Linux as a Primary Desktop…

So….I finally did it. Made the switch *PERMANENTLY*.

And I can say permanently because (this time) I made the switch more than 4 months ago and have not even once considered going back.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was re-imaging a laptop for a friend, when I found out that Microsoft will NO LONGER LET YOU install windows without supplying a login. (There is a simple workaround though, turning off networking allows you to bypass the login requirement, though there are a number of guilt-screens involved… “Are you SURE you don’t want to connect to a network so we can track your every movement?”)

I got tired. So on or about May 1st, I ran one last backup of my Windows desktop (by “backup” i mean P2V’d the desktop to my ESX server)

Ubuntu - Wikipedia

There were a few false starts, but it ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done.

Over the course of the next month or so, I’m going to go through what I’ve found as “alternatives” to windows Applications in more detail, but so far I’ve found NOTHING I can do in windows that I can’t also do in Linux.

Then, a month into the experiment, I got a glance at Windows11…which is WAY worse… But that’s a whole diffferent story.

But let’s start with the OS.

There are a million or so different distros of Linux. All of them are equally valid. I don’t get into religious arguments about Linux…as long as we all acknowledge that Linux is God, Unix are the angles, and Windows is the goat. šŸ˜‰

I chose Ubuntu. It’s one of the MOST mainstream distros and comes with just about everything out of the gate. My first requirement is “I can’t spend more time futzing with my desktop than I do actually working.”

I chose Ubuntu 21.04, which is the “latest/greatest” My logic being that I want this to work as long as possible, without having to do a major upgrade, and it seems like it’s best to go forward from the newest proven version. (I know, newest/proven doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it is, because while 21.04 isn’t the current LTS (Long-Term-Support) version, it’s the latest mainstream release.

When I installed, I chose ZFS as my default filesystem (more on my newly found love-affair with ZFS later) and installed to a 1TB NVMe disk I bought specifically for the occasion.

For work, the Requirements were fairly simple. I need to be able to do everything I do for work, be compatible with people who work with Windows and Macintosh (also linux!) and not lose data due to downtime. I also am not allowed to contact the IT support of the company I work for for help. (Because they’ve already let me know in no uncertain terms their answer will be “reinstall windows and call us back”)

I’ve found the following apps, in mainstream linux, or as add-ons, that have been tremendously useful.

Application / TaskMicrosoft ApplicationLinux Equivalent
EmailOutlook / MailEvolution w/EWS Support
MessagingMicrosoft TeamsMicrosoft Teams (Native Linux Application)
MessagingSlackSlack (Native Linux Application)
TeleconferencingZoomZoom (Native Linux Application)
OfficeOffice365LibreOffice (Native – w/ “save as” set for office format)
OneDriveMicrosoft OnedriveInsync (Paid app)
VPNCisco AnyconnectCisco Anyconnect (Native Linux Application)
Web BrowserChrome (Windows)Chrome (Native Linux Application) / Opera
Remote Desktop (Windows)Microsoft RDP ClientRemmina (RDP/VNC/SSH CliApplicationnt)
Snipping (Screenshots)Microsoft Snip&SaveCtrl-Shift-PrtScrn (Native)
Programming Text EditorUltraEditUltraEdit (Native Linux Application)
Windows/Linux Alternatives for Business

But here’s the awesome. What I also got out of the deal was a certain amount of freedom. My Operating system actually asks me when I want to apply patches, it doesn’t force the issue. It doesn’t (that I know of) report back on any of my activities to the “mother ship”. It also allows me freedom. Did I mention that?

Personally, there are a few other little bonuses. Everything works. Gaming, Media, Entertainment.

Application / TaskMicrosoft ApplicationLinux Equivalent
EmailOutlook/GmailEvolution Email / EWS / Google Clients
Steam (Games)Steam ClientSteam (Native Linux Client)
3-D Printing SlicerUltimaker CuraUltimaker Cura (Native Linux Client)
ChatDiscordDiscord (Native Linux Client)
Text MessagingGoogle Messages (WebApp)Google Messages (WebApp)
MusicSpotifySpotify (Native Linux Client)
MediaPlex Media ServerPlex Media Server
Video ViewerMicrosoft Native (can’t remember)VLC Player
Windows/Linux Alternatives (Personal Apps)

So when it comes down to it, just about the *ONLY* thing I’ve found I can’t do on Linux that I can do on Windows is play World of Warcraft…. but given the current status of the game (and the company) I’m not going to consider that a huge loss.

Things I can do on linux that I can’t do on windows well is the bonus.

BASH native command line
Python native
Running for months at a time without forced reboots.
ZFS (more on this later!)

So if you’re considering a move, DO IT. You won’t regret it… Remember this one fact…

Microsoft Azure runs Linux…..

More later. Stay tuned.

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