One year with Ubuntu Linux

If we define a year by it being 365 days long, “one year with Ubuntu Linux” might actually be a lot closer to “one and half years with Ubuntu Linux”, or even “two years with Ubuntu Linux”. The fact is that I can hardly remember when exactly I did my last disk format and re-partitioning. Neither is there something as an exact date at which I switched from Windows to Linux, it was more like a very smooth transition in which I slowly became more used to using Ubuntu and actually started using it for daily use. In the end I don’t regret starting to use Ubuntu, in fact I still use it as my daily operating system. But is it than so much better than Windows? Well, maybe not, I presume it depends on who asks the question. But let me first tell you how I came thus far.

In Windows 7 era I was using the Microsoft OS for daily work.  On the dual partitioned disk there was also a very small partition of my disk which had Ubuntu (12.04?) installed on it but I used it only to try to know Linux a little bit better. Enter Windows 8, after trying Win8 in a virtual machine I wanted to get used to it and changed it in for Windows 7. However, me, as many others, I didn’t like the new way of working in Win8. I remember the first time wanting to shut down the system but not finding the power off button, big mistake Microsoft. And so Ubuntu came to get installed on a bigger partition, and I noticed more or less from this point that Ubuntu had a lot more desktop feel than Win8 had in the beginning. So, I starting using Ubuntu a lot more from this point. The downside of moving to Linux is that a lot of popular software does not have Linux compatible binaries and so the search for replacement software started. In the beginning I had to sometimes plan my work I wanted to do: do some of the stuff on Linux, and for the software that works only on Windows reboot and boot into Win8. But as you move on you get to know the Linux alternatives for Windows software, although not always as good as the real deal in many situations you can perfectly move along. Moving further in time I’m now at a point where it can take weeks or even months before I find myself back in the Windows environment. I no longer depend on it. So you may ask, was it worth all the trouble?

Well, as I said before, Ubuntu really has a nice desktop feeling. Quick launch icons on the left, perfect for not using to much vertical space on wide screens. A kind of start button that after you use it you can just type the name of the application and launch it. The software center allows you to easily install new software. Also my password is being asked which means not everyone is able to install new software on my machine even if I’m already logged in. Dragging a window to the side of the screen will also make it full screen, or half screen depending on which side you dragged it. Oh yes, and it’s free. Although many of these handy features listed here can also be found in the Microsoft OS, this means Ubuntu is not really poorer on the “useful desktop tricks” side of things. Furthermore it is really stable when it comes down to resuming from sleep and also installing updates hardly ever requires a reboot. Updates or always installed while you’re using the machine, it is doing this in the background and so you hardly notice it happening. Remember how it works on Win8, updates often take a lot of time when shutting down or rebooting the machine because MS just can’t update some processes while they’re running.

But there are also some drawbacks. First of all: hardware support. Although 2014 looks to be a very good year for desktop Linux, hardware drivers are not always working as good as their Microsoft alternatives are. For example, on my portable there is no way I can get the seconds display output working. Secondly, software: although there are free alternatives for Photoshop and Autocad, they do not always work as good as the real deal does. Even though I use GIMP every now and then, I’m still a lot more productive in Photoshop than I would be in GIMP. Third: games. Linux and gaming have not the best relationship. It’s only since the efforts made by Valve that now more and more A titles are being ported to Linux. As I said, 2014 might be the year of change for Linux. Quatro: using the terminal. The terminal itself is not so bad, still I can not believe it sometimes that for running some binaries I still need to open a terminal and run the ./whatever command. Or, you need to install something but it involves copying some commands found on the internet into the terminal and execute them before you can actually proceed. Why is it not always just click-and-play as it is with Windows?  Although this can sometimes get really annoying, it’s often not a Ubuntu thing. What can Canonical do about AMD not wanting to support some of their hardware for Linux users? Why would Adobe want to bring Linux compatible binaries of Photoshop if 99% of their users will probable still be on Windows/MAC? Often the lack of support is a commercial thing, so for 2015 I guess we don’t need to expect any miracles to happen as far as Linux support goes. On the other hand, since I first tried Ubuntu I can see slow progress everywhere and knowing that Ubuntu is already a very decent replacement for Windows I think I’ll stay a the Ubuntu side for another year. Maybe two.

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