How I became a full-time Linux user

How I switch from a Windows user to a full-time Linux user with no regret

529 words · 3 min read

From Windows to Linux: My Linux Journey

I think it was 2009 when I tried GNU/Linux for the first time. It was on a ThinkPad, and the distribution (or distro) I tried was Ubuntu. I didn’t know anything about GNU/Linux back then, and I might or might not have been wondering where C:\ was, but I was amazed by the amount of customisations I could do with the operating system. Coming from Windows XP, something as pointless but amazing as Compiz blew my mind, and the existence of Workspaces was a revelation.

The only problem was that getting every piece of the hardware to work was so much more of a hassle back then than it is now, and being a new Linux user, dealing with problems on command lines and editing various configuration files here and there were simply too complicated. Not to mention that OpenOffice (did LibreOffice exist back then?) wasn’t functional enough, and I really needed Excel at the time: for someone who did financial modelling, Excel was, and perhaps still is, the gold standard, and LibreOffice/OpenOffice was (and probably still is) no match. I tried running Microsoft Office on Wine, but it didn’t work properly as well as it later would. So after playing with Ubuntu for a few days, I went back to Windows XP. But that experience changed the future of my computing forever. For the next few years, whenever I had some spare time, I became a distro-hopper, trying out different distros, testing various desktop environments, and pondering when I could ditch Windows entirely.

For me, the initial attraction from Linux, on top of the fact that it was free and had almost unlimited possibilities in customisation, was its speed: it ran a lot faster than Windows, using significantly less resources for achieving the same things. That meant older devices were now able to have a second life as a Linux machine. Linux is also, for the most part, more reliable and stable. A Linux rig can go on for months without a single reboot, because it’s so reliable, and because most of the packages updates don’t require a reboot; even when it does (e.g. kernel updates), the boot time is so fast that it won’t waste much time anyway. There are no sneaky programs running on the background to update and reboot your computer, delete your programs while you are away, and sending tonnes of information back to the software manufacturer for undisclosed purposes. So Linux is a good operating system for running a web server, which I did for a while. At the time, however, I was still using a Windows machine, because I still needed Excel.

The switch from being a Windows user to being a Linux-only user wasn’t well-planned. I can’t remember exactly when that was (it was 2011 or 2012): one day, Windows 7 decided to not boot. By then, I was sufficiently annoyed by Windows that I didn’t even try to figure out why the Windows died or tried to save it. I just gave up on Windows and set up a single-boot Linux machine within an hour.

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 Tech    31 Mar, 2016
 Linux    Arch Linux  
Copyright © Peter Y. Chuang 2018

Peter Y. Chuang is a Hong Kong-born novelist, short story writer, and a music critic who has lived in London at a time and now goes to Berlin semi-regularly for no good reason. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s probably playing with his cat, or listening to classical music, either at home or at one of the opera houses and concert halls in Germany. He uses Linux (current distro of choice: Arch Linux). Read more about his Linux stuff.

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