Author Topic: Goodbye Windows, Hello Linux [advice needed for a Linux workstation at home]  (Read 7183 times)

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Offline RoGeorge

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The TL;DR
- as a desktop user, I didn't liked the Windows 10 trend from the last years
- my old Win10 was somehow completly compromised (virus) somewhere between Christmas and the New Year.


The Tail
A bunch of malware was the last drop that made me switch to Linux.  I don't blame Microsoft for the viruses, but a clean install was needed anyway, so why not giving Linux a try?

The hardware is good enough (32GB RAM/i7-4790K/nVidia760 GPU/SSD/HDDs/Intel GPU/Creative soundchip onboard/4 different types of monitors in total), and it will be used as a dev desktop.  Main requirement is to be a home desktop, with EDA/CAD and Programming tools, occasionally playing a movie or so.

Gaming - not much.  I use to play big titles for single user 3D shooter, maybe once or twice a year.  Probably will boot from an external HDD with Win10 for gaming, will see.


The Facts
I looked for these main types of GUI:
- Gnome 3
- KDE Plasma
- Xfce
- LXDE
They are all OK,  I won't describe what I like or I don't like for each of them.  In the end, settled to Gnome.

Also tested a lot of on-the-shelf distros in the last two weeks.  Unfortunately, CentOS and OpenSUSE doesn't boot, probably anything else with "dracut" won't work on my PC.  That narrowed down the choices to Fedora and Ubuntu.

I'm not new to Linux, so I'm comfortable to any of them, but so far I used Linux only at office, or in industrial environments.  Never used Linux much as a home desktop.

It was a big and unpleasant surprise to learn that after more than 20 years, Linux still struggles with multiple displays or video tearing.  I know nVidia is not the best choice for Linux, but still, playing a movie without video tearing should've happen without any tinkering by now, yet this was not the case for my setup.


The Questions
There are two main candidates:
- Fedora 29 Workstation:  rpm packages, based on Red Hat repositories
- Ubuntu 18.10 Desktop (don't want 18.04 LTS):  deb packages, based on Debian repositories

1.  Which one would you choose as a home desktop?
2.  Is there a big difference in the software availability between the two?
3.  I don't like to reinstall too often, yet I want the latest gimmicks, too.  Which one to pick for the long run, Fedora 29 or Ubuntu 18.10?
« Last Edit: January 26, 2019, 06:38:20 am by RoGeorge »
 

Offline soldar

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2019, 02:42:44 am »
I just thought I would mention that I am running Linux Mint 18.2 Sonya with Cinnamon and it works reasonably well for me. I have found it to be the simplest because Most Linux distributions are not particularly user-friendly. For me Mint is the least bad and has a forum where I can get some support. Still, it is not Windows. I also hated and hate the evolution of MS Windows so I am still using XP on all my computers.
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Offline HoracioDos

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2019, 03:11:50 am »
I would recommend LinuxMint 19 Tessa Xfce or Cinnamon. Gnome lovers usually hate Mint because it's quite similar to Windows. If you need a stable system that works out of the box, go for it.
PS: why you don't like 18.04 Lts?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 03:16:17 am by HoracioDos »
 

Offline IanMacdonald

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2019, 03:35:32 am »
Mint seems to be about the most popular distro just now, and it's a good choice. Gnome and KDE are too bloated for my liking (I'd consider them the ones similar to Windows 10 in that respect!)  LXDE is good, the only thing I don't like about it is that creating desktop shortcuts is a tad awkward. xfce is another good option.

Use Debian with LXDE here. Looks much like Mint but is more streamlined as I don't particularly want all the heavyweight office stuff that's in Mint.

KDE I gave up on years ago after they made a sudden wildcat change in the design of the whole platform, which broke just about everything.  :--
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 03:37:46 am by IanMacdonald »
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2019, 04:00:15 am »
Out of curiosity i took a look at linux mint just now.

I am wondering : why on earth three different user interfaces ?
and on top of that :
Cinnamon   : The most modern, innovative and full-featured desktop
MATE :   A more stable, and faster desktop
Xfce   : The most lightweight and the most stable

So cinnamon is cool , but you are better of with mate as it is more stable, but then again XFCE is even more stable than that. Which leads me to wonder : is there anything more stable than XFCE , and, if yes : what is more stable than that. In short : what is the 'stablest' one...

And then : if we go with one UI : what limitations does it have in terms of application compatibility ? What can run on what ? (and i am NOT going to recompile my applications. i expect a one-click installer. it's 2019 , not the dark ages)

Linux is hopeless. It's a contraption of half finished stuff stuck together with duct tape.
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Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2019, 04:20:02 am »
One can change between interfaces (even without a reboot), or install more than one on the same Linux, upon wish.
Well written programs works under any GUI with one click install and no tinkering.

It's 2019, after all.   ;D

 
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Online Ampera

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2019, 04:28:51 am »
Personally I use Arch Linux. It does have a reputation of being the OS of choice for those insufferable people you find on Reddit showing you their dwm customizations (he says, kicking his desktop screencaps under the carpet).
I find that it has INCREDIBLE documentation  on almost every facet, and if you've spent any time working on Linux, you'll probably know exactly what I'm talking about, the Arch Linux wiki is probably the single best resource for Linux information, of any sort, even if you don't use Arch, but it is of course tailored for that.

I find its minimal install environment to encourage directly understanding the system. It can also be incredibly tight and fast, with nothing you don't want on there. The package ecosystem is one of the most efficient and easy to use ones I've known as well, with pacman being a really nice tool for package management, with the only thing that may annoy you (it very rarely does to me, but I've learned to deal with it), being the AUR.

If you're currently debating between Debian derivatives, my personal suggestion is to just use Debian. The differences are so absolutely minor, and I could skin even Arch Linux to look and operate like any of them, since it's all Linux at the core. Debian does have some minor driver woes, as it only includes completely free and open source drivers, whereas Arch will include some proprietary firmwares and drivers within it, which can be helpful.

As for window managers, I would strongly recommend staying away from Wayland, for various reasons. I've found it to be chunkier than X, and when it comes to running X programs through XWayland, they are woefully inefficient and will just burn system resources. My wm of choice is Window Maker, which I think is one of the most easily and intricately configurable window managers I've ever seen, and it's an absolute pleasure to use. The only minor bother is that there is a rather poultry system for inserting .desktop links into the application menu, but this is easy enough to fix since you can /really/ configure that menu, and almost any other part of the system. It's also really lightweight, a fully loaded wmaker install running on 4 heads only takes around 4MB of system memory to run.

Regardless, the great thing about Linux is that you can dump your window manager and use a different one at a moment's notice, and just toy around with them. I still do that, and regularly try out different things and experiment. Good luck!
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Offline apis

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2019, 04:43:12 am »
Gaming - not much.  I use to play big titles for single user 3D shooter, maybe once or twice a year.  Probably will boot from an external HDD with Win10 for gaming, will see.
There's actually quite a few titles that were released for linux (on steam) a few years ago at least. But a backup windows installation is probably a good idea.

It was a big and unpleasant surprise to learn that after more than 20 years, Linux still struggles with multiple displays or video tearing.  I know nVidia is not the best choice for Linux, but still, playing a movie without video tearing should've happen without any tinkering by now, yet this was not the case for my setup.
You shouldn't have a problem with multiple displays and video tearing.
Have you installed the proprietary nVidia driver? It's not installed by default because of licencing problems but it's kind of required.

There are two main candidates:
- Fedora 29 Workstation:  rpm packages, based on Red Hat repositories
- Ubuntu 18.10 Desktop (don't want 18.04 LTS):  deb packages, based on Debian repositories

1.  Which one would you choose as a home desktop?
I'm going to say Ubuntu because that is what I'm familiar with, and it's supported by everyone. I hear mint is also good.
However, I really think you should go with a LTS version (Long Term Support). The 18.10 version is more like a beta-version, it's not very stable and you will have to upgrade to a new major version sooner.

2.  Is there a big difference in the software availability between the two?
Ubuntu uses Debian as a base so it uses the Debian packet manager. Fedora uses its own.

3.  I don't like to reinstall too often, yet I want the latest gimmicks, too.  Which one to pick for the long run, Fedora 29 or Ubuntu 18.10?
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS unless you have some software that requires 18.10.

And it's better to stay away from gimmicks, that is how new Linux users get burned in my experience. The latest hyped bling is usually unstable and has limited support and requires a fair bit of hacking to get it to work. Whenever there's a choice, go for stable imho. Linux lets you do just about anything you want, that's is part of why it's so powerful, but it also means you can wreck your system if your not careful.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2019, 04:47:46 am »
It was a big and unpleasant surprise to learn that after more than 20 years, Linux still struggles with multiple displays or video tearing.  I know nVidia is not the best choice for Linux, but still, playing a movie without video tearing should've happen without any tinkering by now, yet this was not the case for my setup.
Use Debian because they do more testing of whether software is actually compatible. nVidia is a great choice for a videocard. In Debian you can install their propietary driver from the non-free repository which works well.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2019, 04:50:39 am »
I use Ubuntu LTS with XFCE on a couple machines and have been pretty happy with it. Ubuntu seems to be the most widely supported desktop Linux and it generally works well. There's no one right answer though, just find one you like and stick with it for a while. It's fairly easy to change the desktop environment later if you wish.
 

Offline apis

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2019, 04:57:52 am »
Keep in mind there is a learning curve. So many get burned and give up after a week.

You are used to your old trusty Dacia (windows) and you probably know it inside out.
Now you want to upgrade to a space shuttle (Linux). It takes a bit to get used to, and one need to resist the urge to press all the buttons. But it's a lot nicer ride once you get the hang of it.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2019, 04:59:02 am »
Linux is hopeless. It's a contraption of half finished stuff stuck together with duct tape.
:-+ Could not say any better.
 

Offline soldar

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2019, 05:04:33 am »
One can change between interfaces (even without a reboot), or install more than one on the same Linux, upon wish.
Well written programs works under any GUI with one click install and no tinkering.

It's 2019, after all.   ;D
The first thing they tell you in the Linux Mint Forum is "don't do it!, it is asking for trouble".
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Offline james_s

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2019, 05:06:21 am »
Linux is hopeless. It's a contraption of half finished stuff stuck together with duct tape.
:-+ Could not say any better.

Ironically I find that describes Win10 almost perfectly.
 
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Online nctnico

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2019, 05:12:54 am »
Keep in mind there is a learning curve. So many get burned and give up after a week.

You are used to your old trusty Dacia (windows) and you probably know it inside out.
Now you want to upgrade to a space shuttle (Linux). It takes a bit to get used to, and one need to resist the urge to press all the buttons. But it's a lot nicer ride once you get the hang of it.
That is true. Linux isn't Windows so some things just work different. OTOH a lot of hardware runs out of the box on Linux. Printers and USB devices just work without needing drivers. Installing an HP network printer on Debian takes longer to open the menu then to detect & install the printer.
I've switched to Linux 3 or 4 years ago because most of the stuff I do runs better on Linux. Recently I bought a new CAD package (Orcad) and low & behold the PCB tool runs on Linux as well.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 05:15:53 am by nctnico »
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Offline 0culus

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2019, 05:20:48 am »
Once you get used to the whole ecosystem, another great (and minimalistic) window manager worth trying is i3. It's also highly configurable via scripting and primarily keyboard driven, if that's your thing.
 

Online Ampera

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2019, 05:23:20 am »
Once you get used to the whole ecosystem, another great (and minimalistic) window manager worth trying is i3. It's also highly configurable via scripting and primarily keyboard driven, if that's your thing.

I tried i3, and liked it a bit, it had a lot of admirable features, and I'm sure if I had configured it a bit more it would have been nice, but I can't see a case outside of text editing where tiling wm's make a whole lot of sense, although the tabbing is a nice feature.
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Offline soldar

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2019, 05:24:23 am »
Ironically I find that describes Win10 almost perfectly.

I hate them all equally :)

Windows is definitely easier to use and has much more software. I am still using XP though because I refuse to go to the new model where they let you use their software in exchange to knowing everything about you. No thanks. Not going that way. (Google is the same BTW)

So I set up a machine with Linux Mint and it definitely is better than other Linuxes but it can still be a pain. It does have a feel sometimes of something that still needs to be polished. It has things which are just unforgivable. Maybe small things but annoying all the same. Like you put an object on the desktop and it is moved to somewhere else and you have to go and move it again.  In Windows installing support for Asian or other languages is a breeze. In Linux it is torture and it might work or it might not. To the point that I have been looking into some specialized Chinese versions of Linux. I could go on and on.

Most things in Windows can be done with a GUI but in Linux you better get used to arcane, obscure command line commands. It can be frustrating and time consuming.

And same in Windows as in Linux, I do not understand why they change everything around with each new version. Can you imagine if each car brand, model, year, had different controls? This year's BMW's come with the brake on the steering wheel! Get used to it! Next year we will move the brake somewhere else and have the accelerator on the steering wheel! Have fun learning!
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Online Ampera

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2019, 05:27:08 am »
You fool, @OP, you've brought Linux to the forums. This is like a lit match to a pile of dry brush, now people will be arguing about things that nobody, including themselves, cares about for ages. Myself includes.  :popcorn:
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Offline German_EE

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2019, 05:28:00 am »
Add another vote for Linux Mint with the MATE desktop. I have two pieces of equipment in the workshop that insist on using MS Windows but everything else is done in a Linux environment. Once these two manufacturers get their software act together I will finally dump Microsoft.

Note: I installed MS Windows 10 on a separate hard drive, installed the software for my test gear and ran Windows Update ONCE. I then disabled the network drivers. The result is a stable MS Windows environment that drives the test gear and nothing else, if it gets unstable for some reason I have a bit-level copy of the drive and I can be back up and working in half an hour.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

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Online rsjsouza

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2019, 05:45:50 am »
I am a heavy user of Ubuntu due to work and both 16.04 and 18.04.1 have been working quite well. At home I dual boot between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 16.04 and it works ok, although several utilities still keep me on Windows for the most part (Notepad++, FreeCommander, WinRAR, Vegas, Altium).

My biggest beef with Linux these days is dealing with Proxy servers - the configurations are all over the place, depending on the program used. However, this is not a problem in a home environment.

As others have said, it is reported that several games work well in Linux, although I only did a short exercise on this front. 

I use Mint at home in an ancient Netbook (Atom 520 with 2GB RAM) that works well, provided I keep the opened windows at a minimum. That same netbook has a running copy of Vista that also works well, thus I may be too lucky. The main use for this netbook is to browse datasheets and schematics at my lab area (where space is at a premium).

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Offline Red Squirrel

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2019, 05:50:05 am »
I'm on Mint 18 myself.  Cinnamon I think, I can't remember and not sure how to check.   I know it's not XFCE, there's a few things I don't like about that one such as the "explorer" interface, I find it's very limited, can't even search (at least it's not intuitive), there's no thumbnails etc.

It does have it's quircks though. I have  yet to see a Linux distro do multi monitors properly (ex: make sure windows, dialogs, menus etc open on the monitor it was launched from, hate this BS of stuff opening where it wants).  To be fair even Windows sucks at this

There's also weird stuff with certain applications where dialog boxes are too small and you have to stretch them to see all the buttons, really annoying.  Only does it in certain apps, like Audacity, which I don't use a lot.

Overall it is nice to be liberated from Windows once you learn to live with weird quircks or find ways to fix them.  It's also much faster in general.  Like any time I have to use windows I feel it's so slow and clunky.  Win8/10 are also horrible, I find Linux is actually easier to use than that garbage Redmond put out.

Next time I'm due for a clean install I might look into running straight Debian, since Mint is based on Ubuntu which is in term based on Debian.  I wonder if so many layers is what causes the weird quircks like the dialog boxes.
 

Offline rdl

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2019, 05:57:13 am »
I installed Windows 10 on a test computer a month or so ago, just to see how bad it really was. Funny thing is, what ticked me off the most was not the privacy issues, but the extent to which they try to take over the machine. There are a ton of "Windows apps" that want to be running all the time and despite being mostly useless. Oh, and they all want to be sniffing at your data and sharing it between themselves all the time. I could find no way to remove them completely and literally almost threw the computer at the wall out of frustration. Dangerous stuff that Windows 10, bad for your health. Just that one incident probably raised my blood pressure 20 points. I unplugged the machine and haven't started it up since.
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2019, 05:59:25 am »
I could find no way to remove them completely and literally almost threw the computer at the wall out of frustration.

PowerShell can remove them. If you are really that up to that, you can even remove Windows Store.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2019, 06:11:59 am »

Now you want to upgrade to a space shuttle (Linux).

that's a really good analogy ... a contraption made from 20 million different pieces , all from different vendors that all bid for the lowest price ...

I'll stick to one vendor... and even then... i hamstered a bunch of win7 - 64 bit licenses. i hate windows 10. What idiot decided we need a start menu where it is easier to type in the name of the program you want to launch than to find it ... If i wanted a command line i would install dos or cp/m ...
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