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Kelvin Thompson
Kelvin Thompson

Posted on • Updated on

Linux distro hell and can the Hat save me?!

Like most Linux distro users, we play with and test, various (sometimes multitudes!) different distros looking for what is most suited for our current situation. As a developer, this journey has taken many twists indeed!

I've come to the conclusion for myself, that what I really want is a secure OS that is rather transparent to my other efforts. One that would update itself without having to reinstall. The reinstall angst goes way back to and beyond early DOS and Windows days. Like most, I have plenty of experience with the format/reinstall dance. It has stolen huge amounts of time and given back a lot of frustration. But you learn. It gets faster. Not really better.

Last year, this brought me naturally to Fedora. Specifically Silverblue. I think it was the v27-29 or thereabouts. It was the first version of Fedora to actually work on my older Aspire laptop (then with only 4GB ram.) When I read about Silverblue, I got really excited. Of course, rolling releases are not new, especially in the Linux world, but I've always run into issues with all of them. Silverblue was in it's relative infancy, so I encountered various problems, but overall, it was good. Due to some of these issues, I had to remove Silverblue -- it was just too buggy for my situation. Disappointing, but something to hope for. A light on the horizon. And I like Cockpit for overseeing. I could do things with containers through cockpit that I couldn't do with the command line for instance. Then a Fedora update made serious issues with performance and I moved on with heavy heart. Again.

Then about 6 months ago, a friend mentioned that recent changes with Ubuntu looked promising, as far as performance, etc. I tried it again, but wasn't happy when a background update completely destabilized my systems. I tried Debian, as it had also moved forward, but issues made me go back to others. Since I develop mostly on my laptop (SSH into my production beast, or other servers), if I can't make it work on my laptop I'm leary with it on my other machines. I've run into too many frustrations when my computers are running different distros, so I prefer everything to run the same base system. I've used Linux Mint many times in the past. I've been very happy with the looks, snappiness and the admin (codecs, etc.) But I have never tried their Debian Edition which had just debuted release v4. Nicely, it gave me the features of Debian I liked without the hassles, and with the other niceties of Mint. This has rocked for a nice amount of time. And learning Docker at the same time has been interesting to say the least.

But the production environment that I would like to nurture would be more aligned with the Silverblue concept, together with containers. I would like my OS to be stable and immutable.

This brings me back to the Hat. Silverblue 32 has recently come out and developments look promising. So I am going to once again try to achieve my idea of a happy place, and see if I can get a stable development environment with Silverblue and Docker. And VSCode of course. As much as I have tried not to like it, it is fast (I don't use a ton of addons) and with the Docker and IBM Blockchain Platform addons, my brain is starting to hum. I will document this process as usual, both for my notes, and maybe even for some poor sod out there going through hoops of barbed wire trying to get things working.


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