I was fed up with Windows and all its problems (performance, lack of privacy, etc.) and wanted three simple things for a Linux distribution:
- As I have hybrid Intel + NVIDIA GPUs, I wanted NVIDIA drivers with working Optimus support.
- BTRFS + LUKS encryption and Timeshift or Snapper.
- Arch-based distro with little to no bloat.
I kid you not, I went through at least half a dozen distro installations without ever accomplishing ALL of these three things at the same time. The tutorials on Linux graphics drivers and BTRFs seemed to be contradictory or incomplete; I followed two or three YouTube tutorials to the letter (one of them multiple times) but they didn’t help. Once, after accomplishing pure Arch + BTRFS + timeshift and feeling good with myself, there was some problem involving the @home BTRFS subvolume and GRUB and I wasn’t unable to revert back to any snapshots.
I compromised and reached a somewhat comfortable place with a standard Manjaro KDE installation with the NVIDIA drivers working but without BTRFS (I tried Manjaro Architect with BTRFS without success). I ended up formatting the computer and trying again.
Garuda Linux was closer to my goals, but to me, the look of the Dragonized edition was not to my taste and there were loads of bloat; I also tried the support-less base version but the NVIDIA drivers didn’t work. Back on Dragonized, I tried to revert back to an easier on the eyes version of KDE but it’s not a straightforward process; there are lots of customizations and config files in there. Gave up on Garuda.
In a stroke of luck, I found Endeavour OS the same day they released the latest 2021 version. Aside from the Calamares installer (amazing), it had automatic graphics drivers install similar to Manjaro (check), little to no bloat and very close to Arch (check) and a separate online guide on how to set up BTRFS + LUKS (check check check). I won’t lie: I thought, this BTRFS tutorial will probably be like the others, something will break along the way when I’ll be executing the commands and I won’t have either BTRFS, encryption or Timeshift.
To my surprise, not only did it work, but the Endeavour Welcome app was wonderfully simple and to the point; there was little bloat like I wanted; and thus far (over two weeks in), the interaction between GRUB, BTRFS, LUKS, and Timeshift has been perfect, even after multiple system (and kernel) updates. I managed to do stuff I never thought I would be able to in a computer, certainly never on a Windows machine, for instance setting up a BTRFS raid1 for two of my external drives; installing a Bitcoin + Lightning full node through Umbrel; automounting my VeraCrypt volumes with a systemd service on startup without a hitch; I even customized the look of my Spotify client with spicetify-cli and made winapps work (a solution akin to Wine to use any Windows app as a separate window “inside” Linux).
It hasn’t been exactly easy but for the first time, everything seems to work well. I don’t think I’ve ever had to revert to a previous snapshot thus far. I am loving the experience and don’t plan on switching anytime soon; in fact I want to see if I can migrate my system exactly as it is, encrypted BTRFS partitions and all, to a new, larger SSD I bought.
A big thank you to all involved!
P. S.: Is there a way I could donate to the Endeavour team using Bitcoin?