Our main PC stopped working a few months back, and on Monday night/Tuesday morning I built me of our son's cast-off PC parts (not fast enough for gaming, faster than what I had before) into the old PC case, then tried to get it working.
The 2 hard drives that both had Windows 8 installed worked, one more evenually than the other, and both required re-activation due to be placed in new hardware arrangements. The openSUSE Linux disc also kinda worked, but couldn't see the network or the internet. Not a winner. I tried installing on top to repair the old install, and that finished around 3.30am after a couple of hours downloading updates etc. The install medium could access the internet, but the final installed version refused. Bums.
So having installed an evaluation version of that same openSUSE Linux on the old 256GB disc tht had one of the versions of W8, I was reminded of some of the more irritating aspects of that OS. Frustratingly, it failed to find the NAS that was on the network, and generally behaved as though the network didn't really exist - I've never seen a Linux OS manage a connection when the network manager is off and there's no network connection listed - even though firefox and YAST were happily talking to the internet. I was probably doing something dumb, but this isn't rocket science, and I've set up network connections often enough before.
Digging through my stack of previously used distros I came across several for Pear Linux. Pear 8 was the last of the pearversions, and it's as slick and polished as anything that came out of Cupertino. And very dead, because the guy who created Pear Linux shut down when he was bought out and hired by another company. There are no updates available, not even for the Ubuntu OS under the Pear desktop. Dead end.
Pear 7 was much less pleasing, and generally a bit messy compared to 8 (IIRC 6 was better than 7) and although there WERE a few updates from Ubuntu repos and even a couple of pear updates lurking online, it wasn't enough to have any kind of future.
So Pear is dead, for now.
Also in the disc box was a copy of Fedora 20 Gnome (still current) and Mint 17 Mate edition (sounds like a condom).
Fedora got put aside fairly quickly. I've tried it several times: it always seems like a great idea, looks good, Gnome behaving in the way Gnome does, which is workable if you don't mind thinking outside the box a little.But then there's always the problem of finding repos with codecs that will install properly, printer drivers and software addins that work the way I want. So back in the box it went.
Leaving Mint Mate.
Mate was intended as a replacement for the old Gnome 2 desktop environment that was ditched by Gnome developers, and that Linux luddites everywhere mourned over. Icons are crude and use simpe primary colours, menus aren't slick, but instead are large and coarsely populated. But OTOH it works fine. Including downloading updates, it took about 25min to install from DVD. It recognised the NAS, found drivers for the Samsung 1210 mono laser printer (really handy for music for church, Christmas fliers etc) and was ready for work very promptly. Given the pedestrian and aged nature of the hard drive it's running off, I was quite impressed with how snappy it is. I've not doe the DVD playback test yet, but have no reason to believe the people at Mint won't have sorted that aspect too.
So I'm a lttle torn at the moment.
I could carry on with Mint Mate for a bit (and probably will) or I coul install Linux Lite OS like I have on the little laptop (lightning quick, lacks finesse and some of the tools I like) openSUSE could be used again, though I'd like a change, or I could try Mint KDE, although that has always lacked the polish of other KDE-native distros.
So we'll have some wait-and-see pudding, but I'd just like something solid that won't break with every other update and that I can keep using for a year or more without trouble. I don't actually *like* having to rebuild every few weeks any more.