Written on 2019-06-03
First of all, this won't be a technical, benchmark-filled, comparison-table-ridden review. It's just my two cents about the Pop!_OS Linux distribution. With that out of the way...
Pop-bang-underscore-OS (what a weird name) is a GNU/Linux operating system, described by the company behind it, System76, as:
an OS for the software developer, maker, and computer science professional who uses their computer as a tool to discover and create.
A better Ubuntu?
Why did I say "Ubuntu"? Because Pop!_OS is based on the popular purple-orange Linux distribution. Now, back to the question...
I'm sure it can be. For some. Maybe even more chances for that when running on System76 hardware. Why is that, you might ask? Well, from what I heard, it seems that the guys at System76 write special optimizations for their devices in Pop!_OS so that users get a better experience. It works pretty similar to what Apple does: because Apple works on both the hardware and the operating system of their machines, they can bring a better tailored experience to their users. System76 looks like it's trying to achieve that, and more. Their operating system is running better on their hardware, but is not restricted to that! I ran Pop!_OS on my Dell G5, and it worked pretty well. Why not just plain good, or perfect?
For the most part the system was great - smooth animations, fast feedback, cool custom Gnome theming - but there was a little thing that made me dump Pop!_OS (for now; I'll still check from time to time to see if there have been any improvements). It was freezing every few minutes. I couldn't figure out why. From time to time, the whole desktop environment would just hang for a few seconds then go back to normal. It wasn't a mortal wound, but rather a very annoying mosquito that was just hanging around and checking my blood's taste every now and then.
I think that's the only thing that I don't like about Pop!_OS.
Let's quickly talk about a few things that I find great and I can remember:
- installer experience - refreshing and beautiful. One thing I didn't like: it wants big EFI partitions. My 100M didn't satisfy the installer so I couldn't try it (again) on my laptop while dual booting with Windows 10.
- look and feel - You know the saying "smooth as a baby bottom"? Should be replaced with "smooth as Pop!_OS" (assuming you have enough resources to run (and not "barely run") Gnome on your machine). The colors are nice, but that depends on taste.
- separating OS images by video drivers - When you click the download link on Pop!_OS' page you will be greeted with two download options: INTEL/AMD and NVIDIA. If you own a laptop with a Nvidia GPU like I do, you'll want to download the NVIDIA variant, which comes preinstalled with the proprietary drivers and saves you from installing them manually after entering the system.
- easy switch Intel and Nvidia GPUs on Optimus laptops - the power menu comes with a nice addition: the ability to quickly switch the active GPU. Note that using the Nvidia discrete GPU is a more power-draining state and it tends to get quite hot (64-67 degrees Celsius on the desktop), comparing to running on Intel (I don't have any measurements but I can say to you that I can hold the laptop on my lap and I don't need to worry about frying my genitals).
(screenshot taken on a live system as I couldn't install due to small EFI partition)
- encryption by default - when you're in a rush and you keep clicking the option to get to the next step of the installation, you'll end up with an encrypted system. Encryption is optional, but is enabled by default in the installer.
- auto HiDPI settings - when booting the live installer on a laptop with a 4K 15.6 inches display, Pop!_OS automatically detects it as HiDPI and adjusts settings accordingly
Okay, but can it run Crysis?
Didn't try, sorry. But I managed to install and play Age of Empires 2 HD through Steam's Proton (Steam Play) and Starcraft 2 through Lutris. To be honest with you, I didn't go past the campaign menu in Starcraft, not because it didn't work (it seemed to work fine), but because, I closed it to play AoE, which worked flawlessly.
What about you?
What's your opinion on Pop-were-these-!_-really-necessary-OS? If you haven't tried it, do you think you would?