I have very little experience with Linux distributions. A few years ago, I installed Ubuntu on my laptop. For the longest time, I could not get the WiFi to work, rendering the OS pretty much obsolete. The issue was related to Broadcom not providing open source drivers for their wireless cards, until late 2010.
Then I upgraded to the latest Ubuntu version in 2011 and Unity came around. And I didn’t like it at all. So I decided to part with Ubuntu and start looking at the other distros that were available. I gave Linux Mint 11 a shot. While it was fairly straight forward to use and came packed with the average end user would need, it also had issues of its own.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to change my main account’s privileges. Mint did not like that, and simply stopped behaving as intended, throwing the most cryptic error messages at boot, erasing all my files and folders. A friend of mine, David, had been bashing Mint every since I had gotten it, and after trying to do a clean install of Mint 12 to no avail, I figured I’d try something new. Perhaps David was right; there were better Distros out there.
After some Googl-ing around, I found Fedora. Downloaded the latest version (Fedora 17), put it on a USB using the tool provided by Fedora, and installed it on my laptop. And quite frankly, so far not only does it feel more polished than Mint, it also looks nicer than Ubuntu.
I had to work out some of its quirks, but getting the WiFi to function normally wasn’t too difficult. Its interface truly differentiates itself from the competition. Namely Windows and Mac OS. Though it shares similarities with both of them, it feels like the best of both worlds for free. I’m very fond of the ‘Activities’ panel, and the way it allows to easily switch between multiple desktop environments and windows. Gnome 3 is extremely responsive in Fedora 17. Ubuntu’s Unity felt like a very restrictive UI element. It took too much of the screen’s real estate, too often. But there’s a great balance between the fancy and the practical in Fedora 17.
Anyhow, I want to use it for a little bit longer before I write my full “review”. But so far, so good!