About 18 years ago, I built a full Linux system from scratch. I downloaded source code, compiled everything, created a set of custom scripts and management tools, and called it Jinux (for “Jeff’s Linux”).
At its height, Jinux powered over a hundred servers at BitRelay and a few client offices. It worked fabulously, and had far fewer packages (and thus potential vulnerabilities) than the commercial Linux distributions. I used it for my main desktop and laptop systems, running KDE3 for years and years.
Everything has been going swimmingly, but to be honest, it’s become tiresome to keep track of package updates and security patches and whatnot, and continue to apply them to my Jinux distribution by recompiling and reinstalling things. It’s just one of those things that takes time and, while interesting, probably isn’t a good use of that time. I know Linux inside and out, and have well over two decades of experience with it, so I don’t feel like it’s necessary to continue digging into its guts.
And thus I finally decided to walk away from it. I wiped my Jinux systems and installed Ubuntu. But KDE has evolved quite a bit since version 3 (which dates back to the late 90’s), and I found that several of the key software tools I used no longer worked well. Most importantly, email was a hot mess because the latest versions of KDE are based on a search platform called Akonadi. After considerable experimentation, I was reminded why I hate Akonadi with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, and I decided to migrate all of my email out of KMail (which I love) into Thunderbird (which is decent, but not nearly as good as KMail). The migration was a little painful, but it worked. For about a week I used a sort of Frankenstein mix of KDE, Thunderbird, and other applications, but I grew increasingly frustrated because things didn’t work quite the way they did in good ol’ Jinux.
I messed around with Mint Linux for a day, and looked at some other desktop environments, but realized that KDE3 continues to be my favorite by far, and it’s just rock-solid. So I wiped my Ubuntu systems and rebuilt them with Trinity, which is a repackaged version of KDE3 for the many people in the world who, like me, prefer that old version over the shiny new one.
Again, some configuration magic had to happen, and I migrated some things, but I finally reached a point where my systems were happily running Ubuntu and KDE3. Now I don’t need to worry about software updates, or compiling code, or tracking down dependencies. Life will be marginally simpler… although I’m a little sad to bid farewell to my home-grown Linux systems that have served me so well for nearly two decades.
Hey, at least it’s not Windows…