It has been a longer and more arduous journey switching from macOS to Linux than I expected. I knew that there would be challenges. I knew that there would be compromises. I knew that I would have to give up the familiar to learn something new. Likely, I think I overestimated my abilities to quickly disseminate technology and apply it within my daily routine. It has become evident to me that it is the journey and not the destination that has defined this migration; and, the pains I have felt along the way have been ones of growth in learning and working with Linux.
To be clear, I haven’t gone back to macOS. I made the change and am working solely on my System 76 laptop. To that point, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with a piece of hardware than the System 76 laptop I am using today (and writing this blog on). It is, in a word, perfect. It has traveled 100,000 miles last year across the country and to three continents without so much as a hiccup; been a workhorse for applications and games; and been the perfect tool for a novice, like myself, to learn the many wonders and secrets of Linux. All in all, I would gladly purchase a System 76 laptop again without hesitation (I wished I had done it sooner). So, the hardware has been a welcomed change.
The pain, instead, is with the applications. Sure, CrossOver Linux allows for me to run many different Windows applications and games on my Linux laptop. And Valve’s Proton allows for me to play even more Windows games. I’ve even enjoyed playing the handful or so of native Linux games. That’s all well and good. But, there are tradeoffs and compromises that are somewhat unsatisfying. For example, CrossOver Linux runs Outlook 2010 fairly well; however, there is a bug that prevents me from running Outlook locally (because of the size of my mail folder). So, I am required to run it from the server which can be a bit ‘glitchy’ especially when bandwidth is limited. And many games run and run well; however, there are some features and some controllers that don’t work the same as on Linux as they do on Windows. That to date has really BEEN the source of my greatest frustrations. I see all the potential of what Linux is today and can be tomorrow, but I am still left comparing it to Windows (which is unfair). Furthermore, the many sources of pain with macOS was more to do that it wasn’t Windows than it was appreciating the OS for its many differences.
To that point, I have started to look at Linux differently. Not so much as a lesser version of Windows but more about its many points of differentiation. For one, my battery life on Linux is twice the battery life on Windows. Linux consumes less power is more efficient and in turn has better overall performance which on a laptop is critical. In many ways, my Linux OS is more secure and much less prone to viruses and malware than Windows. With Linux, I am not bothered with Windows updates that take 10 – 15 painfully slow minutes to complete. Literally, there are thousands of Linux applications and games available for my Linux laptop. And while that is far fewer than the number of Windows applications and games, I find that many of these Linux titles are quite good; very useful; and solve some of the specific ‘real world’ problems I face daily (more so than their Windows counterparts). But yes, I cannot attempt to compare Linux to Windows using only the metrics I would use for Windows; however, I am learning (albeit slowly) to appreciate and revel in the many advantages available exclusively for Linux. And when you consider that I can run *some* (and growing) number of Windows applications and games on Linux using CrossOver and Proton; whereas, I cannot necessarily do the same on Windows with Linux (yes, I know about BASH and PowerShell) with the same expectations or results. SO, Linux is not Windows; Windows is not Linux; Einhorn is Finkle; Finkle is Einhorn; Einhorn is a man. Sorry, I have Ace Ventrua Pet Detective running in the background in my browser. And to that point, Linux is getting better – Netflix everyone?
So, the arduous part of this journey, for me, has been getting out of my own way. Once I was able to do that, I started finding more joy in using Linux. And knowing that Linux continues to improve with every passing day, I am more confident that the tradeoffs and compromises I am making today will be resolved tomorrow (figuratively). In the meantime, I will continue to count myself with the growing number of people that are using Linux each and every day. And who knows, that final frontier that looms on the horizon may actually be recognized in 2019.
About James B. Ramey
James B. Ramey is President of CodeWeavers. His life long love of video gaming started at the tender age of six with an Atari 2600 and evolved over time to include Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Apple Mac IIc, Windows PC, and MacBook Pro. When not fiddling with technology, James enjoys cooking, travel, debating politics in the office, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and their three Shar Pei cross dogs. For the past 20 years, James has worked with clients around the world in best implementing technology to maximize a return on their investment. He is a graduate of Moorhead State University and earned his graduate degree (MBA) online from the University of Phoenix. You can find James on Twitter at @jbramey.