When I say there is only one Linux you can imagine the groans and gasps of disagreement coming from every direction. In the software universe it is true there is only one Linux. This one Linux consist of volumes of source code that is compiled and configured to run on different platforms, then lumped together to form the various distributions. Don't blame me for the habit of naming every Linux formulation. But in a way it is like conquering a mountain and putting a flag on it. But you have to thank so many folk who have managed to do this feat, so you don't have to do it yourself. And it still doesn't take away your freedom and right to do this if you want to. The thing to realize is that a distro is the beginning, if you want to change it, you can.
I admit I am a distro hopper and I am trying to find the sweetspot in Linux. You all heard me say there is no one distribution that does it all or has it all. So I am looking for the broadest approach. So far the Debian distro's are winning in my book with special kudos to Ubuntu. Ubuntu's repositories seem to have the widest assortment of applications pre-compiled for easy installation. Besides having a full repository, you want not to have to install Flash and Java apps into Firefox or what ever browser you are using. This is becoming better even as we speak, Linux developers are no longer waiting for Adobe to do the job for Linux. It is a shame for proprietary standards to be in common use and controlled by the ignorance, arrogance and whim of the closed source owners. As long as this is the case there will never be open computing.
Back to my distro hopping, I have done things I swore I wouldn't do. But I see some things have changed, so I took the liberty. Even though I don't have an official "old machine", I have used Xfce desktop, quite snappy and somewhat good looks. I have to admit KDE though large in comparison to Xfce is still nimble enough for me not to complain about speed. And because I am so changeable, I like KDE's ability to change with me. I have tried KDE 3.5 and while still not liking the complexity, found a descent arrangement. Then as I reported that I after being a Xubuntu fanboy for a while switched to Mepis. I really like Mepis but Mepis doesn't have the easy install of applications that I was looking for. Again, the extensive repository of pre-compiled programs is a big draw. Why compile yourself when you can point and click?? So, I revisited the Ubuntu forest and installed Kubuntu 8.04 over my Xubuntu 7.10. I was so pleasantly surprised, the install went very well, no problems like in my previous encounter with 8.04 (Xubuntu and Ubuntu).
The first thing to notice is that the latest KDE has been cleaned of clutter and confusion, even given a little polish. This KDE version 4 is kind of likable. It has elements I have liked in other OS's and Linux desktops. They didn't try to include everything so you might have to add some stuff, but it is a solid base, change or no. KDE is like Macs in some ways and like MS in some ways but these are ways that users are accustomed to seeing and as always if you need to change it, you can. The difference between Mepis and Kubuntu, not much but the pre-compiled software repositories of Ubuntu gives it an edge. Ubuntu, being a more international distro does have the media codec issue to contend with, but additions are easy to get at.
So if you are exploring Linux or are a distro hopper like me, consider these things:
1) There is only one Linux over all, but distro's have been made to narrow down your choice.
2) A full repository of pre-compiled easy to install software is what you want.
3) Make your /home directory a separate partition. If you are a change fanatic like myself you won't have to do constant backups. You can use the same /home partition with any Linux install.
4) A little Linux goes a long way. Upgrade fever is replaced with continual improvement.