The choice of distro

Linux is a varied and unique operating system. It’s used for back-end servers for a great many things, even by big-shot companies like Microsoft. It’s also used for most smartphones and most cloud services. But that’s not what we’re going to be talking about here. I’m talking about using Linux as the OS of a Personal Computer, AKA a PC.

There are many Linux distributions, or distros, around, and each is set up differently. My choice of distro was influenced by both what I needed from it and what could be done with it. The choice I ended up using was POP! OS by System76. Pop OS is essentially a customized version of Ubuntu with a few extra things added in, so most things that work with Ubuntu will work with Pop, like Ubuntu’s libraries, alongside any programs written to work in Ubuntu.

My main computer usage is web browsing, reading articles and fiction, and playing video games. Any OS with a web browser can do most of that, but video games require a few other things to work. The first thing you need is hardware. The second thing you need is drivers since without drivers your hardware won’t work.

Pop OS has an advantage over baseline Ubuntu in that there are two ISO files you can download off the System76 site. One has the usual drivers for Intel and AMD’s CPUs and AMD’s GPUs. The other ISO contains those along with Nvidia’s proprietary GPU drivers built-in. Meaning if you download this ISO, you won’t need to fiddle with the command line to get your Nvidia GPU performing at its full potential. This is especially good if you’re a Linux beginner who’s a bit scared of using the command line.

Pop OS’s desktop is very configurable and uses the GNOME desktop environment like its parent OS Ubuntu. There are themes, which I haven’t messed with yet, and GNOME extensions, which I have fiddled with.

I found some good results adjusting GNOME to my liking. I added Dash-to-Dock, which is built-in on Ubuntu but not Pop. I added a bottom bar that lets me minimize my windows. I added a weather forecast app. And my favorite, I added a Bluetooth settings tab, so I wouldn’t need to navigate into the settings menu every time my headset disconnected from inactivity.

From the fact that I’m making a blog about gaming on Linux, you can likely tell that I’m pretty happy with my system and its performance. Not all of it is even the move to Linux since my old system was a dinky windows laptop with a dual-core CPU and an NVIDIA 940MX. Although I am quite liking not having Window’s background programs eating up all my RAM.

My next set of articles will be on various games I’ve played, how well they run, and any tweaks I’ve used to get them running if they didn’t do so out of the box. I’ll be focusing mainly on indie titles in my library before I tackle anything bigger since one big game on my list needs more tinkering before I feel ready to write an article about it.

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