After a Month of Linux – Newbie Thoughts
Wow, it has been a month since I installed Linux Mate as my only operating system on my primary laptop (yes, I got rid of Windows 10) and during that time I have been experimenting, digging around, hell I have even started taking a basic Linux course to actually learn more about this new fangled operating system I am running.
Come on Harold, Linux is not really new fangled anything, but it is new to me and there have been a LOT of changes since I played around with it five or more years ago.
The biggest surprise for me over this last month has been that I haven’t missed or been tempted to re-install Windows on my primary laptop at any point. Which is something that I figured when this whole thing started that I would probably want to do after a couple of weeks immersion in Linux.
If anything, I wish that I had done it sooner – but then again I wasn’t ready.
A little background
I have used DOS, Windows 1.0 through Win10, with a three-year foray into the world of Apple and an ongoing love/hate relationship with Chromebooks since 2012. So I am pretty familiar with how things work and don’t work for me on laptops in the Windows, Mac and Chromebook worlds.
A Brilliant Idea
However, after a couple of weeks I was not entirely happy with Ubuntu Mate, I am not sure about the why and can’t really articulate the issues, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in an OS. Being the tinkerer kind of guy that I am, this lack of appreciation for Mate, made me want to see which flavor/distro of Linux worked best for me and how I like to do things.
Which got me to thinking about how I could test other distros, without loosing all the work that I done to set up the ASUS.
Then I got the idea to see if my 2009 MacBookPro was up to the task.
After all it had sat out in the garage for over a year and then in my desk at work for another six months after that. However, it still booted up and has been left on the side of the road for dead by Apple’s policy of moving onward and upward with their OS-X updates, despite the hardware being some of the best around and still working like a champ. Plus my MacBook has been “updated” a little over the years with more RAM and a new hard drive, which makes it a perfect Linux machine.
It was a brilliant idea.
Not to Worry
My ASUS became my stable laptop that I could put all my stuff I wanted to keep, do actual work on if I needed to and the old MacBookPro became the labtop laptop. Which meant when not if, but when – I screwed things up, well it wouldn’t matter all that much.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been playing with different Linux distros to see which ones worked for me.
and I looked at a few other distros, but didn’t bother to install them for various reasons.
I really didn’t want a laptop that looked like it had just rolled off some Windows OEM shelf, but at the same running a clone of the Mac environment was not what I envisioned for my laptop either.
Although I did want some of the features that I like best from both.
The biggest things I was looking for was a clean look, RELIABILITY, ease of use, let me be in charge of my computer, not need the Internet and not having to use the Terminal all that much as a newbie.
After a lot of installs, trying things out for a bit, breaking things a couple of times and reading a lot of blogs, tech articles and watching more than a few YouTube videos.
It finally came down to the Linux Mint or Elemental-Loki distros.
Both did what I wanted, but I found myself having to use the Terminal a LOT more to get Elemental-Loki to do what I wanted, which was something that I had wanted to avoid as a newbie. I am not afraid to muck around in the Terminal, but I am not ready to do a lot of stuff there yet, since I don’t have a clue about what I am actually doing most of the time.
When I played around with Linux Mint Cinnamon, I wasn’t that impressed initially, it seemed very close to Mate and I actually liked the Pantheon desktop on Elemental quite a bit more. I overwrote Mint 2-3 times with other distros, but kept coming back to it.
However, it was my perceived limitations of Elemental-Loki finally made my mind up for me and I installed Linux Mint on the old warhorse and have been playing around with setting it up the way that I want for a few days now and will probably never stop tweaking it.
While I could have left Mint in its stock condition and used it quite nicely, one of the reasons that I moved to Linux was that I could make it more my computer than some OEM’s.
Down the road, I might even attempt to find a Pantheon desktop for Mint and figure out how to install it.
They all serve a purpose
I have four laptops (I know about 3 too many, along with an Android phone) and I had to decide how I was going to use my MacBookPro going forward. Playing around with it over the past couple of weeks reminded me of how much I love the MBP keyboard and it is has always been a good laptop for me.
Unfortunately, it is too heavy to be my bag computer, the battery isn’t in great shape and doesn’t have enough hard drive space to be my home laptop, photo/video manager and music player. However, it does a decent job on Never Winter Nights 2 and other older RPG single player games I prefer, does well browsing the web and has a CD drive for watching DVD’s.
So my 2009 MacBookPro with Linux Mint is now my newest couch laptop.
My Asus still has Linux Mate on it and as I learn more about Linux, eventually I will go back and clean things up (you know fix all the stuff I screwed up), get my photo and music collections setup correctly and will use it for other things as I need to.
The Toshiba Chromebook will stay on the kitchen table as my online consumption device and my old Samsung 550 Chromebook will be my travel, stave it up computer where it doesn’t matter if it gets beat on or breaks.
Although one or both of them might end up with a different Linux Distro on them someday, because while the cloud is nice, I don’t like be that dependent on it always being available (call me old school), at some point the Internet will break or be changed into something not as easy to use as it is today.
The 550 will probably be first, since Google has officially ended support for it recently, even though it still works great.
Planned obsolescence at it best, gotta get a new computer every 5 years or sooner.
Thinking Out Loud
It is funny and I did chuckle more than a couple of times when I was writing this post at some of the things I have done and thought about since I got rid of Windows.
A lot of what I call tinkering at its best.
No, I don’t think that Linux is perfect, but what I like is that for the most part it just works well enough for me and there is a good community of users who are willing to help newbies like me make the transition to Linux. I think it is made for those of us who love to tinker with our computers.
The biggest issues I have had with the move to Linux are:
- that commands or where they are located are not always that intuitive to me as I learn the Linux way of doing things.
- The few times that I have used the terminal, it is something that makes me think that I am moving backwards in time – back to using DOS or those old Unisys and Wang computers that I had to work on way back when. Which if I am being honest, I didn’t like and was always the reason that I didn’t bother to look more closely at Linux sooner.
Do I see me going back to Windows 10?
Not anytime soon.
For me Windows 10 has gotten too complex/sophisticated for my purposes and I often wonder if commands are purposely deeply embedded behind multiple screens. You know, to make it more difficult for other than for most the most ardent users or computer professionals, to do much more than just use the system the way that it is set up for them by OEM’s or administrators.
I will not bash Microsoft, since they are doing what they believe is correct for their corporation to be successful in today’s world. However, it does not mean that if I am not comfortable with what they are doing or the direction that they seem to be going that I will continue to use their products.
Sometimes it is just time to move on.
Overall, I have been very impressed with my experience during the move to Linux. I was particularly impressed with how easy it has been to install, experiment with the different distros, software and use Linux for what I want to do on my computers.
Which is much different from the preconceptions and misconceptions that I and more than a few long-time computer users have about Linux.
However, let’s also be real, I have used computers since the early 80’s, have most of my stuff somewhere in cloud or backed up on a portable disk drive, as well as on my primary laptop. So actually moving to and using Linux was probably easier for me than it would be for many others who don’t have similar experience.
Plus and maybe this is the most important part, I was ready to leave Microsoft behind and ready to accept that I would have a learning curve during my move to Linux.
Now to figure out what software, err apps, nope Linux still calls them software, that I think will work best for me.
Who knows maybe I will learn that the Terminal ain’t that bad after all – we shall see…and the journey continues. 🙂