Back in 2010 everything was simple, all my personal computing devices were quite happily running Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) with some minor tweaks to the Gnome 2 environment and the addition of Docky, nice and simple(s?).
Then came Gnome 3, the falling out with Marc Shuttleworth/Unity with it’s windows buttons on the LHS. General howls of “why the f**k are you changing this ?” from the user community, and the rise of Mint, Cinnamon and Maté.
Meanwhile the KDE users just gaze on a bit smugly.
What I really want is Debian based distro which uses Gnome 3, but that doesn’t really exist at the moment.
Debian because the package management is much better than Red Hat based distros. Ubuntu based because of the driver support. As the Maverick has been end of lifed and the latest Ubuntu version 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) being a long term support version (5 years rather than 2) it seemed like a good time to review my linux distro usage.
The first one up was my little Asus eeepc 900, which is my workhorse machine when I am out any about. That one was rather easy really, I slapped on Xubuntu 12.04 which has the same kernel (i.e. processing guts) as Ubuntu but it uses the lightweight Xfce desktop rather than Unity on standard Ubuntu. This runs very cleanly, plays nice with Docky, and (apart from a small rendering issue with the default font) works very nicely with the spec on this netbook. So far so good.
Flushed with success I thought that I would try upgrading my older, little used eeepc 701 netbook to see if I could bring it back to life. The next logical step down would be to use Lubuntu which uses the even lighter weight LXDE desktop. I tried booting from USB and it seemed to work fine, but I hit the problem on the install as the 701 only has a 4GB SSD drive, and Lubuntu takes more than that to install.
Scratching my head, and being reluctant to go down the route of micro-distros like Puppy I happened on Bodhi Linux which has Ubuntu base, but has a bare bones initial install (just the OS and a browser really) and the pretty but unusual Enlightenment window manager. This installs at slightly less than 2G, slight over when I installed VLC, Rhythmbox, Abiword, Gnumeric and Flash. This connects the the wifi without issue and plays Flash and HTML5 videos without stutter. Nice.
Now to the laptop, a Thinkpad T43. Playing around with standard Ubuntu Unity I really tried to like it and it has improved (the big side icons can be resized for example), but the original deal breakers where still there for me, the inability to switch the windows buttons to the RHS and the inconsistent use of the mac-a-like global menu bar.
I thought about manually installing Gnome 3, but didn’t fancy the hassle, and besides Mint had just released their Mint 13 release Maya (based on Ubuntu 12.04) Playing with Cinnamon version of Mint Maya from Live CD, this seems very nice. Combining what was nice about Gnome2 with some of the more pleasant bits of Gnome 3.
Thats the plan at the moment, but it’s waiting till I get some spare time as I want to install a new disk and dual boot it to XP (so I can run CoH on it)