Goodbye Ubuntu (mostly)

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I’ve used Ubuntu since 2008, when I first discovered the world of GNU/Linux. I never really ‘distro-hopped’ much, because I was quite content with Ubuntu and what it continued to offer me. When I was a teenager, I installed a laptop with a triple-boot: Ubuntu 10.04; OS X ‘Hackintosh’; and Windows 7. When I went to university and was forced to get a new computer (mine broke), I only used Ubuntu throughout the entire time. Since then it’s been my sole system. When I began my master’s degree, Open Lab bought me a new machine to use for my work. It was a Macbook Pro… and I installed Ubuntu.

But today I uninstalled Ubuntu from my main computer and replaced it with Debian.

Four days ago, I remembred that it was the time when Ubuntu usually publishes a new version with Long Term Support; and it’d be almost ready. I wanted to read a little about the new system and searched the web. I found this article on OMG! Ubuntu!. At the bottom of the post, is the item: “Oh, and Firefox is now a Snap”. For a multitude of reasons, I am not a fan of Snap. Mainly because it causes the software to be so slow. Firefox is one of my most used applications and in the post, the author wrote the if I started the browser from a “cold start” then it would need around ten seconds to start! In my, suitably humble, opinion, that isn’t really acceptable in 2022. My machines are good and I don’t want to feel like they’re from 2001. In fact, I reckon that I could do the majority of my computing with hardware from 2010 because I try only to use applications and software which are very light and fast. But a browser is, sadly, a very important piece of software. Also, Snap apps don’t use the system theme and the Snap Firefox wouldn’t use the usual folder for downloads! Nope. Not good for mi.

So I thought it was time for a change.

There was a time when I eagerly anticipated the next release of Ubuntu so that I could use the new features, but as I’ve aged I appreciate stability and speed more. I’m no longer happy with the direction that Ubuntu is going. I didn’t like Unity when it was released, and consequently since 2015 I’ve used Xubuntu instead of regular Ubuntu. I know that Unity was released before 2015, but I was busy and I thought switching would take too much time. Anyway, XFCE usas a lot fewer system resources. Since then I’ve only updated the installation once every two years when a new LTS release was published. It seems that Ubuntu no longer has what I’m looking for in a system.

And so today I installed Debian. For those who aren’t familiar, Ubuntu is actually based on Debian. I asked my colleagues about which Linux distro I should use, but I already had two in mind: Debian or Arch. They recommended that instead of Arch I should use Manjaro which is based on Arch in a similar way that Ubuntu is based on Debian. These (Debian and Arch or Manjaro), are very different from each other but both would give me the ability to have a strong, stable, and fast system which doesn’t contain much that I’m not using. After I read about them online, I decided to choose Debian.

There are a few reasons I chose Debian:

  • It tried to use only Free Software
  • It functions similarly to Ubuntu, and uses .deb and apt-get to install applications
  • It is stable, and I don’t need the latest version of my apps, but to avoid crashes
  • It’s the product of a community rather than a forprofit corporation
  • It seemed to be easier to install than Arch, and I didn’t really know much about Manjaro in order get best use of it

The installation was a little slippery, and not as friendly as Ubuntu; but smooth. But because of that, I felt a little cool and a little like my 15-year old self playing or tinkering with my computer. Sadly, I had to install non-free software to use my wireless card. But after that, I had a Debian system! I chose to install XFCE again and so now I am familiar with how to change the system settings to my preferences.

After the installation I found that my uder wasn’t in the ‘sudo’ group like in Ubuntu. And I had a small problem with the ‘Compose key’: I couldn’t set it! The system menu told me that the key was the one I chose but it didn’t work. I searched the web and finally found that I could set it with a config file in the home folder. In fact, I prefer this because now I can send the setting to my dotfiles. One problem continues; the system makes a loud hardware-beep sometimes when I type where I’m not supposed to. I’m searching for a way to silence this.

But I’m happy. I feel closer to my machine and like I have more control over my system again. I’m still using Ubuntu in my other computer, because I just wiped it recently to install Ubuntu 20.04 and it’s still pretty clean and lightweight. When it’s time to update it: Debian will be waiting.

Goodbye Ubuntu, it was fun, and I will always have warm memories about our time together. Truly, you made me into the person I am now. But we’re too different now. And our relationship is ending. Possibly in the future we can rekindle our friendship. Until then, have fun with Snap.