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Setting Up the Ideal Linux Desktop

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Linux

After years of authorized and -- I admit -- the occasional unauthorized but non-tampering snooping, I'm overdue to offer reciprocity. I'm not naive enough to throw open my machine for everyone to examine online, but, over the years, I have developed several pages of hard-earned notes that I follow and revise whenever I buy and set up a new computer.

Since I'm currently mulling buying another computer in the spring, I'm sharing them now. I figure that many other people share my insatiable curiosity, and, like me, can find a benefit or two by seeing how someone else approaches the task of preparing a computer to run with their favorite free operating system.

Selecting hardware and general setup

If I were doing nothing more than writing and web work, I wouldn't buy a new computer. Instead, I'd get a refurbished two or three year old computer from Free Geek Vancouver, saving me cash and making me environmentally responsible while giving me all the computing power I need.

However, I occasionally do graphics work or review software that strains system resources, so I try to have at least one reasonably up to date computer. I always buy a customized workstation from a small specialty store (every major urban center should have a couple) after researching GNU/Linux hardware compatibility. Then, when it's assembled, I take a live CD -- preferably from my distribution of choice -- and test the assembled computer at the store before I take it home. These days, hardware compatibility is less and less of an issue, but, by making this effort, I sidestep any problems that might lessen the joy of a new machine.

Annoyingly, I don't have the same option for a customized machine if I buy a laptop.

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    A few weeks ago, Mark Shuttleworth, now CEO of Canonical, announced that the Unity desktop shell would be abandoned in favour of GNOME. While we were told that GNOME would be used by Ubuntu 18.04, we weren't sure whether it'd be included in Ubuntu 17.10, the next release. Following a meeting on IRC, we now know that GNOME will ship by default in the next release.
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