The joys of Linux… (not really)

I will start off by saying that i have a huge amount of respect for Linus Torvalds and everyone else that has helped Linux become what it is today, one of the strongest multi-platform operating systems available, capable of doing darn near anything you want.  Except provide a desktop experience that I’m happy with, it seems.

I first looked at Linux in 1990, during my first year of college.  Back then it was a kernel, a shell, and a chunk of GNU command line utilities had been ported, but only a small fraction compared to the amount of software available on Linux today.  Not to mention the X11 port had been started but I don’t think it was usable.  At least, not on the hardware that I had available.  Although our college had just gained Internet access, downloading everything was still a big deal.  Getting hold of a Slackware CD for the first time was exciting.  You get the point.  🙂

I’ve tried to follow Linux through the years.  Early on, reading the kernel development announcements was fun for me.  The OS was very young and those decisions were the basis of the OS to come.

I’ve used several desktop environments, including GEOS, Workbench, GEM, Windows 2.0 (and up), OS 2.0 Warp, and most versions of Mac OS since OS 6.  So I have a pretty good idea of what I want in my desktop & file management environment.  And through the years, I’ve been continually disappointed in the Linux desktop offerings.  It makes an awesome powerhouse server OS, but I’ve never though the desktop end-user experience was desirable.

So for AROS development, I first tried Ubuntu and was again disappointed.  I googled a lot and looked at several other distributions and started to lose hope.  I did not look at Debian initially, because Debian was known for playing it safe in the early years.  So safe, that software had to be built specifically for Debian and much of the available software for other Linux distros was not available for Debian.

But if I’m going to do any coding at all while using Linux, I want it to be stable.  And Debian is known for that.  So I downloaded 8.5 with Cinnamon and I am very impressed.  I’ll still use Windows a majority of the time, followed by Mac OS.  But I like this particular Debian distribution a lot.  The desktop is very professional and clean looking, while still supporting user customization, such as theme support.

I’m still annoyed at some of the significant differences between the different Linux distributions.  Linux as packaged and deployed now is no longer a single operating system, because two different distributions can behave significantly different from each other and have incompatibilities between them.  And the awful directory structure that was inherited and then further mutilated by various Linux distributions.  (You can’t tell that I’m biased, can you?)

I’m still looking for a decent Explorer style file manager, because that’s what I’ve used for 20+ years and that’s what I prefer.  But I have a few queued up to look at.

One last comment is that I do love the apt-get package manager.  I’ve used other package managers, and most of them are pretty good.  But apt-get seems to be rock-solid, very efficient, lots of software available, and just overall a solid tool.


Author: Jon Robertson

Software developer, Commodore hacker, and a fortunate husband and father!

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