Curse of the semi power user

I am beginning to feel this curse with the choice of distributions available today. Let me start with a little background information. I have been a regular Linux user on desktops and servers since about 2006. In that time I have mostly worked with Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS. I have had the pleasure of building a desktop from the ground up using a Debian net install CD. I have setup other users with Ubuntu and Fedora on desktops and netbooks. I have installed new servers and re-purposed retired ones. In short, I can be considered a semi power user, still not among the experts but a bit better than an average user. And this is where the curse strikes most often.

From my experience, a regular user is quite happy using Ubuntu on their computer. I was one such user in 2006. Ubuntu has gotten better with every release, supporting more hardware and scenarios. In fact, there’s no question in my mind that Ubuntu is a really good distributions for new and casual users. Such users do not have the ability or inclination to dive deep into their OS. So any defaults chosen by the Ubuntu team work very well for them.

I, on the other hand, have gotten so used to the CLI, troubleshooting, customization, etc., that I am not able to function without tinkering with my setup. I have to take charge of the install, from the desktop environment to the iptables firewall. I am no longer happy to use my computer to do some work; managing my computer is my work. I like to customize the look and feel, change default applications for various tasks, and basically make the OS into something I really want to use.

This has been my curse for a few years now. I no longer have the ability to simply enjoy the efforts of various teams all over the world in making a usable Linux desktop. I have tried to use Mageia as my desktop a few times but always find it confusing to stick with. Should I use Mageia Control Center (a really good piece of software for desktop users) to do everything or should I learn/use equivalent CLI commands? Should I let Shorewall handle firewall configuration duties or should I muck with iptables directly? I am ruined by my earlier experiences and quest for knowledge.

This is my situation today: I want a desktop that just works without much intervention. I want to complete my work rather than play around with customizations and such. But by force of habit I always want to go beyond simple desktop use. This problem is compounded by the fact that I still work with Linux servers almost every day where I get to make things the way I want them to be.

What is the solution to this problem? Do I give up trying to use Mageia, Pinguy OS, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, etc.? Or do I curb my enthusiasm and force myself to just use the OS as it was intended/designed to be used? I have tried to find a middle ground but can’t stick to it. I always end up with Debian or Fedora or even Ubuntu just because they let me get my hands dirty. In the long run, though, I really need to get comfortable with simply using the desktop. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to do it without much effort.

5 Responses to Curse of the semi power user

  1. lefty.crupps says:

    i feel ya, man, which is why I wanted to create a custom Debian-based KDE-eatured distro. Unfortunately, doing that on the Testing repo doesn’t work well and I always end up putting the project on hold, and then starting over when I get back to it.

  2. sillyperson says:

    HAve you tried Arch or Gentoo? They tend to be the distributions from for more power users.

  3. Jim Ball says:

    Keep doing what your doing. They change so much over the years, It’s good to learn what ones are best for the individual, and that particular machine. Always experiment and learn.

  4. Pingback: Links 20/9/2011: GeeXboX 2.0, Birthday for Mageia | Techrights

  5. salparadise says:

    Try Slackware – it will either take you down roads you don’t yet know exist and fulfil that “tinkering itch”, or it will put you off having to hand configure everything for life.

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