We often hear about posts that says why Linux is not ready for desktop. You can read the latest article that really pissed me off here. Contacting the author of the article didn’t do any good and they have suggested me to write a post as a response to their article. Well, I have decided to do so, but in a way they probably did not have in mind.
This article is intended to be kind of amusing and humorous, but I will only cover the truth about my experience with Windows.
What you will need to make your system usable
Here, I will present to you three things you will need to do to make your Windows system actually usable.
1. You’ll need the latest and greatest hardware
To actually run any supported version of Windows properly, you will need at least two gigs of RAM and a dual core processor. Even though this is pretty much considered to be a standard today, if you have some older hardware lying around, well guess what? It is practically useless.
2. The installation is just too big
Lets be honest, the installation of the bare Windows 7 / 8 operating system is just too big.
For Windows 7 / 8, you will need 16 GB of space just to install the operating system. If you want the 64-bit version, you’ll need 4 gigs more, totaling at 20 GB of disk space.
Now this is not huge for today’s standards and probably every one of us has 20 GB of disk space. But, keep in mind that those 20 gigabytes are needed for the bare installation. So, if you want to install a couple of programs, store some music, play some games and things like that, anything below 200 GB will not satisfy your needs at all.
3. You’ll need to download drivers and lots of other software just to make your system usable
Now, let us say that you have decided that you can work with the first two things I already covered. You bought your Windows license, and you installed your Windows operating system.
OK, you’ll need the driver for your GPU, but to be honest, you’ll need to download it manually for pretty much every operating system you decide to use. Not a problem.
But what about .NET framework? Flash player? Antivirus? Office Suite? DirectX? New browser? (Since you won’t be using IE, that’s for sure.) Mailing client? Pdf reader? Some image editor? WinRAR? Even after you paid for your operating system, you’ll probably end up paying a couple of hundred bucks additionally just to make your system usable.
As a comparison, in Ubuntu, all you will have to do is to tick the box that says “Install third-party features” and you’re good to go. You’ll have Flash player, office suite, usable browser, pdf reader, image editor and a lot more. It will take less of your disk space (~ 5 GB), it will (probably) run faster on your hardware and you can spend more time doing… you know, something productive. And if that isn’t enough, you can get something like 98% of supported software free of charge.
What you will get in return
Once you make your Windows usable, you’ll get these awesome features not available in any other operating system!
1. Many, many viruses
Lets be honest, there are simply too many viruses available on the Windows platform. Even if you are tech-savvy, careful what you install kind of person that doesn’t just blindly install new software (by clicking next->next), you’ll end up with some crap like a new toolbar in your Firefox/Chrome from time to time and you’ll have to scan your system with some antivirus software from time to time. But, keep in mind that installing antiviruses might get you some crapware too, (AVG toolbar, I’m talking about you!) so what will you do then?
2. Low compatibility
People often complain about LibreOffice and its (in)compatibility with .doc(x) file format(s). But people often forget that Microsoft Office has a pretty long history of incompatibility between different versions of of their own products. So, what you’ll end up doing is downloading more software (compatibility packs) to make something that you paid for actually useful. Need some older application that does not work with the latest .NET framework? Well guess what, you can install multiple versions of .NET framework!
You want to play something really old like DOS games? Well, too fucking bad.
3. Pretty (useless) tiles!
OK, this issue is about Windows 8 and it doesn’t apply for Windows 7, but you get the idea.
What you end up getting is the platform for Metro applications! You know, those applications that are running across your entire monitor without any need to do so? And most of them are actually useless. Literally, Windows Store is full of useless Metro apps!
Now, lets say that you haven’t updated your Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. Try turning off your computer. It took me like two months of turning off my laptop by pressing Alt+F4. In the end, I ended up browsing the Internet for something like “how to turn off your windows 8”. Fucking Charms, whatever they are.
You’re a Skype user? Well, luckily for you, Skype comes pre-installed with Windows 8(.1)! Yay! Now, lets say that you want to add a new contact for your Skype account. What you need to do is to right click on an empty space to get that option! I mean, its not like adding new contacts and connecting to them is the most important feature of Skype anyway, right? Talk about a good UX!
But what if you are a power user?
OK, I think I have proved so far that Windows is a product that takes a considerable amount of money and time to make it actually useful. Once you’ve done with setting it up, you’re good to go! But, what if you are a power user like I am?
1. You can’t change something you don’t like
The thing that annoyed me the most after switching to Windows 8 was the file manager (or explorer as they like to call it). I really disliked their switch to ribbons interface. So, what could I do to retain that good ol’ Windows 7 look of file manager? Nothing. I just had to get used to the new interface. Yay!
2. Screw this, I’m going to build my own programs!
Well, lucky me! All I have to do is to download Visual Studio Community edition. After all, it is free and it requires “only” additional 20 fucking gigabytes of disk space! Yay!
3. Dual monitors?
It is said countless times that dual monitor setup can improve your productivity quite a bit. So, after playing around with my second monitor, I found out that Windows does not keep user settings once the second monitor is unplugged. So, if I want to see icons on my second monitor and my “main” start bar, I have to move them manually every time I connect the second monitor. Yay!
Now, lets say that I want to play my favorite game (World of Tanks, I’m talking about you!) and to keep an eye on my Twitter feed in the meantime. So, I start the launcher on my laptop monitor, start the game, and… it goes full screen on my second monitor! OK, no problem, I’ll just switch to window mode, drag it over to the laptop monitor and press Alt+Enter once again. Aaaand, it’s back on the second monitor.
OK, I can work with that. Now, I want to browse my Twitter feed. Wait what? Mouse scrolling doesn’t work? No problem, I’ll just click inside Firefox and it should sort this out, right? Aaaand, now I minimized my World of Tanks! Yay!
I’m tired of those “Linux is not ready for desktop” posts because it is. I’m saying this because I’m using my beloved elementary OS as my primary operating system for months. And guess what? It runs better and I didn’t have to pay a dime for it to make it usable. Although I didn’t get a useful browser and there is no office suite available out of the box, I think that it is a small price to pay considering that I got a beautiful operating system. So, I just had to install Firefox and LibreOffice and that’s it! My operating system is useful! It has no viruses, I didn’t have to install flash player, .NET framework(s), antivirus, DirectX and stuff like that. It just worked. And this is one of the biggest advantages of Linux-based operating systems. They’re usable. They’re simple. They just work. Free of charge. And this makes Linux perfectly usable for desktop! Windows, on the other hand…
The best part of switching to Linux
Now, I will tell you the best part about me switching to Linux.
First of all, I can have all of the software I want free of charge. I ran into only one program that required me to pay for it. The rest of them? Completely free!
Now I’m not encouraging anyone to just download the software and use it without doing anything to make it better. Even though I haven’t payed a dime for any of the software I am using (including my operating system), I have donated a considerable amount of my time to make the software even more useful. I’m beta testing, reporting and confirming bugs, translating, spreading the word about the software I’m using and writing about it. Not a day has passed without me doing something small to help out my favorite open source projects. And that is the beauty of open source software. I don’t have to be a coding expert to actually make myself useful to developers.
I don’t want to spend my time contributing to open source software. I have better things to do.
If you’re one of those guys that thinks that their time is too valuable to contribute to open source projects, just donate to them! So, for example, instead of paying $119.99 for the full version of Windows 8.1, why not donating $50 to your favorite operating system? Ubuntu and Red Hat might not need it, but I bet Mozilla, elementary LLC, Linux Foundation, LibreOffice etc. will all appreciate it very much!
Hell, even I would appreciate it, so if you’re a Flattr user, feel free to Flattr me below!