The past two years has seen me rediscovering the power of Linux. The first Unix OS I ever used was Solaris back in college. Didn't really do much then besides the basics but I did see the usefulness of working primarily in the console or terminal. I remember attempting to use other flavors like Mandrake and SUSE and ended up being uninspired. Even the promising Ubuntu back then just felt unenjoyable to me that I effectively ignored this area of computing until I started learning git which would be many years later. So the majority of my computer user life has been spent inside Microsoft Windows.

Being a power user who loves to tinker with a lot of apps and features, it is not surprising why Windows was enough to sate my hunger. But the Linux of today has matured to the point that objectively speaking, there's not a single best distro anyone could point at. Linux distro debates resemble a holy war in the age of computers. There's plenty of good choices for anyone willing to get out of the Microsoft and Apple computer systems. I'd like to think that I've spent enough time already looking at the best candidates to confidently say that I've found my favorite Linux distro to use as my daily driver.

Patrick's Manjaro Linux Desktop

Reasons I Use Manjaro Linux

  • Arch-based
    • The AUR and ArchWiki. Seriously, this one bullet point should be enough to explain it all. Why not vanilla Arch? I just could not commit the time to set it up from the base. Manjaro had the most sensible defaults out of all the Arch-based distros I've tried while being the most stable.
  • Top-notch KDE Plasma and XFCE
    • Plasma is so beautiful in Manjaro. I used to be on KDE but multi-monitor setup inconveniences eventually forced me to finally appreciate the simply faster and more stable XFCE.
  • Dolphin
    • My preferred file manager from KDE which also works nicely on XFCE. It can be as powerful as you need it to be. Unfortunately, not many distros have it as default.

Other Distros I Would Have Chosen

  • Fedora
    • The cleanliness of Gnome and the stability of Fedora are truly great points. If pacman/AUR didn't exist, I would have gone this way. It's such a good distro that I almost wish I customarily used a second computer too just to have an excuse to work with Fedora daily.
  • openSUSE Tumbleweed
    • The only distro I've tried that matched KDE's caliber in Manjaro. And it somehow does feel like an OS for professional developers. If Fedora's DNF became annoying enough, I would go this way because Zypper is a nice package manager too.
  • MX Linux
    • The most powerful yet light distro I've ever come across is XFCE in MX Linux. It had served me many times as a rescue OS on USB flash drives. It's fast and it has all the tools you need preinstalled and at such a lightweight package with minimal footprint. Probably the only thing I dislike about it is the initial impression you get from the GUI design. (read: ugly)

Popular Distros I Will Likely Never Consider As My Daily Driver

  • Ubuntu et al.
    • Much like how we like our workplace to have some sort of personality, I like my distro not to look generic. All the Ubuntu flavors feel the same. Sure, the DE make them look different but under the hood it's all the same. I'm grateful though for its contributions to Linux's widespread adoption.
  • Debian
    • I admire its rock solid stability in those times I've used it in servers. But I'm not inclined to use Debian this way for reasons similar with Ubuntu.
  • Linux Mint
    • Its defining feature is the close resemblance of the UI to Windows and I appreciate that stated goal for Linux newcomers. But the Cinnamon desktop environment has never been to my liking. (Even though it should be because it's Irish and green.) I much prefer the design approach of Solus Budgie for this purpose. And Mint being Debian/Ubuntu-based well as you may have guessed, I prefer the rolling release cycle for distros.

This is not a knock on Ubuntu, Debian or Linux Mint. On the contrary, I think they deserve their popularity as top choices for Linux converts. There are also those for previous Mac users that are just as worthy like Zorin OS and elementary OS. The choice of a Linux distro is simply more often a matter of preference.

Manjaro is far from being a perfect distro and Linux is definitely not a perfect OS. Manjaro can sometimes be annoying with the constant update notifications and Linux still has a lot to work on to be a suitable replacement for Windows gamers. BSD and UNIX operating systems may also develop better in the coming years. There's simply no telling. But for now, Manjaro Linux best met my requirements for a powerful computer OS that is almost endlessly customizable while embracing the values in technology which I believe in.

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  • Neocities is hailed as the spiritual successor to the dearly missed 1990s website host Geocities. Naturally, I cannot pass up the opportunity of putting up something here. I have decided to merge my entire code-ink-space network of sites in this newest incarnation which I now simply call Patrick's Personal Home Page. PPHP for short which is obviously a nod to the web scripting (not programming, if you insist) language that started it all for me.
  • Pelican is what I use as the Static Site Generator here. I initially attempted to code my own one but the amount of work and impracticality of reinventing something wasn't very appealing. I wanted something written in PHP but there weren't many great choices. The closest was Sculpin but Pelican just met my simple requirements better. It's Python-based so it's still a cool thing to be playing with. Plus, Pelican is one of the oldest SSGs still in active development and that kind of longevity can only be a good sign.
  • I'm now working off a desktop workstation powered by an Intel NUC. After years of using laptops as my daily driver, I'm now back to a desktop machine. Not really just because of the changes due to the pandemic though. This decision was brought about by the realization that using laptops for long periods of time cannot be good for anyone's health. Some have gone the hybrid path of using an external monitor with the laptop. That's one solution but I've learned over the years that laptops simply don't have much flexibility in the way of upgrades. Soldered RAMs are becoming the norm in laptops and the price to performance ratio is just better with desktops. Granted, a NUC isn't exactly a traditional desktop being in a new class called mini PCs. The NUC still best addressed my need for power in a small form factor and at a better price when compared to mid-range laptops. I got the 8th gen one with the better GPU of Intel Iris Plus. Many see the NUC only good for HTPC setups but it's seriously a good enough machine for most people's computing needs. It's certainly good enough for my Windows 10 and Manjaro dual-boot machine.

I will limit /code/ articles here to 3 bullet points to keep things nice and easily readable. I will write about my Linux setup next time.

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  • Learned a lot about YouTube Studio (and all that entails) during the brief 4 months of uploading church videos during the pandemic lockdown. YouTube API has since been significantly limited for free users. I was lucky to have had access before those were implemented. But eventually, my access would be limited too due to dormancy. It's no problem as I don't need to upload videos in bulk anymore. In other news, youtube-dl got a DMCA takedown on their development repo in GitHub. Thanks RIAA. Well, they'll never learn. Long live FOSS!
  • Google's "hum-to-search song" feature has been launched and I was able to put it to use right away. There's this song's melody I've had stuck in my head for so long that I just couldn't find. I didn't know the lyrics except for the oh-ohs because I first heard it when I was still a small kid. After just two tries of humming in Google's app, I found it! It's Ken Laszlo's Tonight. Soundcloud hadn't been successful in finding it for me so thanks Google. And that signals the the end of mystery earworms for all music lovers around the world. Though the repercussions to copyright law enforcement because of this technology still remains to be seen.
  • Updated my Maloja install and wow, the images now finally show up!
  • Pi-hole is the greatest invention for the Internet. Perhaps only second to YouTube and RSS. Memes are great too. But certainly not social media. In fact, after much internal debate, I've now even added Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit to the blacklist. The cons simply outweigh the pros to keep them. Reddit is vast so I disable the restriction only when necessary and that's rare. Grudgingly, I keep Facebook but I don't really use it. Just Messenger. These platforms have reached that critical limit when it ceases to be healthy and humane. There are far better sources for news and entertainment.
  • I've returned to reading magazines again. I think we're past the point of this pandemic when we need to be kept abreast of daily news. Slow news is better for mental health and emotional well-being. World Mission Magazine is one I've been reading for years. Linux Format keeps me up-to-date about the open-source world. There's plenty more good reads in Magzter where I'm subscribed. (They've been generous with giving me free credits.) The magazines are better when I'm feeling swamped by the feeds in my Tiny Tiny RSS reader.

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