Linux distro roundabout

Inasmuch as my computer had been flaky since the motherboard, the graphics card, and the OS were replaced in one go last year (and if I now replace the case and the disks, will it be my grandfather’s computer?) and as I had some time where there were no urgent deliverables and no conferences, I decided to replace the OS with a different version of Linux. Since the computer would lock up with either the Xorg process or interrupts taking 100% of a core and nothing else able to run, I was looking for it to be a problem with the OS (free) rather than the hardware (not).

Three days, six-or-so Linux distributions, and many installs later, I’m back on the original OS but with a different X driver. So far it’s been stable, but there had previously been times when it was stable for days on end between the times when it would crash with extreme rapidity.

The distributions I tried were:

  • SuSE 11.04 — Claims improved multihead support, which is why I started on the reinstalls, but the initial install reliably froze minutes after setting the display to span both monitors. Reinstalled again with the Nvidia drivers, it worked okay but the fonts were nearly unreadable and it didn’t include some of the programs that I rely on such as backupninja. Nor does it ship with xmlroff.
  • Ubuntu 10.10 — Wouldn’t install, failing one of two different ways each time I tried it.
  • Xubuntu 10.10 — Wouldn’t install
  • Debian 6.0 — Installed okay (several times), comes with xmlroff, didn’t lock up any of the times it was on the machine, and comes with many of the programs that I’m used to, but the purity of its approach meant that it didn’t come with everything that I wanted, and I lost patience with trying to coax Skype and the like to install.
  • Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 3 — Installed with an error message then wouldn’t boot after installation.
  • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS — The beginning and the end of the cycle (and a short interlude in the middle). If it stays stable with the different X driver, I’ll keep it, otherwise I try Ubuntu 11.04 after that comes out later this month.