Recently, I have been doing a lot of coding in Python and C, and noticed I am a lot less willing to fix system breakage compared to before. It stands to reason, though. I now focus on working in my OS environment rather than getting it to work. The choice of Debian Testing was quite obvious, therefore. However, at one point I began to wonder about the company-backed GNU/Linux distributions like Fedora and OpenSUSE once more. I ran both of them in the past, though my experience was somewhat lacking. They felt extremely overengineered. Then, I read a short Reddit post from an OpenSUSE developer and I realized how wrong I were. Both Fedora and OpenSUSE have elaborate building and packaging infrastructures to make the lives of developers and us casual coders vastly easier. I was not entirely aware of that. Sure, I knew of the Open Build System, OpenQA and Fedora’s COPR, though I was hardly familiar with their capabilities. What all of this means is that packages are thoroughly tested prior to being released to the general public. That’s only possible thanks to the financial and technical support from companies backing Fedora and OpenSUSE. Smaller GNU/Linux distributions cannot afford such luxuries.
Yet another “distro hop” was in order, obviously. While Fedora is of very high quality, I settled with OpenSUSE Tumbleweed. Firstly, it follows a rolling-release model, meaning that packages come as they’re sent to the repositories, and timestamped captures of the OS
are available as snapshots. Unfortunately, I have only bad experience with point-release distributions. Secondly, Tumbleweed is meant to be stable as OpenQA guarantees it intrinsically. Fedora would be fine as well, though I had way too many problems with RPM Fusion and out-of-repo kernel modules in the past.
In former times I had some serious qualms with the OpenSUSE installer and the needless conflict between Wicked and Network Manager for wireless network management. As of my experience with Tumbleweed’s January snapshot, my worries are over. Moreso, the installer recognized my partition scheme, offered to overwrite the / partition with a brtfs setup, and on top of that suggested I should import my existing user data. Not to mention that OpenSUSE is perhaps the only desktop-oriented distribution that offers the possibility to precisely select software packages during installation time. Such quality I sincerely endorse! Again, I have to say that the Desktop GNU/Linux Experience has gone a long way.
As an article comparing Fedora 25 and OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 put it, GNU/Linux is nevertheless a workhorse developer desktop, not one for Average Joe consumers. I am perfectly fine with that, though. I need a stable platform for coding with all of the essential tools and programming language environments at my fingertips. Windows is too closed-source for that and MacOS X despite its Unix heritage and compliance, requires thorough tinkering and potential breakage to achieve similar results.
One might think of GNU/Linux as a platform that requires getting used to and significant computer knowledge. This is true, though not to such a high degree as it was in the past. With a wide selection of GUI tools and a unique approach to user-friendliness the entry-barrier is much lower. I can keep my system up-to-date, code, listen to music, etc. without worrying that my system will accidentally break and I’ll again have to edit config files one by one. I understand it might be a 180-degree-turn to some. However, with the smart phone revolution in full swing, it’s actually the future of computing. We have GUIs to simplify tasks and give us a succint overview on what’s going on with the system internals. We should make proper use of them, rather than shun them in spite. I believe that’s how distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSUSE make their way into the enterprise sector successfully.