Jump to content

I'm considering switching my daily driver computer to Linux (for the 20th time)


Jonathan Lahijani
 Share

Recommended Posts

Over the years there's been a growing part of me that's wanted to be a full-time Linux user.  I've been using Windows from the beginning and attempted to switch to macOS a few years ago (given the excitement of M1) however I gave up after 8 solid months because I came to dislike some issues that I couldn't circumvent in macOS.

Due to some fear, impatience and most importantly, software compatibility, I have not made the switch to Linux, but times have changed.  I've played around with the big distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc.) in some way or another.  I've grown extremely comfortable with Bash, the command line and have the confidence in working my way out of issues (a lot of this is due to the hardware business I was involved with for 7 years which sharpened by skills).  I've dealt with installing Nvidia drivers in every which way too (if you know, you know).  

Whenever Ubuntu releases an LTS version, I tend to experiment with it and I did so last night with 24.04.  Really annoying things like not being able to move the taskbar from the left to the bottom without having to use extensions that could break, are now natively supported (IIRC you couldn't do this so easily before).  That sounds like a minor nit-pick but if there's something I know about myself, it's that if I don't have to reprogram my muscle memory, I will have an easier time.  The mouse movement feels Windows-like (this truly annoyed me with macOS despite trying every program and tweak in existence) and font rendering doesn't seem to bother me as much as macOS.  Again these seem like minor nit-pick type things but to me they matter.

At this point, it comes down to software compatibility.  I'm not some hardcore Office user and I barely use it beyond basic word processing, so that's not an issue.  The only other software suite is Adobe CC.  I do rely on Photoshop and Illustrator, but not for "creating" but rather tweaking.  I've built some muscle memory with those apps as well but I can't let them hold me back.  I know Photopea exists which many have raved about being a great Photoshop alternative and which supports PSD quite well from what I've heard.  So that's always an option combined with Gimp or Krita if I don't have to deal with actual PSD files.  Maybe I'll set up a VM with Windows to help ease the transition.

So at this point, there's nothing holding me back.  I installed Ubuntu 24.04 on my main system along-side Windows (dual boot).  In a couple months, I will try to switch.

Any other desktop Linux users here?

BTW, I'm sticking with Ubuntu because I like how it's Debian-based.  I know there's some disagreements with snaps being used, etc., but because it's the most popular Linux distro and feels polished enough and similar to Windows, it's the best place to start (and maybe stay).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I switched from Windows to desktop linux in 2004 and have not regretted it.

I do have a Windows VM for running one legacy app, which I boot once every 2 months and run for a few hours. Apart from that I also use DDEV to run local development containers (thanks for the pointer @bernhard) and am using the Cinnamon desktop - which I do prefer over gnome.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

KDE Plama user here and very happy with it (currently KDE Neon but sometimes Kubuntu).

I do also own a Mac becasue we sometimes build apps which needs me to use XCode, and I have a laptop that I can dual boot into Windows but I can't even remember the last time I had to do that and most of my day is spent in Linux.

I'd agree that the main drawback is the gap in graphics software. I use Affinity Designer on the Mac which is great, but whilst it nearly runs in Wine it's not quite there yet. Apart from that my development stack on Maxc and Linux is pretty much identical so it's dead easy to swap between them. The designers I work with nearly all use Figma these days so it's been a while since I was given a PSD anyway (which Affinity Desginer deals with very well).

You should definitely give Plasma a go if you want to be able to tweak your desktop .... although I warn you will spend a lot of time tweaking your desktop ....

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice to see Linux users here.

As for KDE, even though it's more advanced user oriented (my opinion), I like the polish and feel of Gnome more.  Also, I want to avoid the whole ricing thing altogether.  My need to tweak is very minimal... just a few changes to satisfy my muscle memory with Windows.  The feel of the mouse alone without any tweaks is already a huge win (I abhor macOS mouse acceleration).  When System76's new Cosmic is done, I will definitely give Pop_OS! a try (it's based on Ubuntu which is good for me).

I bought Affinity Designer last year, so I will try to run that in Wine.  In the meantime I've installed a bunch of other graphics programs like Photopea, Vectorpea, Gimp, Krita, Inkscape, Pinta.  I'm going to install every graphics software I find! 🙂

I also installed the Segoe UI font and enabled it as the default font for Gnome.  Segoe UI is a Microsoft font which is the default font for the Windows 11 UI.  This change makes me feel more at home and it still looks great with Gnome (sorry Ubuntu Sans).  Seriously, not having to adjust my eyes to a new font is a huge win for me.  https://github.com/mrbvrz/segoe-ui-linux

One other piece of software that is absolutely great on Windows is XYplorer.  It has a bunch of features, but one that I really miss is the ability to tag files with colors (similar to how macOS allows it in Finder).  Any file manager recommendations?  I've tried many but maybe I'm missing something important.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, Jonathan Lahijani said:

Really annoying things like not being able to move the taskbar from the left to the bottom without having to use extensions that could break

Yes Ubuntu adds their own philosophy over the Gnome desktop. With Gnome in Manjaro Linux I can move the dash in 4 screen edges and have more options to tweak.

You could try Manjaro since it's based on the rolling release Arch Linux distribution, so you get only recent versions of each software. It's not considered as stable as Ubuntu tho (in theory, because of rolling release philosophy), but practically there's really few chances to have a serious issue.

23 hours ago, Jonathan Lahijani said:

The only other software suite is Adobe CC.

In the past I ran Adobe CS5 under a virtualized Windows with Virtual Box and that was working fine, I mainly used Photoshop and Illustrator. Maybe make a try.
It's necessary to enable CPU virualization in BIOS and activating some options in VirtualBox (like graphical acceleration) after creating the Windows VM and installing the package virtualbox guest additions.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/10/2024 at 7:10 PM, Jonathan Lahijani said:

Any other desktop Linux users here?

Here! Moved away from Mac over a decade ago and went with Windows for quite some time. Then about 6+ years ago I made the switch to full-time Linux. Never looked back.

Enjoyed distro-hopping between Ubuntu, Fedora, Manjaro, Debian, Arch, Zorin and finally settled with Ubuntu because of the broad support even for tools like ScreamingFrog (.deb and .rpm). Moved away from Gnome to i3wm to have a super minimal environment. Everything works just by pressing keys - from moving windows around workspaces, opening or starting apps, to window tiling.

I am a happy camper now. 🐧

As you are on Ubuntu as well I suggest looking at deb-get - a little helper to install most common apps without hunting down the .deb files:

https://github.com/wimpysworld/deb-get/blob/main/01-main/README.md

You may have seen over on X/Twitter the journey of DHH

He released his very own setup as a script to make tons of changes, installing software, fonts, and all kinds of stuff.

See here:

https://x.com/dhh/status/1798466733222838758

His journey explained here:

https://x.com/dhh/status/1799185008378171885

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome. Ok. He is convincing quite a few right now. It's quite interesting to follow the situation.

Didn't know about Pinta. Might give it a try.

Another thing in regards to Gimp and Inkscape (an Illustrator alternative) - great tutorials here:

https://www.youtube.com/c/LogosByNick

He offers courses to master both for very little money. Might help to keep things moving in that space.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spoiler: I didn't switch to linux. I hope it's ok to share my journey as I found it very interesting to read others'.

Spoiler

I've been on Windows for maybe two decades. Then I started working in an agency where everybody was on mac and I got one as well (Air M1). I made a hard reset from one day to the other. Learned all keyboard shortcuts from scratch, got used to the max/min/close icons being on the "wrong" side and also the reversed mouse wheel.

Then I left the agency and thought I'll use that opportunity to go a step further and switch to linux. Similar to @Jonathan Lahijani over time I got more and more used to working with the command line - RockShell, knock knock 😄 . And all my servers that I manage run on linux, so I thought it would be good to work on it every day.

BUT.

There have been two very important points that made me go back to mac.

  1. Graphic Design Software. I really can't understand why Affinity does not offer their software suite for the linux market. There has been discussions about it, but all affinity said is "linux support is not on our roadmap". For me I need to at least be able to open files and play around and maybe modify things and export everything for what I need with my dev work. Gimp & Co are really no comparison, unfortunately...
  2. Noise. Man... I bought a quite expensive laptop for linux online. I installed everything. Booted Linux, everything looked nice. But then... A jumbojet took off right from my desktop. Why the ** is there no laptop with passive cooling like the Macbook Air? It's such a difference if you are used to that everything you hear is the clicks of the mouse and the keystrokes of the keyboard. I really don't want back. So I sent the linux laptop back and got a Macbook.

I've never been a huge fan of apple products. But I'm very happy with the macbook for my daily development work. And it has all the programs that I need for my "artistic" work too (like affinity designer/publisher/photo and davinci resolve and obs for youtube videos).

The only tool that I really miss is "Search Everything" from my windows days. I waste far too much time for finding files on my mac...

 

On 6/10/2024 at 7:10 PM, Jonathan Lahijani said:

however I gave up after 8 solid months because I came to dislike some issues that I couldn't circumvent in macOS.

Would be interesting to hear those!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, bernhard said:

Would be interesting to hear those!

I wrote about it here to an extent: 

 

3 minutes ago, bernhard said:

Why the ** is there no laptop with passive cooling like the Macbook Air?

Indeed.  While I don't use laptops, I did have a Intel NUC for a while and that totally drove me insane with the fan whizzing.  However a new era is now upon us with Qualcomm Snapdragon X, the non-Apple alternative Apple Silicon.  When Framework laptops get this chip and Linux support is 100%, I'm making the switch and saying goodbye to X86 (and Windows).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, bernhard said:

But then... A jumbojet took off right from my desktop.

Wow... that's what I had all the time using Windows. The moment you clone a repo and it tries to index the files, it went crazy and didn't stop for hours. Disabling all indexing and search features helped a lot but still more fan noise on Windows than nowadays on Linux - at least for me. The last time I heard a fan was when moving the old Thinkpad X260 from Ubuntu 23.10 to 24.04.

35 minutes ago, bernhard said:

Why the ** is there no laptop with passive cooling like the Macbook Air?

And passive cooling... there are some MS Surface Laptops out there that don't have a fan at all. My Surface (from 2018 or so) is one of those. Sure it's an i5 but that machine did a great job on Windows and even Linux. Really miss it.

27 minutes ago, Jonathan Lahijani said:

However a new era is now upon us with Qualcomm Snapdragon X, the non-Apple alternative Apple Silicon.  When Framework laptops get this chip and Linux support is 100%

Count me in on this. I'm tempted to get a Framework laptop right now but with those new processors... I sure get one. (And yes, it's DHH's fault.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Go for it! The distro you choose doesn't really matter imo. Just use the one you feel most comfortable with.

I'm full time on Linux since 2003 and haven't thought about switching back to Win or Mac ever since. Maybe Linux on Mac hardware 😛 Back in the days Ubuntu was released as free DVD via mailorder 🙂 My journey went from Ubuntu to Debian Based Mint (LMDE) with Mate, then Cinnamon desktop. I finally settled on Arch (btw) for the last 8 years or so.
Now I'm in the process of switching to NixOS for its deterministic setup approach and reproducability
of exactly the same system on multiple machines. Lot's of fun if you're coming from a programming background.

Anyways, as for graphics apps, I've been using a pirated CS6 in VMs for many years. Then switched to Photopea. Not doing a lot of graphics. But sometimes really am missing Illustrator, mainly for its text on path features. You can do it with Inkscape but it is fiddly as hell. Photopea is even better with that.

14 hours ago, Jonathan Lahijani said:

Any file manager recommendations?  I've tried many but maybe I'm missing something important.

File manager color labels: Nautilus on Gnome needs an extension for that from a custom PPA. If you feel comfortable using gnome extensions and packages from random PPAs out there, you could go that route.
Gnome is great in itself. But, you already said it, might break easily when using extensions. Kinda like the Wordpress Plugin Hell.
KDE does not have that out of the box as far as I'm aware. Found a 6 years old extension...

Maybe you missed out on terminal file managers. There's a ton out there. I love yazi with vim style key binds (configurable through toml file). It has file colors/icons out of the box if you use Nerd Fonts in the terminal and feels really nice for a terminal application:

yazi.thumb.jpg.c01b083ecba63eb62df76ebc49f4a792.jpg

On 6/11/2024 at 12:10 AM, Jonathan Lahijani said:

BTW, I'm sticking with Ubuntu because I like how it's Debian-based.  I know there's some disagreements with snaps being used, etc.,

You can disable snaps and replace them with flatpak which is a way better ecosystem given you have ample disk space.

10 hours ago, bernhard said:

Noise. Man...

This depends very much on the hardware and distro used. You really should have had a better exoperience given that you bought a Linux optimized laptop. I have one, too (Tuxedo with AMD) and it seems I got lucky or they did a better job than your vendor. Never hear even the faintest fan noise. Then I have a 10 year old Asus ZenBook. Still running like a champ with very moderate noise under high loads.

Linux is so awesome because of all the choices it gives you. Can be a bit overwhelming at the start, though.

Man, I could talk hours on end about this topic. What a great way to procrastinate 😋

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Going back to finding the best file manager, I think I'm going to settle on Konqueror (I tried about 7 different ones).  I'd prefer to stick with a GTK app, but all the GTK file managers are just too simplistic.  I need my tab state saved and none of them do that except for Konqueror (well maybe some do but it's outweighed by other things I prefer to skip like dual-pane file management).  KDE apps tends to be advanced user oriented, and in this case, the deep customization capability of the app really shines for what I need.

As for TUI and CLI apps, one route I've long considered is switching to terminal-based apps for almost everything and being as mouseless as possible.  Before I do that though, I would first want to become comfortable with Neovim and Vim-style key bindings.  The problem with that however is I don't type "correctly" (fingers on home row, etc.) so fixing that after 30 years of typign my own way will be... fun.

Small incremental steps for now, but after many years of experimenting, I think the "year of the Linux Desktop" has arrived for me.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The larger picture of why I'm doing this is to overall De-Google, De-Microsoft and De-Apple my life as much as possible (surely there will be exceptions).  It's not about saving money or privacy (those are very very minor points), but personal optimization, control, me being ready for it, Linux desktop having become really great in the last X years, and taking a stronger liking to FOSS and self-hosting.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, Jonathan Lahijani said:

Neovim

For me it was like this: It's hard for a week or two. Another 2 weeks to feel more at home. After that it was fun.

34 minutes ago, Jonathan Lahijani said:

Vim-style key bindings

Noone forces you. In ranger (CLI file manager) you might be better of using them but you always can change them or add arrow keys. For me arrow keys win most of the time. I didn't feel the need to learn HJKL. I know about it, that's enough.

The real fun, especially in Neovim, will be the keycombos like ciw (change in word) or diw (delete in word). These are game changers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...