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Topic: My 8th Desktop Linux Attempt
Posts: 17252
Location: Cairns, Queensland

Title probably hyperbole, but I've done this every now and again since the mid 90s so I dunno...

Recently Unity announced support for Linux - specifically, Ubuntu and CentOS. I've decided I'm going to take another swing at playing on the Rebel faction; I game on my PC surprisingly little lately and mostly am either in a Chromium browser, Unity, or Visual Studio (and for the work I'm doing, VS Code will do just fine).

Given that Unity supports Ubuntu I'm looking at trying a Debian install - am not a fan of the whole tracking thing that Canonical pulled and it feels like Ubuntu is just Debian+bloat anyway. Plan is to try and dual-boot Windows and go from there. If there's a big reason to (Mint, Arch, Fedora ..) that I'm missing lemmino.

Anyway I'll detail my no doubt hilarious noob adventures here before I (inevitably?) switch back to the Empire. I've got about 8 months until my next bill from Bill arrives, should be plenty of time to decide just how much I need my MS blankie!
Posts: 41619
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
conversely to this, im about to shut down our solaris unix boxes at work which makes me sad. cut my teeth programming perl on old unix boxes.

nearly everythings migrated, end of an era.

yay, windows.
Posts: 40248
Location: Other International

Be interested to see how you go. I have been thinking about trying it again after seeing how bad Windows 11 is - how people can stand the new taskbar I simply don't understand. I know you can install some stuff to fix it but just ugh, so if it's going to be a chore to get Windows 11 working I might as well try Linux
Posts: 17253
Location: Cairns, Queensland

I'm coming from a similar place. When I realised:

- I was building custom Windows installers to remove the growing list of OS features and changes I didn't want
- I was toying with running Windows Server as a workstation desktop environment
- Both options reliably caused some of the features I needed to fail
- 95% of what I was doing was available natively in Linux
- C# and .net are properly supported in Linux
- I have financial incentive and time to learn and customise the OS

It became a serious consideration.

Last night I managed to get Debian+Cinnamon stood up alongside Windows in a dual-boot configuration with a dedicated drive per OS. This worked really well out of the box and grub managed to not f*** everything up for me this time.

The never-ending ideology wars between the FOSS devotees and closed source villains made this more painful than it needed to be, but I expected that. I got as far as Unity failing to work properly (a bug with the Unity Hub maybe) before I gave up for the night.

Aside from the NVIDIA situation hardware support seems pretty good this time around. I expected trouble that didn't emerge with my 10G NIC, sound gear etc.

I'll have to keep bashing away at Unity and may need to call in support from (ugh) the vendor. If I can't get the engine rolling I'm tied to the MS stack for rather a while.
Posts: 17254
Location: Cairns, Queensland

Game was hard today, but many learninigs had (omg I hate that 'word' btw).

Debian is too far down the stack for me, I habitually dwell in the upper layers and need my OS to be a bit more forward when it comes to making choices for me. Debian was ... difficult, and imo really requires deeper understanding of *nix than I have. Its for linux people, not Windows wanderers, no matter the level of expertise you may have gained off-faction in MS or Mac environments.

I'm on my third install (2x Debian, 1x pop) now and Pop!_OS has basically saved this 8th linux side quest from an immediate crash and burn. Its the right combination of guidance and smothering that I am looking for I think.

Also the desktop environment (even while running x11) is fluid and clean beyond 1080 and 1440p. I was seriously disappointed with the general desktop look and feel in this Linux pass (having come from smooth 144hz winders), but pop feels much more clean and performant. I want to get Wayland working.

Still having trouble opening my work in Unity, but we bash on (lol)
Posts: 17255
Location: Cairns, Queensland

"Well, I'm back", he said, tossing his bags through the Windows, back into his comfortable space.

"Looks like that's it for another few years."
Posts: 40249
Location: Other International

Mint is one of the more common ones that people seem to use - Debian core but less stupid Ubuntu stuff. I have a VM somewhere I tried & thought it looked pretty decent but I'm too familiar with Debian to want to change at the moment.

I think Debian is awesome IF you don't mind only ever running stuff from the default repositories. I tend to use older software for everything so I can just apt-get whatever & it installs and generally works. The problems start when you want to get something that's "new", which in Debian speak means "less than 2-5 years old", and then you often end up either adding random repos or compiling from source - I simply don't have the patience for the latter any more & random repos scare me.

I'd also be interested to try SteamOS just to see how that goes as I feel like Valve would have to keep it reasonably up-to-date and performance focused.
Posts: 17256
Location: Cairns, Queensland

I had a surprisingly steep hill when it comes to graphics driver support straight out of the gate. I run a 4k monitor and 2x 1440p side panels in portrait, all at 144hz and the experience was never great for me. For example, 1080p youtube videos when scaled up stuttered despite youtube's stats for nerds claiming good frame delivery.

I gather that x11 is really old and that the heir (Wayland) is new and poorly supported. I understand why its janky as f*** for my use case but a true desktop Operating System needs to manage my core devices properly. Having to navigate repos as you say feels dodgy as s***. Linux is where package management originated, it feels super weird that chocolatey on Windows feels like a better implementation.

There were also little things that annoyed, like the lack of universal clipboard hot keys. Aside from stubbornness, why are we still fighting against CTRL+C, +X, +V? Why not have a system-wide setting instead of every app rolls its own? Meanwhile support for modern 'innovation' like window snapping and system-wide dark mode is noticeably behind the curve in most des I used. I quite liked Pop's grid layout, but its fluid layout option was still simplistic.

I straight skipped a Mint attempt because its de is Cinnamon, and the devs there have said that they are way behind on any port efforts to Wayland. As far as I could see Mint would be very close to Debian+Cinnamon which was my first attempt. Pop was close but I still struggled to get Wayland up.

The final straw was when I finally got Unity installed and open in Pop!_OS by creating a new empty project ... and it ran like complete dogs***. Brand new project with no code spat errors to the console and the scene view was sluggish just rendering the basic, empty project!

No doubt everything I experienced has a history and a valid reason, but I'm not giving another night to this side quest. If it takes more than three concerted efforts to get a stable, smooth, usable desktop experience then I'm not ready for what the Linux world has to offer yet. The desktop barely functions for me at a basic level and I haven't even looked at IDEs and source control yet. Maybe if I wasn't working on 3D stuff and could put up with the de being a bit stuttery, I'm sure its probably fine at 1440p-60hz and below.

I will look into reducing my licensing because I no doubt send Redmond too much money, but looks like Windows is still where I will be for now. I plan to publish native to linux so will keep a distro handy for testing but looks like I'll be back for the 9th round someday.
Posts: 687
Location: Perth, Western Australia

My 2c

Debian is a brilliant server distribution, not a very practical desktop distribution. (and I hope it stays that way)

For the inexperienced - Mint. Its probably the easier and more polished desktop environment.
For something different - Manjaro. Its arch based.

Pop is supposed to be pretty good, its a shame it didnt work for you.
If you were still looking to try things, lubuntu might be worth a try.

Adding in the Unity 3D stuff you probably wont find a prebuilt optimal distribution, its going to be very hit and miss depending on your specific hardware/OS/DE/Unity version.
Posts: 40251
Location: Other International <-- dot net becoming a first class citizen on Linux (in Ubuntu, anyway, but still cool)
Posts: 541
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
I haven't run windows on my home PC at all for about 15 years. I've run various LTS versions of xubuntu, mint and ubuntu. 15 years ago I had to stuff around more with wine in weird ways but these days it's so good I can't remember the last time I fiddled with wine.

I use windows on at work and all the windows/explorer shortcut keys are seared into my muscle memory. I wish I had something similar on linux but meh, in return I've had a proper console for 15 years (these days you can run bash on windows and if you squint enough it's pretty close).

I guess I mostly don't care about getting my "desktop experience" itself perfect. So long as it can run the apps I need and not be insufferable then it's doing its job.
Posts: 4517
Location: Ballarat, Victoria
Redhat's Fedora Silverblue is a good distribution as far as having continually updated apps as well as Redhat robustness.

If you like a good looking minimalist design, Garuda Linux is one to have a look at too.
Posts: 40253
Location: Other International

Any suggestions for something that is close to ChromeOS? I've moved like 20 people in our org onto ChromeOS. It works really nicely for most users but if there's a Linux version that is basically the same thing - a desktop that essentially serves as a vessel for a browser that auto-updates core software - I'd be keen to try it out.
Posts: 4518
Location: Ballarat, Victoria
there's literally nothing similar in terms of the embedded functionality of ChromeOS or Fuscia that Google make for laptops for the former and Google Home devices for the latter.

Google only offer API's for programming on either here and there are no rootkits or images that can be downloaded to install these ecosystems on anything BYOD
Posts: 40254
Location: Other International

Google only offer API's for programming on either here and there are no rootkits or images that can be downloaded to install these ecosystems on anything BYOD
not quite sure what you mean here

you can download Google's Chrome OS Flex which is basically Chromebook OS and install it on any device (whether or not it works is another question)

I kinda just want a slimmed-down desktop Linux version which, I guess, is just a browser with some local storage and no root access
Posts: 17257
Location: Cairns, Queensland

They only released Flex somewhat recently, poor trillion is a bit out of date.
Posts: 4520
Location: Ballarat, Victoria
oh ok, so there's ChromeOS Flex then

yes i am a bit outta date with that then, i must have missed an announcement

last edited by trillion at 12:45:05 18/Nov/22
Posts: 40255
Location: Other International

FWIW my experiences with Flex have been poor. I actually tried to install it again on an old Dell Insprion and it simply failed to install - errors about it not finding a hard drive to install on & that I should check and make sure the machine has a hard disk installed (helpful).

I think it is really, really dependent on installing on certified hardware & anything else either requires a lot of mucking around or is a total dice roll.
Posts: 17258
Location: Cairns, Queensland

Realised today that I have this project arse-forwards.

I should be looking to replace my home lab's 4-5 Windows Server instances with Linux rather than starting at the desktop end..

Also gigabit internets is fun
Posts: 11848
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
It had been almost 20 years since I utilised a Linux variant as a desktop OS in seriousness; Knoppix Live-CD installed to a hard drive.

I wanted to run a sandboxed environment inside a VM on my work machine, with it talking directly out of the physical NIC rather than have anything in between (vpn etc). So I went on Distrowatch to see what was the preferred flavour of Linux these days - I never liked Ubuntu, and I could never quantify why, but I know I liked the Debian branch for no other reason than that's what i've been used to with Knoppix and Rasbian/RaspberryPi OS. Top popularity was 'MX Linux' - and so far i've been running that for almost 2 years as a browser fully fledged OS inside a VM sandbox. Works well, I do really like the built-in software installer. Some of the linux clones of things are really nice, better than winbloat.

last edited by hardware at 22:36:29 02/Dec/22
Posts: 17261
Location: Cairns, Queensland

trog: a comment in a video I just watched recommended Puppy Linux for the Flex OS use case where hardware isn't supported.
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