The Quest for the Best GNOME 3 distribution

End of last year, I’ve quit Ubuntu, after more than 7 years, to find out what was the best GNOME 3 Linux distribution. I’ve selected three major distributions: Ubuntu 11.10, Opensuse 12.1 and Fedora 16. I spent more than a month with each. Here’s what I’ve found and learned.

What I’m expecting from a distribution

GNOME 3, made of easy

Before asking yourself what is your distribution of choice, maybe you should start by clarifying what you really expect from a distribution. In fact, the list is quite short for me:

  1. I expect a good GNOME 3 experience, as close as possible from upstream.
  2. I want an easy way to install/manage software.
  3. I want all the software easily available and upgradable. This includes proprietary codecs, flash plugin, games, etc.
  4. I want the latest versions of those software and quickly after they are released.
  5. Be easily installable.
  6. Good default: the less I’ve to do when reinstalling, the better.
  7. Other than that, stay out of my way. No specific configuration tool. GNOME should handle that.

But that’s not all. Being a Linux evangelist, I install Linux for a lot of people. Which add completely different requirements.

  1. There should be a stable version with a long support time so I upgrade those people as rarely as possible.
  2. The stable version should be stable and as trouble free as possible. This include incremental upgrade and they should be prevented to make a complete distribution upgrade (because it is never trouble free).
  3. The stable version should be smart enough to update important things like hardware drivers, major versions of Firefox, etc.
  4. The installation should come with a selection of pretty wallpaper, good default, most needed software. (the less I’ve to do when installing, the less I forget something which may block them as soon as I leave the room).
  5. Installation process have to look sweet and requires the minimal input from me. I will be installing it when drinking tea with them.