Many years ago, I built my first computer. A Linux tower made mostly of spare parts. Choosing the free operating system (OS) because of price rather than choice. It was my first real introduction to computing outside of Microsoft Windows. It’s fair to say, it opened my eyes. I’ve used Linux in some form since that first desktop. When I moved on to using a MacBook and OSX as my main computer, I kept a Linux partition.
After a few years, Linux is back to being my main OS.
The newest operating systems are very underwhelming to me. So much focus going to touch and tablet, the PC as I grew to know it will soon be a thing of the past (not something I think is bad, but it hasn’t happened yet). I still need a traditional PC. I don’t need a graphic intense operating system, and I don’t need features that should only be on a touch device forced into my desktop. I need functionality and speed when I’m on my desktop.
I was a loyal OSX user, but the newest OSX Lion really didn’t play nice for me. It was very slow, and many of the new features in Lion had no relevance to things I actually did with my computer (I’ll go into more complaints in another post).
I then switched over to using my Ubuntu partition on a MacBook Pro. This only lasted a couple of weeks. 11.04 was released, and the Unity interface. Ubuntu’s new interface wasn’t intuitive enough for me to use on a everyday basis. I needed a new Distro.
*Quick note on Windows. I haven’t liked Windows in a long time. I use it for work when needed, but not for personal. I never considered it for my computer.
Linux Mint running Gnome 3.2 has just about everything I want in my desktop. Mint provided me with minimal initial set up. All the codecs I needed were already installed, and I only needed to install a couple of programs on top of what came standard. Gnome gave me a very intuitive interface. I am able to navigate around my desktop easily and switch between applications. I very rarely need to even use my mouse. I can do just about everything from my keyboard. That is something I want in my desktop operating system.
After the initial set up, I applied a Gnome shell just to get away from the generic green of the Linux Mint install. I install the Faience shell and icon set.
A great new feature of Gnome 3.2 is the ability to add extensions. I added, the Auto-Hide Top Panel, and gTile extensions. You can view all the extensions available here (it’s a small but growing list).
The command key brings this us from anywhere in the OS. I am able to switch between programs and desktops from here. I can also type the name of any program to launch it. It is very quick and intuitive.
The Linux OS makes my MacBook Pro feel like new again. It is much faster than running Lion OSX. I was considering upgrading my computer/buying a new one, with this set up, it doesn’t seem necessary. If I do ever upgrade, my Linux desktop is universal. I can go from an Apple, to a Dell, to an Asus hardware, and my Linux install will still work. It’s not usually something you think about, but having freedom of hardware is an often overlooked benefit.
The downside. It can’t be all perfect.
Linux does not have a native Evernote program, something I use constantly. I am forced to use the web app version. It is manageable but not as enjoyable to use.
The software and application management in Linux has improved my leaps and bounds lately, but still has some improving . Most application have simple one click installs, however there are still a few lurking that require command line treatment to install. It can be annoying and not something the average user will want (or even know how) to do.
It can also be a trick to uninstall a program. There doesn’t seem to be an easy one-click way to do this for most applications.
Linux is not compatible with most Apple products. You’re iPhone and iPad won’t be able to sync with Linux. I don’t consider that a bad thing. I have both an iPhone and iPad and use them independently of the computer. Thanks to iCloud, I back up everything to the cloud rather than a computer. This could be a deal breaker for some people though.
All things considered, this Linux desktop is one of the best OS I have used. It’s very intuitive and quick to navigate around. I am back to using Linux as my main computer.
For the future. I see the traditional PC going away. I already use my iPad everyday. With a little more power and the right accessories, I can see the iPad (or iPad like device) becoming my main/only computer.