Sometimes in life we walk in circles. A little over two years ago, I’ve bought a Dell computer to replace my aging iMac. I’ve installed Manjaro Linux almost immediately and was impressed how well Manjaro handled Blender and pretty much everything else.
When some of the updates broke SAMBA, I decided to distro hop and before long, I discovered ArcoLinux which made configuring a LAN kids play. I wasn’t crazy about all of the updates but it was nice to have access to the latest software so I stayed with ArcoLinux until last summer.

manjaro best linux distribution for python blender
Good bye Manjaro, hello Ubuntu

By coincidence, I had come across Gecko Linux which is based on OpenSUSE and I distribution that I had used about 15 years ago. On my optimus laptop, OpenSUSE exceeded my expectations and still does. I can not imaging to run anything else but OpenSUSE for the reminder of the lifespan the MSI laptop has left.

Once of my goals has always been to run the same distribution on all of my computers and so I installed OpenSUSE Tumbleweed on all of my computers. More or less, it all worked. Networking was a bit tedious to set up but once I did, it performed flawlessly. Audio work seemed to be workable as well so I decided to be patient and ignore the fact that OpenSUSE and graphics design don’t seem to be made for one another. Blender, when installed on OpenSUSE will not see the NVIDIA graphics card and what makes the situation even worse is that google is not able to help. Do OpenSUSE users not use 3D apps on newer hardware?

I’ve mentioned at the beginning that sometimes, life is a circle and often, we return to what we know works. I found some good Manjaro reviews and made a bootable USB stick to see if networking is still finicky. Amazingly, the Manjaro team had ironed out the old bugs and setting up a home network which allows for all computers to share and access files was easy. Then I started to install some code editors and for some reason, writing Python scripts made me wonder is there was an easier way. I have heard a lot about Ubuntu but haven’t used it for years. One of the reasons I’ve stayed away was based on the fact that I am not a Gnome fan. My ideal DE is XFCE which fits my work flow like a glove.

A famous German proverb says: “Probieren geht ueber studieren” which means that trying something is better than to study it ….

At first, I installed the Ubuntu 20.04 LTX workstation edition and was happy that once again, I could revert the BIOS setting to secure boot just like I had done when installing OpenSUSE. I’ve set up the network which was the first thing that impressed me. Ubuntu literally did the work for me. THAT was a new experience. Even better, it actually worked. I was impressed.

Ubuntu 20.10 Wacom tablet setup

My graphics workstation has dual 4K monitors but XFCE is stubborn when it comes to setting up a Wacom tablet. Amazingly, Gnome had me use my Wacome tablet within minutes and best of all, it remembered the settings after rebooting. I liked what I saw and decided to stick with Ubutnu except that I chose 20.10 over the LTS version because I needed the latest version of Thunderbird in order to migrate the existing accounts. That, on the other hand, was not as easy as I would have liked it to be but eventually, I was able to force Thunderbird to use my existing data.

Conclusion

If web design, LibreOffice, E-mail and eBook publishing are important, then OpenSUSE is by far the best choice. Unlike some other distros that I have used in the past, OpenSUSE has no problem with setting up LibreOffice with the correct spell checker. Usually, I had to do this myself which was tedious. Even better, my MSI optimus laptop was made for OpenSUSE. No wake-up issues, no shut down issues …. no issues at all.

For graphics design work (Blender / FreeCAD), Ubuntu ticks all the right boxes. Blender is able to use the GFX card for rendering, and best of all, there are a ton of online resources which provide guidance when it comes to dealing with audio and screen recording to name a few. Ubuntu is a solid operating system and managed to impress me which does not happen a lot when it comes of computers.

If you are still searching for “something better” then check out Ubuntu (again). There is a lot of negative material out there but when I tried it, I saw the advantages and so far, Ubuntu works perfectly well. Thank you for reading.

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