Is Distrobox the end of distro-hopping?

distro box

Lately I've been reading the news and watching a lot of videos about distro box, that kind of Linux Susbystem for Linux that allows us to install software from one distribution into another. On occasions I have read how it is claimed that it is the end of the distro hopping, but is it really that big of a deal? In my opinion, no, and I am going to explain the reasons why I believe that this obsession with trying options will not change.

El distro hopping It is basically going from one Linux distribution to another hoping that the next one is the good one. What you have to take into account is why we do distro-hopping, and if one of the reasons is because in one distribution we can install more software than in another. Even with a lot of tweaking, what can be done with a Linux-based system can be done with another, so, and here I have to make it clear that this is my opinion, things will remain the same.

Distrobox allows you to use software from one distribution in another...

… little more. There is many Linux-based options and they are all different from each other. I think the main reason why we abandon a distribution is because it fails us or there is something we don't quite like. For example, some hardware, such as WiFi, that does not work on our computer or the graphical environment that we believe is not what we are looking for.

I did a lot of distro-hopping when Ubuntu switched to Unity, and my first destinations were precisely other -buntus. I went through Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary, later Ubuntu MATE... and all of them They had exactly the same software available. I was looking for a relatively nice desktop that didn't weigh a hundred pounds like Unity, so Distrobox wouldn't have helped me at all.

Of course, it allows us to choose what we like the most without losing anything.

What Distrobox does do is that let's not miss anything. The best example that comes to mind is SteamOS: by default it is immutable, and in theory you can only install popular software from Flathub. If we add an Ubuntu image, we can install and use Kodi from its repositories, FFmpeg or Imagemagick without problems. We can also browse the net and install any DEB we find, so the Steam Deck would have a system 90-95% the same as a traditional Linux one. Or when in the past Kodi crashed due to Python version, Distrobox would have made things easier.

But what Distrobox does not do is include a kernel that suits our team better. In fact, one of the functions it has is that all container operating systems use the same kernel than the host.

Other examples of choosing what we like best without missing anything would include being on Debian Stable and installing the latest versions of GIMP or LibreOffice without installing another system, or have AUR on Linux Mint. We can also take advantage of all the Kali Linux tools and do pentesting without having to use a Live Session. All from our favorite system.

Without doing anything complicated, we can have a more conservative operating system and any software that exists in Linux or just the opposite, and that is the magic that Distrobox does. But magic is not the same as miracle.

The operating system will always be the same

The operating system will always be the same, and although there are ways to virtualize the graphical environment, this will also always be the same. If we like Fedora, with GNOME, and there is something that does not fit between its operating system or graphical environment and our device, Distrobox is not going to fix it. Yes, it is possible that an application in another format works better for us, but this would be solving a minor problem, not a more important one.

So no, Distrobox is not the end of distro-hopping. It is a tool that will reduce the itching that makes us jump, but it will not eliminate them if they are strong. Furthermore, with how non-conformist some of us are, the strange thing is that we have been in the same distro for years...


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