Is distrohopping in Linux becoming a thing of the past?

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In today's open source roundup: Distrohopping may be losing popularity among Linux users. Plus: A Linux user switches to Mac then comes back, and a journalist laments the headaches of recompiling the Linux kernel

One of the best things about Linux is that there are so many distributions to choose from, unlike corporate-controlled operating systems such as Windows or OS X. And historically many Linux users have switched frequently between distros, but is distrohopping becoming a thing of the past? Steven Rosenberg has taken a stand against distrohopping and explains why he doesn't do it.

According to Steven Rosenberg:

But the idea of doing a full installation of a totally new Linux distro, bringing all of my user files into the new installation, setting up all of the services and applications I use all the time with my old configuration files (or re-creating them from scratch) and then figuring out how to fix all the things that are broken for me, my hardware and software?

I'm not excited by that. So I stay with Fedora.

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It saddens me to see someone so dead set against distrohopping, but I can understand where he's coming from since it can be a real time-suck if you do it frequently. But I think it's quite possible to find a main distro to stay with while still allowing yourself the geekish pleasure of using many other distros.

All you really need to do is install VirtualBox on your main distro. Once you've done that you can install as many different distributions as you want in VirtualBox, and run them that way. And if you keep a lot of your user files in the cloud, then you should be easily able to access them regardless of the distribution you happen to be using at that moment.

So rather than write distrohopping off altogether, I suggest that folks do it in a way that works for them. You can keep your main distribution, but also sample other Linux distros whenever you want with very little effort. And when you get tired of one of your other distributions, you can just delete it from VirtualBox and replace it with something else.

There's no way to know how many other distrohoppers have followed the same path as the writer of the article. But I sure hope that his choice hasn't caught on among many Linux users. It will be a very sad day in the world of Linux when the last distrohopper stops hopping. I hope it never happens.

A Linux user goes Mac and then comes back

A redditor details how he abandoned Linux for the Mac, and then boomeranged back.

According to Reddit:

I used Vector Linux up until 2006, when I decided that I wanted a Mac and worked all summer to buy myself a little Mac Mini. In my mind it was the best computer on the market. I downloaded xcode and interface builder and got started on learning Obj-C/Cocoa programming.

Now, in 2014, I am back on Linux. I got myself a HP Touchsmart 610, got rid of that horrid thing they call Windows and installed Kubuntu 14.04. I still have my Macbook Air, but I think I might sell it. I haven't opened it in a week.

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Kudos to the redditor who wrote this for sharing his experience. I suspect that he's not the first Linux user to explore the world of OS X and the Mac. But there's something about Linux that makes it very hard to stay in the world of Apple once you've had a taste of both.

I suppose it might be the freedom and power that Linux offers to all of it users. OS X is certainly a powerful operating system in its own right, but Apple has never been about freedom of choice. When you venture into Apple's world, you agree to do things their way and that can be quite suffocating to someone who has previously used Linux.

Recompiling the Linux kernel frustrates a journalist

A writer at Network World laments having to recompile the Linux kernel.

According to Network World:

What happens when you have to custom compile your Linux kernel to add support for some of your hardware... and then a kernel update becomes available in your chosen repository?

That's right. You have a decision to make. Update and need to re-compile your kernel again... or ignore the update and face possible security (or other) issues. And what about when there are a lot of updates available? Checking to make sure new kernel updates come through becomes a pain. Or, even worse, if you accidentally update the kernel and don't realize it, then your hardware stops working and you don't immediately know why.

More at Network World

The writer notes that Windows and OS X users don't have to face such problems. While I can sympathize with him to a certain extent, I feel compelled to point out that nothing in life is free. Windows and OS X users don't have the control over their operating system that Linux users do. But along with that control comes responsibility and sometimes that can mean dealing with certain kinds of headaches. It's the price a user pays for the freedom and power that comes with Linux.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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