Debian: A great choice for 32bit systems
The distro hoping
I’ve been using Debian on and off for some years now. I sometimes test other distributions and sometimes stick to them for a while. I know that most of the non-professional Linux lovers usually do it. It’s like you like to spend time on your machine, but since you are not doing it for a living you feel more free to play with all the different options the Linux ecosystem has to offer.
This activity, you can call it a hobby, can be an educational toy for a while. After that, you have gone too far and fall into the trap. You end up tweaking your system without actually doing something useful. I did the same with emacs but that’s another story.
Focus by constraining
Anyway, earlier this year, I’ve decided to limit myself in an attempt to make some useful work. So I have switched my 7 years old Toshiba laptop with my kids’ decade old Toshiba laptop with half the RAM I used to (2MB). The kids were pleased they got to play a way faster and prettier Minecraft and I was happy to have a new challenge!
My (new) older laptop demands 32bit versions of Linux. So I’ve had to make a small research and try out some distros just for the fun of it. I knew I would end up with Debian again, but I thought why not giving some other distro a chance?
What I soon found out, was that many distros stopped providing 32bit versions. There were some choices, and I’ve started testing them, having only one requirement. Not to spent much time configuring things.
The 32bit choices are limited
I’ve tried out Fedora. It’s one of my favorite ones, but unfortunately I got so many freezes in one day, even in Gnome classic that I had to leave it.
Next I’ve tried Linux Mint MATE which I had a smooth experience before with. Disappointed also, from problems of the graphics support for my NVIDIA. I had a screen flickering at the top of the screen. Like I said before, I did not want to deal with such configuration fixes right after installation. So I’ve passed once more.
Then I’ve played with freeBSD for a little while. Besides my enthusiasm for the easy installation and the exotic differences, I’ve realized that I could not make my NVIDIA work. I knew it would take days researching about it, so I’ve took a raincheck, promising myself to give it a try sometime in the future (of course with another laptop).
And before I realize it, a week had passed. I knew I had some more choices, like the Ubuntu family Xubuntu and Lubuntu. The fact was, I couldn’t waste more time on this so I got the Debian 10 iso, installed it and voila! Everything worked great, right out of the box.
I have only the XFCE desktop environment, and everything flies without much customization. I just setup my second keyboard layout, add some shortcut keys and dmenu for running programs in a flash.
You see, in that case I’m into the minimal and fast desktop for very valid reasons. You cannot run Gnome 3 on such and old machine, but that’s the beauty of Linux. The whole lots of choices.