I’m very happy with Pop OS 20.10 on my System76 Thelio desktop. I can’t speak to what it’s like to run it on non-System76 hardware, but I think that manufacturers building open source software and open source hardware designed to work together is how we get to a future where desktop Linux approaches the user-friendliness of e.g. macOS. If you only have control over the software (or only the hardware), it will be much more difficult to create a streamlined experience. My experience with System76 products and support has been excellent so far, and I encourage people to give them a try.
If you’re not using System76 hardware, I’m not sure Pop OS has an advantage over any other Linux distro, although I will say I really like their customizations to GNOME with the tiling window manager.
I encouraged a friend to install Linux on his new XPS 13 and recommended Pop!_OS after having a good experience using it briefly on my Desktop PC. It was his first time installing Linux as the main OS on one of his computers. I expected it to be a smooth and pleasant introduction to everyday Linux computing but it has been anything but. He has had headache after headache and I’m honestly feeling a little guilty for not recommending something else. The package manager seems to tie itself in knots with remarkable ease (the split between the Ubuntu and System76 repos seems to aggravate this), while the desktop environment is prone to dramatic lag of a sort that one would not expect at all on a high end laptop.
The most absurd episode was when, a couple of weeks post-install, the computer steadfastly refused to reach the LUKS password screen. This bizarre glitch was solved by disabling RAID on the SSD, a mode which it had bizarrely entered of its own accord - I can only assume because something in the OS messed about with the EFI vars.
I’m now apologetically nudging him towards an Arch+Sway setup like my own. Not a very beginner friendly choice one might think, but it works flawlessly for me day-in day-out without ever slowing down or breaking my system.
I ran into that funky bug where it wouldn’t reach LUKS early last year. That was a super silly waste of time.
Other than that, it’s been mostly smooth sailing for me, but like you I probably wouldn’t recommend this distro to someone non-technical.
The most annoying bug I’ve run into is some memory leak in gnome-shell that to my understanding is caused by some Pop_OS plugin that it ships with. It’s caused me to nearly run out of RAM a few times on a 120gb machine. Lately I’ve been dealing with it by working around it (restarting every week or so) but one of these days I’ll put some time into fixing it
Just tell him to use void and be done with it
I like Void and use it on some of my machines but I think a non-systemd recommendation is a poor choice for a Linux newcomer.
Sorry, but what kind of “review” is this? It’s a reskin of Ubuntu, using Gnome Shell with some (admittedly cool!) extensions. You could do a deep dive and review what sets Pop#/OS’ apart, but this piece is just fluff.
Thanks for sharing the article raymii,
I like Pop a lot, and am considering using it for my “Main” OS at some point. For the last year or so I’ve been using Pop in VMs, and I have many machines configured very nicely for development and other tasks.
I’m just reluctant to give up my Arch installs, because they’re dialed in and stable. I have a main workstation I do a lot of work with that dual boots Arch and Windows10, and my laptop runs only Arch. That’s about 90% of my computing.
But I have several VMs and I have an old laptop running Pop. They’ve all been incredibly stable. So much so that my next laptop will be a System76, just to have that matched OS + hardware like Apple has going on, but cheaper.
Would love to hear other’s experience with it.
No problem, I follow your site via RSS, didn’t know your were active on here yourself. But it’s always nicer if other people post your articles (at least, IMHO).
I’m doubting now between Mint and Pop, your review helps. I’m disliking ubuntu and their snap choices, but do want the hardware support, ease of use and a recent KDE version…
I haven’t used Mint for a few years now, but I once loved Mint for the same reasons as Pop. I had a big project and had zero time for “tinkering”. I installed Mint on my machine to complete the job and it ran solid for months. It just stayed out of my way. I was thoroughly impressed. Later my “tinkering” need started to kick in and I began to use Arch. I also spent years with Gentoo for the same reason.
Now that you mention it, I may have to pay Mint another visit.
This is probably not the right place to ask this, but I have not been taking this distribution seriously for the longest time, because of the wierd name and it’s punctiuation. It was only after I started seeing it everywhere, and realized it was developed by System 76 that I realized that this isn’t a one-man weekend project.
Was the name ever explained? Or is it just me that was confused by this?
They said it’s because it popped into existence or something.
Yes it’s an awful name.