I thought it would be appropriate to shout out (quietly) what’s happening with my computer systems these days, including my preferences in desktop environment, operating system, and so on.
When it comes to operating systems, obviously I’m a GNU/Linux guy. Yes, as much as I can’t stand how political GNU is - not to mention their god, Richard Stallman - they have a point about using GNU in the name: the majority of the system was implemented by GNU, and then the Linux kernel was put into place. Let’s not forget that without GNU, free software would never have been what it is today, so I feel like I owe that to them.
But I digress. GNU/Linux is a fantastic operating system, and the Linux kernel itself is very nice. It is well maintained and always kept up to date, and technologically - while I’m no kernel hacker by any shot - I’ve heard and read that the Linux kernel is one of the best designed kernels around.
In terms of stability, security and reliability, you really cannot look past Linux. I often see computer users laugh off Linux as a second-rate kernel, however, I’ve never seen a more frustrated group of computer users than those who shun (and have never properly used) Linux.
I also hear that the FreeBSD kernel - while I have never been able to use it due to hardware incompatibilities - is also a great choice, for many of the same reasons as Linux. Perhaps the only downside is the lack of support compared to Linux, but it does have its advantages too.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: I love Gentoo Linux. It is the greatest GNU/Linux distribution I have ever used, let alone as an operating system in its own right. Some may see Gentoo Linux as an operating system for hackers, who constantly sit in front of their 46” dual monitors. This is not true. Gentoo Linux offers incredible benefits over other distributions, such as source package management, flexibility, stability and reliability. The user is in total control.
Source package management is very important. It allows you to strip out what you don’t want from the resulting binary, and keep only what you need. This results in faster, smaller applications.
But my favourite feature of Gentoo’s package management would have to be the way it sorts out dependencies. For example, let’s say I want to install Amarok, a music player for KDE. Depending on the profile you have set, Portage will automatically pull in all the media codecs you would require, without having to hunt down what you need. This may not seem like much, but in this day and age, when you install a music player and expect it to play without further installation and configuration required, this is a serious advantage.
Or take another example, such as the X.org Server. With Gentoo, I don’t have to manually and individually install each input driver and graphics driver that I require; Gentoo automatically pulls in what it needs, and all I have to do is emerge xorg-server. Gentoo does the rest. Simple.
Finally, the ability to control what goes into your kernel is one of the biggest drawcards for me. If it is something you aren’t interested in, then Gentoo really isn’t your distribution. But for people like me, it’s a definite positive. Of course, if manual kernel configuration isn’t something to phone home about, Gentoo offers an automatic kernel configurator, which sets up a kernel automatically, as you would expect.
Gentoo isn’t catered to the average user. Gentoo is not - on purpose - a beginner’s distribution, but at the same time it is not a distribution around just to be difficult. When you work with Gentoo, you learn Linux. And with that, you discover the full potential of your operating system. You can apply that knowledge virtually anywhere in the Linux world, and so it will always serve a purpose to you. But with Gentoo, you only get out what you put in. And by that, I mean knowledge of what you’re doing.
I have also used Arch Linux in the past, but I’ve always returned to Gentoo for the above reasons. And hence, I cannot recommend anything else but the Gentoo Linux operating system.
I find I swap around with this one on occasion, but I feel like I’m pretty set with KDE. I worked with GNOME 3 for a while, and it may be revolutionary, but after using it for five minutes I found myself asking, ‘is that it?’ I like to have a desktop environment that is feature packed without being cluttered, and so I really can’t look past KDE; it has always been something I have fallen back to. It is just generally better than GNOME. It doesn’t look like a smartphone interface, it doesn’t look like it was designed with crayons, it is a desktop environment radiating professionalism. And that is exactly what I want.
Deeper down, I prefer Qt to GTK+; it seems simpler, applications look much nicer, and it uses C++ by default (I really am a sucker for object-oriented programming).
So there you have it. To sum up, I love GNU/Linux, I love Gentoo, and I love KDE for its beautiful, professional and intuitive interface (not to mention a philosophical choice for its use of C++). If you have any comments, questions or objections, let me know! Hit ask at the top of this page.