3 years ago I moved to Linux.
I had tried before, many, many times, with mixed results and enormous frustrations. I kept expecting that an OS meant having similar behavior to what I had grown used to while using Windows and DOS. I was wrong. So wrong. Most of my frustrations derived from those expectations.
But then, one day after a forced reboot due to installation of updates, my Windows decided it wouldn’t work. The mounting exasperation of many years of dealing with Windows reached a peak and I picked up the first CD in the pile of Linux Distros I had on my desk, put it in the optical drive and simply formatted whole HDD. I had had too much, it was time for me to move on.
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I felt almost comfortable with how my computer responded and accepted my commands. I had to fight it all the way. Of course what I was really fighting was my pre-conceived ideas of what and how things had to be done. I kept installing themes and icon packages to get a good-looking interface, installing applications that replicated those I was used to use, creating hurdles to myself by trying to do things like I used to do.
Then, I reached a point where I had to make choices. Try new ways to do things, or keep myself tied to a past that I had decided to leave behind but was still carrying with me. Luckily for me, at that point I found PinguyOS. It may not be a perfect solution for everyone, it was the perfect answer at that time. I was finally free from the quest of replication of the experience I used to have and able to embrace what was different and better.
Since then I’ve used Linux for 99% of the time, only exceptions being some gaming and even that I don’t use so much anymore.
So, going to what I put in the title, why I love Linux:
- Stability – My system is never shutdown, at most I restart it when I have an update to Kernel and/or GPU drivers. Other than that it runs for days and days without issues. All the while updating each and every one of my applications even while they are being used.
- Speed – I have nice computer, even if it’s 4 years old now, it is a fast machine. Using Linux really showed me how fast it really is.
- Customization – After using computers for as long as I do, I think that everyone reaches a point when default looks of any OS become tiring and we look for ways to make it different. More personal. In Windows, that means having the same Interface, in different colors. In Linux, you can change everything. Every. Little. Thing. This power can’t be really explained to a Windows only user. It needs to be experienced.
- Security – Some days ago I came across this phrase: “If you are not using Linux then your computer is infected and you just don’t know it.” and that reflects perfectly what I feel.
- Software Choice – Just that, so much choice and almost all “Free” that it can make your head spin.
These are powerful reasons to use it. I am sure other users with much more experience can had a lot more to that list. It is simply great.
But, then I find that sometimes I almost hate it, here’s why:
- Documentation – I find a lot of documentation, so much that it can make your eyes water just reading the list. Only, 99% of it is illegible to an uninitiated user. The sheer number of flavors of Linux, turn into an impossible task to write accessible documentation and help. Everything must pass through CLI commands to avoid the differences in interpretation of each Desktop Environment and it’s interfaces. The documentation then becomes a jumble of CLI commands and results that mean nothing to a starting user. The effort to understand what is being explained is so frustrating that many simply give up.
- Always Forgotten – This isn’t a Linux problem per se, it is a consequence of using it. Any innovative app or service, seems to forget or ignore Linux for longer times. Even the free ones. Even the ones built to be universal. Even those that pretend to become structural (I’m looking at you Flash). This is frustrating and a cause for serious concern.
- Games – It isn’t a Linux problem that Games Producers are only now finding value in the Linux users, but it is frustrating to decide what games to play based on how well they perform under Wine. How well, not exactly, how “not bad” they perform. I play few games now, I feel no interest in buying new ones because of that. The ones I do, I mostly aim to get them at least running with no hopes of decent Frames Per Second.
- OCR – I don’t see any reason to not having working and decent OCR capabilities in Linux. What software I’ve tried has severe limitations and it’s simply unusable.
As you can see, most of my complaints aren’t Linux fault, but, they affect me as a Linux user.
The fact that it is in constant evolution and continuously growing in users and relevance gives me hope that all that is now a problem will disappear. Until then, we can enjoy a great computing experience even if here and there we feel close to exploding in frustration.