If people ask me what distribution of Linux I run on my laptop I tell Ubuntu but in all honesty that’s not entirely true and I’ll explain that later.
I have been using Ubuntu for a couple of years, mostly because when I was looking for a distribution for my laptop it was Ubuntu which just worked out of the box, unlike Fedora or Suse. Many years have passed since that decision and things have changed with Ubuntu. The default software provided by Ubuntu has changed drastically and with the upcoming Ubuntu Lucid Lynx it will be changing even more. I didn’t like the changes the made in the past and I don’t like the changes they are making for Lucid Lynx. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate all things they change, new kernels, upstart are just a few things that I agree with. What I don’t agree with is what I like to call the dumbing down of applications and bloating of applications.
Just because computers get more powerful, have bigger disks and get more memory doesn’t justify to bloat your software. Take Tomboy for example, the default and very simple note taking application in Gnome. If you want to install Tomboy it requires Mono which consists of 25 extra packages totaling a combined space of 22 MB on your drive. I don’t know what will be running in memory but it can’t be low, Tomboy itself occupies 10 MB while the alternative gNote is 6MB and it does the exact same task, maybe even quicker.
And it’s that bloating of the software that made me make drastic changes to my setup over time, and that’s what I mean when I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I’m not really running Ubuntu.
Of the applications I use almost daily on my laptop, 80% is not coming from Ubuntu’s repository.
- Kernel – From Ubuntu’s sources, modified and self compiled
- Mail – Claws Mail, self compiled
- Browser – I actually use two, Firefox and Google Chrome. I download the official packages and installed it for Firefox, for Chrome I’m using their repository
- Video Driver – I download the nVidia install package from their site and install it
- PDF Reader – Acrobat, download from Adobe’s site
- Social Networking – Tweetdeck, downloaded and installed from their site.
- Flash integration – Official download from Adobe
- RSS reader – I don’t even know what the default reader is in Gnome but I use Liferea, self compiled.
- Video Player – mPlayer SVN version, self compiled with VDAU support
- Note taking – gNote, from their PPA.
- Password Vault – Keepassx, from their PPA
- Messaging – Pidgin, self compiled
- Torrent client – rtorrent, self compiled.
- revision software – Git, self compiled
Looking at this list it makes me wonder if I have a good reason to stick with Ubuntu, and the conclusion is I don’t, I could switch to an alternative distribution, DEB based, RPM based, Slackware or any other kind that’s out there but I like to think I give back to the Ubuntu community by way of my How to compile your custom Kernel articles and my Git repository. For now I’ll stick with Ubuntu and yes I will be updating to Lucid Lynx when it comes out.
Let me know what you run and if you run “alternative software” or out of the box software.