There’s a unique breed of Linux user out there these days and they’re called “distrohoppers.” What the heck is a distrohopper? Well according to the Urban Dictionary, here’s the definition of a distrohopper:
“A distrohopper is someone that keeps switching from one Linux distribution to another, not with the intention to just test a certain Linux distribution, but with the illusion to find the perfect Linux distribution that suits all his/her needs and to install that as his/her main Operating System. Of course that distro does not exist.”
Of course sometimes less charitable words are used to describe these folks including the always nasty “distroslut.” While I certainly don’t subscribe to the idea that distrohoppers are “sluts” of any kind, I do find their mentality rather interesting as I see them sometimes on my Linux reviews blog.
Actually, I shouldn’t say “their” mentality as I must confess that I too am a distrohopper. I started out ages ago playing with different Linux distributions and just kept right on going with it. To this day I get excited when I see that a particular distro has a new release coming out. I usually can’t wait to get my hands on it to test it and see what great new stuff is in it.
So with that in mind, let’s proceed with the rest of this column.
What Makes Somebody A Distrohopper?
So what exactly makes somebody keep switching around to different Linux distributions? I don’t think it has anything to do with a natural tendency toward distropromiscuity. Rather I think that it has everything to do with a non-stop quest to investigate new possibilities and find new options in desktop Linux.
Distrohoppers have a compelling need to monitor the progress of desktop Linux by installing the latest and greatest distro. What’s changed? What new features are available? What about the theme? The icons? Distrohoppers are innately curious and have an insatiable need to keep up with the development of desktop Linux.
Distrohoppers are not content to simply read a review, they want hands on experience with a new version of a distro and that’s what makes sites like Distrowatch so popular. Every time there’s a new release of a worthwhile distro, you can bet that distrohoppers will swarm the site looking for info and download links.
The three main tools of a distrohopper are VirtualBox, Parallels and VMWare.
These three virtualization tools let distrohoppers constantly hop back and forth between distros. The only limit on how many different distros a distrohopper can use is the space on their hard disk. Each virtualization tool has its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll leave it to others to get into that as it’s outside the scope of this column. But if you haven’t tried using one, you owe it to yourself to grab one and start installing distros.
Yes, some distrohoppers might install distros directly onto their hard disk rather than through virtualization. But I suspect that these folks are more and more the minority as virtualization products have gotten better and better. Why fart around with actually partitioning your hard disk for real to run a distro when you can keep 50 of them tucked away to run in VirtualBox?
As with any minority group, distrohoppers might be looked down upon by the larger Linux majority. People who have settled in with a particular desktop distribution might look down their noses at distrohoppers.
Well screw these snobs. Just because distromonogamy suits them doesn’t mean it suits the rest of us. Our distropolyamorous relationships with many different Linux distros gives us a far broader, far more expansive point of view than these uptight distro snobs who think that their favorite distro is the one and only choice we should all have. Who the hell are they to judge us?
Be out and be proud of being a distrohopper!
Our vigilance and constant testing of new distros insures a higher quality of desktop Linux experience than otherwise might have happened. Without us desktop Linux as a whole would stagnate and ultimately shrivel up and die. Well okay, maybe not but it sure would be a whole lot less fun.
Distrohoppers unite! You have nothing to lose but the chains holding you to your last distro!
Are you a distrohopper? How often do you change your desktop distro? Tell me in the comments.