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Ask HN: For a dependable desktop Linux, is there anything other than Ubuntu?
11 points by stvmln_ 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments
I'm a long-time Windows dev looking to finally migrate to Linux for the long term, and hopefully get some advice along the way.

I'm looking for a solid, dependable desktop experience. If I was younger I'd just install Arch and tinker away, but now I want something that works first time, every time. (Basically, I don't want to spend three hours re-configuring ALSA just so I can watch Youtube.)

Ubuntu looks to be the best bet for this, but people always have their complaints and alternatives. So HN, can you recommend me a distro?

Fedora. It works well with up to date software and packages.

I've been using it for years without any major problem.

Another vote for Fedora here. I've been running it for years on multiple different desktops and laptops, it has been really rock solid. The only thing I would say in favour of Ubuntu (and by extension, Mint) is that because they are targeted more at a 'beginner' Linux user, there tends to be more documentation/tutorials online (e.g. "how to do X in Ubuntu"). Of course with some experience and googling, most of those are easily adapted to other distros too.

This, especially if you prefer KDE as a desktop the Fedora KDE spin is an excellent choice.

I recommend openSUSE Leap. Very good distribution. It's mostly based on their enterprise server one so the stability should be very good. Also, the OS partition (not data) is using btrfs and there's a snapshot after each package upgrade so if there's a problem, you can boot (and restore) a previous snapshot :)

Can't say I agree. Getting nonfree software is a PAIN with opensuse.

If you are interested in Arch but not the overhead it entails, you may wish to consider Antergos https://antergos.com/

It's basically a fully set up Arch with sane defaults. Lets you have the rolling updates and other benefits, without requiring as much energy to set up.

I have to recommend Manjaro over Antergos. https://manjaro.org/

The Arch and Antergos communities can get somewhat toxic regarding Arch offshoots.

Ubuntu would crash all the time and just was so bloated/ugly and crappy. Been on Antergos almost 8 months now-and it is so awesome, totally love it, runs way smoother.

I use i3+gnome configuration, if you've never used i3 I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Almost no update problems in a few years (although the problems I have had where really bad). I'd recommend it though as I have had more issues with Ubuntu updates and managing a million Papa's.

Ubuntu or Mint (which is based on Ubuntu) would probably be the easiest "just works" distros. I'm told Mint is preferred for people coming from a classic Windows background but your mileage may vary.

Fedora would be the other major contender. It's developer friendly and pretty easy to use. One thing I would mention is that they take a stronger stance on most open source software so you have to add the RPMFusion repository if you want to use closed source software that's excluded from the main repository. Fortunately this is not difficult.

The great thing about all these distros is that you can get LiveUSBs so you can try them before installing. I'd highly recommend doing this.

I've tried numerous times to get away from Ubuntu but nothing else seems to support HiDPI displays well enough. I hoping this changes soonish.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu doesn't support a HiDPI and a non-HiDPI display side-by-side. You can choose which one looks fine, but one will be close to unusable (either much too large UI elements or much too small ones).

After several days of Ubuntu (and Fedora), I just gave up and installed Windows which works perfectly.

I'm either using my 27" monitor or my laptop monitor. I don't use two monitors, so for me, Ubuntu is working.

Regardless of resolution or display, Windows will not work for me, I've got to have Linux/shell/ sane Python environment etc.

How did you get this working in Windows? I'm struggling with just this problem in Win10 at the moment.

Really? It worked out of the box for me. Also Windows 10.

Both displays' native resolutions were automatically recognized. I don't remember if I had to manually select separate scaling factors or if Windows did it by itself, but I was relieved to have a working desktop so quickly.

The Raspbian PIXEL desktop environment will run on your PC or Mac. It's a distribution of Debian Stretch that is pretty nice and they have a great support community on their forums.


Using Debian since Wheezy on my laptops and desktop. I had to learn which packages to install, that Ubuntu might typically have... Volume control for pulseaudio, firmware (plus enable non free repos). I also had to ensure my network card is open source friendly (you can include firmware at install on a usb drive or just have an Linux friendly usb WiFi/ethernet adapter).

I've found Debian less buggy on my machines than Ubuntu.

I use xfce.

If you feel the need to experiment with something that isn't default in the distro, I just use a VM to validate it'll work first or snapshot/backup so I can recover easily.

Front page answers:

Why I Fell in Love with Arch Linux (2015) | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15245954

I am running Ubuntu 14.04 because I don't like thinkering anymore wit OSs, my dev environment is an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in a VM,why a VM for work ? Because I don't want to install Apache,node and other dev stuff on my main OS and also I can move the VM disk if needed to a different machine or OS.

Linux Mint (https://www.linuxmint.com) it is based on Ubuntu (I think there is a second version based on Debian now) but it nails the desktop part of the OS better.

I have been using it reliably for the past 6 or 7 years.

Arch. The catch with Arch is that you need to build it, and preferably should back up all your configuration. The best part about Arch is that you need to build it.

You could consider Devuan. Devuan GNU+Linux is a fork of Debian without systemd.

> I want something that works first time, every time.

My experience with Mint is exactly like that.

Coming from Windows, I was quite surprised to see that everything works from the start - I thought the transition would be much more painful.

Ubuntu is usually the go-to. However, Fedora is also a good bet.

I don't like to recommend Mint since they rip out a lot of the GNOME stuff for their own apps (Mint Store, Mint Updater, etc).

this one looks nice, https://elementary.io/

but I haven't tried.

Fedora, Solus and technically still ubuntu - Ubuntu MATE or KDE Neon

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