Themes, icons and Xfce

With every (user-friendly) distro comes some DE and some theme and icon-set. It doesn't have to be specially created or DEs' default – it might be some existing theme, tweaked, and hopefully full icon-set added to it.
Xubuntu, for example, has 'elementary xfce' icon-set – which is 'elementary' set tweaked for Xfce.
You can get themes etc in three ways:
1. Download & install as a package from repository – like 'xfwm4-themes' or 'xfce-artwork' and so on. In this case you get bunch of something, installed to root. Available for every user. But it also means – to hack them is a bit hassle.
2. Download them from, Ubuntu-Art or some other (trusted) site. In this case you have to install them yourself (read install-hints).
a) To root – if you have more users in your Linux, and you want eyecandy to be available to others too. Generally, every theme-folder have to be copied to /usr/share/themes/ and icon-folders to /usr/share/icons/. Then they should automagically appear in Settings Managers.
b) To /home/your_user_name/.themes/ and to /home/ your_user_name/.icons/ - if you are only user or do not want to share, or want to tweak the stuff.
Not everything is compatible! Read notes (usually added) by author.
For example, when using Xfce and LightDM, it's silly to get themes for GDM (Gnome Display Manager). Both GTK 2 and 3 are OK. Metacity (Gnome) is not so OK, because Xfce has xfwm4 as a Window Manager. Sooner or later you happen to download something which doesn't fit and looks odd and broken.
3. You can create your own artwork. More about that later.

Themes use engines to run, that is, certain theme-families share the same engine, or theme may have several in use. Engines have to be installed for theme to work (theme-packages have engines included, separately downloaded ones – not always). When your Appearance Manager whines (hopefully it does - as opposed to simply displaying broken crap), use Synaptic and install the missing part. Just for a fun of naming some engine names: murrine, unico, pixbuf, nodova, aurora, equinox. There are more.

Xfce Window Manager uses specific xpm format, files sit in /xfwm4 folder (in themes' folder). Those files are used to build frame of every window. The process to create those files is not difficult, but it certainly takes time. Complete tutorial is here in xfce wiki. Not-Xfce themes doesn't have this xfce-specific part, unsurprasingly.
Settings Manager (xfce4-settings), includes appearance settings.
Xfce accepts both GTK 2 and GTK 3 style themes – gtk scripts create environment inside of every window. This is a bit more complicated – and I am not competent enough to give tweaking advice here. But, there are tutorials available in web, of course.
Gtk parts of theme live in gtk-2.0 and gtk-3.0 folders.
If you are adventurous and want to build your own theme, then a must is an app called thewidgetfactory (command is twf – it doesn't appear into menu, you have to create launcher yourself). Twf shows you how your buttons, sliders, check-boxes etc etc appear to look at current moment of scripting (or png-making). Gimp helps with png-s (tutorial page).
Gtk script is pure txt - use your text editor (in Xfce, Leafpad), or if you want to feel a bit more sophisticated and pro-looking: Geany or Bluefish might fit.

Icons are not part of theme, strictly speaking. Even more – they are not commonly added into theme-packs. Have to get them separately, then.
Icons are either png (standard format), or svg (scalable vector graphics, a format simply widely used) - for tweaking/creating those, use Inkscape. Icons' conf is described in index.theme file which sits in every icon-sets' folder. Icons are either fixed or scalable. There are hundreds of them, thematically grouped. Very common is to make symbolic links when the same icon is used in several places.
Changing those icons … can drive one almost insane, and it's marvelous to have more than 10 windows open at once... very business-like.
And here are some standards to muse over - when drinking evenings' Earl Grey and nibbling bisquits: Icon theme and Icon naming.

Looking back to past action ends here.

Xfce customization, less obvious

We are dealing with Xubuntu here

- Moving things on panels. Right-click on item, pick 'move'. Obvious, yes – but what wasn't so obvious to me, is how items align and stay in groups. There are invisible separators on panels, and you can add more or delete them, according to need. Easiest way to find default ones is: Right-click a panel, open 'panel/panel preferences/items. All things on panel are listed there, also separators – double-click and change 'transparent' to something else. And now you can see it on panel. 'Expand' means that separator pushes items away on both sides. That is, separator in center of panel makes items go to both ends. Do experiment, it's frustratingly educational.

- Xfce menu lacks 'lock screen' option. If needed, it's easy to create: Open your menu editor and add new item to right place, name it, and add exec command: xflock4. Pick an icon. Save, done.
- Xfce has such a nice thing as mime editor (in Settings). Means, you can make certain apps to handle certain files (can't change system defaults, though). If some file is opened in freaky way – like jpg with Firefox, and you can't find jpg at all in mime editor – then open this jpg with app you want to be default. Entry should now appear to mime list. Double-clicking on entry opens edit. There might be occasional need to fix entries which point to app that you removed (but mime didn't notice that). Or something...
- Xfce can have only one wallpaper over all workspaces. Compiz and KDE, for example, can have different ones. There is app called 'wallpaperoz', it has to be downloaded from web and manually installed. This app enables different wallpapers, and also changes them as frequently as you want. BUT, it's slow and lagging when you change workspaces. So, I tried it and I removed it.
- Docks. I am not sure what for they are good – as Xfce lets you make several freely customizable panels and fill them with launchers, drawers, widgets and whatnot. But anyway – there you have some names for googling: Plank dock (simple), AWN (it's not developed anymore), and most famous currently – Cairo dock (looks very pimpy and mac-ish).
- Themes and icons. Next post will be about this. Here I say only - well, obvious: for a simple tuning, look into 'Appearance', 'Window manager' and 'Window manager tweaks' and play around.

Configuration editors: There are occasions when some settings need to be tweaked manually. For that there are configuration editors. If in need or simply curious, take a look. Proper caution should be exercised, clicking like a blind moron is not advisable!
Xfce has a package 'xfce4-settings' which contains xfce4-settings-editor.
Gnome-specific settings come through gconf-editor, Linux Mint uses dconf-editor. Mate desktop one is called mateconf-editor. And so on. Depending on distro, an editor might be already installed – or not.

Tweaking of Grub2 - Not recommended without extensive pre-research!
For serious tweaking DO READ tutorials before, experimenting with bootloader IS dangerous!
One overview is here... googling 'tweaking grub2' gives a lot more.
Here are three less risky things (provided that no errors are made):
- Some easily changeable (and commented) parameters (wait-time before booting OS, for one) are in file /etc/default/grub
- To remove memtest entry from boot menu (if it is there). There is file /etc/grub.d/20_memtest86+
Go there and simply make this file non-executable, in terminal:
sudo chmod -x 20_memtest86+
- If using Ubuntu there are 'Advanced options' entries in boot menu. Those folders contain entries to boot older kernels. If your new updated one works (reboot is mandatory, so you will know if it works) then there is no especial need to keep those older kernels (they take disk space too).
Check which is your last, working one. Type in terminal: uname -r
and you get number of current version. Rev up your Synaptic and find all 'linux-image' and 'linux-header' packages. 'Completely remove' those that are OLDER than your current one (lesser ver number). Be very careful NOT to remove the newest ones. And after all that, type in terminal:  

Xfce – the first glimpse

Xfce site has very nice and understandable tutorials, a must read.
Both distros (Mint and Xubuntu) I am talking here about, come in traditional Xfce appearance: main panel on upper edge, and 'launcher panel' on bottom of screen. Xubuntu 12.10 has 'all drives are double' bug on desktop but it goes away after updates are applied.
I moved main panel to bottom, launcher-panel to left side and removed all desktop icons. So, almost nothing remained like it was in vanilla form. Point of mentioning this is, that everything on Xfce desktop is tunable. How vanilla looks – visit Xfce, Mint and Xubuntu – there are screenshots to look.

First Xfce I installed was Xubuntu 12.10. Because there are several reviews singing praise to it - do google if interested.
First things to do - as usual: Software sources/additional drivers = change video driver to proprietary one, if there are more available drivers, change those too. Update Manager wants to update, let it do that. Install 'xubuntu-restricted-extras' from repository. (Longer description of those first things is in post named 4. Cinnamon!).
Synaptic wasn't even installed, and menu lacked almost everything that should be in System folder. Settings were presented only through Settings Manager. That's in 'Xubuntu session', 'Xfce session' menu is more "open".
Not liking that very much and just for fun, I decided to try out Mints' Xfce version. All aforementioned nags were nicely absent there, BUT – to my big surprise – there wasn't any menu editor present. To my even bigger surprise I found that Xfce traditionally doesn't have a menu editor! One is supposed to hack menu manually. Or – as advised somewhere – to use menu editor of Lxde 'which works alright'. Well it worked, but only half-way, part of menu was simply missing. So it boils down to manual method – which is really quite simple, but takes time to do.
HOW-TO: First, copy contents of /usr/share/applications to your home folders' .local/share/applications. Those .desktop files represent all possible menu items and contain their configurations (type, where to appear, exec, icon and so on).
Also copy etc/xdg/menus/xfce-applications-menu to ~/.config/menus/ xfce-applications-menu. It's xml file containing whole architecture of menu tree.
Why to copy? To avoid sudo-ing every time you change something. And to make sure those files stay exactly like you change them (being now owned by you).
What to do, how to change various options, is very nicely described in this official tutorial.
Fancy that after successfully hacking Mints' menu etc, I decided to switch back to Xubuntu – because Xubuntu has menu editor alright (alacarte) and it seemed somehow important to me in those still n00bish times.
When Xubuntu installs, it creates two sessions: Xubuntu and (pure) Xfce.
As 'Xfce session' has all settings and system things available by default, I picked it as my default and removed Xubuntu session from login screen selection altogether.

Bugs, errors:
I have installed Xfce now four times. In all those desktops I had couple of identical bugs and errors. Difference here is that I call a glitch I see a 'bug', and 'errors' are those listed in .xsession-errors after every system-start. Not sure how they correlate... Anyway, all 5 errors seem to be known but unfixed. One bug – which creates useless 'outputstream'-files into home folder, is also known and unfixed (these files could be deleted without problem).
Two bugs I couldn't find any reference to. One prevents me from editing autostart apps (option grayed out). No clue what to do about that (Edit: Not a bug at all - it appears you can edit only entries you yourself have made. So, simply a silly 'feature').
The second is this: I can add wallpapers to wallpaper folder, I close Manager – and the fucker forgets all of them except this one I have on desktop (and two ugly default wallpapers). Plus – I can't delete them, button is grayed out. And no – it doesn't appear to be permissions issue...
For this I used this workaround: I mounted my custom wallpaper folder to folder where Xfce keeps its default wallpapers. And now they stay, and I can add or delete them in my home folder without any hassle (still can't delete in wallpaper manager).
HOW-TO mount a folder permanently:
Create folder ~/Pictures/wall (or whatever-name) for your wallpapers.
Open terminal, type: sudo leafpad /etc/fstab
Add to the end of file:
#wallpaper mount 
/home/myhomename/Pictures/wall /usr/share/xfce4/backdrops none defaults,bind 0 0
Save, reboot. Should be mounted now.
#is a comment line, first address is what you are going to mount, the second is where are you going to mount. And don't loose parameters that come after that. Line should be spaced the same table-like way as are previous entries. And DO make backup of fstab before.

As an environment, Xfce scores 9/10.


Other distros tried

I am not sure why I wanted to try it... maybe because it's Debian-based and I felt lucky... By the way, they also plan to release Ubuntu-version in May 2013.
Well, I wasn't lucky – it didn't boot to Live at all. That's that.

SolusOs 1.2
SolusOs is Debian-stable-based distro, but has updated apps and also all non-free stuff included. They are also of those who try to preserve Gnome 2 look. They are forking Gnome 3 fallback and build their own desktop on it, called Consort. So the goal seems similar to Cinnamon – Gnome 2 look and Gnome 3 codebase.
Live session came up without any problems. And I quite liked what I saw. Except main menu, which was modernized – maybe comparable to Mint-menu. But with marked bonus of resizeability.
There was sluggishness, and some bugs.
I think I would have kept Solus – if I haven't had Xubuntu already. But – it's definitely on my spring second-round-test list when ver 2 appears.

Zorin OS 6 Live
It's based on Ubuntu and has Compiz installed by default. Desktop is heavily modified Gnome 3.They are saying that their goal is to provide an experience as close to MS Windows as possible.
For me it means No Way. As already mentioned – what for? Why to swap Windows for fake-Windows? Beacuse it's free? First, Linux is NOT free in meaning that you waste time(is money) with its bugs and quirks; and second, Full Zorin OS is not free at all, you have to buy it. Not that paying for good product is no-no for me, on the contrary – workforce with salary is less lazy and chaotic as a rule, BUT – I am not going to buy erzats-Windows, that's for sure.
Anyway – It's blingily elegant, has interesting docker/panel mixture, has strange porridge of settings and at least Live session was stable and without obvious bugs. If one wants to play Windows-on-Linux, Zorin is recommended. 

Fedora 18 xfce Live
Fedora is free pre-release version of Red Hat - Linux distro with yearly revenue billion dollars plus! Currently the only one.
The name Fedora associates also with: very progressive development-wise; and moronic 'only free stuff' stand. I do not have really any opinion if Fedora is frontiers-pushing, but – they definitely release their distros without any whiff of capitalist shit: no codecs, no flash, no ttf-s, no anything tainted.
Which means to normal user that all those things had to be downloaded & installed from other places. Additional hassle.
Fedora Live Xfce booted alright – and didn't leave me any impression whatsoever. Xfce was totally of stock, no customization at all.
Also – release 18 has quite a few bad reviews about it... Dedoimedo has one of such. Google helps to find more.
The test ended there, without any interest to install.

Ubuntu with Trinity Live
Trinity is old KDE 3.x slightly refreshed. That is – when KDE decided to create very much different version 4 (which was also horrible bug-pile at the beginning), there naturally appeared people who decided to preserve old version 3, and to modernize it in less dramatic way.
But it bloody is archaic-looking still! With various glitches here and there. It has strange types of panels and hodge-podge of settings.
And it definitely has very few devs working with it. For me it left zombie-like impression – jerking but not really alive.

Stella 6.3
...Is stright clone of CentOS. Means, it's super stable if a bit outdated distro.
Stella differs of her parent by added multimedia support, added repos and slightly customized desktop (cute old Gnome 2).
Live ISO booted nicely, classic DE made me feel all fuzzy. HDD-install also went without problems. Then I installed nvidia driver, rebooted – and it hung. Well, format it was, a pity.

Thought about trying OpenSuse again, but didn't find enough motivation.
Distro-hopping stopped with that and I dived seriously into Xfce.

E17 and Qimo

Enlightenment 0.17, or as it's usually referred – E17 is one of the DEs, and mighty old one too. If I remember correctly, only KDE is even older. Not that it matters – after initial burst of activity, there was 10 years of coma and version stayed on 0.16. Now, the thing has been revived, devs not only made new release but also have took up the task to enlarge whole desktop to new level – new libraries, new apps and so on. There are lot of information on their page for you, curious ones.
Whole thing is written totally differently of other Linux desktops – which makes it also totally uncompatible with anything outside their own package-range. It also looks and behaves very differently of others. And it is blindingly fast.
It is not a popular DE. Seems that only Bodhi Linux has it as default DE. But quite a few distros provide a meta-package. Whole thing looked freaky and interesting to me.
I tried to install Bodhi twice, with exactly the same result: installation hung after discovering my mouse... I have no idea why my mouse was so frightening to Bodhi.

But being stubborn, I then took another road - installed Lubuntu as a test-base and stuck E17 meta-package into it as a separate session.
When running E17 session for a first time, you will be asked various settings-questions. It made me feel in a contradictory way – 'oh it's so caring' and at the same time - 'why the hell I couldn't do all this afterwards, on desktop'.
One of things it asks is general font size – which is presented as bunch of size samples. I left it default – which appeared to be 11pt or so. When arriving to desktop I was greeted by font sizes of approximately 6pt... which is almost bloody unreadable!
Changing font sizes was extremely unwieldy and silly, and despite I changed everything to bigger – everything did not change. And what did was now too big. Doh.
There were obvious bugs and glitches. There wasn't any connection – 'you have to install connman' announced E17 helpfully – which you can't download of course, because you don't have connection...
And whole menu architecture was freaky indeed. And despite of nice icon-set whole desktop looked ugly and outdated.
'Completely remove' after one hour ended my date with E17.

The second thing I tested was Qimo Session – a package of educational Xfce-based kid-games. If I am not mistaken, for age 3-7. Contains various alphabet, word, number, association, math and so on games. Also has Kid-Paint – a simple drawing app, with a lot applicable stamp-pictures, different brushes and talking voice. Quite nice thing this Qimo, if a bit rough around edges.
After successful testing I installed Xubuntu + Qimo to my sons' computer as a double-boot with Winxp. Son definitely prefers Linux, well, because of games, I suppose. Or maybe because Ubuntu is the first choice in Grub ...
Also – as two different sessions are kind of overkill for 3,5 year old, I fused them together. Qimos' apps invaded Xfce menu anyway. So I left only Xfce (passwordless login – see 'Users and groups' ) and took Qimo away from login screen.
HOW-TO remove a session from login menu: Which is very simple thing to do, really (I am talking about Xubuntu, and accordingly, of Lightdm greeter (Light Display Manager)).
Go to /usr/share/xsessions, where .desktop files for every installed session live – delete or rename those you don't want to appear in greeters' menu. Easiest way, probably is: Open terminal, type sudo thunar, enter your password, file manager starts with root privileges, navigate to abovementioned place, rename currently un-needed files.
There is also Quest session in greeters' menu – and this is not represented by .desktop file. To remove that: Go to /etc/lightdm/ folder, open terminal, type sudo leafpad lightdm.conf, and add new line to the end of file
Save, and next login will be Questless.

Besides testing those two DEs, I also played around with Lxde itself – which I found a bit too 'light' for me. That is – Lxde really is very light thing, not very much a desktop if compared to gnome or Xfce. It even uses Openbox as a window manager, 'cause it doesn't have its own. Not that Lxde doesn't have its uses – if you have really old rig, then it's spot on and fits well.

THING TO AVOID: When installing Lubuntu I put Grub to MBR and overwrote Grub2 of Xfce. I then booted to my Xubuntu and did update-grub, and everything seemed OK.
When I finished my tests and decided to remove Lubuntu, I went to Xubuntu, formatted Lubuntu partitions, did update-grub again, rebooted – and found non-booting bootloader.
So, updating Grub is not enough in such case, I probably should have to reinstalled whole Grub from Xfce - after Lubuntu install.
I googled, I tried to repair my Grub (no immediate success). Then I decided that reinstalling whole Xubuntu again is lesser pain – and that was what I did.
And I probably used up at least three day quantity of curses. Sigh. And repeating once more – do not overwrite booloader you want to use afterwards. Put new one into root partition and it will cease to exist without problems when daddy Format comes.

Distro-hopping: Intro

January 2013
Distro-hopping has started. Bored with Mints, I am. And current Mate (1.4) is somewhat buggy.
I searched around and got more and more convinced that Xfce might cut my beef better.
It's one of these 'big four' desktops. I am quoting: 'Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly'.
It is lean and mean alright, but also quite 'full' desktop – more so than Lxde, but a lot less bloated than KDE and Gnome. It is keeping nice traditional look – things are in right places for desktop, there is no tablet-oriented bastardization. Also seems that devs are busy creating new versions.... which means – the thing is alive and kicking.
Xfce has multiple panels, compositing manager (tunable transparency for panels and windows) and classic main menu. And yes, it takes very little of your computers' resources. It depends of course, but something like 200 Mb of memory is used in my machine when no apps are running. Compare that to KDE-s 600 Mb, or Gnomes' 400 Mb.
I killed Mate and installed Xfce as my permanent system.
At the same time-period – I tested or tried out various other distros.
- Because then I was already really boss in making bootables and installing (30min, whole thing);
- Because, when I made room for Linux, I unallocated 50 Gigs. And my 'permanent Linux' takes approximately half of it. So I had 25Gb to play around;
- And because I was simply curious.
Not one of the distros tried remained as a second install – but some of them got earmarked for repeated testing in coming spring-summer – when new releases are scheduled to appear.
Next 2 posts will be about those tests.

Compiz and bling

I really don't have much to say here – so I try to do it as long as possible, as an exercise of saying nothing by tons.
Compiz is a window manager, or 'compositing manager'.
It makes windows wobbly, it has that famous desktop cube. And lot, I mean LOT more effects. By the way, some of them are excluding and when applied simultaneously, simply crash your desktop. It's an enormous eyecandy. Visit the link above for more info.
Cons: Wastes quite a bit of resources. As we are living in modern times and having a reasonable hardware, it doesn't have to matter.
Compiz doesn't have to play along with your desktop, though. Its OK, for example, with Xfce. As mentioned, not necessarily with current Mate (1.4). I haven't an idea how it behaves with other DEs.
Wine – I am quoting, what: 'is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OSX, & BSD' – does not play nice with Compiz. So, if you want to run (try at least) your Windows darlings on Linux through Wine, then Compiz is out. It's even advised to remove any compositing manager when running Wine.

And here are some links about Compiz:
Why Xubuntu only? Because it's where I did my Thing.
But everything depends on ones' hardware/software configuration – not one of those tutorials worked 100% for me. Had to improvise.
Feel free to peruse google, forums, and whatever according to your needs.
When feeling strong and wise enough, install it from repository.
Then open it's configuration, scream, look for tutorial. When finished with conf, open terminal, type: compiz --replace.
It was easy install in Xubuntu. With Mate, do read forums. How to take out Marco and so on.
NB! It's very smart to know before swap what your current windows manager is – in case you have to 'replace' it back.

Summary – if you are the one who likes bling – it might be worth to try KDE instead. You get whole fancy package without additional worries. And – as we are hanging around Mint – why not Linux Mint KDE? Some say, though, that Kubuntu is even better...
KDE is default (main) DE of OpenSuse (which is a bit more challenging than Ubuntu, but heck, why not – some early self-mutilation makes you stronger).
Oh, and Zorin OS has Compiz installed by default – and looks blingy as hell. See my short Zorin-test in 'Other distros tried'.


Linux Mint 1.41 Mate x 2

December 2012
I got kind of frustrated with my double session installation – especially with uselessly hanging Cinnamon part. And I guess – the moment also marked the beginning of (kinda typical nooby) distro-hopping disease.
I decided to install Mint Mate from ISO. I did it twice. md5 was checked on both occasions, and it was OK.
First install went without problems, but on desktop I started to notice various little nags and bugs (Date/clock widget was configurable only by conf editor, artifacts in menu, sticky-notes behaving silly – and so on). And things worsened. Whole affair ended with format next day.
The second installation lasted longer – and finally I crapped it out with all these exciting updates from development repository. The thing is – it's very difficult not to install new versions of parts of your system... after all, they are available, so easily.
Moral – be very careful about it. Even better – it would be nice to know how to uninstall them (if possible).

Mint 1.41 Live ISO does not have stright install option – it can be done only through live desktop. It's a bit uncommon... with other friendly-distros there usually is option to install at once.
With second (ultimately good) installation (1. attempt) I got error – which I, as a typical user, can't remember – but the outcome was that installer completely avoided the partitioning part, and started to copy files to … somewhere (I haven't yet found them). I solved the situation by removing the USB-stick in mid-stride and starting installation over. The second attempt with the same image was without any hitch, strange that.
Pleasant is – desktop remains with you all through installation. So you can still play around and whatnot.

- One of the first things is message about amount of space needed and 'it's good to have internet access'. Yes it is. Click next.
- Timezone. Default choice is your current whereabout. OK.
- Language. Also locale-connected. If you want english – like I do – change it. If you are not really Brit, choose US. I did choose UK, then found that keyboard layout is slightly different, and lost 1,5 hour for resolving problem 'yes I change it to US, you silly user, but I forget it for next login, muhaha!'.
- Identity. The usual. To remember – in Ubuntu (and Mint) there is one user and password only. When doing Forbidden Things, you 'sudo' and use the same password as ever. So, it's probably wise not to use very easy/stupid password. Ah, and being only user to login, and changing it 'do not ask password' does not mean that you can sudo without password.
- Account transfer. If you want. I never did – no idea what happens.
- Partitioning. Find correct drive (by empty space you made previously, for example), add partitions (/, swap, home) one by one. They all can be extended ones, Linux doesn't care (every physical drive can have only 4 basic partitions – so, there could be situations when you have to use only extendeds). Types/sizes: ext4-10Gb, swap-2Gb, ext4-10Gb – respectively or use your imagination. Let them to be made.
After that, everything will be installed. Reboot. Enjoy. Or …

TIP: Double boot with Windows. Bootloader goes to MBR (sdb in my case).
Triple boot: Windows + Linux you use + Linux for testing. Temporary(last install) = bootloader goes to root partition – in my case sdb8. Then you reboot, and boot to first, permanent Linux, open terminal and write update-grub. Reboot – and there is your second Linux install added into old boot menu. When you decide to remove your test-installation, format it from the first Linux, update-grub again, and everything is like before.
The point is – if you install new grub onto old one and then remove new installation, your MBR will be fucked, and no more boot for anything (without dedicated repairwork).

Some random features and observations: 
- As Mate is Gnome 2, it's panel can be made transparent. Height can be regulated, width is only 'expanded' or not (fits to items' width). It's possible to place items where you want - different of Xfce-panel where distances between items of one 'group' are not customizable. BUT Mate has ...err... jumble bug - you do something with panel properties - and panel items suddenly re-arrange themselves in silly way.
- mate-config-editor is installed by default. And you probably need it too.
- Installed apps can be considered 'enough and good choice' for average user.
- xsession.errors list is longer than of Xfce. Mate is also more buggy - for me at least - than Xfce desktop.
- Compositing 'checkmark' is under desktop settings (Xfce - in windows tweaks...)

I am not going to describe bugs and nags – first, I do not remember them all, and second – they tend to be very much install-specific, hardware-specific, and generally from where wind happens to blow.
I never managed to try out Compiz with Mate. After reading too much again I came to conclusion that current Mate (1.4) and Compiz are not good bedfellows. So I chickened out - and have to say that at some point one starts to calculate if days of wrestling with something is worth of it. For me – as I have found out later for sure, Compiz is not worth of it. But mileage varies, of course.

Mate 1.4 is nice and traditional desktop. But a bit rough and buggy.


It's only time I blab about that – software is very easy to download & install, and the same applies to removal. By the way – removing apps in Linux leaves shit behind too. But by lesser extent than in Windows.
But, it IS very easy to try and test everything you fancy.
I personally started quickly to prefer adding & removing soft with Synaptic (as opposed to Software Manager). Reason: With Synaptic you can see what happens, what additional packages (dependencies) are installed or removed. It is important if one cares what to keep in the computer. Here is one short description what Synaptic is (but don't download it from there - it's a lot more carefree with Software Manger and from repository.
FOR EXAMPLE: Removal: It seems to be growing tendency in distros to make things 'essential part' of operational system. Yes – like Windows, like incorporated IE. So - you can't remove certain things without removing whole DE. Mint Cinnamon finds Pidgin to be so important as to be unremovable – and that was one reason for me to drop Cinnamon. I do not need new Windows – An Almighty System that knows what I need and have to use. Puke!
The same goes with KDE, only couple of times more heavy-handedly. From widely hated bastards Nepomuk/Akonady to Kontakt-suit. You touch them, and your KDE will be removed – which is silly thing to happen. But only if it was unintentional, of course.
But it's definitely worth to observe also the less dramatic uninstalls – apps leave sometimes their shit behind (libraries not used by anyone etc). Or they try to bring 'helpful' stuff with them.
Installation: The same thing – look for unwanted quests. Synaptic has by default the option 'consider recommended packages as dependencies' on. Means, you get things you – maybe – do not need. Some packages bring along all their beloved shit – like Gedit brings Zeitgeist (which can be removed after install, except one library); every second KDE app tries to introduce Nepomuk or Akonady or Kontakt to your system. I, personally, do not need these things.
With Synaptic you can at least see what is gonna happen.
Yes, yes - CLI rules as the king of flexibility. But I am a noob, I use it as little as possible.
TIP: There are two different operations in Synaptic – 'remove' and 'completely remove'. The first leaves files behind, the second removes everything from /root, BUT leaves conf files and folders in your ~home anyway... Use 'completely...' - less crap to clean.
But, contradicting my own words now – if one is Windows-user extraordinaire and first time in Linux, then use Software Manager, by all means. It lets you choose apps by topic, it lets you read user-reviews, and has nicy pictures. You can make your choice at least a bit informed way. And one silly link to see here, and a second one (silly, because you have to make your own choices anyway).

And here, very short overview of my current apps-choices.
Terminal, Gedit, Synaptic, Firefox, archiver (zips and tars!) – do get things done in system. Like, to write command line, write into text file how you did what you did, get help from web anyway, before or after you unarchived those bug-bags you carelessly downloaded.
Font Manager – for really tidying up that area (which is quite a mess).
GIMP – Linux Photoshop-equivalent; it's not exactly on Adobes' level, but it is quite capable.
Gthumb – thumbnail viewer with some nice simple file-tweaking abilities. As a Windows-user you might know super-handy utility Irfanview. Strange enough – there is nothing comparable to that in Linux. There are lot of them – and they all lack some different feature.
Inkscape – Linux's Coreldraw. Native format is svg. If one plans to seriously mess with icons – and lot of them are svg-s, it's a must. Others are png – go for GIMP.
Qbittorrent – I don't like Transmission which seems to be favorite of many-many distros.
VLC – media player (it has also Windows version). And I do not have it. It played but frequently skipped parts and volume went up and down. Now, a linuxpro would say something about ALSA and Pulseaudio and layers and of trying different confs. I say – 'completely remove'. Now I have Clementine installed and no problems. Besides, it has nice logo-icon – slice of clementine, surprisingly.
Libreoffice suit = MS Office (and for less complicated docs Abiword = MS Wordpad is OK choice). At least the first one is quite compatible with Office of the Great Satan.
Bleachbit – to clean system occasionally (temps, unused language files etc).
Gparted – disk formatting and partitioning.
Only thing of those that crashed on me, was Libreoffice, on its first run. Which means that Firefox behaves much better than in Windows (no crashes or minutes-long full stops). Ups? Oh, it's faster too. Firefox, I mean.

Distributions ISO-s usually contain quite a lot of apps which will be installed out of box. Selection is what distros think you might appreciate, or just like that, or for arcane reasons. I always remove some of defaults – old school, can't stand useless stuff on my hdd.
For users of Ubuntu-family distro, the choice of apps is huge, it is said that only Debian have even more packages. Which means that you can get everything desired from ubuntu software center via manager or Synaptic. If need arises for something special – then you have to find it in web and either add new 'ppa' to your software sources or download tar pack. In first case (how to add code is usually provided on apps' page), install with Synaptic. In second case, have to read install-notes (usually also included in tarball).

6. Mint 14.1 Cinnamon + Mate

How Mate looks (as of February 2013)

Those two desktops co-existed almost two weeks. Record for me, of course. Partially it's explainable by my then-fixation with software. Means, I didn't make too many efforts to better my Linux (read: break it).

One thing which makes a noob-user gawk is main menu hodge-podge after successfully adding another session. Means – new DE adds its menu-items to your existing menu. Not all of them – there are some rules – but quite a lot, and in this case there were bunch of same things (editor, calculator, terminal etc) but of slightly different version. Explainable by mixed Gnome 2 and 3 sources. Then I had Cinnamon-settings in Mate, and mateconf-editor in Cinnamon...
Made me quite angry, you know – I had carefully perused nicely available (not every distro provides that) menu-editor, had made some group-changes (shitty thing to do!), uninstalled apps, added apps... I had made a system, and now it was …$%$... very unruly.
Cinnamon and Mate both have editor for such kind of work. After you have hidden/shown/moved/deleted things in both sessions' menus – it stays like that. Except maybe couple of items which might have their own life and behave … differently despite of your wishes. But that's the free thinking of Linux.
I am not going to blab about how editors exactly work. The process is quite self-explaining. Try it. But try not to delete things only because you can – to get them back is not self-explaining.

Mate has panels to add! They are movable and re-sizeable. You can swap your Stuff between them. Or move this Stuff into different order. And you can add new Stuff. Right-click the panel, discover the menu and find out. It's possible to create quite funny mess! Just kidding. Or not...
Settings/Appearance. The place to visit, and fast – to show those devs that they do not know an iota about real design. Play around, get new themes, icons, and shit. They do not work all as they are supposed to – but that's a part of fun. Throw out what you don't like. Tweak others (if you can). Download even more themes, icons, stuff. In some point you will have problems – as said, not everything is 100% compatible, despite being there and free to take.
INFO. Took me some time to get the idea: There are two separate managers in Linux for making windows on your desktop. One makes window frames (windows manager), another creates inside-style of every window (desktop manager). So you can apply features from different theme sources – frames from one theme, insides from another – and of course, icons from third. I like it.

Customizing, tweaking:
I like darker wallpapers and darker panels – means some black text gets invisible. Changing themes makes some things better, but probably not all. Panel-clock text, for my theme choices, tended to remain black. Following is taken from Mints' web-tutorials, and it also works. So, proceed like that:
Simple text file (use default text editor) has to be created, name has to be .gtkrc-2.0 (with dot at the beginning too!), save it to ~home/username/ - means, to root of your real home directory.
Put following code into your new file.
font_name = "sans bold 11" 
widget "*.clock-applet-button.*" style "my-panel-clock"
Save. After logout/login – clock text will be white. #FFFFFF means white and font_name is also place to test your hand.

Silly and annoying default time-formats.
Sequence %F %H:%M displays the time in the format 2012-10-13 15:17.
Problem is, Mate clock doesn't have field for adding this. To aid comes mateconf-editor. Open editor, navigate through tree to: /apps/panel/applets/applet_clock
and click on "format", change value to "custom" - then click on "custom_format" field and change it to abovementioned string.
Took me several tries because of moronic mistakes, but finally it definitely worked.

5. Two different sessions

I decided to make my first two-different-sessions install.
Add Mate to already installed Cinnamon, that is.

I tried to install Mate through Synaptic – repository package is 'mint-meta-mate'. No cookie. Synaptic refused to write over one specific file (which name I can't remember), but it was Mint's identity file. Impossible to have two of those, wrote Clem himself somewhere.
- me noob, not finding solution, abandoning ze plan (though, I had impression that it is possible to install without this troublesome file... never found out how).
WHINE: 80% of what you find with Google is a crap. Sifting through it can be sometimes a bit too much... Two hours tend to be limit for me – after what I try to find other solution, well, like ignore, delete, format or simple cursing.
But, hallelujah, this time I already had new sneaky plan – to download Mate piecemeal from repository and install it as Mate and not as mint-mate metapackage.
Explaining: Mate is separate/independent DE used by Linux Mint (and already many others). Mints' own DE is Cinnamon. When Mint makes Linux Mint Mate then the original Mate is a bit tweaked and package will be 'mint-meta-mate' (or, if ISO, Linux Mint Mate). If You get Mate from source, in original form, then it doesn't have any Mint's fingerprints on it.
Who didn't catch the difference (DE compared to distro)– other DE-s can be installed as sessions, from inside your existing DE, no ISO-s needed. You install it, log out and have new choice in log-in sessions. Nothing appears in grub boot menu. Comfy, no bootin' every time.
And – no need to add drivers, flash, fonts etc again – those are system-wide.
Well, main menu will be fucked-up - more about this in next chapter.

4. Cinnamon!

2012, November-December, Linux Mint Cinnamon 14.1
Installation-media – USB, installation through live session. Differently of spring, install succeeded this time. Tingling feeling of happiness and satisfaction that devs reacted to my silent prayers and fixed Everything! Sound, wifi, samba all worked out of box.

Mint is derivative (fork) of Ubuntu - which is derivative of Debian. Geneology, how exciting!
Cinnamon (Mint's DE) is based on Gnome 3.x . It's the DE which is nowadays widely hated because its radical departure of pleasant and traditional desktop of Gnome 2.x. Some folks even say that the Way of Gnome 2 was/is the most intuitive and easily-used desktop of all times. Most productive - if we use current much overused shit-word. Gnome 3, of the contrary to its parent, is touch-screen oriented tablet-loving way-too-much-clicks porn. Also look here.
Cinnamon recreates Gnome 2-like interface using modern devices and means of Gnome 3.
Birth and growth of Cinnamon can be considered entirely good thing. I mean, everything is better than Gnome 3, even Unity is, and even Windows 8. So, fixing Gnome 3 interface is inherently Godlike and Benign Act.
Leaving that aside, do I like Cinnamon in practical way, do I want to use it? Yes and no.
1. Yes-things: Its interface is slick, modern and tastefuland that last thing is rare animal in Linux zoo. Very rare. Bravo, Mint! Some say that Mint's stock green wallpaper is really, really repetitive and should be changed to something new. I don't care – it's easiest thing to change. And really, first thing to do – after or during very important more firster things is to change stock wallpaper. We the users always have the real better one.
INTERLUDE. Those important firster things:
a) Install your machine's proprietary drivers! Usually it means video driver. Sometimes more (wifi). If it is an Ubuntu-based distro, then the place to go is Settings/Software Sources/Additional drivers. You can install it from there. It takes time, be patient.
If it's not Ubuntu-like or some other friendly distro, then the process is probably a bit more complicated and depends into what distro you have stepped.
It took to me several days to find that there is one more step required to really install that Nvidia video driver...
Open terminal, type:
Conf file is created. Reboot is needed (which is NOT said to you. BUT, don't boot yet – let's do next step before, or in all likeness you have to boot twice.
b) Rev up your Update/Software manager and update. First load will be in three digit numbers (Megas), it takes many minutes. But, don't simply sit and drool – now its time to change that wallpaper! And generally click around. Try to drag things on your desktop. Right-click here and there.
Oh, it’s done (update, that is). Probably wants to reboot. If not - feel relieved, if yes - reboot. And … hopefully it does boot. If it doesn't, then there are two choices... do you only wish to use this marvelous opsystem of the future? Then format the whole thing, and find another, more cooperative distro. OR – you want to fix the lame one? Google 'my fresh Linux not booting' or something, or try distros' forum – you get matches as much as there are suns in the Galaxy. Depending of circumstances, but hour or two or more sweaty fun is waiting for you. Also fast level-up.
c) Codecs, ttf fonts, flash, ... distros have different attitudes about those things. There are those who include them without any fuss (Mint, Zorin, Stella etc), then there is Ubuntu and others who ask during installation 'Do you want' … (Just as a by-note: Xubuntu 12.10 install, in my case, simply hung after 'yes'). Fortunately, all forbidden things are also available after install. Via Synaptic, for example, package name is 'ubuntu restricted extras'.Other distros, naturally, have different package-names. Download & install (Synaptic does this for you), enjoy.
And then there are Fedora-likes: all smelly non-free stuff is stricktly out. In those cases one has to find special moonshining repositories, add them to your systems' list, and install. Procedures are distro specific. G!, RTFM or forum.

Mint Cinnamon didn't crash once. There were some little bugs. Which is quite a big improvement compared to ver 12. Which did crash... it's Software manager had fatal bug and had to be removed for distro to work properly.
Generally, nicy and cutey thing. Very nooby-cuddly. But as I said – not overly bling, not at all.

2. No-things for me:
What a unpleasant menu it had! … Though, not as revolting as KDEs' super crap-pile. MintMenu has Apps-folders and additionally Favorites and Places. It has fixed-size - and to remedy this it has quirky slider for getting to half-hidden apps-lists. I didn't like that. Have to say, through my teeth, that the menu is esthetically pleasing. But not pleasing to use.
There is only one panel (default bottom) in Cinnamon. Kinda poor? Yes. Sure, you can install dockers... but I like classical panels better. (adding mysteriously – not necessarily KDE3/Trinity ones.)
Settings. There is definitely too little to tweak. Yes-yes, I am never satisfied. Period.

I played around 2-3 days and found it boring in it's niceness and/or lack of customization.

3. Choosing Mint

Autumn 2012, picking the distro
New releases were released and my Linux-fever was certainly peaking. Had been reading meanwhile, I have to confess. Looking around and trying to get the Big Picture – what is what in the forky world of Linux.
What you can touch with nooby fingers and what leads to amputation:
Ubuntu and its derivatives like Mint and ZorinOs and what else are for the beginners.
Fedora and OpenSuse fit more to 'advanced beginners'.
Then comes Debian and it's family, the middle-weights.
And then nerd-class heavy devices like Gentoo or Archlinux.
Also – this came to me a bit later, but still – It's not wise to choose tiny distros for n00by stumbling-around. Little ones are frequently bug-ridden, missing important parts, designed like crap and generally used only in family circles. They might be very frustrating experience.

Some 20 hours thrown off with Google. Well, sometimes I take RTFM a tad too seriously. But I tend to think that it saves at least equal time in not doing patently stupid things with all of their consequences.
And when widening your knowledge about distros– is a must. There are reviews for every distro they have in their list. Means hundreds. And they really keep everyday watch on new releases – goldmine for someone wants to hold a finger on a pulse.
Of reviews – Dedoimedo is always a fun to read. Even more – he knows what he talking about. Definitely not oh-so-common 'let's copy release notes (or half) and call it review'.
And here one more roundy overview about picking distro.

And something completely different  - history of GNU/Linux, distros and whatnot, in short and simple form.

2. Installation of Mint KDE

Springy action
I booted Linux Mint 12 KDE Live DVD from USB stick (and I can’t be bothered to explain how to convince your BIOS to do that. It depends on your machines' bloody BIOS. Google!).
Boot was successful. The thing looked mighty exciting. Why not - it was My First Real Linux Desktop hanging there, blueishly. I clicked around in Live a bit and then promptly installed (icon for that hangs on desktop).
Install was a breeze (but watch what you are doing!) and took maybe 15-20 minutes.More detailed account of behaviour of Ubuntu installer, see post 'Linux Mint 1.41 Mate x 2'.
And it failed to boot from my lovingly crafted /boot partition. Nothing. Black screen and cursor hanging in left upper corner. No googled-up shortcut brought up any usable CLI.
Second attempt gave exactly the same result.
After some thinking I decided that culprit might be /boot partition. It was then that I came up with aforementioned (previous post) 'second-hdd-trick' and decided to install into MBR. This installation was a success (and, no, I do not know why it hated /boot). Boot-up didn't take long at all (the same, in fact, that my XP takes in the same machine) and I landed onto my fresh KDE desktop.

It was shiny. Wow. Click. Clickety-click...
It had myriad of settings. Wow. ...
It had disgusting crap-cluttered main menu (which is thankfully changeable to 'classic' version) and oh-so-modern-looking panel-launchbar-activities … errr... thingy. KDE whined like a Windows, and it had apply-buttons everywhere (doh!). Whole desktop felt somehow overwhelming. Maybe not a proper choice for a Linux-noob? Or too Windows-like (what for you need another one - which is also a fake?)
But playing with settings was a fun. A lot of fun.
Though, telling from future experience – changing settings is probably not permanent fun. In fact, it might be short-lived one. You find what you like and then that's that. With occasional sophisticated changes – you know, like another wallpaper or some coloring twist.
Fortunately or unfortunately, my new exciting experience lasted a bit less than 24 hours.
Next day, system announced of some new updates, including several xserver files. Xserver, by the way, is the Creator of Colorful Picture and Makes All Windowses Possible. In my deep wisdom I decided that I don't need some of those files … and that 'completely remove' refers to 'remove from update list'.
It's good moment now to invent a new saying: 'A Fool always finds a hole to fall in.' Remember this when you feel like ' I clicked so much that I am Pro for sure and I can click even more'.

My shiny system didn't start again, of course.
But - fuck with it, begone thy evil Bling. Let's replace it with other fiendly Linux!
Back to Winxp, format USB,
TIP: Always use HP USB formatter (usb_format_HPU_v2.2.3.exe is what I have)– or you might have grave troubles with your next installation... like no installation because there is no 'bootable media'.
Unetbootin, write ISO. Change boot order in BIOS, and forward to boot next 'Live' ISO:
- Linux Mint 12 (probably was Cinnamon) – live boot hangs somewhere middle. Start all over.
- CentOs – kernel panic at the beginning of installation. Panic sounds funny but it isn't. Start all over.
- OpenSuse, maybe it was 12.1 – installed OK, then hung on boot. No picture.
This time - NO start all over again.
I certainly wouldn't say that I was all downtrodden and crying uncontrollably. No, rather I was quite angry. Frankly, I was quite perplexed how it's possible to succeed in ONLY ONE OF FOUR installation-attempts.
Fucking hell and damnation. 'They' can't make their bloody software even to be able to boot! After bloody what, 20 years of the most fruitful, free, creative, free again, friendly-community-driven development? You don't say?
But what's amusing – the story doesn't end here at all.

1. Foreplay before install

2012, spring
Being somewhat suspicious in nature and averse to continuous fixing-and-reinstalling, I did some careful reading on topic. And remember, I am a noob, I couldn't make difference between ext4 and ntfs – not that I knew the first one existed.

Linux partitioning:
No simple letters are used for drives (c:, d: and so on). Your hard disk is hd or sd, the first one is sda, then comes sdb. The first partition on first drive is sda1, then comes sda2 … and so on. By the way - on your desktop you do not see those anymore. They will be renamed for your convenience or, as it really is, for a convenience and/or by whim of your distro maker. You can look them up with some disk tool like Gparted.
TIP. Partitions:
a) Wise and old-fashioned operator makes a separate boot partition – and 300 kB is enough,
b) Then root partition, known as /, should be at least 10 GB – despite what you see when googling. I made 7GB partition and was hit by disk-full warning in second day. And without any special efforts. When experimenting and installing, it is very easy to fill up the root.
c) Swap partition, 2 gigas if the computer has less or equal to 2 GB of real memory. If there is more, reduce it to 1 GB and let it be – no need to philosophy if it's really needed in modern times. Some distros wouldn't even install without it.
d) ~home partition, with size according to needs. 10 gigas or more, maybe?
e) As a noob, don't bother to make separate /etc, /bin and whatnot partitions.

Making a bootable USB stick:
For making bootable USB-stick - Unetbootin is your friend. NB! Not every distro likes Unetbootin – some even have warning about it (Mageia comes to mind).
Hybrid iso image is needed, pure CD-one fits for CD only. (Times have moved on (as of 2013), and most of 'easy distro' images are hybrid (and live)).
It's handy to know which type processor you have – not that it's not handy knowledge when using Windows as well. Means, 64bit system can use 32bit operational system and soft, but not the vice versa.
Then there are many more intriquing questions to ask, like: Where to install my bootloader. How to avoid overwriting my dear Windows's MBR. What to do if I did. Whole multiboot epic – with very practical question: should I read tips more than 3 hours, or should I commit before it gets totally confusing.
TIP: What did I do to avoid such a tearful situation (fuck-up of MBR):
Requires two hard disks!
Make room at the beginning of the second (EASUSE Partition Master is OK, and free). 25 Gigas is a good number, and more doesn't hurt. By 'making room' I mean creating unallocated space; resizing your windows partition by amount you need for Linux.
When booting to start Linux installation (boot-ready USB inserted), in BIOS switch your hdd's boot order to this second hdd – it should be next after the 'removable device'=USB, which will be the first, of course. When already installing/partitioning, put your grub (bootloader) into MBR of the second device (which should be labeled as hdb or sdb. Do NOT put it into volume – which is hdb2 or some other number.
If your install is successful, and you reboot your machine – without USB-stick and probably no need to visit BIOS (no stick detected and boot default goes to next device), you will be greeted with bootloader menu – which also contains your windows startup option. Now, in future - if you happen to fuck up your grub conf (not so difficult to do) and your booloader refuses to boot, you can go to BIOS, swap your Windows drive back as a first boot drive – and you can start you old pal Windows and contemplate over the sad fate that have befallen on you... and you still have a working operating system and can google for help.
(General info: Google: 'Linux partitions'. Or look here, the page has also strong, suggestive colors, as a bonus.)

Then I tried to understand what 'distro' means and what desktop environment (DE) means.
I read some reviews and comparisons of distros. And came to somewhat fuzzy and unsure conclusion that good point to start is Ubuntu family... No, not really – it was probably a fluke that I started with Linux Mint. Or that Mint's home page is pleasantly info-rich. I mean it actually contains info, tutorials and has lively forum. As opposed to many pages that seem to be a poetry-like lines of laconic statements of releases. Shit, some of them doesn't have even md5 sum to check... Which is the number that tells you if your downloaded ISO is exactly the same that you started with (no errors).
In Windows command line: md5sum.exe yourISOname.iso. Wait. Number appears. If it's the same as the one you copied from download page for checking, you are golden.
Windows version you have to download. In Linux, md5sum is – it is told – already included in most distros. Usage is the same. But do 'man md5sum' if sillily curious.
Oh, and there are 'live' images' and there are 'normals' for stright installation. The first one boots to live environment so the victim can take a look how the environment will look and work. Live loads all stuff into memory, and does not touch your precious hard drives.
DE – Desktop Environment (overview, and another one): Well, bunch of things that make colorful and usable (in idea at least) desktop for us to play on. There are 4 bigger (more users) ones – Gnome, KDE, XFCE and LXDE. And several lesser ones: newcomers Razor-qt, Cinnamon and Mate, then nerdy boxen (Fluxbox, Openbox), freaky Enlightenment, and almost dead old ones. Google for whole zoo... there was somewhere big sad table of the past and present.
Ah, yes, almost forgot – distros – distributions, really – are all those different names and flavors that inhabit Linux ecosystem. Like Linux Mint, Mageia Linux, Red HatEnterprise Linux, SolusOs, Ubuntu and so on.
There are hundreds of them. Choice and freedom? Yes – but for developers only in many cases. Most of distros are marginal for different reasons – they lack support, documentation, real development... they install and work only occasionally and through huge effort... and bagful of bugs are quaranteed. Not so much choice for a dumbuser who wants just to use operational system. When googling about things-Linux I found several times opinions that Linux is not meant for feebleminded normal users. Fortunately for us morons, there also are distros that have fallen to that shameful 'user' level.
So, installing it will be in next chapter.