It’s the Environment That Matters!

I’ve tried several new distros in the last three weeks, trying to find the one distro that is perfect for me and my use case.

I haven’t found it. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t one. No. That isn’t right. I’ve come to the conclusion that the distro doesn’t matter to me, for the most part.

It’s the environment that makes or breaks a distro. For about the first 10 minutes of using KDE, I was giddy like a school kid with anticipation, because KDE is amazingly configurable and customizable. But it’s also buggy once you start to configure it as your own. Icons disappear, apps crash, and so on. This isn’t distro specific, either. It happened in Kubuntu, Majaro KDE, and Solus KDE.

GNOME to me is too strict, though I realize that I haven’t given it as much time as KDE or Budgie. I’ll likely try it again when the next Ubuntu comes out. But it seems a lot less configurable to me, but I’m probably just not seeing the possibilities.

The environment that I’ve settled on as being the absolute best is Budgie. It walks the line between the stability of GNOME and the customizability of KDE. There is just so much to like, from the Raven menu and the Mac-Like notification center to the ability to edit panels like KDE.

I always hear talk about how the distro you choose is the most important thing, but so far at least, I disagree. It’s the environment that will most likely make or break your Linux experience, especially if you’re a novice user of the platform. The reason for that is, new users are going to stick with the GUI as much as possible. So the intricacies of each distro won’t become apparent to them, as you encounter them most when using Terminal. The biggest example of this is package management. If you’re on Ubuntu or one of its derivatives, that means apt-get; if you’re on Arch or one of its derivatives, that means pacman and pacaur and yaourt; if you’re on Solus you’ll use eopkg, and so on. If a user sticks to the GUI portions of Linux, they’re unlikely to see those commands.

Not that there are differences in distros that show up despite whatever environment you’re using. Software shops or App Stores are different depending on which distro and environment you use. These stores tend to be cross-environment, but are different across distros. There isn’t a single GUI App Store that is consistent between distros unless that distro is a derivative of something else (*that I know of).

In the end, that is what is going to set distros apart from one another: package management (also installation, but that’s another can of worms altogether). But as that is only a small part of the user experience, I believe that the environment should be the focus when choosing a specific distro, at least until you become a Linux power user and start to discover the true differences between distros.