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Friday, December 08, 2017

Pop!_ OS

In the middle of 2017, System76 the company best known for selling Linux laptops that come pre-loaded with Ubuntu is now pushing their own operating system. According to System76’s development approach, Pop!_OS is created for the people who use their computers to create things, particularly in computer science and maker fields. I am not really sure what that means. Are they saying Pop!_OS was made only for developers?

When installing Pop!_ OS on my none System76 PC  (ASRock AB350M Pro4 motherboard) the first thing that caught my eye during setup was the user account creation.  Unlike a lot of other OSes that will take whatever password you give it, the setup demands a password that is at least reasonably strong.On My first boot up what I found was an Ubuntu-derived distribution, using a System76-themed GNOME desktop, and not really that much more. Pop!_ OS is based on Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark and using the GNOME desktop environment. It includes the usual tools found on a default Ubuntu desktop 17.10 that comes with the newest set of software available: Linux 4.13, Firefox 56.0, LibreOffice 5.4, GNOME 3.26, Driverless printing and a lot more. Just like any other non-LTS Ubuntu release. Ubuntu 17.10 is the last stable release before the 18.04 long-term-support release.

However, I did notice some key differences:

  1. The Pop!_OS community is in its infancy.
  2. Pop!_OS cuts back on the number of programs preinstalled.
  3. In Pop!_OS, AppCenter is known as the Pop!_Shop.
  4. Pop!_OS  provides a separate version for machines with certain graphics cards. 
  5. Pop!_OS  is defaulting to Wayland. That can be a problem for people who rely on the NVIDIA proprietary driver.

The nice thing is, System76 tweaked the Adapta GTK theme and Papirus icon set to create their own Pop theme and icons. I really like their brown, blue, and orange interface that looks much better than Canonical Ltd., ubuntu gnome desktop look and feel. I've been using Pop!_OS as my Linux environment for almost a month now and I spent a lot of time playing Torchlight II, Never Alone and encoding DVDs with Handbrake.

Final Thoughts

Pop OS is very comfortable for daily use. As far as I can see Pop!_OS  is pretty much a re-branded Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark. Unlike Ubuntu, Pop!_OS comes in two different versions, one for Intel /AMD graphics chipsets, and those with Nvidia graphics chipsets. The NVIDIA image comes with the proprietary NVIDIA drivers pre-installed. The Intel/AMD image is 1.75GB and the NVIDIA image is 1.91GB. You won't find Ubuntu Dock on the desktop. It uses the default Gnome application menu, which seems faster too me.  There are no games, photo managers, music managers or graphics programs preinstalled, but you can install more software later via Pop! Shop. 

Hardware used in this review

My physical test equipment for this review was with the following specifications:

Processor: AMD RYZEN 3 1200 4-Core CPU
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 500Gb 2.5 SSD+WB Blue 1TB SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM
Memory: 4GB of RAM
Networking: Realtek 8111GR
Display: AMD RX 560 4GB


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