Why I use Linux and why you should consider it too

I’ll start by saying I’m one of the least likely candidates for Linux. Haha, but it’s true.

I’m a .net developer who earns a “Microsoft” lunch. I’ve exclusively used Windows professionally speaking. The few times I did take Linux for a spin around the block, the conclusion was “It’s not ready yet”.

Was Linux just a fanboy OS? The apps I had come to love and trust were primarily Windows apps. Finally I’m also a gamer. So as I paint this picture you can see it is doubtful that someone like me has decided to make Linux my primary operating system of choice.

My first taste of Linux was Redhat, around the time when desktop environments were cutting their teeth. DE’s were ridiculously new, when trying to load up Redhat I discovered my graphics card had no supporting drivers. I asked a friend what to do? “Well you’ll need to write your own graphics driver!”. Linux went back in the box and it wasn’t for many years that I revisited it again.

Then came a few more tries over the years, now with early versions of Ubuntu and Mint. And yet each time I found some or other annoyance that prevented me from really enjoying the experience. Back to Windows.

Windows 8 has changed all that, I’ve been following Win 8 closely, initially out of interest, but lately more out of concern. Microsoft, in the past have released some pretty terrible operating systems such as Millenium and Vista, but they’ve too also released quality such as Windows 95, Windows 98,  Windows 2000 Professional, XP and Windows 7. All these previous operating systems had 1 thing in common, they were targeted specifically for the device they ran on i.e: netbooks, laptops and desktops.

Windows 8 might not be a pure tablet operating system, but it is by no means a fully fledged dedicated desktop operating system either. It would be safe to classify it as a hybrid OS with strong bias towards tablet computing.

This presents a dilemma.  Not being on an actual tablet device with a touch screen. And exactly how much “suck ass” I am willing to tolerate.

Now I know a fair amount of people who would just stick with Windows 7 and call it a day. I’m not one of those people.

I know the workarounds too:

  1. Windows 7 shell on Windows 8
  2. Classic “shell”, Classic Menu
  3. Start 8
  4. All the rest.

I tried them all, still elements of the tablet OS remained. Being expected to emulate finger movements with my mouse, while on a desktop is cheap.

Windows 8.1 is on the scene now, soon to be released as the “great fix” to the general public. But sadly it’s another compromise.

After doing more research on Windows 8.1 – The light bulb came on, and I really questioned my reasons for using Windows. I recall the exact moment while waiting for my computer to complete yet another action and all those background services pushing my HDD IO to the max, after uninstalling some malware I managed to pick up from a reputable site, and while looking at my somewhat amatuer desktop look and feel, even though I had Window Blinds and given skinning my best effort, While skype crashed and getting an access denied message while trying to kill the task off in task manager. While the task manager too was about to crash. I guess it just hit me – It’s time to check if Linux is there yet….

Linux is there already

Let me tell you, after using Linux Mint 15 Olivia over the past few days you would need an extremely compelling reason to be using Windows.

Sorry if I get pedantic here, but I am going to get into the specific things I’ve noticed.

It’s gorgeous

Linux is gorgeous. I don’t think this is a Mint only thing either. I recall Ubuntu looking equally as good, but the best analogy I can think of is. Interacting with Linux is akin to watching a sexy woman stip off expensive lingerie while you sip on velvet beer. Using Windows 8, once everything is loaded up. Feels like going to the circus and watching monkeys banging on tambourines loudly, with flashing and annoying christmas lights everywhere.

Linux is an OS by users for users. Because of this small things make a huge difference. Icons for example – unified. I have a start menu again, a real one – and it’s more targeted than my Windows one because it has items grouped by function.

 It’s stable

Lately this is a bit like comparing Apples to Apples because Windows too is stable. My point is Linux is when considering a move to a new OS stability is a massive deciding factor. You can safely give Linux a big fat green tick next to stability.

It’s better at BlueTooth

Recently bought a set of BlueTooth headphones and they’ve always given problems with Windows. Linux is way better than Windows at handling your BT devices. Firstly out of the box better, but also with a bit of tweaking you have much more control over the devices in Linux, making automation easier such as automatically enabling BT sound when connected.

Applications are ready too

There might be a few applications you think you can’t live without that only run on Windows, but then again there is Wine. If you really need to use Photoshop for example and don’t mind an older version then Wine and CS4 should suffice. But Linux is getting more native apps. Take for example Google Music – I was amazed that there is a native Linux client for the offering. Applications like Skype for Linux have also gotten love over the years. Generally speaking there seems to be an alternative Linux app for what you need.

Games are up and coming

I was surprised to see such variety. Not only that but when I downloaded Steam for Linux, some of my already purchased games apparently run on Linux, such as Half Life 2. I couldn’t help but notice some awesome up and coming games. The Indie scene have also shown dues to Linux, so I noticed that a lot of games you get on Linux aren’t your typical Windows games, a lot get right down to the business of gaming, games designed for playability, not graphics, cut scenes and profit.

I’m blown away by the software manager

I love the freedom on Windows to download software from any site and install just what I please -freedom is good. Or wait, is it really?

At first glance the benefits of having a centrally managed repository of applications might not be so obvious, but it is a much better idea than expecting your users to download everything rouge style, why?

  • Central repository means you can explore virtually everything in 1 place. So you’re much more likely to be made aware of decent applications as a newbie.
  • 1 download, official, no bundled malware or toolbars. Even the most reputable sites such as download.com (CNet) bundle in stuff like toolbars and search engine malware.
  • A user rating system.

Fonts on Linux look better out of the box

Now this might seem minor, trust me it’s not a minor issue to me. The fonts used for rendering web pages appear better. Any Gurus reading this what are your thoughts?

Linux a no bullshit OS that is what it says it is

The version of Mint I am running has been designed with one thing in mind, the device I use it on. My tablet (Nexus 10) also runs Linux (technically speaking Android is just another distribution). This is important if you want the best possible experience.

 Conclusion

Linux is “ready”. I know if you’ve been using Linux for a while and have the skills to tweak it the way you want it, you might be infuriated by this late in the day statement. But remember I’m not a Linux guru, I’m still learning the basics such as “What is a tarball?”, and Linux is proving to be a better overall experience than Windows.

And don’t forget – On Linux you don’t run Anti virus, so your system isn’t constantly churning away in the background, hogging up HDD I/O.

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