Kernels and browsers, hm? Well, now...
I have to confess, as a long-term Chrome user, that I'm actually really rather impressed with what Mozilla have finally delivered on the browser front.
I first switched to Firefox as an last-ditch attempt to get away from Internet Exploder, back in the middle of the last decade. I mean, you must remember what it was like in the early days of XP; frankly, it was awful. (And that was being charitable..!) Firefox was a revelation; it opened pages in a fraction of the time; it was (relatively) stable, anf it didn't freeze all the time. Hell, I actually managed to get stuff done...
But inevitably, problems crept in. RAM leakage became an increasingly serious issue; it developed a tendency to start crashing without warning, etc., etc. By 2008 I'd had enough. In August of that year, the first 'beta', pre-release builds of Chrome were available for test. I took a look, and tried it out for a few weeks, and.....I was hooked. And I've used it pretty much ever since. Since it was available as a Linux build, I stuck with it when I took the plunge at XP's demise in April 2014.
I've always kept an eye on what Mozilla were doing with FF, and usually had a copy hanging around as a 'back-up' browser, in case Chrome developed any major problems. It never did!
As a matter of course, I tried Quantum last year when it came out. Bloody hell; what a revelation. Finally, here was the browser Mozilla could have delivered all those years ago, were it not for the never-ending back-room 'in-fighting' between the FF devs; fast, responsive.....stable. A browser fit for the 21st century.
The silly thing is, with the most recent Chrome (68), Google have done a major re-design of the interface.....and it now looks almost exactly like the 'Australis' release of FF, version 29..... There's precious little to choose between 'em any more, and I nowadays use one or the other, as the mood takes me.
As the saying goes, 'What goes around, comes around...'
As for kernels, well; conventional wisdom always dictates that you should use the very newest version all the time. Now, I shall in all likelihood get my arse kicked for saying this, but ask yourself this; what kind of vintage is your hardware? Are you running relatively new stuff, or like many of us, substantially older stuff, hm?
The reason I say that is simple; although newer kernels are constantly adding hardware support, they're also steadily dropping support for old gear. (If they didn't, the kernel, being 95% drivers like it is, would by this time be many times larger than it is.)
And companies like Canonical aren't exactly helping matters here. Mark Shuttleworth has for long enough fancied himself as the 'Bill Gates' of the Linux eco-sphere; Canonical have a habit of heavily 'customizing' their kernels in favour of the enthusiast sector of the community.....who tend to always run the very newest hardware all the time, regardless of the damage it does to their bank balances..!
And don't make the mistake of giving yourself a false sense of security by thinking the newest kernels will give you Spectre and Meltdown protection. Back to a certain point in time they will; beyond that, they won't. Intel drew a line in the sand at a certain point, and said, 'Here, and no further back will we go.' Again, it all depends on the age of your hardware. The point I'm trying to make is that in certain cases, depending on the hardware, an older kernel will probably be as serviceable, if not more so, than the very newest ones.
Here's an illustration. My elderly, 2005 Compaq desktop started out in 2014 in Linux with Ubuntu 'Trusty'. For 9 months or so, it was great. Then, I started getting regular, inexplicable graphical freeze-ups. I later found out Canonical's 'customizing' had only stripped out Vesa support for my integrated graphics chip, hadn't it?
I switched to 'Puppy' Linux, following a recommendation from an acquaintance on the Ubuntu Forums; it was like a switch had been thrown. Literally overnight, no more graphical freezes; Puppy uses the bog-standard kernels from kernel.org. Without 'modification'..!
I've been with it ever since.
Apart from all that, I think the major change is the dropping, by Canonical, of their Unity desktop environment for the GNOME one.....which they used several years back. And that's the only major thing of note, really. Nothing 'earth-shattering'.
Edited by Mike_Walsh, 04 August 2018 - 02:26 PM.