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Do distrohoppers have too many choices?

March 28, 2014

Distrohopping can be an immense amount of fun as a Linux user switches distributions frequently to try to find that elusive “best distro of all.” Everyday Linux User thinks that distrohoppers might be suffering from what can be termed “cable television syndrome.” While I think this is a possibility, I also think the advantages of distrohopping far outweigh the disadvantages.

More choices are better for distrohoppers
I’m of the mind that more choices are better than fewer choices. One of the best things about Linux is the sheer range of choices that are out there. There literally is a distribution for everybody, no matter how eclectic your taste in Linux might be. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a visit to DistroWatch, and you can find a Linux distribution that suits your needs.

Now compare that to Windows or OS X. With those two operating systems you basically get what you get, and there’s not nearly as much ability to change them to reflect your own preferences. Let’s face it, Microsoft and Apple are in it for the cash not to offer freedom to their users. I like capitalism, so more power to both companies. But I also like the freedom to choose and to customize, and Linux gives me both in a way no other operating system can.

“Cable Television Syndrome” is the act of stating that there is nothing available on any of the 100s of television channels and is a direct cause of too much choice, therefore settling for none of them.

Distro-hoppers clearly suffer from the same affliction. They like desktop A but like the applications in distro B but the installer from distro C. Distro C doesn’t come with Flash yet distro D has Flash and all the multimedia codecs already installed but for some reason can’t run Steam. Distro E can run all of the above but has been dumbed down too darned much.

More at Everyday Linux User

Distrohopping overload
Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that distrohopping can be a bit of a waste of time if you take it too far. I wrote about the Dark Side of Distrohopping a while back, and I know the downsides to it. But there are ways to minimize taking distrohopping too far while still being able to enjoy it regularly.

I think perhaps the best way to avoid distro overload is to settle on one distribution for your long term use, while still giving yourself the freedom to run other distributions in VirtualBox. That way you can get a taste of what’s happening with other distributions while always keeping one to fall back on when you really need to get things done. And if a distribution really strikes your fancy, there’s nothing stopping you from making that one your main distribution. Just be sure to spend enough time with it before you decide to change to it.

Never give up distrohopping
Of course some would say that the best thing to do is just quit distrohopping altogether, but I don’t agree with that. There are just too many interesting things happening in Linux. Keeping the door open to distrohopping lets you enjoy new features and tweaks that you might otherwise miss if you strictly limit yourself to just one distribution.

So I say keep on keeping on distrohoppers!

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


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11 Responses to Do distrohoppers have too many choices?

  1. Eddie G. on April 2, 2014 at 9:16 am

    The people complaining about too many choices are the ones who take forever to order something when standing in line at a Baskin Robbins….or a StarBuck’s…these are the people who complain about too many choices for watching TV and then not choosing anything. They’re the ones who were the “targeted demographic” when Windows and Apple thrust their OS’es on the masses. I for one have been using Fedora Linux since their version 9….and I have 2 more machines…a laptop with Ubuntu and Unity…and openSuSE…..with the XFCE desktop environment. And while I tinker with other distros installing and un-installing them from an external HDD……those distros that I mentioned above have been my steady s for the long haul. I don’t think there’s too much choice…I think there’s a lot of laziness out there! LoL!

    • Jim Lynch on April 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Let’s face it, there are some folks that need to have things handed to them by somebody else. Fortunately, Linux offers an almost complete opposite of that and there’s always a distro out there for everybody’s needs. Imagine what it would be like to live in a world where we were stuck with just one company’s vision of what an operating system should be? Ugh! That would totally stink.

      • Eddie G. on April 6, 2014 at 12:42 pm

        I totally agree Jim! I for one have never “played by the rules” when it came to computers, always customized as much as possible when I used Win95′ Win98′ and so on……but when I discovered Linux? I was floored! I could customize EVERYTHING without having to install some crazy application or patch, it was the greatest thing to me since sliced bread!

  2. Scott on April 2, 2014 at 12:41 am

    For desktop distributions, the major differences are in the installation and administration tools. Desktop environments, except Unity, are largely the same from distribution to distribution. Application software offered is also largely the same.

    What I pay attention to is the size of the repositories used by the distribution, how up-to-date its packages are, and which desktop environment is its default. I find that the default desktop environment tends to get more attention from the developers. In particular, KDE users will probably be happier using a distribution who’s mainline offering defaults to KDE.

    I pay less attention to what applications are installed by default. Seldom do developers agree with my preferences anyway. The desktop theme is also something I pay little attention to; I’m going to change it to suit my tastes, and I can usually do a better job of theming than they did.

    So, an ugly theme gets little weight in my decision, but outdated software, limited choices in the repositories, and unnecessarily complex updating and configuration procedures will negatively affect my decision.

    I do not distro-hop, unless one considers changing distributions every two to four years as better choices become available to be distro-hopping.

  3. Isobel_Riel on March 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Those complaining about too many choices should stop trying to project their own fears and failings by assuming that everyone else is as paralyzed by choice as they are. They should also have a responsible adult making choices for them.

  4. jymm on March 31, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I don’t think there are to many distros. I have only found one that fits my needs for now. That is Point, a Debian derivative. I will probably go to Debian someday when I gain more experience with Linux, but for now need something a bit more user friendly. I also like to play with Linux OS’s burnt to a USB key. Helps me learn Linux and learn what is out there for OS’s and desktops. I wouldn’t go back to MS for anything. Never tried Apple, but with Linux I have no desire too.

  5. Kevin on March 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Considering how many of these “distributions” are often just larger, better distributions with some nice artwork and applications preinstalled, I think the list of choices is much shorter than one would expect. I don’t understand why people continue to install, review, and support “distributions” like Crunchbang that largely only save users the agony of “apt-get install openbox”.

  6. Mathias on March 30, 2014 at 9:46 am

    I have found some interesting potential new choices during the last 12 month. CentOS 7 could be new stable choice and Korora is good “easier Fedora” and suprisingly stable (only some lagging with software install application). On the other hand distrohopping has revealt some severe problems with Mint Debian edition. It’s sure i wanna have new Linux Mint LTS MATE distro but i also want to install 2 other distributions on my 9 years old desktop. Perhaps CentOS is one.

  7. Carling on March 29, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I love downloading and trying out all the latest known and unknown distributions. At the end of the day they are all the same except for two that don’t copy the run of the mill UI desktops which is Zorin and Ultime edition

    • Carling on March 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      I should have said Ultimate edition my mistake

  8. Brian Masinick on March 28, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I believe that having software choices, both free and proprietary choices, is healthy for allowing ideas to germinate, to prevent stagnation, and to allow each person (or business) to make the choices that work best for them. I distro hop from time to time, and over the years I have tried a few hundred distributions, or if not, I have most certainly used several hundred versions of the distributions that I’ve tried.

    I’m probably down in the ten to fifteen range of distributions that I try within a one to two year period, and it now takes a year or two to exhaust a supply of 50-100 CDs or DVDs; it’s been several months since my last purchase of a stack of them and I probably have not cracked more than an inch of the stack, but I do try new distributions and definitely new versions of the distributions that interest me.

    At this point in the amount of distro hopping I do, it is more distribution testing than “hopping” for me; I have fewer than ten distributions that I consistently test, only adding a new one to the list if I find something interesting or of value to me in my testing and evaluating. I also have my own customized favorites, and that’s a way to reduce the “hopping factor”: find something that is flexible, and tailor it to your specific interests, which is what I do.

    But for those who simply enjoy “hopping”, whether with distributions or “hopping” as a form of exercise, each of us has our own reasons. For me, I do so to evaluate, learn, and at times, simply to relax and enjoy something different than what I otherwise use on a daily basis. For me, doing so at a moderate pace is just fine. I have no interest in setting any new records for the most distributions used; over the years I doubt if I’ve ever used even half of the available choices. What I have used is just right for me, my needs and my interests.

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