Pleased with LInux MInt 12 (Ubuntu build). I couldn’t stand the Unity interface, even though as an OS, Ubuntu is far beyond any other distro in terms of ecosystem and reliability, even in simple things like startup presentation.
I have always used mint, but I finally swapped out WIN7 (which I still really like) for just running Linux on my old laptop as I don’t use it for work anymore, just play.
Interestingly, I’ve found that some Linux OSs are just a joy and pleasure to use. With Windows, there was always nagging issues of maintenance, which is a pretty decentralized process on that OS. (It was also slow.) On the plus side, Windows 7 was very stable and could handle most of what you threw at it.
Some Linux OSs tended to pose the opposite difficulties. While they were centralized and minimal, and fairly simple to set up for basic tasks, creating a fully-featured desktop for everyday computing was an outright project. I liked the idea of Puppy, SliTaz, and Crunchbang, and used them for short whiles, but didn’t like having the feeling that a problem was always around the corner. Again, the fixes were there, but it’s not a situation you want with a productivity desktop. I did enjoy the speedy “feel” of both SliTaz and Crunchbang, though. SliTaz, especially, impresses me with how much functionality it contains in 30-40 mb. Maybe when 4.0 comes out, I’ll give it another try.
I first noticed while using Fuduntu that it was something you’d forget you were using which, to me, seems to mean it’s a well designed desktop OS. It’s feature-filled enough so that you’re not running into errors trying to do simple tasks, yet not bloated to the point where those same simple operations will stutter. The Gnome default setup is also quite nice, being simple, clean, and easily customized. That’s the kind of distraction free desktop I like to work on. Linux Mint 12 vanilla and LXDE also fell into this category, though 12 was a bit slower than Fuduntu and LXDE requires quite a few extra steps to do things like change the wallpaper.
I have high hopes for Mint 13, likely released in May, and Ubuntu 12.04. 11.10 would have been a good productivity desktop, but it just felt slow which, in itself, is a distraction. (Fuduntu was apparently targeted at eee PCs in its first iteration, which probably explains why it runs well on my 1201t.)
Oh yes, and Chakra. I’m keeping an install of Chakra around mainly to learn how to use it. It’s a great project and the OS itself is very capable and well-designed. I don’t see myself doing a lot of work on it, though. I get distracted by all the little KDE doodads. It is, however, very complete, and very pretty, as well as quite fast for an OS filled with eye candy.
So, basically, I’m going to be doing the bulk of my work (editing and writing) on Funduntu and Mint 12 (and 13). I like the balance of speed, capability, and clean design. I don’t have any hardware that really necessitates the use of “light” OSs, so these two should do it!
(Sorry for the disorganized rambling; trying to organize my thoughts after weeks of learning new OSs and deciding, meh, this doesn’t feel right.)
[Edit: Honestly, it was a lot of fun playing with new OSs, but I realized I can’t keep learning to do the same tasks in different environments. I figure an Ubuntu derivative, an Arch fork with KDE, and a Fedora 14 fork ought to keep me occupied and set for the oh-so complicated tasks of word-processing and PDF editing.]
I had my old hackbook, an MSI Wind U100, laying around and I decided there was no reason not to use it. Thus, I made a Linux Mint 12 LXDE USB installer and put it on the netbook; it is so much faster than Windows 7. Now I have a dedicated Linux server that I can ssh & vnc into for my development. Very satisfied.