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I was switching to Linux in the optimal time, around Ubuntu 9.04/9.10. I am a programmer, so I don't want to be a "Linux guru", that's why Ubuntu was perfect for me - until Unity/Gnome3.

In latest Ubuntu releases (11.04/11.10), several important things have just disappeared. There's no Compiz-Fusion support, no Gnome2 applets. The position of the panels is fixed. The Unity launcher is "for-dummies", but I'm not. Lots of customisation options are gone. On the computer I've performed distro-upgrade, I've installed LXDE now, it's like Gnome (I've replaced LXDE's file manager with Nautilus), but it does not support Compiz-Fusion.

So, the question is: which Linux distro is like Ubuntu 9.04/9.10, which I can just install, set up Compiz-Fusion shortcuts, select panel's position, add applets, and it just works?

Should I go back to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS? What about Mint? I don't wanna dig too deep into the soul of window managers and desktop environments.

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You bring it up just like I did 6 months ago when Natty hit the net :) –  phunehehe Oct 31 '11 at 17:20
    
I've made some research before taking the question, and got answer for a long-time unsolved (but trivial) Compiz-Fusion issue (no title bar: turn on decorations on CCSM), so I've turned on Compiz-Fusion, and stated: Natty Narwhal (11.04) is still usable. Unfortunatelly, it's not LTS. The last LTS is 10.04, which expires 1/2 years after Natty does, see wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases Maybe, our days are numbered with Ubuntu. –  ern0 Oct 31 '11 at 18:38
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Why not do like Torvalds did when he got to irritated with this mess and direction that gnome was taking? He apparently switch to xfce (linux.slashdot.org/story/11/08/04/0115232/…). –  Johan Nov 2 '11 at 6:17
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3 Answers

You already pointed out two options that I was going to suggest :) Anyway I think it's worth making clear that you have many options.

  • Stick with Ubuntu 10.04 for now. This is not a long term option, because eventually you will run out of updates (3 years for desktops, 5 years for servers). And who wants to use outdated software anyway, especially when it's free? After that maybe you will find the next LTS (12.04) is usable?
  • Change to another distribution, like Mint. Since Ubuntu 11.04 I have found myself and a lot of my friends getting more satisfaction from Mint. Basically Mint is a modded version of Ubuntu (with Mint 11 being based on Ubuntu 11.04), so compatibility is an obvious bless. Soon Mint will be going after Gnome 3 (starting in the next release, which is somewhere near the end of this year), but I guess Gnome 3 will become more usable by then.
  • Change for something different. Linux gives you many (sometimes too many) choices, so if you don't like something, feel free to take another. Gnome 2 is going to be deprecated so I wouldn't recommend looking for something with it. You can try KDE with Kubuntu, Openbox with Crunchbang, XFCE with Mint and what-not. The destination for choosing a distribution would be DistroWatch.
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KDE is a last option, I don't know why, I don't like KDE. –  ern0 Oct 31 '11 at 18:40
    
10.04 will be supported until April 2013, so then you can even go for 13.04. –  l0b0 Nov 1 '11 at 14:06
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Since you mentioned kUbuntu (Ubuntu with kde as default), maybe you should mention xUbuntu that is using xfce as default window manager. –  Johan Nov 2 '11 at 6:14
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And don't forget about Linux Mint Debian edition (linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php) it will not grab the Unity packages until they get into Debian, and that will probably not happen any time soon. –  Johan Nov 2 '11 at 6:20
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I experience the same dissatisfaction with Ubuntu 11.04 and up and have chosen to move to Xubuntu which is very similar functionally to Gnome 2.3 regarding the shell, but even more lightweight. It seems to be much more flexible and customisable too, which I think fits the Linux philosophy (at least as I interpret it). –  Benjamin Dec 24 '11 at 0:49
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Xubuntu.

XFCE looks better and is less spartan than LXDE, I've kept the beloved Ubuntu, XFCE's panel is great, Compiz-Fusion works, drag-and-drop is no problem between Thunar (XFCE's file manager) and Nautilus (Gnome's one) and the desktop. A clean Xubuntu install would be better, but there're no major problems, I'm happy now.

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I couldn't agree more. I'm a happy refugee from Unity/Gnome3 land. Everything is simple, fast, just works and doesn't get in my way of doing actual work. –  Not Now Dec 1 '11 at 0:02
    
On my new netbook I'm now using Xubuntu for months, and I'm very happy with it. –  ern0 Oct 19 '12 at 8:09
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Debian Stable:

  • Long term support.
  • Very stable.
  • Familiar system for a Ubuntu user.

Edit: reply to comment

Compiz should be just an apt-get away. See here: http://wiki.debian.org/Compiz

I'm pretty sure that most modern X drivers don't require you to make the changes to xorg.conf.

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Does it have "out of the box" installation with Compiz-Fusion and Gnome2 Desktop (or LXDE)? I don't wanna configure, compile and so on. –  ern0 Nov 1 '11 at 15:54
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Gnome2 is the default desktop environment and compiz is in the main APT repository. I've switched to Debian for pretty much the same reason as you, although I use XFCE as desktop environment. –  Raphael R. Nov 1 '11 at 16:35
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