Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Linux has taken on a bad reputation. Over the years, it’s been considered as the operating system for advanced users and with good reason: most of the day-to-day actions you need to take have always been terminal based and the idea of giving users full control of the environment they work in is worrying when you consider how bad at managing their computers most people are.
But things have changed significantly, as my last two weeks of experimenting with various Linux distros have proven. And because things have changed I am finally convinced it’s the right time for me to make the switch.
Linux is free. Yes you can pirate your operating system, let’s not beat around the bush here. Most people do. But that generally cripples it, not only because it tends to lock you out of important updates but also because you have no idea what you’re putting on your machine. Additionally, if they choose to do so, Microsoft can brick your machine with one update.
Linux is stable and frequently updated. Long gone are the days when Linux was a hodge-podge of open source developers just trying out random things, when updating your OS meant not knowing what you’re going to get. With Linux becoming more mainstream and seeing widespread use, volunteer developers now have to follow a more rigorous update plan. Different distributions have different package update processes, from bleeding edge, nightly updates (Arch) to extremely stable (Debian). You choose to work with whatever makes you the most comfortable.
Linux turns your laptop into a beast. There’s a million and one different applications and services that run on Windows machines. I spent all night yesterday trying to figure out which services I don’t need so I can turn them off and it was no easy feat. Not to mention, there are things you simply can’t turn off (such as the Windows Defender which turns back on after a couple of days of being turned off, for absolutely no reason but to piss you off). Not with Linux. Whether you choose to install everything from scratch (Arch) or run an out-of-the-box distribution (Ubuntu) you have full control of what goes on your machine. Additionally, it’s much more performance conscious, so you get more out of your slightly older machines.
Linux is easy to install and use. This one’s tricky. If you’re installing a core distribution like Arch, you’re going to have a hard time getting it up and running. But going with something like Mint only takes a few “Next” clicks and you’re done. Even more important for casual users, the terminal is something you can now do without. If the word
sudo instantly makes your eyes glaze over, or if reading pages and pages of the Linux wiki just to get your audio going makes you scream for mercy, know that you are not alone. It’s taken me two weeks of playing around with VMs to get to the point where I wasn’t destroying my machine and having to start over. But that’s only because I wanted to. Distros like Mint have advanced GUI application managers (like “Programs and Features” in Windows) to help you with installing and managing the software on your machine.
Linux is what you want it to be. A recurring theme appeared over my two weeks of experimentation: Linux is what you make it. Sure I bricked a few VMs trying to install Arch, and yeah I spent two days finding ways to customize my Xubuntu install via confusing config files with the Wiki pinned to the left side of my screen, but that’s because I wanted to do that. Linux didn’t force me to do anything. There were other ways to do the things I wanted to do. I just wanted to do them that way.
Linux has open source versions of everything I need. Whether it’s graphic editing, document writing or programming, there’s an open source version of every kind of software I use and need in my day-to-day life. In fact, I already do use open source software on Windows… so I will suffer no “culture shock” after the move.
And finally, Linux is safer. You might not care about Microsoft tracking your every keystroke, but I do. Not because I have something to hide, but because privacy is a right everyone should have… “Nothing to hide” gives the right for privacy to those who do have something to hide. What you’re saying is “You should only care about privacy if you’ve done something wrong” but why is that? Why should I do something wrong before I can expect my basic right for privacy not to be trampled. I don’t like that line of thinking. Linux puts security in my hands. I can make it as secure as I want. I can install distributions that turn my laptop into a lockbox.
I can do whatever I want, because Linux stands for freedom.
And I like freedom. Don’t you?
inb4: but what about muh gaming? You’re right. Linux still suffers from a lack of “Available on Linux” games. So if gaming is something that is an integral part of your computer use, then you shouldn’t switch to Linux. In my case, gaming is just not something I do much of anymore, and I won’t miss it.