And why I don’t run Arch btw…
I think most people following this blog should by now be aware that my operating system of choice is neither Windows nor MacOS, although I recently tried both again.
The fact I did run both of them again and tried to port my workflow all over again made me think about why I kept looking at the other options, while still landing back where I started. If I wanted to flatter myself I’d say to keep an open mind and to keep up with their development so I can work on whatever computer is in front of me, but one shouldn’t lie, especially to one self.
It’s not all those nice people on youtube and all the other ad-infested platforms that keep telling me the grass is greener on the other side either. Also not the, by now very cinematic, keynotes of Apple that do their best to hide the fact, that these days 5 of their products are the exact same thing, just with different software, form factors and prices.
So what is it, then? Must be something wrong with my current system, right?
No, not really. The Linux Desktop has come a long way since I first got my feet wet, and whatever desktop environment you happen to prefer, you are presented with a very polished experience. Software support has come a long way and you are hard pressed to find something you need to do and won’t be able to do it on a Linux OS. Just the other day I was sent a video I couldn’t for the life of me open on my iPhone, sent it over to my Ubuntu desktop, opened the software store and downloaded a video converter (MystiQ before you ask) and had the video in a usable format within seconds (OK minutes).
If I think about what it involves to find a free video converter, for either Windows or Mac, it gives me a headache. Reading reviews, looking stuff up on forums, doing hours of research just to make sure I don’t download some sort of malware and in the end still having a bad feeling when downloading something in the end and the first pop-up with some strange advertisement opens.
I can’t speak for other distributions, but living with Ubuntu or Fedora on a PC is just easy now, you install it, almost zero problems with drivers, a polished desktop, great software support, updates that don’t make you fear your PC won’t start anymore, no trying to push you to sign up for an online account every other reboot. Even the nVidia situation isn’t as bad anymore and distributions like Pop_OS! offer the ability to liveswitch between drivers so you can save power on a laptop. Speaking of power, my Thinkpad runs longer on battery in Ubuntu than it did in Windows.
So what is it? Honestly, devices that only have little to nothing todo with my laptop.
For starters my mouse, yes you heard right. I have a logitech MX Master gen 1 and in Windows and Mac OS I can set up gestures within the control software logitech provides to these OSes. I haven’t yet managed to do the same on linux. Stuff like switching to the app overview or between desktops. The last one being very useful if you work with multiple remote connections where you keyboard is bound to the remote session. Under Linux it’s just a very nice looking mouse where even simple things like horizontal scrolling are hit or miss.
Next is my iPhone, there is no way of doing backups under linux or to restore backups to a new phone, except for pictures there is no accessing that device, Mac and Windows? No problem.
Accessing text messages? No way, but ok neither on windows… (Yes I know that using Android would solve all of the phone stuff, but I just don’t like it)
Miracasting or Airplaying to a TV? Good luck
Streaming to Sonos Speakers? Yes, actually that partly works but only very limited.
The surveillance cameras I use demand using Internet Explorer (Yes, the really old one)
If you are on a Mac, all of these things work out of the box and on windows most of them do. On Linux however, you are mostly out of luck.
Ok, so we now know, that it is the little quality of life things, that at times make me switch over to the other side. But returning to the original question: Why always land back at Linux?
Short answer, because it works better in any other aspect. Long answer, let’s take a look:
Yes, I’ll take that cheap shot too. But in reality Windows Updates do very often mess your system up. And most people do them wrong. The taskmanager is there for a reason and one of them is to make sure your hdd activity is down to normal levels after an update prior to powering down your pc. Otherwise you are likely to land on one of these nice screens that tells you, your last updates are being rolled back.
But even if everything goes through without hiccups, they still won’t let you decide if you update your system, you can postpone things if you know they’ll do damage, but at some point the update will happen, except you disconnect from the internet forever.
Mac OS Updates? I don’t know about you, but the last 3 Updates I had where each over 3.5 GB of download and the last one > 6 GB. What are they doing?? The whole thing took me over an hour to go through and other than Windows (yes I am giving Microsoft credit) they have no option of limiting the bandwidth I could locate. So yes, until you downloaded 6 GB no one else is accessing the internet.
If copying files crashes in Windows, it doesn’t display an error. So, if you do, let’s say backups and leave you computer after it tells you it’ll be done in an hour and you return and see a blank screen with no progress bar, you backup is either through or not, you know, like Schrödingers cat, dead and alive at the same time (you should always check you backups btw, on any os, no matter what). But if something crashes, there should be an error.
Explorer.exe to this day does not have tabs and they removed the file tree…
Oh, if you connected a network drive to one of the upper letters like E:\ permanently, left the network and plugged in an usb drive it will map it to E:\ as well and, you won’t ever guess, try to look up the network path instead of the usb.
So how are Macs doing on file transfers? Funny enough, they also crash without errors, maybe the programmers at Apple to a look over at Redmond and decided: “Ah, that’s how it’s done today”
But the Finder does at least have tabs..
But also places stupid ._.DS-Store files in any folder it visits for now apparent reason.
There is no window snapping in Mac OS, seriously, there isn’t. You could do some strange thing with half full screen mode apps or by a third party tool, but natively, not possible.
There is no way of changing the default keyboard shortcuts on either mac nor windows. Not so bad in Windows, but Mac shortcuts are different and not very compatible with remote sessions…
Apropos remote session, on a headless mac system, you can’t use any other resolution other than 1024×768
Wake on Lan for Macs? Nice try.
Ever tried theming Windows 10 or Mac OS?
This is a mac only thing, but I’s a weird one. If a mac is connected to an Ethernet cable and in range of a Wi-Fi Network it knows, it will route the traffic through Wi-Fi ignoring the more stable connection unless the Wi-Fi adapter is switched of manually…
Out of stuff
There was a little more I think that made me question how the rest of the world is able to do things at all, but for now I am out of stuff. And I am intentionally ignoring the privacy concerns that come with those two, as I would be writing for a couple of days till I am done.
All in all it boils down to Linux being the one that works for me, that is stable and I can run the OS in exactly the way I want it to. The openness and flexibility of this OS are unreached, my computer runs exactly as I wish it to, looks as I wish it to and only installs updates if and when I want them. (Except for snaps, who apparently think they where developed by Microsoft and can do whatever they want)
So, if you love the choice, why not Arch?
Honestly? I am to lazy or more to the point to comfortable on Ubuntu, it runs for 5 years on standard support with tested packages, if I need software to be newer I can go snap or flatpack. This is without headaches and that’s not what I am reading about Arch. If your experience is different, please let me know, also I will consider you a Linux God, if you can install a completely blank distribution to your taste and have it stably running on the first go for five years.
As for me, thanks, but I’m fine.