A Battle of Linux Distros

November 2021 ยท 4 minute read

This year it’s going to be the 8th year of me using GNU+Linux distributions on my main driver machines, so, I wanted to celebrate it with a little post talking about the countless distributions I found on my way to finding the current ones I’m using right now. Some were good, others unusable, and throughout my Linux journey I learnt a lot and applied the knowledge directly as it was meant to be.

“With software there are only two possibilities: either the users control the program or the program controls the users. If the program controls the users, and the developer controls the program, then the program is an instrument of unjust power.” R.M.S.

The early days

I started my journey like every other Linux enthusiast: on a Ubuntu-based distro. At first, everything was hard. The GUI was different, there was the necessity to use the terminal for everything and I didn’t know any of the commands I use today. There were a lot of days in which I thought about switching back to Windows but then forced myself to use Linux anyway because all the great computer scientists I knew were doing it.

I had an advantage, of course. I wasn’t a complete NooB. I did knew what was a documentation and how to read it. I knew Linux was all about reading and learning. I had the motivation to switch, there wasn’t anyone forcing me to do it. With these tools, I learnt faster than any average user. I started distro-hopping. I had tons of fun.

I spent most of my early days distro-hopping between all the Ubuntu-based distributions: first it was Ubuntu, then Kubuntu, then Lubuntu, then, finally I settled for Pop OS.

Pop was everything I was searching. It was (and is!) a blazing fast, power-user focused, Ubuntu-based experience. It looked DAMN GOOD. Nvidia worked flawlessly. It was four year ago. I consider myself an early adopter of that distribution and I still recommend people to use it today to learn what is the Linux Experience.

The Pacman/AUR revolution

I switched from Pop for one big reason. I had the necessity to install and update everything from a single program. Ubuntu distributions started to embrace Flatpacks and Snaps. I hate them. They sure work well and install without any dependency problem but they stink as hell. GTK and qt don’t work well. They don’t open external apps well. You can’t call them with root. Most of the time they don’t respect any of the settings you specify.

So I started looking elsewhere. I had to search for more freedom. That is the way of Linux (I know it sounds stupid but not in my mind).

Was I willing to go all-in into a minimal distribution and do all the tinkering myself? yeah, I was ready.

So, Arch. Everyone knows it. A lot of people use it. It focuses on Simplicity, Modernity, Pragmatism, User Centrality and Versatility. It is rolling-release, perfect for the nerd I was becoming. It has a steep learning-curve, also perfect because I was willing to learn it. But, most importantly, it had Pacman and the AUR, two of the things I still use the most in my day-to-day Linux experience.

I started reading the Arch wiki. Day and night. I stopped playing video-games for a while just to have more time to spend on my Linux experience. I was having lots of fun. I used any desktop environment I found on the web, then, bored, I started playing with Window Managers too: i3, xmonad, openbox, then herbstluftwm, leftwm and now dwm.

What if I needed to install a strange program only available for X distribution? No problem, I have the AUR by my side: paru -S name-of-the-package


Yes. I still use Arch. I use InstantOS on my laptop, which is a neat Arch-Based distribution. I do all the things I have to do in the terminal: writing? neovim. Music? spotify-tui. Managing my packages? paru. Downloading a file? wget, and so on.

If you find yourself needing more freedom and more in general from your personal computer, try to explore. Try to be curious. Use Linux.

“That’s what makes Linux so good: you put in something, and that effort multiplies. It’s a positive feedback cycle.” L.T.