Switching to Linux, saying goodbye to Apple and Microsoft

Veteran technology journalist Dan Gillmor's been using GNU/Linux since 2012, switching away from all the "control freak" services, tools and software that he'd grown used to over decades of computing.

Gillmor describes some of the switching pains and persistent thorns, but also the delight and simplicity he has encountered with Ubuntu, the flavor of Linux he (and I) use. His experience closely matches mine: I've got a few problems, different but no worse (or better) than those I had in years of using proprietary software. The major difference between my years as a Mac and Windows user and my decade (!) now of being a Linux user is freedom, not hassle.

A few months ago, when Apple introduced its iPad Pro, a large tablet with a keyboard, CEO Tim Cook called it the “clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” That was an uh-oh moment for me. Among other things, in the iOS ecosystem users are obliged to get all their software from Apple’s store, and developers are obliged to sell it in the company store. This may be Apple’s definition of personal computing, but it’s not mine.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows 10 — by almost all accounts a huge usability improvement over Windows 8 — looks more and more like spyware masquerading as an operating system (a characterization that may be unfair, but not by much). Yes, the upgrade from widely installed earlier versions is “free” (as in beer), but it takes some amazing liberties with users’ data and control, according to people who’ve analyzed its inner workings.

I Moved to Linux and It’s Even Better Than I Expected [Dan Gillmor/Backchannel]

Notable Replies

  1. Personally, I use it all. Simultaneously. I have a windows box, a mac and 2 linux boxen on my desktop and I move back and forth between them with ease. You cannot get all software on any single platform. I look for free/open source first, and barring that, move to the commercial platforms to get what I need. The ethos is "get it done" rather than hewing to an ideological line. Nothing beats my 5k retina display. And nothing beats the speed of my 12-core custom built Debian distro box. So, I advise... become facile with it all, have it all, use it all. Get stuff done. And don't forget Amazon AWS & other hosting to fill the gaps for things you don't need to have the hardware for.

  2. Yeah, I use it all, too. Including mainframes and superdomes and HP-UX and VMS boxen... but when nobody's paying me to use what they want, I use linux running on hardware I build out of junk. And if they'll take paypal, I send money to the authors of open source software that I like.

  3. This. As a designer locked into the Adobe ecosystem by the requirements of my job, Linux as a desktop tool is completely useless for me on an everyday basis, and Windows isn't much better. So Mac it is. It runs smoothly, has few-to-no operational issues on a daily basis, has never had a worm or virus in the 20+ years I've been on it, and I have no complaints. But there's other things that Linux and Windows are extremely useful for.

  4. tropo says:

    Totally disagree. The bulk of people who "use computers" typically require a browser, an office suite, and photo editing software. Get them on just about any standard Linux distro and all you have to give them is a cheat sheet on how to do updates. Boom, done.

  5. So, Windows 10 is "spyware" followed by complaints about proprietary software, and then recommending Ubuntu? Oh man, the irony here is positively delicious.

    Ubuntu perhaps has one of the worst reputations among Linux distributions when it comes to user tracking, proprietary software, and promotion of paid software.


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