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Why I switched to Linux full time

vineet192 profile image Vineet Kalghatgi Updated on ・5 min read

My current homescreen setup
My current homescreen setup

I have a 4 year old HP pavilion which until recently, was craving for an upgrade. I had also been wanting to get rid of Windows for the longest time, so killing two birds with one stone, I replaced the existing HDD with a new SSD and performed a clean install of Pop_os! developed by System76 on it (No dual booting). I now use the HDD as an external USB drive with the help of a case, eliminating any worry of data backup.

So why did I not just reinstall Windows on the new SSD ? Well let me explain


1. Linux is completely free.

This holds good not only for the operating system and the kernel, but also for all the software that come bundled with it. When I first bought my laptop, I realized that it did not come with the MS office suite free which means critical functionality like editing documents, excel sheets etc were locked.

I had to turn to open sourced alternatives like LibreOffice writer, which is coincidentally the default document editing application on most Linux distributions. Not to mention the plethora of paid/proprietary software on windows including Antivirus (Which you probably wont need for Linux as malware affecting Linux is rare, probably owing to its unpopularity currently).

2. Pop_os! gets out of your way.


Gnome multitasking with virtual desktops

While the Gnome desktop environment, the default for pop OS, has its fair share of criticisms, it does hold true to its values of getting out of your way to get work done. Gnome has focused on building a very minimal yet functional desktop environment which is intuitive enough for the average user. The layout may be a bit jarring due its departure from the traditional windows design, but once you start using it, you’ll learn to understand that its almost smartphone-esque in its look and feel.

If the default design and working is not up to your liking, then you can tweak and customize it however you want. You can get it to behave like MacOS or Windows complete with a start menu. This is one of the advantages of having a completely open sourced operating system, is that you have complete freedom over its customization. Think of it as downloading new launchers/icon-packs/skins on your android phone. You can have it look however you want if you are willing to put in some time for personalisation.


Notifications panel.

Notifications are located at the center of the top bar and applications are accessed through an application drawer.

Pop OS, as of its 20.04 release, has also released a window tiling manager that is baked into the operating system by default. This allows you to tile and organize all open windows at the click of a button which is extremely useful when multitasking.

It provides a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts that are easy to pick up and dare I say even quite intuitive. Here are some shortcuts that I use everyday (while some are similar to windows shortcuts, it is worth noting that the default gnome is built in such a way that it encourages their use better than windows in my opinion) :

super : Opens recent applications view.  
super + tab : cycles through open applications.

When in tiling mode  
super + g : toggle floating mode.  
super + arrow key : toggle between active windows.  
super + O : change window orientation.

These were just a few, however you can find the rest on System76’s website

Pop OS shortcuts

3. Linux is very powerful and secure

It should not come as a surprise that the kernel used by most servers as well as all phones using android is much more powerful and capable than Windows.

Linux supports all the major programming languages ( C/C++, Python, Java, JavaScript etc) in a much more developer friendly way and possesses a much more powerful and versatile terminal than windows. Since Linux was built with servers and server administrators in mind, one can navigate the entire operating system using just the terminal. Something which would be an immense pain in the neck in Windows.

The terminal might seem daunting for someone who has never used it before, but the beauty of user friendly distributions like Pop OS is that you don’t have to! You can navigate and control the OS through the GUI like you would in windows or MacOS. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from at least trying the terminal out. So here are some basic commands that can help boost your productivity :

cd - used to change directories  
ls - list directory contents  
pwd - print name of current/working directory  
rm - remove files or directories  
mkdir - make directories  
rmdir - remove empty directories  
clear - clear the terminal screen  
touch - change file timestamps ( Can be used to create a new file)  
kill - send a signal to a process ( provide the PID as an argument)  
top - display Linux processes (task manager)

4. Linux is lightweight

Compared to Windows, Linux uses far less memory on boot and that results in a much more responsive system, even when several applications are open and/or running in the background.

Memory usage with terminal and screenshot app open
Memory usage with terminal and screenshot app open

A lot of my development, especially in my most recent internship, involved using an android emulator which takes upto 2gb of your ram since its basically a virtual machine. This coupled with windows’ almost 4gb ram usage on boot was a recipe for disaster. Linux not only overcomes this but also provides an option to make it an even better experience. The Android Emulator can use hardware acceleration features to improve performance, sometimes drastically.

5. Package managers are way more organised that .exes and .msis

The main way of installing software on Linux is through package managers. Think of package managers as an app store like the Google play store or Apple’s app store except all the applications are free and so are the updates. You can install/update/remove/purge applications with just a single line of command on the terminal and not have to worry about installers, exe files etc.

It is also much more secure than windows as you are required to enter the lock password anytime you download/install or uninstall a new piece of software. This way is certainly better than displaying a pop up saying “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device ?”.

So instead of scouring countless websites to find that one 64_bit.exe all you need to do is sudo apt install anything you need.

6. Linux is developer friendly

This is probably the main reason why I switched over. Linux simply does a better job of supporting developer activities a lot better than windows. Installing new development environments be it Flutter, Angular, React, Android etc is made extremely easy and painless with the terminal and package managers.

In Windows, you might have to configure environment variables, build paths, sdk paths manually all of which is automated in Linux. So with the environment setup out of the way and taken care of, I can focus on actually developing software.

Discussion

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mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

I love it when people talk about and promote Linux!
Kudos

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vineet192 profile image
Vineet Kalghatgi Author

Appreciate it !

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pawelmiczka profile image
Paweł Miczka

I think Linux is great for servers and for beginners. What I miss from any Linux distro is lack of support from big companies such Microsoft (but it's changing) or Adobe so we don't have still things like MS Office and Photoshop. I was using Ubuntu for 2-3 years and that was really great experience. But then I decided to switch fully for MacBook and MacOS and it is much much better software for programming. I tried to work with Windows but .. it's Windows :(

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demkantor profile image
demkantor

Idk, I'm forced to use a Mac for work and to this day still do all my personal projects on Linux. Nearly every proprietary software has a FOSS alternative for your Linux distro and I find them just as useful.
I know it all comes down to preferences and what tasks need to be done, so it's not like I'll disqualify your view on mac being the best for development, but for me it certainly isn't as I am far more productive on a Linux machine any day

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jrop profile image
Jonathan Apodaca

Same: work laptop = MacOS, personal laptop = Linux.

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explodingwalrus profile image
Carl Draper

Microsoft is slowly moving to a SAAS method. The browser based Office 365 will eventually fully replace the full Office suite.

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Hossam Elbadissi

Me too! I have installed Ubuntu just as a recovery system in case Windows dies (it happened once because my HDD is slowly dying)... However, I loved Ubuntu and it's speed (I do Android development) and so it became my main system, and I barely touch Windows now.

However after trying macOS for a while, I plan to switch to a Mac from Linux cuz it's just beautifully amazing for programming and you can find those popular apps there (though i hate how Apple suddenly starts removing support for some widely used technologies, for security and modernity).

The only thing that delays me is the sky-high price for those MacBooks.

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thesavage_dev profile image
Jason A. Savage

though i hate how Apple suddenly starts removing support for some widely used technologies, for security...

I'd rather not keep the baked in security holes.

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maj profile image
Major Hoffman

Linux is great!

I used PopOS 20.04 for awhile, but its cryptic bootloader and install made multi-booting difficult, and the PopOS store was lacking.

Those awesome features you're describing are really Gnome, and you can use Gnome on a lot of distros.

When you're ready to try something different, consider Debian :)

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thesavage_dev profile image
Jason A. Savage

Pop_OS is based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian. Wouldn't be much of a switch.

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maj profile image
Major Hoffman

Sounds like someone isn't familiar with the Pop_OS bootloader :)

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thesavage_dev profile image
Jason A. Savage

Never used Pop_OS

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maj profile image
Major Hoffman

Its installer reconfigures boot partitions on all connected drives, making it difficult to boot another OS.

If you're working with a single disk/multi-partition and want to dual or multi-boot, you'd need to install PopOS first. If you have multiple disks, you'd have to disconnect all but the disk intended for PopOS.

Because of how it functions out of the box, it's great as an intro distro. Things get hairy when you want to see what else is out there.

As it turns out, what I didn't like about PopOS were functions of PopOS, and what I liked about PopOS was actually Gnome.

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thesavage_dev profile image
Jason A. Savage

Oh. Fun.

I'll stick with ubuntu. Or in reality rasbian because that's really the only place I use *nix anymore other than my Mac.

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isasca profile image
Isaac

Really cool article. However, I take issue with your claim that Linux doesn't need antivirus as it's so secure. Due to recent increases in attacks on Linux systems; I'd advise you install clamTK or something similar just to stay safe. Other than that, I really enjoyed the article

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reelix profile image
Reelix

Linux Malware has been around for 24 years. The fact that the author of this article believes that an anti-virus isn't required should really tell you something about its validity as a whole...

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shaunagordon profile image
Shauna Gordon

The fact that the author of this article believes that an anti-virus isn't required should really tell you something about its validity as a whole...

Or just their naïveté on this front. They seem to be fairly new to the ecosystem, and the foundational paradigms do make Linux generally more secure than Windows on a default level (and is why Windows adopted some of said paradigms). Where people get caught is that "more secure" does not equate to "bulletproof" (in other words, being more secure than Windows does not negate the need for tools like antivirus software).

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isasca profile image
Isaac

I was just being constructive aha. Fair points made

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vineet192 profile image
Vineet Kalghatgi Author

Thanks for the info! I'll check it out

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jacqueline profile image
Jacqueline Binya

Linux is LoVe💙💚💜
I use it cause its free!!!!!
And with a little bit of effort I can get everything done on Linux.
If you are lazy Linux isn't for you cause oftentimes you may need to find workarounds to get some software to work or spend time researching free software alternatives you can use.

I use Ubuntu for work and personal stuff.

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devimposter1 profile image
devimposter

I use Linux and not saying you are wrong but is your time free? The lazy "work" you are talking about in hours would pay for a Windows license and more. :D I have been using both since the 90's

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Shauna Gordon

Honestly, I've spent more time fighting against Windows than I have dealing with anything on Linux, and I'm a gamer (and not just open source games, my library is full of triple-A titles). I've not had good experiences with Windows 10 on the stability front the past couple of years. On more than one occasion, I've had to deal with essential (and therefore unavoidable) updates that trigger bugs that brick the machine. It's kind of sad, too, because credit where it's due -- Microsoft has put a ton of work into the OS to make it more attractive to power users and developers like myself, and it has some really nice features.

There are learning curves to everything, so yeah, while one's initial switch might take a little extra time to get replacements and whatnot, these days I spend barely any time at all maintaining my machine and I spend next to zero time researching new software unless I choose to. (On that front, I actually spend more time looking for suitable software for my Mac work machine.)

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Jacqueline Binya

Hahaha you are right there, time isn't free. I had overlooked that.

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Andrew Surdu

Am I the only one who wants to mention WSL2? I switched from Ubuntu to Windows+WSL2(Ubuntu dist) and I have no problems at all. I have all the functionality of Linux plus access to professional software like Adobe CC.

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Dana Ottaviani

I'm glad to see another pro-Linux post. I've always used Windows and still do just because I'm used to it. Reading these kinds of articles make me really consider moving to Linux in the future. 🐧

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vineet192 profile image
Vineet Kalghatgi Author

Glad to hear your interest in Linux! I'd still say if you're dependant on games or proprietary software that's not available on Linux like the Adobe suit or MS office, you'd want to hold off on completely switching over. But then again, there's always the option of dual booting

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Shauna Gordon

With the exception of a few titles -- namely ones with invasive and draconian anti-cheat tools that are actively hostile toward Linux -- games work just fine under Linux.

There are definitely subtle compatibility issues between MS Office and the open source alternatives, so if 100% compatibility is necessary and if one needs features the MS Office web apps don't (yet?) provide, then that's a non-starter, but for the most part, either the web apps or LibreOffice and its ilk are sufficient. For example, I literally just bought the first MS Office license in over a decade, and it was only because I needed specific, cutting edge, and highly proprietary Excel functions that couldn't be used anywhere else.

Adobe unfortunately has been hostile to the prospect of supporting Linux, so that's definitely a non-starter if you need it, specifically. Interestingly enough, the need for Adobe products specifically has, in my experience, dwindled dramatically in a great many industries as better tools have arisen, most of which are cross-platform or web-based.

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Manu Martinez

Unfortunately, as a gamer I have to have a Windows partition on my PC just to play some games :( Linux gaming support has been really improving so I look forward to when my drive can be 100% open source OS, it's really better in every way!

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Shane Knudsen

All the video games I play are played on a Linux Box, in part, because it's helped me not spend _all_my time playing games ;-) You're right, the situation really has improved a lot, except for how much I play video games.

But yeah, if you really want to play AAA video games, you either need a console, or a Windows machine.

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Shauna Gordon

if you really want to play AAA video games, you either need a console, or a Windows machine.

Only if you're playing the ones that are actively hostile to Linux and/or use the overly-invasive and draconian "anti-cheat" tools that are essentially rootkits.

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circleofconfusion profile image
Shane Knudsen

Well yeah, but I'd avoid the invasive games anyway. Also, I just don't like playing multiplayer online games at all. I used to love playing games like Unreal Tournament, but the scene got so toxic I just stay away.

I think a lot of studios just develop for Windows, and have never even considered a cross-platform option. See: every JRPG ever, which is a shame, because I'd totally like to try out the genre.

Fortunately, my own taste runs toward small single-player games from independent studios. For example, every game by Klei is 100% supported cross-platform from day one.

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shaunagordon profile image
Shauna Gordon

I think a lot of studios just develop for Windows, and have never even considered a cross-platform option.

They do, but as long as they're not being actively hostile toward Linux, they will usually run just fine these days. The compatibility layers have come a super-long way in recent years. Steam's Proton runtime is fantastic. I could play Borderlands 3 with no problem on the weekend it launched on Steam. Lutris is sort of an "environment manager" and game launcher for Wine, so each game installed through it can have its own, totally isolated Wine config tailored to any of the oddities or optimizations for that particular game, and the community is large enough that odds are good there's already a config for any given game you want to play (and the few that I haven't found work just fine with the stock Wine setup).

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Carl Draper

"I now use the HDD as an external USB drive with the help of a case, eliminating any worry of data backup." For me that's not quite enough, a backup for me requires the same data to be in 3 different places. I usually have important stuff on two hard drives and my own server's hard drive.

If you think Gnome is lightweight, try some of the other DEs. KDE is lighter than Gnome these days!

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Reelix

They're using on-site only storage and consider it a viable backup strategy. That's... Just worrying.

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Pol Monroig Company

I love linux, the only reqson I keep using windows are some applications that only work on windows.

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reelix profile image
Reelix

Just "sudo apt install" them and they'll work perfectly (Or so the author of this would have you believe :p)

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polmonroig profile image
Pol Monroig Company

Jajajajajaja i wish

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jhmorris3486

I use Endeavor OS (a flavor of Arch Linux) and absolutely love it. I use it along with Citrix to remote in to my company's Windows network for work.

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NerydDeedsPhilly

I'm also a big fan of Endeavour! I installed in once when I wanted Arch on a machine in a rush and I was pleasantly surprised. It imposes very little of its own infrastructure and just gets out of the way.

Manjaro is a fine distro, and I give big props to the team, but I often felt like I was fighting the Manjaro parts of the system. This is, I think, my own fault for not taking the time to read their fine documentation, so no insult to their hard work, but with Endeavour, things work like I expect. I never have to work around their tooling (or even use any of it), and that's huge.

Endeavour is pretty great generally but especially so for getting a clean and fairly minimal arch system spun up quickly. I know the Arch purists are grumbling right about now, but aren't they always? 😎

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Caio Costa

Nice article man

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Alejandro esquivel

I love Linux, but only use it for dev purposes on a virtual machines. I'd use it more often if it had support for some of the vst effect plugins I use and some specific apps and games I play which don't work on linux.

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Daniel Cunha (he/him)

There is no good or bad operating system, there is the one that delivers what you need. If can choose, you'll consequently pick an OS that you feel more comfortable with...

At the end of the day what really matters is getting the work done and bring the money home!

Great article though

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Jason A. Savage

BSD is bad.

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derva profile image
derva

Congratulations welcome to the club haha :D

This is really good story and I hope it will help everyone who is thinking about switching to Linux.

My favorite is 3rd, and I like that you include some often commands!

Cool, keep going

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Haris Secic

Why I still have Windows 10 on main Desktop while Pop!OS is on Laptop? Docker works sometimes on Windows and no time on Pop!OS, AND my wife needs Adobe s..stuff (a nice excuse for gaming). So I build some stuff through WSL and run, others that work on Windows I run them there. Docker is for databases and Apache Pulsar. At night my laptop works really fine on Pop!Os watching films and stuff. I'm considering podman but as I said PC's bound to Windows and lap has only 8 gig RAM so maybe I buy new laptop and avoid PC 😁😁

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Shane Knudsen

Context: I've been using Linux in some form or another since 2001. I use it exclusively for my home machines, and I try to land jobs that let me use it for work, too, but that doesn't always work out. I even own a System 76 machine, though I decided to stick with Ubuntu/KDE.

Here's where I make everybody mad: Your operating system, whatever it is - be it Windows, MacOs, or Linux - stinks. They all stink in different ways, but rest assured, that stench emanating from your box probably isn't the motherboard frying. Choose the stench you can live with. While it's depressing how bad computers are across the board, the silver lining is that us developer types have a chance to make everybody's life a little better.

In general, I think it's much more effective to show us one thing in detail that's really cool about whatever OS you want people to use. I'd totally be into an article about the details of why Pop!_OS is cool. I'm currently on KDE. It's got its warts, and it's got its cool features. If you want me to switch to Pop!_OS give me a bunch of detailed reasons.

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Igor Pomaranski

(desktop) Linux is everything but NOT lightweight. I'm sorry to state this, but it's (for some very strange reasons, outside of my understanding) true. It was during long period of time, but now it isn't anymore.

A year ago I had to setup two old Dell Vostro's (Core2Duo, 4Gb RAM, HDD, Intel graphics) donated by my friend to a local healthcare organization. Obviously, I started with Linux. And was just SHOCKED how sluggish it is on old hardware. I tried Ubuntu and Mint — laptops were just unusable. You had to wait like 40 seconds to get system settings opened. I even thought, that cooling system is dead or something like this.

But Windows 10 worked flawlessly. Not blazing fast, of course, but pretty good and usable.

The same is true for modern hardware in case you have to run some resources-hungry apps (like JetBrains IDEs). For some reason, here Windows performs better too.

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Code-Jym

What OS we're you using?

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guessss_who profile image
Igor Pomaranski

Ubuntu and Mint, it's stated in my comment above.

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Aashutosh Taikar

What OP is referring to would’ve been more relatable few years ago. But now I like windows as a desktop environment. I’m pretty much over the idea of desktop linux. Stability wise only apple’s macos is the one and only one to be successful in creating a desktop unix OS. I would still use windows as my desktop OS. But server would be linux always. I think if we talk about package manager chocolatey is available for windows which does very similar like apt, apt-get. Development on windows has finally become simpler for real. However I still don’t like powershell or cmd and I use gitbash instead

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SURAJ BRANWAL

Linux are the best life savers for old machines and makes them match the performance same as new ones(most of the time). As a developer one should know Linux, as after development most of the time the deployment and management is done on a Linux running server.

I appreciate the way you covered all the major keys points for newbies.

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vineet192 profile image
Vineet Kalghatgi Author

Appreciate the positivity

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Gary Bell

My personal laptop is Ubuntu, my work laptop is Windows, but I spend a solid 80% of the time in a Ubuntu VM for development, and the remainder of the time is usually in Chrome on GitLab or emails. I really struggle to use Windows having spent so long within Linux - hardly any of it makes sense.

I just wish more devices were available with Linux installed by default. Or at least with a solid spec. The best I can usually find at any sort of sensible price only have 16GB RAM, and tend to be 13.3" screens. I'd love a 15.6" lightweight Linux laptop with 32GB RAM. It's the only reason I give serious consideration to joining the dark side next time (and going MacBook Pro)

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Anibal

I love linux and gnome. I use linux from 10 years ago (or more) only linux. And I’m dev too. I never miss win or macos (I have macbook pro 2 years).

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sirmong profile image
Klim

Linux is one love ❤️❤️❤️

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Florin Cristea

I've made the switch forever ago and now I can't even touch Windows. It just feels dead slow and chunky.
Btw, instead of the clear command, try using the CTRL + L shortcut instead.

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nescalan profile image
nescalan

Excelent review, thanks for your comments.

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Rakesh Androtula

You should try Manjaro also. It helped to update my kernel to the latest one to support the new AMD processor with GPU.

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Gautam krishna R

Kudos bro.

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Andrew Baisden

What can't you do on a Linux machine?

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Felipe Santos

Linux is very nice, I use it all day in WSL. :)

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Saurabh Sharma

I'm also using pop os and the only thing I hate is it used mac os's like keyboard shortcuts