I switched to Linux a few years ago. Four, I think. It wasn't my first time— I remember driving with my friend Phil to pick up a Slackware Linux CD in 1997, being very excited about how different it was, and then switching back to Windows a couple weeks later when I wanted my computer to be usable again.
That's not a knock against Linux, but it was a complicated process to get it running properly and I didn't persevere through the process.
This cycle repeated every year or two. Each time I was heartened by how far Linux had come, but would regress back to Windows after some period of time.
This time it stuck, though. I was surprised when I was still using it two, then six months later. I was surprised when after a year Windows felt foreign to me.
One quick disclaimer: if you require Adobe products, Linux isn't for you yet. There are not yet adequate replacements for Lightroom, Photoshop, After Effects, and probably other Adobe software.
There are a few reasons why now is the time for many people to switch to Linux, which I'll outline below.
#1 — It's extremely good now. Everything just works right out of the box in a much easier fashion than with Windows. I believe a good Linux desktop looks better than either Mac or Windows. That's subjective, but it's certainly in the ballpark from the get-go. It's far more easily customizable than its competitors, so you can pretty easily make it look much better by your own standards. I think Mac and Windows look old fashioned compared to my current setup.
#2 — It has no baggage. Both Windows and Apple have tremendous baggage that they carry through the years. Windows has to be easy and usable for millions of corporate customers around the world. That means that large changes are dangerous and they often end up getting pulled in too many directions at once. A large portion Windows users would agree that every other version of Windows or so is a step down.
With Macs you are at the whims of the mainstream market. With a limited product line, the hardware must primarily serve average consumers. So you get into ridiculous situations where you have only one port on the computer or your laptop doesn't get updated for years.
Linux has no such baggage. The core underlying code must remain compatible for all of the servers that run it, but it's generally agreed that this is excellent code that is better than both Mac and Windows. That's why servers generally run Linux and Mac is based on BSD, it's near cousin.
On top of this best-in-class operating system is your window manager, which is the part of the computer you interact with all or most of the time. You have a ton of choices, so if one goes in a direction you don't like or becomes too bogged down by history, you can switch to another one in seconds.
#3 — Linux is getting better faster than the other operating systems. Taking everything into account, including software, the underlying operating system, and the GUI, Linux is on a much more generous trajectory. Windows takes two steps forward and then one back, Mac seems to have mostly plateaued, but Linux is consistently getting better. The choices available in Linux mean that it's impossible for it to really ever get worse.
This means that you can invest in Linux. I've customized things and written a bunch of scripts, and I know they will always work. Mac is based on BSD and Windows is starting to integrate some Linux components, so it seems obvious to me that five or ten years from now it will be the predominant operating system.
#4 — It's infinitely customizable, but has good defaults. If you just install Ubuntu, you'll immediately have a working system that looks good and performs well. But if you want to get under the hood and change anything, it's pretty easy to do. That level of customization may require some technical know-how, but since Linux is getting better and is the future, it's worth investing in that knowledge.
#5 — Linux is not scary like you may think it is. Guess how I install Firefox in Linux? I could search in the built in (mostly free) app store and click install. It would download the files and install it automatically. Or I could type "apt get install firefox" and it would do the same. Most of the software you use now, or excellent free equivalents, are available for free on Linux. I think the LibreOffice suite of office software is better than the Microsoft equivalents now.
#6 — Linux is more secure than other operating systems and respects your privacy. Linux isn't phoning home, installing updates without your permission, or putting your data in the cloud. Microsoft and Apple have strong incentives to "own" your data and to gather more personal information. Linux does not.
These are just some of the many benefits of Linux. It's also stable, free, amazing for developers, able to run well on old computers, etc.
If you want to switch, download three different distributions and try them all. You can actually install them onto a USB stick in Windows and boot directly into them from the USB stick before installing. Try Ubuntu, Ubuntu Gnome, and Mint. Ubuntu is similar in look and feel to Mac, Mint is like Windows, and Ubuntu Gnome is my personal favorite. I think it's a more innovative and intuitive interface.
Once you mess around with those three distributions, decide which one you like best. Install it on your computer as a dual-boot option so that you can revert back if you choose, but resolve to use it for a month. There will, of course, be an adjustment period, so you need to force yourself to get through it to experience the benefits of Linux rather than the confusion of change.
It won't be for everyone, but it's certainly the best choice for far more people than are using it today. I'm a full blown convert now and cannot imagine any scenario under which I'd switch to Windows or Mac. Both now feel so limited and archaic. I dual boot Windows, but can't remember the last time I've used it.
Photo is some cool buildings from somewhere in the Baltics. I don't really remember now.
As I mentioned in the gear post, I'm selling my RV. Email me if you're interested.
Great to hear how opensource software have become so accessible to everyone. One thing to note though, is that installing Linux on a machine and getting everything working properly (wifi, touchpad, special keys...) is not always without pain, so for new people it might be a better idea to make sure the current machine works well or otherwise get a new (or used) machine that has been tested to be working well with Linux. The Linux Mint hardware compatibility list might be useful: https://community.linuxmint.com/hardware
planning to do the switch also.
Main challenge: migrate 3TB worth of data from HFS+ to EXT4. Cannot afford anything going wrong.
The best option would probably be a NAS (like Synology), but I'm a bit of a traveler myself and don't want to invest in hardware I cannot take on the road with me (I'm only buying portable external drives).
Do you think 'FUSE for macOS' ( https://osxfuse.github.io/ ) could be 100% trusted? Probably not ...
Then there's a commercial solution from Paragon ( https://www.paragon-software.com/home/extfs-mac/features.html )
I've put off making the switch from Windows for years because I don't have time to mess with a distro that's not functionally equivalent out-of-the-box. However, Windows 10 has finally hijacked my user experience to the point of pain -- I'm ready to convert. The last straw was forced Windows upgrades despite disabling everything I could to prevent them from downloading and installing. I "love" it when M$ forces their insidious spyware on me despite my best efforts to prevent it.
I'd like to see you post up a thread on how you tweaked Linux for the Lenovo Lavie 360. I purchased one on your recommendation this year, and want to know that I can get decent functionality out of the touchscreen as a tablet (which I really don't use in Windows due to the inherent problems with Lenovo and lack of support/upgrades).
Can you please provide Linux setup tips/tricks/tweaks specifically for the Lenov LaVie 360. Thanks!
I was eating in Chipotle, browsing Hacker News on my phone when I read some outdated article about how the NSA may or may not have backdoor access to some cryptographic function of Windows.
Considering that the NSA's interest in my computer is probably around zero, and that I don't even use windows cryptography, this backdoor probably wouldn't ever affect me. But the sentiment of it did, and it was just enough to push me over the edge.
I'm not new to Linux. In 1998 my friend Phil and I drove across town to a shabby computer store to by Slackware Linux on CD. He sideswiped a lady as we approached the parking lot, so I ran into the store to buy the CDs while he swapped insurance cards.
We ran Linux for the summer, or at least dual-booted it, but eventually practicality made way and Windows was installed again. Diablo II just wouldn't run in Linux.
Burn the heretic, he has cast doubt on the almighty..
There's no doubt about it, if you want to start a flame war in the tech community then there is no better place to start than the world of the Linux Distro. When it comes to waving the collective wand around, Linux fanboys are notoriously hardcore and put even the most ardent Mac vs Windows debate to shame.
When it comes to versions of Linux there are two big players here with Ubuntu in the one corner which without a doubt shook the Linux world by its coat tails and brought as promise Linux to a wider audience. It's changes are seen by many as potentially disrupting there is no doubt Shuttleworth the companies talismanic Jobseque leader has a grand plan, and that alone is making Ubuntu in many quarters mean Linux.
Then there is OpenSUSE the distro has been around since the dawn of time, ok it hasn't but it feels like it. The original desktop Linux OS lost a lot of ground to Ubuntu and has been occasional confusing, so how many built in package managers do you need?