Richard Bucker

Pop_os Review of Reviews

Posted at — Jul 7, 2021

What is pop_os? It’s stock ubuntu desktop linux with a facelift. Why stock ubuntu? That’s because system76 deploys ubuntu server on it’s server hardware and it makes for a consistent experience for experienced sysadmins and noobs.

Since the latest releas 21.04 there have been an unusual number of reviews. I imagine that’s partly because of the youtube echo chamber and partly because youtubers are always looking for a way to make a buck. (side hustles abound).

tldr;

VMs, Containers, system orchestration and coordination … it’s frightful place. I have been doing all manner of orchestration for almost 25 years. My threads get wrapped around the axle when presented with the likes of puppet, ansible etc… all of this customization makes for a junk yard. Over the years I tried many different approackes. Perl, python and ruby had THIS project approach for switching version stacks. And then later came this configuration as code. Some of it was easy to reason about and some less. Why do I mention this?

In my lab I have… 7 active computers. 1 laptop is my main desktop which drives 5 displays. I have a standby desktop. 3 bare metal servers and 1 VMware server. My main desktop is ChromeOS because all I need is a browser and a terminal session. From time to time I need a proper app that is satisfied by android apps or linux. I like the security and compartmentalization. Boot times and upgrade cadence. (my client replaces her laptop once every 5 years or so and it takes almost 12 months to complete; I replace my desktop in 15 minutes).

My standby desktop is a pop_os instance. It’s stock and all I have done to it is install the chrome browser (which is questionable) because this machine is there just in case something else goes very wrong. like a network config fails or a bad firewall/switch rule.

In the VM I have 2 desktops. An additional pop_os for experimentation and an Intel ClearLinux. I used the desktop of ClearLinux in order to VPN into a customer site because the nmicli was not well known to me and although the GUI for VPN was easier to understand there were also some other features that demanded a browser and then there was the rabid 2FA and browser redirects.

tldr;

I think pop_os has missed an opportunity. System76 should have created a ChromeOS-like operating system. Something that made the user experience similar to ChromeOS.