plasma, which was always kinda buggy compared to GNOME and XFCE, it was always the one that stole my heart. Now with KDE 6.0, things are looking better than ever before, and I can’t wait until Manjaro releases it – although as a distrohopping maniac, I have already installed and tried the newest KDE Neon version.

Visiting DistroWatch.com‘s top list of Linux distributions, keeping an eye on the newest hot releases, and reading everything Linux-related is “my thing”. Checking for new updates every few hours is also something that I do, and I always appreciate a good old-fashioned but well-designed changelog to see what has been changed, improved, added, and so on.

I had an 8GB USB stick and a Samsung SSD with 500GB of storage just to install and play with various Linux distros. But after needing more ways to please my distro hopping needs, I fixed an old HP laptop, put a new SSD on it, added extra RAM, and I am now using it for all my tests.

No, I am not one of those Linux fanboys who are constantly looking at every chance to comment “switch to Linux” or start a discussion about how good it is. Well, I can talk about Linux all day long, but only with people who are commonly interested in this topic. What I do love is trying different Linux distributions, running my own tests, doing my own changes, playing around, and every few days breaking everything and starting again with a fresh installation.

Is it time-consuming? Yes, yes it is. Have I ever thought of giving up on trying new Linux distros almost every week? Yes, yes I did, many times in the past. Have I stopped? No, no I haven’t, and as of this moment, I don’t think I’ll ever will. It is what it is people, and we are who we are, so why stop doing what we love?

I find it more interesting playing with different operating systems and learning new tricks rather than playing games, watching movies and TV, or even sports. But that’s just my own way of having fun, and if that brings you joy, why stop?

Panos Sakalakis

Meet Panos Sakalakis, a web wizard, blogging buff, podcasting pro, and SEO sorcerer with over 15 years of enchanting experience. When he's not weaving digital spells with his keyboard, you'll likely spot him conquering mountain trails with his trusty Hard-Trail MTB bike, in hot pursuit of the ultimate adrenaline rush and the perfect blog post inspiration.

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