Loving Linux

Choosing to stop using Microsoft Windows was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Oh, as a Gamer I still have to keep the thing around for games that just don’t work on any other system but these days I’m spending most of my week using Linux for everything else.

And I love it. Love it love it love it.

I’m being exuberant, I know, but I hope you’ll forgive it: I’m simply not used to feeling like this about an Operating System.

Windows is many things but most of the time using it feels like a fight. A battle of wills between you and it to accomplish your objective, a war that rages but never ceases.  In my twenty five years with Windows I’ve learned how to tame the beast.  I’ve learned how to tweak and change her to within an inch of bluscreen. I get around deficiencies with third party software cleverness. I’ve been able to tune that damned thing until she sings. Windows XP and 7 were flexible and stable enough that I could polish ‘good enough’ into ‘genuinely pleasurable’, enough to satisfy me that I was using the very best available. But Windows 10….

OMG, Windows 10. Now that Microsoft have veered into Software-as-a-Service, and have also decided that Google, Apple, Facebook et al have the right idea treating their customers as product upon which to make money selling advertising…it just got harder and harder to see Windows 10 as anything but an attempt to control you, even own you. Unfortunately, their quality control seems to have taken a turn for the worse at the same time. Updates have been especially bad for me this year, refusing to work and costing me weeks of lost time trying to resolve the issues, some of which are still unresolved six months later (Beyond aggravating). Their latest big feature update, 1809, even seems to be deleting users personal files making room for it to update. Microsoft have grown in arrogance AND incompetence – never a good combination.

So I installed Linux alongside Windows on the same drive. I’d had two previous attempts to move across but after the second attempt in the early 00’s I concluded it just wasn’t quite ready for regular use, and sadly turned back to Windows. This year, trying Linux, I’m happy to say it has matured into everything I needed it to be. Crucially, by contrast to the thing Windows has now become, the Freedom that Linux has always offered has become so much more important. Linux not only doesn’t care who you are it actively goes out of it’s way to avoid finding out. It isn’t trying to make money off you, either. By all means donate but you are never coerced or encouraged into that decision. Linux just wants to help you do what you need to do.

Linux doesn’t just offer philosophical advantages. There are very significant practical benefits to be had. Programs start in less than half the time Windows takes. Using the system feels much more responsive – it’s like giving your hardware a new lease of life, although it’s probably more accurate to say your hardware is being used more effectively. Not only that but you have the ability to change just about every feature of the OS. Linux offers a tremendous amount of options that can be bewildering but once you find your way through them you learn to appreciate them. For a tinkerer like me it’s pretty much heaven. But I’ll never tire of seeing a program like GIMP or VLC just pop open, no fuss no muss. Or how about a File Explorer that’s just as fast, and offers genuinely useful option to help you? Microsoft are so concerned with offering shiny new features that appeal to consumers they’ve forgotten how to craft workflows and tools that genuinely assist their users. I’ve lost count of the number of message boards and forums where exasperated IT Admins have had to resort to venting their frustrations at some new feature that has made their job more difficult.

If anyone is thinking along the same lines I’d be delighted to help if I can, with suggestions or explanations of anything you might need some help with, or go hang around somewhere like Reddit where there are always people willing to share their knowledge and help out.

Peace out, folks. Until next time.

Current Desktop

Click me to get the original!

So this is my current and very lovely desktop. Some info:

Antergos Linux using KDE Plasma 5.13, with the Dark Breeze colour theme applied. The wallpaper is from Wallhaven, a worthy successor to the defunct Wallbase. I don’t think the author named it, sadly. I love when they have names.

I prefer a vertical right-hand task bar. Vertical because it makes logical sense when browsing websites that only use a narrow strip in the middle of your screen – like this very blog! Right-hand because I tend to focus left first, English being my native language. The only drawback I’ve found for this is when you need to see the names of the windows/programs you are working with before you hover your cursor over the icons. At work, where I often have multiple Excel windows and other applications open I use the traditional horizontal/bottom setup.

My neatness-brain very much enjoys how the clock on the desktop sits precisely in the middle of that diamond shape. 🙂 Here is a good place to be if you also have a neatness-brain.

A neat little feature of KDE Plasma I really want to bring your attention to is what happens bottom right when you hover your mouse over the clock at the bottom of the task bar. If you set different time zones in the settings they appear here. Mine are set for all of my favourite people in the world, wherever they may be (Awww) so I know when to start annoying them. I’m UK based so my timezone defaults to London though that’s not the city I live in.

Have a lovely day everyone!