Trying out Pop!_OS

Thought I should record this somewhere. I decided to try out Pop!_OS today. I had an old computer lying around, and I purchased a monitor arm recently (there was a deal on Amazon) so I hooked up the two. This old computer had a regular hard drive and upon the first install I got fed up of listening to the hard drive chug along and so put in an old Kingston SSD I had lying around and installed Pop!_OS on that instead.

Funnily enough I did the initial install on Friday the 13th and as soon as Pop!_OS booted up the light in my room fused out. So I left it for the day and tried the SSD install today (Happy Diwali!).

The reason I tried Pop!_OS is because this is a 4k monitor and initially I tried hooking up with my Manjaro XFCE running laptop. Things didn’t look too good (possibly because I was trying to use both the laptop screen and the 4k? or XFCE doesn’t have much support for 4k monitors?) and I figured I should try Ubuntu as that’s mainstream and sure enough will work. Then I remembered Pop!_OS and hearing about it somewhere as being very friendly etc. and that it’s latest released based on Ubuntu 20.10 had just come out… so I figured why not. Good timing after all.

So that’s it. I haven’t played around much as my room does not have light and days are short now and I couldn’t get a replacement bulb… but I installed Firefox etc. and so far so good. I am running it on 4k with no scaling (even though it supports fractional scaling) as I am comfortable for a change with that. Some months ago I had tried hooking up my work Windows 10 laptop to this same monitor and hated it (my eyes went crazy with the 4k, and when I tried scaling things it was all blurry and I could notice it) but interestingly I have no such negative feedback with Pop!_OS. It’s pretty comfortable.

The PC doesn’t have Bluetooth so I hooked up a spare Apple Magic Keyboard via Lightning cable. Works well, including the media keys.

Update 17th Nov 2020: I packed up this spare PC and put it away. Nothing against Pop!_OS but I didn’t want to have one more PC to take care of. As much I love being surrounded by computers and the more computers I can work on the better, that’s not really practical. I have a workflow already with my iMac and I love macOS and feel most productive when using it; and I figured I don’t really need to make use of the spare computer or use it for Pop!_OS. At some point one must draw a line and not stretch oneself thin; it is draining and distracting. 

Update 25th Nov 2020: And Pop_OS! is back. I wanted to use that machine again. 

Before going back to Pop_OS! I took a detour with endeavourOS, elementary OS, and Linux Mint. Neither of them worked well for me – because this machine has DisplayPort and the screen would just stay blank. For elementaryOS I saw that after the first boot the machine was stuck on “Initializing Intel Boot Agent”. If I disconnected the DisplayPort and hooked a VGA monitor I could boot into the system but then it wen’t blank again (am guessing something about the fact that I installed it a DisplayPort monitor has confused it).

With elementary OS I was had a blank screen upon boot again but it wasn’t due to the error above, it was simply LUKS asking for the disk password and not being able to show it on the monitor (coz it’s DisplayPort). I could enter the password without seeing and thus boot, but the resolution was crap as elementary does not support fractional scaling yet.

I couldn’t launch Linux Mint at all. Again, display issues.

Interestingly Pop_OS! is the only one that showed the password prompt on the monitor because it does something to switch on the DisplayPort monitor before the OS loads. It also supports fractional scaling. However, it does have this bug of “forgetting” the monitor after a while and setting the maximum resolution to full HD. Because of that I finally ordered a graphics card today so I can use the monitor with HDMI instead. Clearly DisplayPort was a hassle.