Thoughts on Linux – 2017

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I am a strictly Windows user, and have used it for countless years. Recently, I began testing out Linux, and exploring it. I tested various distros, from Ubuntu, to Linux Mint, Elementary OS and Fedora.

I was very surprised at how good they were.

Here is a quick run down of my experiences.

Installation

Installing each distro was as easy as installing Windows. There were no extra steps needed. The installations automatically formatted and partitioned the hard drive. Updates were downloaded and installed, during the installations. The hardware was all detected automatically, such as the graphics, WiFi and Ethernet, etc. Overall, a very good experience.

Above: Set up screen for Ubuntu

Booting Linux for the first time

Logging in and booting to the desktop for the first time in each distro, was painless! No additional set up was required, like configuring or installing drivers. The desktop environments were quite easy to learn right from the start.

The desktop environment

Each distro has a slightly different desktop environment. Ubuntu and Elementary OS, are reminiscent of Mac OSX. While Fedora and Linux Mint are more similar to Windows. Each desktop has familiar icons, folders and apps. It was very easy overall to adapt, using each one. I especially liked how clean the desktop environments were.

Above: Screenshot of Linux Mint 18.2

Above: Sceenshot of Fedora, and the Gnome desktop environment.


Pre-installed Programs

Each Linux distro has (most) all the preinstalled programs, that Windows has, and more. For instance, calculator, a notepad etc. Linux Mint, and Ubuntu, unlike Windows, comes with an office suite installed (Libre Office), which a plus for many people. Also, FireFox comes with each distro, except Elementary OS which comes with the Midori browser. There are of course, all the system utilities that you need, within the system folders, like task manager and more.

Program availability

This is the Achilles heel of Linux. While there is a wide selection of software available, from Google Chrome, to Steam for games. Linux still is missing big name software like Adobe Creative Cloud, for some reason. This can be easily circumvented, if you dual boot Windows and Linux together. Software availability for Linux is improving, but slowly.


Usability

Linux distros, most especially Linux Mint and Ubuntu, can be used by nearly anyone. The desktop environments are very familiar, and can take no time for someone to adapt. However, there is some learning, like any other operating system, if you switch. It is very good to know commands in the terminal.


Above: Elementary OS desktop.

Overall

As of 2017, Linux has greatly matured and gotten to a point where I think it is comparable to both Windows and Mac. There are some caveats, like missing big name programs like Adobe, but that may change eventually. Software support is again, gradually improving, especially with now Chrome and Steam being available.

If you are looking to experience something different, and take a break from Windows or even Mac. I highly recommend taking, either Linux Mint, Ubuntu or Elementary OS for a spin. You can either dual boot or just try Linux via a live USB. If you want to go for the full plunge, you can do a complete install of Linux and wipe away Windows.

Side Note:

There are of course, a lot of of Linux distros available, like Debian, Manjuro, Arch. Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Elementary are great for starting out with and offer a great out of the box experience.

Comments (10)

10 responses to “Thoughts on Linux – 2017”

  1. hrlngrv

    Re missing Adobe: Adobe WHAT? Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Creative Cloud? Linux does have the Gimp, though I don't use it. The question is how many people need any of these Adobe products. I figure fewer than 10% of PC users. Certainly for photo cropping and touch-up, Pixlr is adequate for most nonprofessional needs.

    There won't be a lot of difference between Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Elemetary because the latter 2 are derivatives of Ubuntu and use Ubuntu repositories. Interesting that you don't show any Fedora screenshots.

  2. skane2600

    If the application gap of Linux is "solved" by dual booting Windows and Linux you might just as well use Windows exclusively. Of course, if there's a specific reason you need to use Linux that's different.


    I don't think mainstream programs that aren't already available for Linux are going to become available unless there's a big increase in Linux desktop market share.

  3. maethorechannen

    Desktop Linux has been useable like this for over 10 years. If the app gap doesn't affect you, it's a really good OS.


    The biggest problem I had with Desktop Linux was "gadget support" (so hardware, but not PC hardware which, quite frankly I've often had better luck with on Linux than on Windows, but all those gadgets, like Garmin GPS units that needed their maps updated). Fortunately that's no longer an issue as the gadgets that haven't been replaced with smartphones are now designed to work with smartphones not PCs.

  4. Tony Barrett

    Linux desktops have evolved massively over the last few years to the point, as you found, that they're very usable now. The setup routines are simple - certainly no more difficult than Windows. One very good thing about Linux is that, unlike Windows, they generally don't treat you like a moron. That new Cortana setup routine is just horrendous. I mean, really cringy (from the Urban dictionary: cringy is when something is just so unpleasant that it makes you literally cringe. CRINGEY: embarrassing or making feel uncomfortable)


    Unfortunatly, Linux still has two hills to overcome (not mountains anymore though!). First, people still see it as an OS for nerds where you only have a command prompt. Second, for that very same reason, people are still scared of it, but there really isn't a reason to be anymore.


    I'd say for the vast majority, they'd be just fine on Linux.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to ghostrider:

      . . . OS for nerds where you only have a command prompt . . .

      The more things in Windows 10 that can only be configured, hidden, disabled or uninstalled via Powershell command lines, the more MSFT will piss away its reputation for relative user-friendliness. Not that taking their sweet time moving everything left in Control Panel to settings isn't also leaving a lingering odor.

  5. ErichK

    My experience setting up Ubuntu on a refurbished Dell Optiplex I recently bought was similar. Pretty painless.

  6. polloloco51

    I forgot to mention:

    Touchscreen support in all the distros, works great, especially the Gnome environment.


    However, support for high resolution displays, still needs alot of work. Ubuntu, and Linux Mint, scaled poorly on my Thinkpad X1 with a 2560x1440 display. Elementary OS, on the other hand, scales the best, and all the programs look normal. Hopefully DPI scaling will be fixed in the future.


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to polloloco51:

      Scaling would vary by desktop environment rather than distribution.

      I don't like KDE, and I don't use it, but I've read it handles scaling better than Gnome and its derivatives, probably because Qt is much further along than Gtk. Neon should have the newest KDE.

  7. matsan

    I agree in all what you said. I’ve been 100% Ubuntu since three months when I ditched Windows 10. I’m a software developer focusing on JavaScript and backend and all of my tools are available on Linux. I had some issues finding replacements for certain applications but found acceptable substitutes. I use screenshots much and were using SnagIt but found the replacement Shutter superior. Also, support for printing and scanning on HP devices is great since HP provides applications and drivers for their printers.

    LibreOffice is a decent attempt to replacing Office and works OK for my tasks (Excel and simple Word). LibreOffice Impress (the PowerPoint clone) is horrible and I do my presentations in PPT on my iPad. Thunderbird is great for email but lacks seriously handling contacts and calendar.

  8. Tim

    When i sit down and need to get to dev work, I boot up Ubuntu. I'm usually on linux lately.

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