One of the things I like about Open Source software and Linux distros is that they are continually being updated and improved. Since last October, new versions of some of my favorite distros have been or will soon be released. So today I just wanted to mention a few of my personal favorites to look forward to.
The computer I’m using to write this on has Voyager Linux installed. Voyager is a French re-mix of Xubuntu, but with additional software, artwork and optimizations. Another nice distro that uses Xfce is Manjaro Linux, but for my favorites list I’m sticking to Ubuntu/Debian based distros.
Right now I’m using Voyager 12.04 on the main computer I share with my wife, though there’s a new version that’s based on Ubuntu 12.10 that came out the first of November. Voyager is a great balance of being lighter on your hardware (thanks to Xfce) while providing an attractive appearance and useful pre-installed software. I especially like the Conky Control utility that makes configuring the Conky system monitor incredibly simple. And Voyager comes with a pre-configured AWN Dock also.
I tried out the Live CD of Voyager 12.10 a while back. But since it still uses Xfce 4.10 (as the 12.04 release does) and there don’t seem to be any earth-shaking changes to Xubuntu/Voyager, I’m staying with Voyager 12.04 for now. The only big change I noticed in the new Voyager is that they have substituted Cairo Dock for AWN as the bottom Dock launcher, because AWN has stopped development. Voyager 12.04 works dandy and is set up just like I want it.
However, I’ve been toying with the idea of installing a different distro on this machine, just for the fun of it! Here are a few I’m considering…
Linux Mint. I’ve expressed my love for Mint before, and I’m especially fond of Mint’s Fork of Gnome Shell: Cinnamon Desktop Environment. It adds more features, customization and beauty with every new release. I think this is a great Linux distribution for newbies and experienced Linux fans alike. It’s easy to use with a lovely balance of simplicity, power and visual elegance. And I like Mint’s fork of the Nautilus File Manager, Nemo, that comes with Mint Cinnamon. (Wow, it seems like lately everyone’s making their own fork of Nautilus!) I also think their Xfce and KDE versions are top-notch; but Cinnamon is my favorite at the moment.
The only trouble is, I have it installed on another one of our computers (above). So just for variety, I might also want to try…
Netrunner 12.12. Or Netrunner Dryland, Version 4; they seem to be the same thing. Netrunner looks like a very nice KDE distro that is based on Kubuntu. I have to confess, I’ve not yet installed Netrunner to a hard drive, but I’ve tried it from the live CD quite extensively, and it works beautifully. I’ve been burned by KDE bugginesss a couple of times before (with Kubuntu), so I’n not sure I want to commit a KDE distro to the main computer right now. But from what I’ve seen and heard from others, it looks like Netrunner is about the nicest implementation of KDE around these days. Maybe when KDE 4.10 is finally released I’d try it out. But if you’re already a KDE fan this distro might be very appealing.
The configuration options with KDE and the Plasma Desktop are almost overwhelming for me, personally. But it sure is a thing of beauty when it behaves itself! Despite the gorgeous compositing effects, I’m still leaning toward a simpler, cleaner and slightly less hardware-taxing operating system. With that in mind, there are two other distros I’d consider installing in the near future…
SolusOS is the one distro I’m most looking forward to. I’ve mentioned it before – but the spankin’ new, completely rebuilt version of SolusOS 2 is now under heavy development, and I can’t wait till it’s finished later this year. This is the distro that will probably take the place of Voyager Linux on the main machine. I think it’s going to be awesome!
Another distro that just had an update is Fuduntu 2013.1. Since it’s a rolling release, there’s no need to re-install for Fuduntu 2012.4 users, just perform regular updates for the newest version. Well, I cheated a little - this is based on Fedora, NOT Ubuntu/Debian. But I really like this distro; it just gets better and better! Another great distro for people wanting to try Linux.
And also for your consideration… ElementaryOS has been getting a lot of buzz for a long time. It looks like it may soon be released (beta 1 is available now). For a simple, uncluttered and modern OS, this may be your cup of tea as well. All the components many Linux users have come to love over the past few years (like Nautilus Elementary) wrapped into a complete operating system. This is sure to appeal to many new and current Linux users.
Update March 18, 2013: Since I wrote this, I’ve installed Zorin OS 6.2 Core Edition on our main computer. See here for more details. Zorin OS is very easy to use and touts itself as being a good distro for Windows users who want to try Linux. Also, OpenSUSE 12.3 has been released, and it looks fabulous. The Linux Action Show just reviewed it (starts at around 32 minutes in). Check it out!
Those are my personal recommendations for the moment. I’ll leave you with a few more review links below.