I want to preface that I am a completely new Linux user, however I am more than willing to face a learning curve as I want to learn from this endeavor. I’ve browsed around and wanted to ask this community in regards specifically for using on a framework laptop, as it also seems there has been a lot of functionality increase over the last few months alone.
Preferably, I want to stick with a distro that has an official framework guide. I am currently learning software development, and that would be my main use for this laptop. I don’t know much about any of these, but here’s what I’m currently between and why:
Fedora: It was the first recommended distro for use with framework so I’m assuming it’s for good reason? I have heard its good for software development though (not sure why?) and is also open source, which is a plus for me. Ubuntu 20.04: Seems very well documented and popular with a larger community which may be useful if (when) I run into problems Pop!_OS: I’ve seen this highly recommended, and know it’s based on Ubuntu, but not much else Mint: Don’t know much about it, just it’s one of the 3 distros labeled as Easy (other than Ubuntu and Fedora) under the guides page. Have also seen it recommended for being beginner friendly and stable
P.S. How hard is it to switch from one distro to another if I want to try another later?
TL;DR New linux user choosing between the linux distros with framework guides to use mostly for software development.
My only experience on this laptop is with Fedora, but I’ve used mint before.
Fedora is a great beginner distro, and learning how to use stock Gnome only takes a few days to get used to. If you don’t like stock Gnome, there’s always extensions. If Gnome isn’t your cup of tea, then Fedora does come with a KDE spin as well.
The fingerprint scanners works right out of the box, and can be used anywhere where you enter your password, such as logging in, or on the terminal.
The wifi card that FrameWork offers is supported right out of the box as well.
The only thing that hasn’t worked for me is the camera, but that might be a me problem, or a hardware problem, and not a linux problem, as the camera has worked before.
I haven’t tried Linux Mint on the laptop, but it’s another decent started distro. I’ve read somewhere that it works great on the laptop, and they even have an official guide for installing it. The only downside is that there’s no GUI for enrolling your fingerprint, so fingerprint support might differ.
I’ve never used Ubuntu, but I’ve heard that at this point, it just works.
@dretheus I actually got the same drive! I don’t regret it one bit. It’s cheaper, and I think it’s the best drive in terms of price to performance for laptops. It’s amazing in its read and write speed, and it barely sips power
I have used Fedora, Ubuntu, and Mint, as well as a slew of others. My suggestion is to stay on a distro that is Debian based. Ubuntu, Mint, Pop OS. My personal reason for that is just that they are so much easier to get popular applications on. Particularly from a development point of view.
Fedora is nice in that it is more up to date. It is not cutting edge, but it is stable edge, if you will.
Ubuntu LTS, by comparison, is ancient, but stable. Very rarely will this ever present a problem to you if at all.
That said, Fedora certainly seems like it has put more effort into working out of the box on the Framework laptop. I found some of the differences between apt and dnf a little jarring, but I can’t really see a reason to not use it.
One hybrid that kind of offers the best of both worlds is Pop OS. Just know that Pop OS is made for System76 systems, and so support for it on the Framework is most likely going to be community based.
The great thing is that most distros have an ISO you can download and flash to the thumb drive that will let you boot a live session of that distro. From here you can mess around and see how things work.
But if you are BRAND new to Linux, I really think that Ubuntu is going to be the most useful first distro. Especially if you end up staying with Linux.
@2disbetter - Thank you for this! I was currently leaning towards Fedora for no particular reason, but now I’m back leaning to Ubuntu after your post haha.
I am brand new to Linux, so something that has a larger user base and more popular applications may make the initial transition and learning curve a bit better. In your opinion, other than working well on framework, does Fedora have any sort of additionally functionality I may be missing on Ubuntu?
One caveat that you need to understand about Ubuntu is that it offers two variants. There is the LTS version which is super solid and supported for 5 years, and is updated every 2 years, and then there is the non LTS releases which happen every six months.
It just so happens that 22.04 LTS is about to drop from Canonical. It should work out of the box on the Framework, but if you want to install something now, use the 21.10 release. You can upgrade from it to 22.04 LTS.
Hopefully that isn’t too confusing.
Also, distros are very subjective. Some would argue that you could say similar things that I have about Ubuntu for Fedora. Some are even calling Fedora the new Ubuntu.
Whatever you decide to go with, just remember you can easily try something else if you are curious or don’t like something. It is great when you click with a distro!!
@2disbetter I think I follow you, so Ubuntu 21.10 is non-LTS, right? With 22.04 LTS coming out soon, so the current LTS Ubuntu version is 20.04 LTS?
From your post it sounds like you can start with non-LTS (21.10) and then switch to 22.04 LTS when it releases, without reinstalling the entire OS, do I have that right? If I start with something now before 22.04, do you recommend starting with LTS vs non-LTS for any reasons?
Apologies if the questions seem redundant! I apparently don’t understand it as well as I thought ha.
@Peter_Schofield Thank you! I haven’t heard of either of those, I’ll give them a look.
I would recommend going with 22.10. That works out of the box. Then when 22.04 comes out you can get yourself back on LTS, which is what I recommend. And yes you can upgrade in place and not loose any of your data.
I have been using Ubuntu 21.10 for over a month and its rock solid and I have had no issues, other than doing the small recommended modification for the trackpad. 22.04 LTS is released on the 14th so I will be upgrading and sticking with LTS for its life of 2 years.
If you’re new to Linux, you’ll likely distro hop at some point. Should you be tempted to follow this path, I’d recommend hopping DE’S (desktop environments) before hopping distributions. This will ultimately save you time narrowing down what you actually want and understanding why you want it, as you’ll avoid confounding variables in formulating taste and opinions.
Using this reasoning, I typically recommend starting with Ubuntu, followed by other spins such as Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (XFCE), Ubuntu Cinnamon, Ubuntu Mate, etc. From there, it would make sense to look briefly into Pop! and Mint before moving along to different distros.
Outside of Ubuntu-based distros, your time will be best spent with MX (Debian-based), Fedora, Endeavour (Arch-based, and much better than Manjaro), OpenSuse and Arch.
@Damariscove Thank you! I hadn’t even thought about trying different desktop environments before hopping distros. That also sounds like a good path of which distros to try after starting, I really appreciate the suggestions
Thank you, this seems to be the consesnus
@Rob_Fisher Thank you for the reassurance with this - good to know the drives won’t matter much
I have been using Debian-based Linuxes with Gnome2-ish Desktops on ThinkPads for about 20 years now. Debian first, then Linux Mint for a while, later switched to Ubuntu Mate when that came out. I can confirm that with Debian-based Distros you will be good on the compatibility side because if a commercial developer releases anything besides a tar or an AppImage, it will be a .deb file most of the time. Also SteamOS (on Steam Deck) is Debian-based which might be a plus worth considering for people who like running games on Linux. For a beginner coming from Windows I would mostly recommend Ubuntu Mate oder PopOS.
The Frame.Work is my first non-ThinkPad so when switching I reckoned it would only be logical to consider new Linux Distros as well. I took about two week’s spare time and multi-booted various Distros on the Framework, looking for what they would have to offer me. To my own surprise, that comparison ended in me being a user of Arch Linux (EndeavourOS flavour) with KDE Plasma desktop now.
Having said the above about Debian, I can now add that the Arch Linux Packaging system seems to be at least as good as Debian’s. Moreover, Arch’s Answer to “Ubuntu PPA”, named AUR, is even much better. I have yet to find any software that I could not install via AUR. Be it proprietary Epson Printer Drivers, Steam or even Zoom, Teams and VMWare Workstation; it is all managed by my package management system now! No petty AppImages, tar installs or snaps anymore \o\ \o/ /o/
And the very, very comprehensive Arch Linux Wiki is also an asset worth mentioning, although one might say it is necessary because in some aspects Arch might require a bit more of meddling and expertise than the well-settled and tested debianic Distros. Last but not least, Arch Linux’s very frequent and rolling updates are sometimes a bit more problematic and certainly less well-tested than what you get in, say, an Ubuntu LTS.
So my final verdict would be:
if you just want most stuff to work and run stable, like you are used to from Windows, try Ubuntu Mate LTS, PopOS or Linux Mint Cinnamon.
If you are ready to face some more learning curve and complications and want your software to be always the latest and greatest, try EndeavourOS. Its Installer will give you the option to install numerous Desktops of which I personally liked the KDE and Cinnamon ones most. But YMMV.
I tried everything on your list and settled on Fedora - mostly because it was the only one that installed cleanly and had everything working – especially bluetooth on the AX210 vPro adapter. Other distros may have improved since then (6 months ago?) but I would still recommend Fedora. Framework worked with the Fedora team to test, etc. so the general support for that distro is better than the others.
I don’t like gnome so installed Cinnamon for my desktop - and you can configure Fedora just about however you want.
Switching distros is relatively easy, especially if you have drives partitioned right off the hop to let you install separate locations. I have Fedora, Manjaro and Windows all installed on mine and can select at boot. You =can= share your “home” (user files) drive between distros but there’s some chance that configurations info saved there will be in conflict between distros so while you’re comparing it would probably be best to have separate home drives, too. If you want to switch to a different distro (as opposed to running both) then you can’t really update one to change to the other – best to just do a clean install overtop of the old one.
@F_Behrens Thank you for this perspective! I haven’t even considered Arch yet, and since seeing this post I’ve been looking into it and am very intrigued and want to give it a go. I do feel pretty intimidated by Arch currently (seems there is a lot of learning benefits from it though) so I may try to “work my way up to it” after getting my feet wet with another distro first. With that said, what caused you to land on EndeavourOS vs Arch itself or other flavors?
Thank you @Richard_Lees, I definitely need to be reminded of this! I have a feeling I’m going to want to try multiple distros for sure. Also, I haven’t even thought about partitioning drives right from the start to make this easier later - I haven’t done something like this before, so I am I definitely going to do some due diligence before taking it on!