Episode 28 Show Notes

Moss – Welcome to Distrohopper’s Digest, Episode 028, recorded on December 8, 2021. This episode, we are going to do something a little different.  With us this month is Joshua Hawk, and we are looking at our favorite distros we reviewed or looked at this year. We are happy to receive suggestions of distros you’d like us to try.


…wherein we discuss what we did this month…  Josh, would you like to start us off?

Josh – First off I want to thank you guys for having me on your podcast! Considering I am new I will start a little farther back than a month. I got a new laptop in October, it is an Acer Predator Helios 300 – 15.6″ 144 Hz IPS – Intel Core i7 11th Gen 11800H (2.30GHz) – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU – 16 GB DDR4 – 1 TB HDD 512 GB PCIe SSD – Windows 10 Home 64-bit – Gaming Laptop (PH315-54-731M). I know it’s a mouthful but trust me it’s a great laptop and linux works great on it. I have tried a few distros on it including Ubuntu Gnome, Fedora Gnome, Linux Mint, Manjaro Cinnamon, and Pop!_OS.

Speaking of Gnome, I have decided that Gnome is now my DE of choice. Cinnamon comes so close but just a few things don’t work quite the same. I can get Gnome looking and working the way I like with a few extensions. I have to have the hot corners and be able to define what happens when I hit each corner and there is a great extension for that called Custom Hot Corners – Extended. Now I know Cinnamon has this but you cannot define the radius of where the hot corner is activated and that is a huge issue with a multi monitor setup. Another thing I need is to get rid of the top bar in gnome or at least hide it by using Hide Top Bar. This allows you to hide the top bar when windows are full-screen. Also another thing Cinnamon can do, and Cinnamon does this function well. One last thing that I have to have that Cinnamon does not is the touchpad gestures. You can get them working in Cinnamon, but it’s a lot of effort and not nearly as smooth. 

Other than that, I have not been gaming as much as I would like to be lately due to work/school but those will both be over soon. I have been deep in Windows Server 2016 for my Windows Server class and I never want to be a Windows system admin. The only game I have played in the last 2 weeks has been Stardew Valley, a farming/life sim that is actually really good and Linux native. 

Moss – The biggest thing going on with me was that we got a new computer for my wife, a Lenovo ThinkPad T560, and a new Lenovo Smart Tab M8 for me, with help from George Doscher from Tech + Coffee. I also got a much better used car for my wife, a 2013 Hyundai Accent Hatchback, and I’m planning to replace the Z800 with a new Lenovo mini. I fooled around with Voyager 11, the Debian-based Voyager… still feels like I have that old Debian straitjacket on, can’t even get Discord installed. So I installed Pop!_OS again, mostly to look forward to the upcoming changes. And for the first time, I’m trying to use my Jelly Comb MT50 trackball as a Bluetooth device rather than using the WiFi dongle. And oh yeah, I had one of those horrible birthday things, I am now officially older than dirt.

Dale – A computer I built for a friend a year or so ago still had a Xeon E-1231 v3 CPU installed.  It was in my desktop before I upgraded to a Ryzen 9 3900x.  I just put the motherboard/memory/cpu in a spare case and installed Solus Plasma.  It was overkill for her needs but it worked.  I had intended to put it in my Plex Server, which had an i5-4570 CPU.  I just didn’t know if the motherboard had a recent enough BIOS to support it.  Well, I finally got around to swapping the CPUs.  The BIOS date was new enough to support it, even though the Xeon wasn’t listed.  So I gave it a try anyway and it detected it with no problem.  I did have a slight issue when I realized that I needed to swap the AMD Radeon 5450 graphics card also.  My Xeon was one of the models without integrated graphics.  That required me to take the covers off the computers again and swap the card.

A friend that I’ve known for 35 years texted while I was away at work.  He asked if I had any computers he could use, as he needed to start working from home.  I asked if he had a preference and he favored a laptop.  So I upgraded the memory on my Lenovo T430 to 8 Gigabytes and installed Linux Mint Cinnamon.  I also wanted him to have access to Windows.  Due to many suggestions in the mintCast Telegram group, I used Gnome Boxes to install Windows.  It was my first experience with it and I liked it so much I replaced Virtualbox with it on my computers.  I was surprised at how responsive Windows was on dual-core 3rd gen i5.

 I have been checking in with him to see how he is doing with Linux. He said he was very impressed with it and found it very easy to use.  He has only asked for help a couple of times.  So we now have one more Windows user converted to Linux.

Tony –  So you may have heard by now that I have stood down from being a mintCast host due to my health and other family stuff going on. I had been thinking of taking a step back for a while but Leo got in first so I waited until the new guys had settled in before saying I was going to step away as a regular host. I’ve really enjoyed my time on mintCast and the 3 years have flown past. Hopefully this will give me a little more time to do stuff on Distrohoppers’ Digest, we will see.

PC and Linux-wise I have ordered a new base unit from Juno Computers, the Brutus 5000. It has a Ryzen 9 5900 and I specified it with 32Gb of RAM and a 1Tb SSD, it comes with Ubuntu 20.04 installed but that will not last longer than I can stick a USB drive in it with a Mint Mate install image. Hopefully it will be here before too long, we will see.  

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)

Moss – As I am at least nominally on the Bodhi team,I have learned that Moksha, the desktop environment for Bodhi, has a new version under development. It should be released with version 6.1, no planned release date yet, and it will probably be the main upgrade for that version. Josh, have any updates in distros you use crossed your desk lately?

Josh – My only update is, I have no updates 🤣

Dale – GhostBSD released a new ISO 21.11.24.  XeroLinux has a new website XeroLinux.  It showcases the two releases, Main and Core.  I noticed the Void Linux site has a festive wreath that is animated.  I thought that was cool.  Anything new with you Tony?

Tony: – Nothing from me this month.

BEAUTIFUL FAILURES – What we tried, and failed, to install or run this month

Moss: No failures this month. Haven’t really tried anything other than Voyager 11, and it works for the most part.

Josh: My laptop I mentioned earlier, well it’s at the repair shop. Luckily it was under warranty but the screen was experiencing severe light bleed. Also I guess another failure would be that I kinda rage quit Linux on that laptop as well. Reason being is because I installed Linux on the spinning drive in the laptop and I have gotten so used to ssd’s that I just couldn’t stand it.

Dale: Not a failure, but I did start a project of building from source code the Pop_Shell and Cosmic desktop that System76 uses in Pop!_OS, but using Debian 11 as a base.  I had to track down some dependencies and came across a problem with a missing repo on Github.  I had a reply in their bug tracker instructing me to edit one of the files git uses to know where to pull files from.  Now that I have time, I need to get that laptop out and try it.

Let’s move ahead and talk about Linux.

Moss – This month, we decided to talk about what our favorite distros and experiences over the past year has been. We did ask our listeners on the Telegram and Discord groups to chip in with some of their own good experiences, and we’ll see what happened there. Tony, we’ll let you start.

Tony –

Well for me the star of ‘MY’ show is always Linux Mint and I have that on my production machine which is currently running Mint Mate 19.3 and 3 of my Dell laptops which all have 20.2 running on them. For some reason the Tower PC does not like Mint 20 and I was getting some issues with it freezing, as it’s a 3rd gen i7 I suspect I’m starting to get some hardware issues so hence the purchase of the Juno PC. On the Laptops Mint 20.2 is working fine and I have not had any issues on any of those PC’s.

On my other Small 12” Dell E7250 I have a dual boot setup with SUSE Tumbleweed and W10. Tumbleweed has been as steady as a rock and is currently updating in the background after not being switched on for several weeks. Every time you do an update it does a full distro upgrade so basically everything is changed and so far I’ve never had an issue with the updates breaking anything so I’ve become a fan of SUSE Tumbleweed.

On My Toshiba Z30 I have an Endeavour install and again it tends to be used occasionally and when I remember I need to update the system. Again so far I’ve not had any issues with running updates breaking anything, so Endeavour is another good rolling release in my book. 

Josh – I cannot leave this episode without mentioning Fedora. I believe that it has been the unsung hero this year with its innovations and just rock solid releases. They were the first to adopt Pipewire as default, and also adopted BTRFS as default – not that they were the first to adopt BTRFS but they are doing it right. The most amazing thing is I have not heard one peep from the community about Fedora breaking this year. With the amount of change Fedora has gone through, I believe it’s on the path to being the best Linux distro.

Honorable mentions would have to be Linux Mint, Zorin OS, and Feren OS. All these distros serve a similar purpose and they all have been rock solid and although not as innovative. They still hold a high spot for best Linux distro in my mind. 

Phrase of the year – By the way I run Fedora. 😎

Dale – My dive into the BSDs was an interesting one.  FreeBSD still holds to roll-your-own when it comes to a self-configured desktop.  I can appreciate that for those that enjoy customizing their OS from the ground up.  Reminds me of the early days of Linux before Desktop Environments became popular.  GhostBSD was a pleasant experience with the Mate desktop.  As long as you stayed in the GUI, you would have no idea you were not using Linux.  Not to say the command line is much different, as there are some differences between the BSD utils and the GNU Tool Kit Linux uses.

My further exposure in the world of Arch Linux-based distros has been equally as interesting.  Garuda has exploded with spins and popularity to match.  While I don’t care for their default theme, their visual effects make them stand out from other distros.  Their choice of BTRFS is another choice that is in the minority of Linux distros. They also need to be recognized for the number of utilities they created to make configuration easier.  Now, when it comes to eye candy, you can’t go without mentioning XeroLinux. Though it is a much more subtle approach to a theme, I find it more appealing compared to Garuda.  It is a good distro that is close to vanilla Arch but already configured and themed.  Storm OS was a very nice surprise.  I spent many years using Compiz and Xfce, so it was a good walk down memory lane.  It was one of the most responsive distros I used all year.  That was even with some of the Compiz animations enabled.

What can I say about Redcore?  This would be a good ice breaker into the world of Gentoo.  The barrier to entry with Gentoo is steep for most.  It takes quite a bit of time to get to the point where you have a usable base to build from.  Redcore allows the curious person to experience building packages from source and waiting for packages to be re-compiled with source updates.  Only then will they know if this is something that interests them. Perhaps after a while they may be interested enough to try a stage 3 Gentoo install.

openSUSE Tumbleweed I would group with Fedora.  If you want to get experience into their ecosystem because of professional administrator desires, this would be a great distro for a desktop.  You have an up-to-date kernel and packages, while still learning utilities that are used in SLE (SUSE Linux Enterprise).  If you favor more of the Debian Stable approach then Leap is for you.

Netrunner is a good choice if you want to use Plasma with a Debian base that includes all the firmware that is not in the official Debian ISO.  It uses the Calamares installer which is more straightforward than the Debian installer.  Otherwise, it is the same as running Debian.

Among the built-from-scratch distros, Void Linux and Solus are my favorites.  The stability of their updates is at the level of Debian Stable, but rolling at the same time.  What I also appreciate about Solus is the out-of-the-box, ready-to-work desktop.  In my opinion, there is nothing that needs to be changed appearance-wise.  It has been a good distro for a friend of mine.  Void strikes a chord with me.  It has the old-school ability to build the OS from the ground up.  That is what appealed to me about Linux in the mid-90s.  It reminds me of Debian or Slackware from back then, in some cases even today.  The XBPS package system is very fast and uses common sense commands like Debian’s APT. The rolling nature of it will appeal to those wanting a current distro but stable at the same time.

Pop!_OS has been a good distro for the past 9 months.  I started using it when I received my System76 Pangolin and a month later I installed it on my desktop.  As far as Nvidia support goes, Pop was the most friction-free installation I’ve had.  I rebooted after installation and my Nvidia 1650 worked with no problem.  Pop has survived not being updated for up to 4 weeks at a time.  I can say that it has renewed my interest in Gnome.  I was a fan back in the Gnome 2 days and had high hopes for Gnome 3 that quickly vanished.

Well, I have saved the best for last.  Debian and I go back about 21 years or so.  I have grown to appreciate its slow and steady release cycle.  Debian and Xfce was and still is a good combination for a reliable and customizable desktop experience.  I have always liked the ease of use of doing an in-place upgrade.  The ability of APT to do dependency conflict resolution.  This was a welcomed change and in an automated fashion no less.  Recently I was looking through the package list in the testing repo.  I was surprised to see they had kernel 5.15 and Gnome 41.1 with Wayland.  I think with Debian’s stability and the use of Flatpaks, it is a good choice if you want a rock-solid distro.  I have been very happy to see what Debian has become.  It has created an ecosystem that has spawned development, a development that allowed the creation of Ubuntu and others.  Where would Linux be without Debian?

Moss – The only significant thing I can think of is joining the Bodhi team, at least in name. I’ve done some work with team communications but not nearly all I had planned on doing. I still have a couple hiccups in working in Bodhi, but I have gone from 80% Mint / 15% Bodhi to 80% Bodhi / 15% Mint. I really love Bodhi, but there are still a few things I’m having difficulty with. Scanning is one — I can get it to activate and run the scanner, but can’t get a dialog box to open to save the file. If the guys are right, I probably need to reload Moksha from scratch, that’s not the only problem I’m having with dialog boxes. But when all else fails, I boot to Mint. I am also currently playing with Feren OS, as mentioned last episode. Feren is just about what you would have if you worked really hard to theme Plamsa “right” and put it on top of Mint. 

I have spent some time this year with OpenMandriva. Of all the Mandrake/Mandriva derivatives, I have long felt that OM was the best of the batch. There is still something which holds me back from using it extensively, and I’ve yet to actually define what that is. This year they released version 4.2, and then released a set of steps which will turn the distro from a stable release to a rolling release. I tried doing that on 3 different machines, and only succeeded once, with the failures being epic enough to just need to wipe the drive and install something else, but it was still a fun thing to try. I’m running 4.5 Rolling on my Z800, and it went 3 or 4 weeks between updates and performed the updates like a champ.


Norbert wrote: The ones that have been most reliable for me are Debian and Arch. On my laptop I’ve just recently switched to Debian Testing full time because I need the package availability for my studies. On my desktop I have an Nvidia card and have been trying various distros to see how they work with that but ultimately ended up back on Arch where both using the Nvidia drivers and setting up audio/video recording were the most problem free for me. The distro that had the overall best year in terms of releases and increasing popularity might be Endeavour, I think.

Josh Thacker

Mint and Debian Stable run my world.

Dylan Burger

Mint will always be top of the list for me. Cinnamon is my preferred flavour.

Outside of that, Manjaro had a banner year and they seem to be increasingly stable. That’s on my Pinebook Pro and I love it. I’d also like to shout out Lubuntu. The switch to LXQT has made it visually very appealing and it is a pleasure to use right now. Down votes to Elementary OS for making Flatpak the first thing that I have to download just to have a usable base of apps and for perpetual wifi issues.  I honestly don’t understand why it gets so much positive coverage.

Donald Mickunas

I’m using Debian 11 as a daily driver and testing Void as a possible replacement. Arch, Suse Tumbleweed, and OpenBSD are also among my favorites this year.


Hi guys,

Thank you so much for your show.  I have been a regular listener of your podcasts since about episode 10.  I really appreciate all the hard work and time you devote to testing various Linux distros. I cannot tell you how much I have learned by listening to your shows.  Great job to you all.

Could you please review any distro that used the latest version of LXQT?  They just released version 1.0 of LXQT, and I think it is a desktop that does not get enough attention.

Thanks again and have a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!

Lee 🙂


from 11/02 – 12/06

Fedora 35

Voyager Live 21.10

Raspberry Pi OS 2021-10-30

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.5

openmamba 20211112

Alpine 3.14.3

AlmaLinux 8.5

Septor 2021.5

Lakka 3.6

Rescatux 0.74

Rocky 8.5

Proxmox 7.1

CentOS 8.5.2111

SystemRescue 8.06

Q4OS 4.7

CloudReady 94.3.20

Bluestar 5.15.4

Alpine 3.15.0

Endless OS 4.0.0

deepin 20.3


Snal 1.11

Clonezilla 2.8.0-27

EuroLinux 8.5

IPFire 2.27-core161

GhostBSD 21.11.24

NuTyX 21.10.5

OSMC 2021.11-2

4MLinux 38.0

NixOS 21.11

KDE neon 20211202

Nitrux 2021.12.02

Arch Linux 2021.12.01

CentOS 9

EndeavourOS 21.4

Robolinux 12.12

Freespire 8.0

OpenIndiana 2021.10

CloudReady 94.4.4


TAILS 4.25

FreeBSD 12.3


Our next episode will probably be recorded around January 12th, mostly depending on Dale’s schedule. For chatting with us further, you may choose to join the 22 users in our shrinking Telegram group, our 51 members on MeWe, or the 11 users in our Discord channel.

Josh: You can find me anywhere Linux chatter resides @joshontech also you can find me on Crowbar Kernel Panic, a Linux gaming podcast focused on steam and proton. You can also email me at [email protected]. Oh and occasionally on mintCast although I have not been on there recently, but I should have more time coming up soon.

Dale: I’m @Dale_CDL on Telegram, Matrix, and Discord #9433. My email is [email protected]

Tony: Contact me at [email protected], http://hackerpublicradio.org/correspondents.php?hostid=338, Twitter @TonyH1212,

Moss: And you can hear me every week on Full Circle Weekly News, email at [email protected], my Telegram, Discord, Twitter and Mastodon contact info is in the show notes, [I’m Moss Bliss on Telegram, @MossHippoLinux #3616 on Discord, @bardictriad on Twitter, @[email protected] on Mastodon,] and you can find me, Dale and Dylan, at ItsMOSS dot com.

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