Monday, June 06, 2011

The hunt to replace Ubuntu

I recently ran into a problem, Ubuntu 11.04!

I'm facing a problem and it seems that this is going to become all the more troublesome in months to come. The problem is finding a suitable distro for my Acer Aspire One A0531h Netbook.

The recent incarnation from the Ubuntu stable sports the somewhat new Unity interface. In the past this was the exact reason I did not install Ubuntu Netbook-Remix since I did not like the interface one bit.
Now, however, it seems like the newly added features, bells and whistles makes it a bad choice for a Netbook. I could get nowhere with this on the Netbook, and the fact that you cannot modify anything (panels, menu placement, etc.) made it one heck of a frustrating experience.

When Ubuntu insisted that everyone and their mother should place the close, maximize and minimize buttons on the left, I just shrugged it off with a smirk and fixed the error of their ways with gconf-editor.
Now, however, it is nearly impossible to configure anything Unity related.

"Well change back to Gnome Classic you fool!" I hear you shout.
I did, but the performance stayed the same. I could now configure everything, but I could hardly do any work on it, it was a case of the little Netbook that just couldn't.
It feels like they broke something in baselayout since nothing wants to work like it should, no matter what WM or DE I tried!

I tried Kubuntu, nope, still too sluggish, Xubuntu, nope, still no big improvement (not being a XFCE fan didn't do it any favours), what about installing OPENBOX?
Nope, still sluggish and going nowhere.
At this point I could not believe it! In Ubuntu 10.10 I installed the dead standard 32-bit version and it worked, very well I may add, but now with Ubuntu 11.04 something went horribly wrong!

I gave up at this point and turned to trusty Arch Linux, installed it with OpenBox and I was happy, until...

Until the day I had to do a presentation and I stood there dancing like a fool since I could not get the projector to work on Arch Linux, but it worked like a charm on Ubuntu before. I had to borrow a Windows laptop to finish the job, terrible and humiliating.

That is when I realized that I needed a complete solution, a "one size fits all" solution, a replacement for Ubuntu.
I love Arch Linux, it will stay on my desktop PC for a long time to come, and had I been at home on the internet I could have solved the Netbook problem in two ticks, without a doubt, but the problem is that a Netbook, for me, should be "locked and loaded" 24/7 without needing  extra fiddling. You never know what you will be called on to do and then you do not have time to fiddle around on the internet! The Netbook is not just a toy for me, I do some serious work on it and the mobility of the device suits me fine.

Granted, in hindsight, I could have tested it on a normal PC monitor first, so  we will share the blame 50/50?

Back on track, I need a complete solution, something that just works with minimal fuss.
Tried Fedora after hearing some good things about it, but the lack of configuration from Gnome 3 made it a no-go for the limited screen resolution of the Netbook.
Some E17 distros, some of the laptop features did not work "out of the box", back to the drawing board, could then just as well have stayed with Arch Linux.

After living with Arch Linux while the hunt continued, I remembered a distro that I tried many moons ago, Linux Mint.

Eureka! I hope.

At the moment I'm very happy with it, it just works, and works well on the Netbook. I love the look and feel and so far the Netbook is very responsive.
I still have to test a few things but I think this may just be the distro of choice for my Netbook from now on.
Once I have a solid opinion on the distro I'll post my thoughts, for now I'm happy.

Lets just hope they do not break their future releases like Ubuntu did...

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