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Why I haven't gone to Linux.
I’ve been chatting with some of my GCI friends, and many (GCI is supposed to be an open source based competition, after all) seem to use some form of Linux as their daily driver.
Disclaimer: this article isn’t intended to spark up the quintessential ‘which distro is best’ question. Just my opinions and naïve questions.
We had a very engaging discussion about Arch Linux, along with all the prettifying DEs or whatever. I’d been thinking about transferring to Linux for daily driver (O how intellectual I feel when I use that phrase) for a while now (ever since I started exploring OSS), so I began digging around for more details.
Windows bad Linux good may be the most prevalent OS-view, but I’ve found some little snags that are stopping me from converting to another Arch cult member.
Disclaimer #2: I haven’t tested Linux on a dual boot on my laptop yet either, so things might work better than they seem. I have no clue - just looking for answers.
I’ve been having some battery problems (unrelated and just due to normal wear and tear of abusing a three year old laptop), so I thought I’d look into how the battery life was for Linux (specifically Manjaro.) Unfortunately, I found a bunch of very annoyed Redditors ranting about the atrocities of battery management.
According to my colleagues, they haven’t noticed anything, but I’m worried that battery life will significantly decrease with all the software that’s not properly optimized for Linux (more about this later). I still need to go to school (and uni soon) and I don’t want to have to wrangle a powercord around because my laptop won’t last for six hours of light notetaking.
Solution: I mean, I can definitely try loading up Arch, and downloading tlp / powertop / checking whatever, but not sure if I want to invest in testing when my dearest Windows setup still works.
Chrome or Firefox?
Firefox has been touted around as a nice, fast, open browser, but yes - I’m a heretic who still uses Chrome. Sue me.
As such, I’d like to still end up using Chrome, but after looking into the high CPU usage issues, I’m not sure how feasible that would be. Again, battery life > performance (at least while I’m doing light work) for me.
I’d not have a user-ex problem with switching to FireFox - the UI looks similar enough to Chrome, and the features are the same, if not better. Through a quick Google search, I found some cursory information on getting the Chrome aesthetics back.
I have no bookmarks or much other information to migrate, and for passwords and things there seems to be a painless migration progress.
I’m actually really happy that the extension ecosystem is rather similar; I can get my DarkReader, Adblock, and other smol things. (Side note: there’s a great audio-only YouTube that only allows the audio through. I like it - I usually listen in the background and don’t watch 100% focused in anyway.)
The main gripe I have with FireFox is the apparent high CPU and RAM as well. I’ve heard this goes away if you can tonnes of tabs open, but I’m a minimal-as-few-tabs-as-possible type of browser user. If I do go down the Linux rabbit hole, I’ll have to weigh both of them, and check CPU / RAM by hand myself. I’m not quite sure about the performance - and I’m also used to Chrome.
Solution: Not a major problem, I guess. Whatever’s smoother.
I’ll be dual booting if I do go into the Linux world (just for a little Transition period), so it’d be nice to be able to access Windows and Linux files from whatever OS I’ve booted into.
Solution: Mount partitions, which should allow read/write between filesystems. I haven’t done much research on this, but theoretically, according to my cursory searches, it should be fine.
I have a single notebook in Onenote, but inside, there’s a gargantuan mess of tabs and pages and notes and whatever else my mind decides to spew out.
I really like the system, but even with Wine, the UWP won’t work (obviously) and the 2016 version doesn’t seem to have good support either (
Garbage rating). Therefore, if I switch, I’m probably also going to have to switch notetaking systems.
Right now, I actually write all my assignments and take my digital notes inside Onenote (I’m a quirky user) and format everything in Word later. I’d love to have some Latex support, and have it sync to the cloud, but the main things are dark mode, markdown or at least some sort of plaintext formatting, and a decent UI.
Evernote is the go-to, and while it seems like it checks all the boxes, I also don’t like that I’ll have to pay eventually.
Notion has been promoted a lot recently by productivity YouTubers, and personally, I really like this system. It’s clean, and it’s simple. However, as with Evernote, the powerful tools that I’d really need are locked behind a paywall. And I know I can get a Student plan, but what happens when I’m no longer a student?
Enter Joplin. The UI isn’t nearly as pretty, but their system will play nicely with what I need. As well, it has an iOS app (aiya I’m switching to Android later alright) for now, which is a nice bonus. And open sourced and GitHubized as well! It seems like what I need, but I’m still going to be looking around for prettier solutions, like Notable, another solution that’s a lot prettier but doesn’t have an app. I can, however, get Onedrive, so that might be good for my notetaking.
(Quick edit: Boostnote also seems super cool - I like the UI, and it should support sync. Mobile apps too. But again - a little bit of a paid tier.) Solution: we’ll figure it out later.
MS Office Replacement
I love Word. I’m a PowerPoint animation master. I’m learning Excel, and in the meantime, forcing it to generate my lab graphs.
It’ll be hard to think about moving away. I know OSS is superior yada yada yada, but the UI of all these programs is just so integrated and shiny.
Out of LibreOffice, FreeOffice, and individual replacement programs: I’d probably go with LibreOffice. Widely used, and a big community. As well, it has dark mode for most of its apps, and also introduces a nice Math editor - which will be very useful in the future.
It’s also decently integrated with importing and exporting MS files, which you can see is a recurring theme in this: compatibility or easy migration from what I have now. I really don’t to rewrite, archive, or throw away all my past work - and with most of LibreOffice, I won’t have to.
It does look a little outdated though in many of its screenshots. FreeOffice does a better job here, but I’m not sure if FreeOffice has the power that LibreOffice does.
Solution: LibreOffice is good enough.
I also use GitHub Desktop, Telegram, Blender, sometimes Unity, rarely, Steam, Spotify, and VSCode, but these all have easily-integrated Linux versions. Won’t have switch, and honestly, don’t want to, anytime soon.
I’m not sure how useful a dual boot will be. If I switch, cold-turkey, it’ll actually force me to learn and use a new system, and I won’t be able to chicken out and default back. However, if I don’t keep a dual-boot of Windows, I also risk having to last-minute edit whatever Windows-based things (though I think I’ve looked into enough equivalent versions of software I frequently use).
Over the summer, I’ll definitely continue looking into complete alternatives and try to wrap my head around Linux-ifying my workflows. And hey, if I consider it a good option - I’ll do it.
You might see that a lot of my activity for the next bit will be in private repositories. I’m not working on a secret project - just an interactive HTML tutorial that’ll teach a user to create a resume. It’ll probably be closed source, but we’ll see.
Quarantine’s been great for learning - hope y’all are staying safe, having fun (but not too much), and washing your hands (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you can find it).
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