Pop!_OS came out of nowhere and overnight everyone was running it. It was the wunderkind of Linux distros. The darling of Reddit. The slayer of DistroWatch. Maybe I’m exaggerating slightly. Pop!_OS has quickly gained popularity among Linux fans though and for good reasons.
Default Dark Theme
One thing I am not good is theming. Its the single quickest way to make me distro hop. Pop!_OS comes with two great themes by default. While the light theme is nice, the dark theme nails it. Icons are modern and flat. The color scheme works well with it. Its not the dark theme I would want on a phone but it looks great on my laptop.
It would be redundant to show off the Pop!_OS desktop again but I really want to. The Tiling feature takes a new open windows and squeezes it in among the other open windows. It will focus on the last selected window first. Its basically a short cut for window placement. When I’m multitasking, it saves me time from arranging the windows.
I download a lot of DEBs. Some are for daily drivers but a lot are to test. I can line up DEBs to install or even uninstall. Gnome Software, Discover, Ubuntu Software Center, and all of the other modern app stores can handle packages but they’re relatively slow and bloated compared to a standalone tool. If it looks familiar, you’re probably remembering Ubuntu’s Gdebi. While similar, Eddy handles multiple DEBs and is more reliable.
Balena Etcher is the most widely recommended USB flashing tool available. Why? Because Popsicle isn’t available anywhere besides Pop!_OS. There are other quality flashers but Popsicle is simple and fast. The name doesn’t hurt either.
Graphics Drivers and Power Management
My Thinkpad T540p comes with a hybrid Nvidia Intel graphics system. Very few Linux distros support hybrid graphics out of the box. Pop!_OS happens to be one of them. The extent of setting up a graphics card with Pop!_OS is selecting the correct ISO to download. Pop!_OS ships AMD/Intel and Nvidia ISOs with the appropriate drivers included. After installing the system, I just have to select between Integrated, Nvidia, Hybrid, and Compute graphics. Integrated is Intel. Hybrid relies on Intel until more performance is needed then Nvidia is utilized. I also have the option to “Launch with Dedicated Graphics Card.” Compute uses the integrated Intel card for rendering and Nvidia is available as a compute node.
If it wasn’t enough that Pop!_OS includes graphics drivers and sets up the graphics menu, Pop!_OS includes TLP Power Management by default. Balanced is the default. I switch to High Performance anytime the laptop is plugged in. Battery life on Pop!_OS is subjectively better than Fedora or OpenSUSE.
Ubuntu At Heart But Not Soul
Pop!_OS gets billed as just another Ubuntu derivative and that’s not really fair. While I don’t think Linux needs anymore distros, I can’t argue when the distro is well made, user focused, and supported. System76 has a vested interest in the quality of the distro as well as the user experience. They are in the business of selling Linux computers and ensuring customer happiness will only help the bottom line.
Ubuntu gets a lot of (deserved) flak. I think Chris Titus called it the devil. I wouldn’t go that far but Canonical has been fickle with Ubuntu. One day we’re hearing about convergence and Ubuntu Touch and Ubuntu phones and… The next day Unity is dead and they’re a cloud company. Ubuntu is a solid base but Canonical isn’t really a consumer focused company anymore. System76 is.
This is totally not relevant to the distro but whatever… I’m five and I like stickers.
System76 has built a beautiful distro with a great theme, smart software choices, and helpful features. I’m not a big fan of distro hopping or arguing for a “best” distro (check out my list of the best distros for 2020) but Pop!_OS is worth installing.
Do you run Pop!_OS? What’s your favorite feature?