Is distro hopping a legitimate hobby?

I have this constant urge to install new distros not because I need them and not because I think they will be better but just to experience them first hand. It’s certainly fun, educational in a strictly trivial sort if way, and potentially useful. I see a lot of you tube channels doing this which is somewhat reinforcing my behaviour as normal. So, it it a hobby?

Yep, i think you could consider it as a hobby. Many things can be a hobby, so why not this?

Agreed. It can not only be considered a hobby, it’s a great learning experience for those of us that are new to Linux and want to learn more about the infinite possibilities offered by different distros.

Distro hopping is a lot of wasted time. The are only two items defining a distro:

  • the desktop; gnome; kde; xfce etc.
  • the package manager; apt; zyper; dnf etc.

All distro are are a variation on these two things. OK they use different bling bling, like; wall papers; icon; different fonts or colors, but that’s all.
If you insist on wasting your time, just install the distros in e.g. Virtualbox :slight_smile:
You can even keep them and compare them directly each on a different workspace.

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Interesting point of view, I could see trainspotting or stamp collecting (actually any hobby) as a waste of time if its something I don’t want to do. This is exactly why I asked the question, for some people its an obvious yes, for others an obvious no. Thanks for your contribution.


I disagree. Take MX-Linux as an example. That team builds it own tools for things like building persistent live images, and utilities. I think this helps set MX-Linux apart from other distro’s.

Also, most people that distro hop do install the different distro’s as VM’s, or at least that is my experience of what most distro hoppers do.


I don’t distro hop but I do scout distros in VMs.

It’s a great way to window shop all the creative ways an OS can be set up and if I like something i’ll usually add it to my own distro. I’m on Fedora and the PS1 in my .bashrc comes from Debian for example.

Actually hopping would be a lot more immersive though.

On package management I think PatPlusLinux said it best…


Distro scouting is a fantastic description. Hopping does somewhat imply the main distro is being replaced. Scouting is a great word.

While yes I can add features to my own system I am only likely to know those being used elsewhere. Only by scouting did I discover Plank for example.

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Nope, it is a disease…get help immediately

Isn’t it the case with a lot of hobbies, especially for those not into it ?

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hoping distros is a great way to get started, but I found it got boring after a while. Also full on switching out my main system has never felt like a great idea. Working in VMs or on a separate computer that that I dont mind starting over on has been better for me. I think its a mistake to believe that the package manager and the DE are the only things that can change about a distro. Try using tiny core and tell me that it functions anywhere near the way you might expect a general distro to work :sob:

Every distro allows changing DEs, the only things that defines a distro is really the package manager and packages in the repo

Any Distro allows you to install another desktop environment ??

So compare how many steps required to remove Gnome from Ubuntu so you can install another GTK WM.

Or the number of steps for removing Cinnamon plus Mint Login from Linux Mint before installing KDE.

Then compare that to installing GTK WM or KDE on vanilla Debian or Arch.

I remember installing Xfce on KaOS which totally borked the Login manager which rendered the distro unbootable.

So not all distros are equal.

There are so many tiny details in a distro beyond the obvious. It is these which I seek to find when I explore a new distro. Without discovering these details how could I apply them to a different distro. Take the “Pop Shell” autotiling feature, Manjaro has this as well but in Manjaro it doesn’t quite work properly, I tried this a while ago and have forgotten the details , it was something like windows were loading not going full screen but were instead half screen. So even bugs are different in different distros let alone the way features work. No doubt Manjaro would have fixed this but now and that’s another different, the rate of change.

Indeed, every distro has it’s own unique things to consider, discover, rant about or adore.
Myself, i’d rather scout a new distro in a VM, rather than installing it right away.
With so many distros out there these days, one could spend half a lifetime checking them out.

What rich ecosystem we have. Somehow i feel sorry for those locked in windows or apple…

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To the defense of the mentioned distros here. They are not really intended that way but Arch or Debian are.

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I always keep a partition available for hopping, last one was Debian Sid with KDE, what a trip. It was my first install of KDE, now I am using an Arch install with KDE along side my Arch with XFCE and Xubuntu. Now I think I am down a partition, Win10 came with this refurb laptop on the M.2 or NVMe drive. That is now the only partition I have left. Not sure what to replace Windows with. KDE though…