Why You Should Try Switching Linux Operating Systems

Austin Luong 11-01-2018

If you’ve ever felt your current Linux operating system lacking in some ways, there are a number of things you can do to help fix this. It’s easy to adjust your desktop’s look and feel, for example, sometimes to amazing degrees Make Linux Look Like macOS With These Easy Tweaks If you like Linux but want it to look more like macOS, you're in luck! Here's how to make your Linux desktop look like macOS. Read More . Switching regularly between different Linux operating systems (better known as distro hopping) is one potential solution, which carries a number of benefits.


What Is It?

Some people who use Linux enjoy moving between distributions, for varied, and personal reasons. Even though at their core, the base is the same Why It Doesn't Matter Which Linux Operating System You Use There's always going to be arguments about which Linux operating system is "better". Overall, Linux provides a good experience, regardless of how you run it. Let's look at those similarities -- and celebrate them! Read More , there’s still a lot that can change between them. And distro hopping provides a way to see exactly how they’re different. This comes with a number of potential benefits, which all come along with the process.

Pick Out a Package Manager

Many Linux operating systems come with tools which lets you easily install programs. In other words, package managers Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More . These vary from system to system, with special quirks and syntax for each one. Distro hopping allows you to try many of them out, giving you a hands-on choice on which piece of software works best for you.

They all do the same thing: let you install and upgrade your software How to Install Software on Linux: Package Formats Explained You've switched to Linux, and want to install some software. But package managers differ depending on your distro. So which apps can you download and install? It's all in the acronyms. Read More without hassle, or security risks. But the way they go about it can be wildly different. For example, many Linux operating systems come with a nice front-end to manage your packages with (rather than using the command line out of the box).

why you should try other linux operating systems

Linux being Linux, there’s a lot of alternatives. The GNOME desktop GNOME Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Popular Desktops You're interested in Linux, and you've come across "GNOME", an acronym for GNU Network Object Model Environment. GNOME is one of the most popular open source interfaces, but what does that mean? Read More for example, comes with a default app manager front-end called GNOME Software. While it’s quite user friendly, it might not be to everybody’s taste. Luckily, there are many others available. Manjaro Manjaro Linux: Arch For People Who Don't Have Time Read More , for example, comes with a choice between two front ends: Pamac and Octopi.


why you should try other linux operating systems

With all the different package managers Linux App Stores Compared: Which One Is Right for You? Windows users are being guided to an app store. macOS has had one for a while. Linux, meanwhile, has had an app store-style experience for years. But which one is right for you? Read More (and their front ends) out there, you might find yourself wondering about the potential things you’re missing. Distro hopping allows for an easy way to try them out.

Try Out Different Desktops

Desktop environments The 12 Best Linux Desktop Environments Choosing a Linux desktop environment can be difficult. Here are the best Linux desktop environments to consider. Read More are a set of system programs which give you a base to manage your computer with. They usually come with things such as a file manager Thunar vs. Nautilus: Two Lightweight File Managers For Linux Is Thunar a better file manager than Gnome's default, Nautilus? Read More and a way to launch and organise apps.

Depending on your Linux operating system, your desktop experience Which Linux Desktop Environment Best Suits Your Personality? What kind of computer user are you? Do you leave icons scattered across your desktop? Do you prefer to work in one uncluttered application? Let's find out which Linux desktop environment suits you best. Read More can vary wildly from another person’s. Switching between them gives you the opportunity to try these different experiences. There are a number of desktop environments out there, ranging from the full featured, to more minimal ones The Best Lean Linux Desktop Environment: LXDE vs. Xfce vs. MATE Tweaking your choice of Linux desktop environment can speed things up a lot. Here we look at three options: LXQt, Xfce, and MATE. Read More .


You might find the flexibility of KDE’s Plasma desktop 5 Awesome KDE Plasma Tweaks You Should Try Today Efficiency is key to becoming productive. The KDE Plasma desktop environment offers a nice selection of simple tweaks that will turn you into a KDE efficiency rock star. Here are five to get you started. Read More fits your needs better, then say, the extremely lightweight nature of LXDE Using An Old Computer? Give It New Life With LXDE As Linux is arguably the most customizeable operating system between it, Windows, and Mac OS X; there's plenty of room to change just about whatever you please. Proper customizing can potentially lead to massive performance... Read More . There are plenty of options out there, and one of them might fit you better than the others.

why you should try other linux operating systems

But even between operating systems that come with the same desktop there can be a lot of variation. After all, it’s easy to style most desktop environments 12 Useful Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home We'll show you some great tweaks that can go a long way to achieving desktop zen. Read More any way you like with the right steps. And Linux operating systems tend to provide their own distinctive design choices out of the box. For example, OpenSUSE 6 Reasons You Should Choose openSUSE and the Geeko There are good reasons openSUSE continues to attract users, and here are some of them. Maybe you will be the next person to fall in love with the Geeko. Read More is known for its excellent take on KDE’s Plasma.

why you should try other linux operating systems


This has the added benefit of giving you ideas on how to customise desktops yourself. By looking at what different Linux operating systems have out of the box Why Your Linux OS Ships With a Default Desktop Environment Have you ever wondered why your Linux operating system looks the way it does? All distributions have a default desktop environment, but how did your favorite Linux OS end up looking so awesome? Read More , you can get a feel of the kind of layout that works best for you. This can be useful if you’re unfamiliar with how your desktop works, and don’t know its full potential.

Learn About Partitioning

You might find yourself installing different Linux operating systems Which Linux Operating Systems We Use and Why It's one thing to recommend a Linux distro. It's another to show you which ones we actually use on a daily basis. Here are the ones we prefer and why! Read More at the same time (also known as multi booting) as a way of trying them out. If you do so, you’ll soon find yourself learning quite a bit about how to properly space out your hard drive, along with what’s involved with booting Linux.

By default, most Linux installation discs How to Build Your Own Bootable Linux Live CD It's easy to create a DIY bootable live CD in Linux, using third-party tools or official Linux operating systems. Need help? Follow these steps to create a Linux Live CD in minutes. Read More wipe any previous data off them. They take it for granted that you’ll use that one operating system alone. Slightly smarter ones can give you the option to dual boot 7 Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Dual Boot Linux Often, making the choice of installing Linux over Windows can be tricky to justify. But why not opt for both? Here are five reasons to dual boot and two reasons you shouldn't. Read More automatically, but you can’t rely on it everywhere.

why you should try other linux operating systems


As such, learning what partitions are needed for getting multiple Linux operating systems running can be quite useful. For example, if you’re manually resizing Three Ways to Resize a Linux Partition Safely How do you make changes to hard drive partitions without breaking your system and losing all of your files? Start with Linux! Read More one of your file systems to make room for another, you don’t want to change anything important, such as the partition your bootloader is on.

why you should try other linux operating systems

Along with this, you might even get a chance to learn a bit about different types of file systems, and what they’re used for. For example, you’ll see FAT32 pop up a lot on computers using UEFI. This is the file format used for the boot partition How To Fix Bootloader Problems Due To GRUB Read More . As the name suggests, it contains the files needed to get your system up and running.

why you should try other linux operating systems

Switching between Linux operating systems gives you the opportunity to learn from experience. You’ll set things up far more often than other people, letting you know the ins and outs of the installation process.

Experiment With Rolling Release

Linux operating systems can be roughly divided in either fixed or rolling release What Is a Linux Rolling Release, and Do You Want It? Learn more about why certain Linux distributions have a "rolling release" schedule and what that means for you. Read More (along with some other subtle nuances). This determines the way your operating system releases its packages: either in defined periods, or more regularly, usually as programs are released, after some testing. Rolling releases tend to provide more up to date software 5 Linux Operating Systems That Offer Bleeding Edge Updates Ready for an operating system that boasts the latest features? It's time to try one of these bleeding edge Linux distros. Read More as it comes out, though that isn’t always the case.

Distro hopping allows you to experiment with such operating systems. You might find such a release model appealing, along with the more up to date packages it provides. While some operating systems that follow such a release pattern have a reputation for being complex (such as Arch Linux Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch For Linux power users, it's highly desirable to be able to completely customize your system. Sometimes, that can be best achieved from the start -- by piecing together the components that you'd like to include... Read More ), there are plenty of others which are designed with user friendliness in mind (such as Solus Can Solus Replace Your Current Linux Operating System? A Linux operating system that has been gaining traction lately is Solus. Aimed at the everyday home user, let's find out why Solus might make a perfect replacement for your current desktop OS. Read More ).

why you should try other linux operating systems

Alternatively, if you’re already using a rolling release operating system, you might find something like Debian Debian vs. Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint: Which Distribution Should You Use? Most Linux users install a Debian-based distro. But which should you choose: Debian, Ubuntu, or Linux Mint? Read More more to your taste. While its programs might not always be up to date, it’s known for its very high level of stability. You might enjoy this sort of model if you’ve had some troubles in the past with rolling releases.

why you should try other linux operating systems

Switching between Linux operating systems The Newest Linux Operating Systems for Every Niche Linux operating systems are constantly updated, with some are more substantial than others. Not sure whether to upgrade? Check out these new Linux operating systems and to see if you should try them. Read More lets you experience a number of different things. Some of those changes involve not only the software you use, but the way you get them. And depending on your computer usage, you might prefer any one of them.

Make Backups a Habit

Without proper backups, distro hopping can be a little hard to get used to. It means transferring all your important data from one place to another. Unless you’re installing multiple operating systems at once (which can still have risks 7 Risks of Dual Booting Windows and Linux Operating Systems Dual booting Windows and Linux boosts productivity, but issues can affect performance. Be aware of these of dual booting problems. Read More ), you’ll want to set up a backup system in advance. This helps make distro hopping seamless, along with other benefits.

By having a backup system in place, you can switch between different Linux operating systems with very little fuss. For example, you could not only bring along your documents and videos, but your configuration files as well. Along with this, some programs like your web browser Settings and Syncing: Firefox versus Chrome Whether you primarily use your browser for work or play; speed, reliability, settings, and features are essential. Firefox and Chrome are top browser choices. So, is there a “best choice” between the two? Read More give you the option to sync your settings online. Switching Linux operating systems becomes a matter of copying over your data, and reinstalling programs.

why you should try other linux operating systems

Along with this, you set up a very good computer habit for life. Configuring backups might be a bit of a chore at first, but it can be very helpful. If your computer breaks down How Power Outages Can Damage Your Computer (And How to Protect It) Unplugging your computer during severe storms? You may want to start. Here's how power outages can damage your PC. Read More , you won’t have lost all your files. There are also plenty of tools How to Make Data Backups on Ubuntu & Other Distros How much sensitive data would you lose if your disk drive died? Naturally, you need a backup solution, but making backups in Linux can be tricky if you don't know what you're doing... Read More to help you out, if you find it hard to get started with backups.

Why Just Stick to What You Know?

Even if you’re satisfied with your current Linux operating system, there are still plenty of reasons to scout around. You can pick up multiple things Want To Learn Linux? These Four Distros Will Take You From Beginner To Pro If you're interested in learning about Linux, some distributions are better than others at helping you out. Depending on how deep you want to go, there are different distros that are ideal for you.  Read More along the way, helping you use Linux in any shape or form. Plus, trying different things out is always quite fun.

Why would (or why wouldn’t) you switch operating systems?

Related topics: Linux Desktop Environment, Linux Distro.

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  1. bruce w fowler
    January 15, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Good article but let me offer a couple of operational suggestions. First, order the selection process to reduce the number of choices from large to small. For example, start with deciding if you want a rolling or scheduled release, then pick the package format/manager, then ... Second, consider a different approach to backups. With Linux, you likely have little or no money invested in software like you would with Windows or Apple. If you are using a desktop, have two hard drives; otherwise, two partitions, one for OS and the other for data. Then all you have to do to backup is copy the data drive/partition to the cloud/USB hard drive. This also makes distro hopping easier and safer.

  2. Jim
    January 13, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I have tried a lot of distros in my time. I keep an older desktop for some and use USB installs for others. USB install do not always give you all the features though they do give you a good idea of a distro. I was burnt by smaller distros when they just shut down. I now stick to larger distos under active development. I have decided on Mate as my desktop and dual boot Debian and Ubuntu LTS on one laptop and Ubuntu LTS and Mint on the other. Ubuntu has become my favorite. I like Debian for it's stability, but it gets to be a pain with all the out of date warnings like for flash. Still looking at other distros, desktops and software will help you understand what you really need and like.

  3. Gazoo
    January 12, 2018 at 3:29 am

    I quite agree. After two years with Linux Mint, I started distro-hopping again. Since I'm looking to upgrade at some point, I wanted to see what was out there before settling in again. Downloaded lots of distros with an eye on rolling releases.

    Some distros I really liked, others failed. Even with the failures, I tried hard to find something positive in them - maybe an app I hadn't come across, a configuration option, a widget... Something like the Knoppix Live CD turned out to be a veritable feast in terms of showcasing some of the sfx on KDE, the tons of apps (many I hadn't encountered before). Spent a great deal of time with this CD testing everything.

    Others like Tails had me thinking about the anonymous aspects of browsing as a way of enhancing both privacy and security. I liked how the TOR browser blocked access to all directories except the TOR directory. Tails also sent me on a side quest into the tor network - which I hadn't done for quite a few years. Interesting to see some clearnet sites blacklisting exit nodes or putting up extra barriers as a result.

    I liked the user-friendly, arch-based implementations I tested. Much sturdier and polished than expected. It wouldn't surprise me if I began using one of them regularly. Also came across some lightweight distros that might be perfect for aging machines.

    When I used to distro-hop as a Windows user, I looked at distros superficially. This time around, I really got much more from the effort. I just need to learn more about the different teams before relying on any distro as my go-to OS. tbh, It'll be hard to replace Mint but distro-hopping is eye-opening in many ways.

  4. dragonmouth
    January 11, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    A good, objective article. Most other articles try to push a particular desktop, package manager or a distro. You just give the reasons and let the reader make up his/her mind.

    I've been distro-hopping for over 10 years, looking for THE distribution. Every distro I tried had some features that I did not like. When I finally settled on a distro, SimplyMEPIS, it was discontinued. So I am back to distro-hopping.

    After so many years of trying different distros, I think the best solution is to build one yourself using Arch, Gentoo or Linux From Scratch. This allows you to incorporate only the packages you want.