For years now I have wavered back and forth between using Linux and Windows. I have always fully enjoyed Linux but never was able to break completely free from the Windows world. Once again I have hit a crossroads where I am considering the change yet again.
Windows, Mac or Linux? Most consumers only ever choose between the first two, but with the cost of Mac many only have Windows as an option. Taking the time to learn more about computers and operating systems I have found myself able to learn about Linux and be exposed to a number of different variants or distributions of the OS. As for Mac? I fall into the category of finding them currently out of my price range, even more so when I have worked to learn enough about computers that I can build them or upgrade them to my liking. The higher base price of Mac never seemed justified for me when I could have more power for less money. So as I work in a world run by Windows, I as well ran Windows as a path of least resistance to ensure I knew it inside an out. Not only for my job but as well as being able to help others around me who aren’t as tech savy.
However, I recently found myself finding Windows less bearable, which isn’t a first. My Windows 7 PC’s are becoming less stable with age/updates and Windows 8 in my laptop showing me just how slow Windows 7 is compared to it’s advanced successor but falling completely short in other areas(mainly the UI, but also the irremovable bloatware). I honestly cannot wait for Windows 10 for the vast improvements to the OS core. However, I feel that Windows will still be Windows and these kinds of issues will still exist down the road as they have in all other versions. Because of this I am wondering if it is time to jump entirely into Linux and not look back.
So why Linux? To be honest anymore when I pick up a Linux based OS I find myself feeling more at home than I do on a Windows machine. I had this experience not too long ago as I switched over a family members PC to Linux Mint and they wanted me to look at some things on their machine. The responsiveness and design of the OS just seem to click with me and how I use computers. I had not worked with Linux heavily in a few years but I still have no issue using the command line for advanced tasks or navigating the GUI to locate any option. I have found that I never feel lost and always feel in control even if I have to find terminal commands on the internet to fix or install things. This combined with stable and rock solid core has made it one of the most enjoyable computing experiences I have had. In addition to this feeling of familiarity and comfort I also find that the Cinnamon or XFCE desktop environments have a level of polish and beauty that I adore. I have not seen another OS that is as visually appealing to me as these are. (I realize these may be odd picks for aesthetics; but hey everybody likes different things.)
This is not to say that my experience with Linux has always been so rosy, back when I first got into Linux it was an experience similar to what I have seen with my new laptop. It works well enough out of the box to be usable, but it requires manual adjustments to get everything working as intended. I half expected this on my new laptop as the AMD hardware was only released in mid 2014. So I expect that this laptop will become even more Linux friendly with all items working out of the box in time, but until then, the sound won’t work and I will need to use the old BIOS instead of the EFI Bios due to booting issues etc. As I have grown over the years I have found myself to prefer things to just work which makes it a no go for my laptop. That only leaves my main PC to switch as the issues I experienced with Linux on my laptop were frustrating to say the least. I simply have lost the time I had to fiddle with the OS as I did in college.
Wanting things to just work sounds like a Mac no? This is why I have also considered one of those as well. I have worked long enough with PC’s that I am tired of having bugs, glitches and using the command line to fix things. The promise of such an idea is truly a nice dream. I know in reality though that it isn’t entirely true that it will work flawlessly. However, from what I understand their stability far outranks Windows, even though it comes at the expense of controlled hardware. However, the cost still is high and I do prefer the UI and organization of Linux over Mac.
So why not just switch to Linux and avoid this whole dilemma? Mainly the reason Linux has been ignored for years from users, the software available on it. I have a handful of old games I still like to play every now and again, that will not work and even in the Wine app have been shown to be useless. In addition to these, there are other software that I enjoy using. I purchased Adobe Creative Suite 3 and 5 while in college and would like to still use at least Photoshop. I have tried GIMP and Krita but I have not found anything that’s as easy to use as Photoshop for image creation and editing. Which leads me to the other software I use, Unity. Unity currently only exists as a game development IDE on Windows and Mac. I work in it as a hobbyist and have not invested in the Pro version but I can’t say I really want to learn another tool. Not after investing so much time into learning it (5 years have passed since I picked it up). My goal is that someday I will create something worth while that I will need the pro version and will happily purchase it when I do so. However with my limited time, it has always say on the back burner and I really hope to change this in the near future.
So, how can I switch when one of my main hobbies requires Windows? I haven’t found out yet. Perhaps I should just run Windows 10 as a virtual machine inside of Linux, but VM’s generally have poor performance for 3D applications. Another option is to run Windows in Xen alongside Linux where I pass a second GPU to it to allow the performance I need. But it still seems overkill and more trouble than it’s worth. I could dual boot, but rebooting to change applications/work flow has never been something I enjoyed and have done so for years on end previously. I have grown tired of maintaining that kind of system.
So I sit here continually contemplating what choice would make my computing experience the easiest and overall effortless in the future. Unity and Creative Suite both run on Mac, so maybe I shouldn’t count it out so fast. Although I have never felt at home on a Mac either. I know one of my PC’s will be running Linux soon, but which one and if it’s dual boot vs dedicated is yet to be determined.
Have you switched OS’s? If so, have you ever switched back? If you have gone through something similar I would love to hear from your experience or your thoughts on the matter.