Migrating my desktop to Linux

Note: This post contains partially formed opinions and may sound like it’s being overly negative. This is a first impressions post by someone who rarely writes, let alone about first impressions. I like what I’ve done, I’m happy with Linux and will stick with it.

Back in 2011 I bought a 27” iMac and it has long served me well. I bought the best that I could afford at the time which I think is one of the reasons it has lasted me so long.

However all good things come to an end, back in 2018 Apple released macOS 10.14 “Mojave” which dropped support for my iMac. I am still getting security updates, but it is only a matter of time before they stop too.
I haven’t come across any software that I can’t run on the iMac due to the OS, but that is only a matter of time too.

I’m not sure it’s been mentioned on here, but I’m on a podcast now - The Infinite Escape Room. Mike and I take it in turns to edit the podcast, for a long while I was using the venerable Audacity but have recently switched to Reaper.
While the software runs nicely on my iMac, certain operations were sluggish. Waiting over half an hour to render an intermediate edit was frustrating.

I’ve got an old 2013 Dell Optiplex 9090 (Intel i7-4770, 24GB RAM, nvidia GeForce GT 610) which I thought I could use a trial machine for life on Linux.

Why not FreeBSD? I love FreeBSD, it is clean and simple, logical, and has first class support for key technologies like ZFS.
The “problem” with FreeBSD is that some of the software I want to use isn’t supported. For example: Steam doesn’t support FreeBSD so I cannot run the games I enjoy playing; Reaper doesn’t support FreeBSD - though I could try running it under WINE…But no thanks!

So I got a USB stick and downloaded Ubuntu 20.04…And I really didn’t like the experience. I quickly switched to Xubuntu (I use Xfce on FreeBSD) but again it felt lacking. Finally I downloaded and installed Ubuntu Budgie and began using Linux.

Seeing as I had come from macOS, I was intrigued by elementaryOS. However if I’m migrating away from the controlling grasp of Apple, I want to be able to make a few decisions - like installing the OS on ZFS as root. Elementary didn’t support this, where as the various flavours of Ubuntu 20.04 did.

So, what is the land of (Ubuntu) Linux like? Weirdly complex, cluttered, yet featureful (most of the time)…
Let’s take a look at what I mean.

Weirdly complex:




But despite all of that, I have survived. Ubuntu Budgie was a very usable desktop, and I was able to get work done - such as podcast editing (with special thanks to Drew DeVore for giving some advice on Windows VSTs under Linux), and spinning up a FreeBSD VM to update Ports I maintain.

Some additional problems/issues have occurred due to my hardware. Some of the games I want to play don’t run well on my graphics card, and I’m missing hardware features that “came for free” with my iMac such as Bluetooth, WiFi, webcam, and SD card reader.


I’ve had an itch for a couple of weeks, a niggle that maybe I wasn’t totally happy because I was using Ubuntu, or maybe Budgie grated on me? I’m not sure…

Chris Fisher loves Manjaro Linux, and I happen to love the podcasts Chris hosts and produces. So I’ve spent a week reading about Manjaro, figuring out how to get a nice ZFS on root setup (more on that later hopefully), and spent yesterday and today installing and configuring it. I’m not there yet, but it’s coming along…

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