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My Thoughts On Pop OS 20.04 After One Month

A little over a month ago, I installed Pop OS 20.04 on both my laptop and my desktop, so I thought I’d write a post on how I’ve found it so far.

I’ve been using Linux for around 10 years now; most of that has been Ubuntu based distributions, but I also spent a couple of years on Fedora too. In recent years I’ve flipped from being a distro hopper to preferring stable systems that I know intimately well.

My desktop, for example, has gone from running Pop OS 18.04, right the way through to the current 20.04 release. Because Pop follows the Ubuntu 6 month release cycle, that’s 4 major OS upgrades.

Throughout that time, I haven’t had a single issue with Pop OS, which I think is a testament to the stability of modern Linux distributions.

Anyway, on with my thoughts…

Tiling Windows

The new hotness with Pop OS 20.04 is the embedded tiling window manager. At first, I had a lot of fun using the TWM, but to be honest, after a week or so the novelty wore off and I reverted to alt+tab through my open windows.

Pop Tiling Windows

If you’re into TWMs then Pop’s implementation is incredibly easy to use – just toggle the switch in the system tray and the OS does the rest.

What I have found though, is that some windows go a bit wonky when automatically resizing. They either overlap one another, or leave gaps as shown between my terminal and file browser in the image above.

Coinsidering this is only an intial release of Pop’s tiling window manager, I’d say that’s a pretty minor issue that I’m sure will be fixed in future updates.

Pop Shop

Pop doesn’t use the Ubuntu repositories. Instead they use their own which, from what I can see at least, appear to be a little more bleeding edge than the Ubuntu repos.

There’s no snap support out of the box with Pop, but it’s trivial to add. What they have instead is Flatpak support. Personally, I’ve never really bothered with Flatpaks because they’re just so huge.

For example, the Telegram desktop app as a Flatpak is 783MB, whereas the DEB is just 21MB. That’s a massive difference!

I understand that this is because Flatpaks basically come with an entire Linux filesystem embedded, but I still feel like it’s overkill for my needs.

As I understand it, the Pop OS team have teamed up with the guys over at Elementary OS and are both using the same front end for their package management.

I prefer Pop Shop to Ubuntu’s Software Centre, but I’m not sure why. It just feels more slick and better put together. Overall, I just prefer the user experience on the Pop Shop.

Look & Feel

I had Ubuntu 20.04 of my laptop for a little while, just to try it out really. It was nice, performant and it looked good, especially with the new Yaru theme. But to be honest, compared to Pop OS, I think Ubuntu looks pretty dated.

Many Linux users don’t really care about the aesthetics of their desktop; preferring usability over looks. I get that, but a consistent and high quality UI/UX is very important to me. I spend a lot of time at my computers, so I want them to look as good as they function.

I have to say, Pop delivers on that front. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Ubuntu is bad. Far from it actually – it’s a fantastic OS. All I’m saying is that I prefer Pop experience.

Performance

I haven’t had any significant issues with Pop on either my laptop or my desktop. I do get the occasional locked application, but Gnome seems to handle them a lot better than it used to. No more bombing out the entire session and starting again, which is nice.

I’m writing this post on my laptop, which is a 2nd generation Thinkpad X1 Carbon. I have a terminal, system monitor, the files app and Firefox with 5 tabs open.

I also have Synology Drive, PIA VPN and Keybase running in the system tray.

I’m currently using around 50% of my RAM (4GB) and 15% of my CPU. So there’s plenty of power in reserve if I need to do anything more taxing on my laptop.

Honestly though, I don’t do much more than writing code, writing posts and playing the occasional games on here, like 0 A.D. and Minecraft – both of which Pop handles perfectly well.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve been using Pop OS for a couple years now, and I’m still very happy with it. System 76 continue to add features and improvements to Pop OS that are really making it stand out from the crowd.

Personally, I can’t see myself removing Pop from my devices any time soon – I’m super happy with this distro.

If you’re a user of Pop OS too, you can sign up to support them by donating $12/year. I’ve signed up. They have a link on their website.

Finally, yes, I know it’s actually written Pop!_OS, but all those exclamations and underscores would have been annoying to type out through this post. 🙂

This post is day 24 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit https://100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

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Comments

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  1. A pretty shallow review. Not to mention that all the eye-candy can be easily achieved on almost any mainstream Linux distro (try Ubuntu 20.04 + i3, for example). Really, aside from Clear Linux, which actually tries to optimize and squeeze performance out of the hardware, all major Linux distros are pretty much the same. Note: I’m not affiliated with Clear Linux, nor advocating it.

    1. At what point in this post do I use the word “review”? This isn’t a review, it’s just my thoughts after using for a month or so.

  2. You seem to confuse snapping and tiling.Window snapping happens when you carry a window to very edge of the screen and it fills that half of the screen.Window tiling is displaying every window in a workspace in a grid like fashion.If there is only 1 window, it fills entire screen.When we open 1 more window, 2 windows take half of the screen and not overlap.TWM avoids overlapping and utilizes entire screen space by resizing every window automatically.See i3wm, bspwm, dwm …@MFAZ @kev

  3. I did a clean install of 20.04 on my laptop and after 1 week of usage, everything was taking 3 to 5 times more time. I installed it on SSD and start experiencing HDD speeds after very short time.I had slow downs with earlier versions of Pop but they weren’t this aggressive. There is a long way until can provide similar experience to their devices running on every device that can run .I have a Lenovo IdeaPad and stays fast.@kev

  4. @danny @kev if you are interested in differences between package managers and know only APT, Nix/NixOS may be interesting for you too. It does things differently than all the APT/RPM/Pacman but yet shares libs effectively and allows multiple different versions of libs to coexist in the same system.

  5. @danny @kev and if I know right both KDE and GNOME are inherited from the Freedesktop runtime so they also shares some part of files (libs and resources). Here ostree deduplication comes into play. Which means no file is stored twice. It is content-addressable storage.

  6. @danny @kev it is less efficient then apt. Flatpak apps run completely independent from the system libs. A runtime is the base system of an app. But there are many runtimes and the most popular are three: GNOME, KDE (it is used for many Qt apps too) and Freedesktop runtimes. LibreOffice uses Freedesktop and Telegram uses KDE. For example, Firefox and LibreOffice run on the same Freedesktop runtime so the answer is yes for them.https://docs.flatpak.org/en/latest/basic-concepts.html
    Basic concepts — Flatpak documentation

  7. @konosuppa @kev how does that work? Do you mean that two different apps – say Telegram and Libre Office for example – would share some code? What would the code handle? Forgive my n00b question. I’ve only used APT before so this is new to me.

  8. @kev > For example, the Telegram desktop app as a Flatpak is 783MB, whereas the DEB is just 21MB. That’s a massive difference!Flatpak uses shared runtimes which are huge. Graphical app stores often shows total download size as a size of application. This confuse a lot of people. As before any flatpak app is installed no runtime is insalled as well. The app store shows sizes of every app that big. But actually they are not.

  9. @kev I like thet Pop Shop too! It’s really user-friendly. Have you experienced any stability issues with it? I tried the new Pop OS out too and the Pop Shop would freeze on a regular basis, sadly. 🙁

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