And Five Reasons I Don’t
It occurred to me the other day that I have talked at great length about Linux, but I haven’t bothered to tell you why I love Linux. On top of that, I have completely ignored some of the downsides of Linux. Today, that’s going to change. Let’s explore five reasons I love Linux and five reasons I don’t. My hope is that this will give you a more complete picture of both the good and the bad of Linux so you know what you are signing up for when you decide to install Linux.
Reasons I Love Linux
First, let’s look at the positive side of things. Below you will find five reasons I love Linux so you can understand why I always keep a copy of it on whatever laptop I’m using.
1. The Interface
First, I have to say I love the interface provided by Linux. Whether you are using Gnome or KDE, the interface is beautiful to look at and just works. In most cases, it gets out of your way so you can get to work and get done what you want to get done. If you want an interface that’s beautiful without being overly intrusive, Linux is the way to go. While each interface offers their own take on a GUI, they all do a good job of getting out of your way and helping you get your work done faster and more efficiently.
2. The Freedom
If there is one thing that is great about Linux, it’s the freedom you get when you use the software. It really reminds me of the old days of computers when we were all just tinkerers doing what we wanted with the platform provided. On Linux, you can choose what graphical interface to use, or you can just go all command line if you prefer living in the terminal and typing what you want. The choice is up to you. You can tweak the desktop interface to make it exactly how you want it and then even choose the apps you want to use. If you enjoy the freedom to use your computer the way you want to, and not the way some software giant tells you to, then Linux is definitely the choice for you.
3. Safe and Secure
If there is one thing that every Windows user is familiar with, it’s the danger of viruses and malware. If you don’t run antivirus software on Windows, you are just asking for trouble. Because of the way Linux is designed, it’s much more safe and secure when compared to Windows. That doesn’t mean Linux is immune to viruses, in fact there have been some nasty malware and viruses for the platform, but there is much less out there when you compare the two platforms. If you want an OS that’s safe and secure, then Linux is definitely a great option for you.
4. Tons of Applications
If there is one thing Linux has going for it over other platforms such as Windows and Mac, it’s the applications. There are hundreds, if not thousands of apps made for Linux that are all free and ready to be downloaded and installed on your system. You can find an app for almost everything out there and you can easily convert your stuff from those proprietary apps to the free and open source versions with very little effort.
5. It’s Free
Probably the best part of Linux is its cost. Linux is completely free and open source. That means you can download and install it on your system at both work and home without having to pay one dime. That’s a great thing when you think about it. You can grab any old laptop and put Linux on it without having to buy a license.
Reasons I Don’t Love Linux
Now that we know all the good things that Linux can bring to your laptop, it’s time to look at a few of the downsides of Linux.
1. Too Much Configuration
First, let me just say that I am a tinkerer. I enjoy spending time tweaking out my interface and learning how to install software and even fix some of the problems I may encounter. Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Heck, every now and then I just need something that will work without me having to spend time tweaking and working on it. After all, sometimes I do need to get some work done. For everyday users, the need for constant tweaking and configuration is a real turn off. Some distributions today are doing a much better job of this, but even they can fall victim to this configuration nightmare, especially if you have to had something to them.
2. The Community
I’m sure many of you may disagree with me on this point. In many ways, the Linux community is very impressive. After all, it’s a bunch of people from different backgrounds that are only linked by Linux. These people have different experiences with Linux, and often hang out on the various distribution websites to offer assistance when it suits them. However, they aren’t always the friendliest bunch. This isn’t always the case, but I can tell you there is nothing more frustrating than trying to solve a problem only to be treated to abuse from the community just because someone was having a bad day.
3. Some Applications Are Bad
Now I know I listed the tons of applications as a reason why I love Linux, and that’s true. But at the same time, it’s also why I hate it. Many of these applications just aren’t quite up to the commercial quality many of us have come to expect. Because these apps are your only option on the platform, as the big boys haven’t made theirs compatible with Linux, sometimes you are stuck using as sub par app that you hate.
4. Some Software Not Supported
This is a biggie for me, as I need access to a lot of software that just isn’t available for the Linux platform. For example, I need Photoshop from time to time. Unfortunately, Adobe doesn’t support Photoshop on the Linux platform. So what do you do? Sure, there are ways to get it to work using software called WINE. But, that means even more work tweaking it out to get it to run and even then it may not run great. In the end, I just switch over to Windows when I need it and that gives me access to the software that isn’t available.
5. Lack of Gaming Support
I love playing video games. Now, in the past, I was more of a hardcore gamer spending hours every day playing my favorite titles on a variety of platforms. PC was always my favorite. Of course, most games aren’t made with Linux in mind, and that’s unfortunate. If you want to play many games, you simply have to use Windows. To be fair, it has gotten better over the years, especially with Steam. Still, many games never come to the Linux platform. While I no longer play games quite like I once did thanks to age and family responsibilities, I still like to fire up the occasional game. Because of this, I’m forced to keep Windows on my system.
How I Use Linux
Now that you know why I love and hate Linux, I guess it’s about time to tell you exactly how I use Linux. In many ways, I prefer to stay in Linux when I can. However, because of some of the limitations with Linux that I described above, I can’t always do that. So, as a compromise, what I tend to do is run Linux in a virtual machine powered by VirtualBox.
While Linux is running, I tend to keep it full screen and run it as my main OS. Then I switch to Windows 10 when I need it. For example, if I need access to Photoshop to create images or if I want to play a game, I will minimize my copy of Linux and do what I have to do in Windows. In many ways, I wish I could run Windows in a virtual machine instead, but because I do like to play the occasional PC game, I have to run Windows 10 as my host operating system.
What Distribution Do I Use?
I get asked this one a lot. At the end of the day, I do tend to switch it up and try different distributions. My personal favorites are the distros based on Ubuntu or just running the default edition of Ubuntu. Another favorite right now for me is Kubuntu, which is a KDE version of Ubuntu. Those aren’t the only great versions of Linux, however, as others such as Fedora or PCLinuxOS offer their own take and are just as fun to use.
In the end, you will have to choose for yourself. If you are new to Linux, I recommend Ubuntu or one of the distributions based on it, as they are, in most cases, much easier to use.
I love Linux, but I do recognize some of its limitations when trying to use it as your primary operating system. In most cases, everything will work, but you may have to spend some time configuring it the way you want it. You will also find software that just won’t work, as it is only made for Windows. Still, overall, the operating system is well made and fun to use, despite a few limitations.
Do you use Linux on your laptop? If so, tell me about your experience with it and which distribution you ultimately chose for your laptop. I would love to hear from you about your experience.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.