Switching to Linux (An Ongoing Story)

What?
Don’t look at me like that.
I will.
I know I’ve been putting it off, but I’ve only been thinking about it for 6 years.
Ok, 8 years.
Ok, more than that.
Yes, there was the one time in 200X when I bought that boxed copy of Mandrake 6.3 and installed it.
But what did I know then?
Nothin’
I installed both Gnome and KDE at the same time for pete’s sake.
So really. I’m gonna do it this time.
I even bought me some new harddrives to install it on.
Oh stop looking at me like that, I’m not that old.
Every internal disk is a harddrive to me.
You keep looking at me like that and I’ll never remember to actually switch.

So let’s give the basics: It’s time for me to stretch my mind.
And since I don’t have a blog, I’m going to write about it here.

My System:
AMD Ryzen 9 3900x
64GB DDR4 @ 3200MHz
AMD Radean VII
Dell U3818DW 3840x1600
500GB Corsair Force MP600 Gen4 NVMe (Boot)
500GB ADATA SP550 SSD
500GB WD Blue Gen3 NVMe
2TB WD Blue SSD

There’s also a 2TB Samsung 860 EVO in there, but it has an Ubuntu install on it that we don’t talk about.

So the plan is to remove all the harddrives (see I told you that’s what I call them) from the system, and replace then with 2 fresh 1TB Samsung 980 Pro PCIe 4.0 NVMes.
Now I plan to make these in to one storage array.
How you may ask?
I have no clue.

Let’s define what success is: Can I play my games that I cycle through?
Which games?
Oi.
Xonotic
SuperTuxKart
Mindustry
Star Trek Online
Fortnite
Doom Eternal
Minecraft (Java Edition)
Wargaming - World of Tanks, World of Warships, World of Warplanes, Master of Orion
Diablo 2: Resurrected (1300+ games in my steam library that I haven’t tried and I’m still going back to a game that I have now bought more than 5 times over the last 20 years)

My Testing PC:
Acer Aspire M3970
Intel i7-2600
12GB DDR3 @ ??
NVidia GTX 1050TI
HP 24" something 1920x1080
120GB Kingston SSD
128GB Samsung SSD

So I have a testing PC.
Well I’m not blowing away my main rig until I know what I’m doing right?

Eventually I’m going to upgrade my video card, and it may be NVidia, so I might as well learn how to install the proprietary drivers now as well.

What am I going to try:
Fedora 34 / 35 KDE
Kubuntu 21.10
Ubuntu-Mate 21.10
Garuda KDE
Solus Plasma
Pop!_OS
Elementary 6.0
Manjaro KDE

And apparently my chest freezer died. So I must go contend with that now instead of continuing our conversation.
I’ll update as I experiment.

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Damn cool list of OSs.

Just a word of caution, Fedora similar to Debian has an amazing core, some of the best devs Linux has to offer and (imho) rightfully gets a lot of praise but by design it’s a pretty raw experience out of the box which is often hard on new users as you’re expected to know what to install and/or how to configure it.

Every journey into Linux is very personal though, just make sure you don’t get bogged down and keep jumping till you find one that’s a great homebase.

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Something to consider is your display and screen resolution.
If you’re using fractional scaling (which I’m guessing you are, looking at your screen resolution), you’re going to have a hard time with most of the DEs and/or Wms, out there. At the very least, you’re going to have to do some manual work in terminal and configfiles.
The only one that works for me from the systemsettings and without any other kind of shenanigans is KDE, it just works.

It’s usually fine with the system apps especially the ones that comes with the DE. But when it comes to gaming with steam/lutris and wine/proton it can get all kinds of weird behaviour with UI/UX, fonts and resolution in games if it’s not properly configured.

I started with Mandrake in the early 2000s. I too installed KDE and Gnome where I ultimately stuck with KDE because I found it to be the more intuitive desktop. Looking at your game list, I am willing to bet you are going to have pretty decent success here. I can’t say how Fortnite is going to go for you but I am hoping that all gets worked out soon with the whole anti-cheat on Proton thing getting worked out.

I consider the hardware you have to be top notch, especially compared to my systems. I did happen to notice that there was a missing distribution on there of which I am rather fond, openSUSE, in either Leap or Tumbleweed. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Now, no pressure, but I have been happily using it for the last 10 years and hardware support is better than ever… which is the story of all distros, really. The Nvidia setup may or may not be an issue, I can’t say as I haven’t used Nvidia in quite a long time. I am all AMD on my main system and have enjoyed the rolling fun. I think it is worth a spin.

I hope you keep us updated, this will be fun to read.

Fortnite currently doesnt work. I got around this by signing up for a free Geforce Now account so I can play with my kids and it runs in a Chrome based browser very well. I chose Vivaldi (turn off mouse gestures or you’ll have a real bad time).

There is an epic games launcher for Linux called Heroic that I can recommend.

Actually - on the list is Ubuntu-Mate 21.10 - and you’ll find that Ubuntu Mate also just works out of the box with fractional scaling, and is really easy (with Mate-Tweak) to readjust.

Well, I’m glad it worked out for you.
Because it didn’t for me. Sure, the options were there, but some applications and games didn’t honor the settings and I still had problems with some games and apps. Problems that I don’t get with KDE.

Now, I don’t wanna sound like a fanboy or broken record, because I’m simply not. There are other DEs I would prefer to use, but I need fractional scaling to work 100% reliably. And for me KDE does that.

Journal Entry #2
Contact initiated by outside intelligence.
Input is welcome.

Ahhh. Mr. Nate, CubicleNate. I just finished listening to Game Sphere 16 so your reputation as an openSUSE Avalanche preceeds you. openSUSE (both variants) have now been downloaded and added to my Ventoy disk to test.

OOOh Yes, I have been dealing with fractional scaling (or the lack thereof) for years. My previous monitor was a 28" Samsung that ran at full 4K.
I have been a Patreon supporter of Ubuntu-Mate since that got started.
I maintain my mother’s laptop which started on 16.04 (sitting on 20.04 now). She like the fact that her secure linux/firefox laptop is accepted by her bank, while other peoples Windows 10 ones aren’t.

I heard about about Heroic on TWIL last week (or the week before) so it will be battle tested along with Steam, Lutris, and Crossover. I really wish GOG would release GOG Galaxy for Linux.

Other testing/Learning items & goals:
Can I learn how to connect to the shares on my FreeNAS server?
Can I put shortcuts on the desktop? (I really, really love my shortcuts) See attached picture of my current desktop layout.


How do I dump the pictures from my phone (Samsung Galaxy S9)?
How To LVM?

More goals / pain points will present themselves in time.

I have setup a capture device between the Test PC and the monitor, so I contemplate either streaming or recording the installs as I play, uh Test.

What?
You’re looking at me like that again.
I can be a streamer if I want to.

So the chest freezer was where we stored our meat and dairy products. I was lucky that I found it dead when I did. Things inside were still mostly fozen and some could be saved.
We migrated some to my parents house, gave some to the neighbours, and we’re cooking what we can.

First Up: Elementary OS 6.0

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If you are looking for a Linux native way to manage your GOG games there is a client called MiniGalaxy that may do the trick for you.

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That is something very normal to do on all Linux desktops - albeit I am not “dumping” anything on my desktop - except Gnome. Though I think it could be possible in Ubuntu.

As for connecting your smartphone to the PC, that should usually work on all Linux distros and desktops without issues.

KDE connect might help here? I’m not sure. But I think you might be able to plug in and drag-n-drop copy?

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Of course, I totally forgot.

There’s an app that many people suggest for this called syncthing. Albeit, if you want to learn about the whole process, here is a tutorial on how to do – with the benefit of being able to ssh into your phone’s OS whenever you want.

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You could do a one way dump. That way, when you get home, you can upload your photos once it connects to the local network. Its a really good alternative to iCloud if you couple this with Nextcloud.

Journal Entry #3
Hi Ho,
mini update time.
I forgot to add that I’m using a UGreen NVMe to USB enclosure with a 250GB WD drive inside. That’s got Ventoy on it with all my ISOs.

For full disclosure: I am a member of the Elementary Patreon. They have been doing good work, so I’m happy to pay for it, even if I’m not using it.
So I booted up the Elementary 6.0 disk and went through a test install process.
It failed.
But I don’t blame it.
I’ve been wiping and installing so much, I’m sure I buggered up the disks to no end.

So, a little reboot again, and load up a gparted live disk and reinitialize the partition tables on the 2 SSDs in the box.

First impressions of the Elementary installer - is very nice. Smooth, well rounded.
Hmm, no automatic ability to select both disks to install on. (and I’m not touching custom yet)
Select the disk and off we go.
Skip a few things…(I’m writing this after the fact and I forgot what happened next)
So now I’m logged in.
Very crisp on the HP monitor.
AppCenter is quick. I’m just going to do updates today. I’ll look at software later. Its already detected updates are needed before I can click on the tab.
Let’s see what’s there: OS updates, AppCenter…and…and…the nVidia driver is right there waiting for me to install it?
Woot!
Well that was a nice surprise.

That’s all that I’ve had time to look at so far.
I’m going to see if I can do that video.

But right now…we’re fostering a cat for our local humane society and she gave birth this morning. There were 3 tiny fuzzballs when I poked my head into the room, and she didn’t seem to be done.

I have to go see what’s going on.

Thank you everyone who has commented so far.

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As @mattdln will attest, I have an ALMOST unhealthy obsession with the openSUSE project. I don’t expect that it is the right distro for everyone so whenever you do give it a spin, feel free to hit me up for anything. There may be areas that may not work well for you and so forth. Also, I really love these updates, so keep them coming. I do enjoy following this journey.

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on openSUSE: bring us back any exotic foods you think you can sneak through customs.

I’ve had iguana….it’s ok. :flushed:

On topic: I’m enjoying following along with your journey @SpazzyC!

SUSE was my first distro, Ive been trying to work out the version. I am 80% sure it was 8.0. After it was bought by Novell and just before it became openSUSE. Happy days.

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When i think back to those “early days” of Linux, sure, things were rough, but it was a lot of fun too. A new world of discovery, new tools, different interfaces and a new way of doing computing. Truthfully, all computing was a bit rough at the time. Blue screen of death, anyone? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I do think computers and especially Linux based systems are far, far more useful today and a bit less toy-like than computers have been. I am sometimes concerned that fun can be lost with computers but Linux is like the last bastion of hope there. Maybe not, as there are some other fun computing things too…