Now(Q2 2020) I’m a full-time Linux user: though I use Virtualbox and Wine nearly everyday, Linux is the only OS installed on my laptop hard drive. Now I feel comfortable with this setup, but of course, before falling into this “stable setup” I struggled and tried a lot, each switch of working environment caused a lot of time and energy, leaving me with hurting eyes, tired mind, and unfinished homework:

Win8 then Win10 in high school (before Q3 2017);

Then in college, Ubuntu 16.04 from Q3 2017 to Q2 2018 on a 7-year-old MacBookPro, meanwhile installed Win8/10 several times but gave up because of bad driver and poor performance, after that I got my new powerful laptop, this was in the middle term exam week;

Debian 9(+Win7 VM) from Q2 2018 to Q1 2019, the triggering event of giving up Debian was the failed upgrade to Debian testing, this was near the final term exam week;

Win10 Q1 from 2019 to Q2 2019, reinstalled 3 times during the (~4 months) period, and cannot bear Win10 any more;

ArchLinux(+Win7 VM) from Q2 2019 to now.

Now I think I should spend some time to figure out why I struggled to use Linux, and why I gave up(or tried to give up).

Clarify my demands

I use computer to do a bunch of things, and in my case:

  • Windows satisfies 99% of my demands and Linux ~80%.

  • In the ~20% that Linux cannot handle, ~10% can be solved by Windows VM, other ~10% must be given up.
  • In the 1% Windows cannot do, a simple Linux VM can solve 0.99%. The 0.01% left must be given up.

Though when coding or browsing Linux have a better feeling, there WILL BE times when I need to do things that fall into the last 20%, even if I can get 200% productivity coding on Linux, I WILL have a bad time struggling with the last 20%, especially when doing paperworks near mid and final term.

Then at this certain time, switching to Windows can ease my pain and, maybe, boost my productivity to 400% – there’s no reason not to switch! However, after this busy period passed, in my normal life, I do more coding/browsing than paperwork, so what? Switch again? Considering the high cost of switching, the optimum options is to stick to Windows all the time.

Hidden factors

But why I’m still using Linux? Well, I have to admit that it’s because of some other, often philosophy reasons, instead of just “productivity boost” or “I can learn more”. This sounds silly but is true.

When on Windows(especially Win10) the security problem deep from the OS itself keeps haunting me: I just cannot feel good with all my data/program/everyday life running on such a thing. Though I know that considering the potentially existing hardware backdoor and my bad online habit(mainly the second one) even Linux cannot do much about my security, it feels much better. For me this is as important as security itself.

And the problem is, if I’m on a satisfying platform, you don’t feel it: like on Linux, I only feel that I cannot use comfortable Office, instead of feeling that the OS is good and free(as in freedom). But when I’m on Windows, every time the cooling fan goes wild and mysterious processes appear at the top of task manager, I feel bad. Maybe some people are fine with this, but I’m not – and I know only after this has happened day after day for a long time.

Finally, I think I’m OK to satisfy some productivity for a good feeling and, maybe, privacy and security, so now I stick to Linux.

Having an iPad/secondary device

Seems that having an iPad helps me to stick to Linux: don’t know why, just “seems”.

Maybe it’s because having a secondary device(like iPad, Android tablet, another PC, …) can make some of Linux-unfriendly tasks easier, and the 20% Linux-difficult tasks becomes 10%.

And usually the ecosystem of the device is different from Linux: you never compile Apps yourself for iPad! This makes me recover from the tiredness caused by using a single thing for too long: instead, install an app in a single fingerprint verification, annotate PDF files with just a swipe of finger, and do some sketch in drawing app. Enjoy the beautiful UI. No Googling around for solution and tweaking config files.

It’s also believed(source unverified, but probably true) that everyone(or every geek?) will have a certain period that feels their computer is the worst and every part is uncomfortable. For me this lasts for 1 or 2 weeks, happens once per a year or two. In these “hard” times, having a secondary device may be the best medicine.

Once I came across an interesting article saying that using iPad as primary computer is like Desktop Linux because it’s callenging, though my reason for Linux is never related to challenge(or, I refuse to admit it actually is?), so it’s quite interesting to think what will be like if the two different kinds of power are combined together – and I think it’s great!

At least, you have a thing to help finish your homework when your Linux laptop crashes.

Live a happy life

This piece of advice often appear at the end of many kind of articles, and I think it should be here too, though seems unrelated.

My problem is, Linux generally takes more time to maintain. Or more precisely, more energy – like, 5 minutes a day isn’t a long time, to fix broken font, reinstall a package, re-configure a broken VM, maybe I just need 3 minutes of Googling and 2 minutes of commands, but they DO spoil my mood and give an insecure feeling.

Here’s where “a happy life” comes into the play: if everything(in real life) is going smoothly, the small twist doesn’t matter and can be easily forgotten, however, when I’m already stress, sad, or tired, the small amount of time can be a big deal. Then I may want to release the anger on computers and reinstall the OS to erase all problems: this is what caused the problem! But actually it’s not: it’s just an unnoticed trigger or so. And after I realized this, things becomes better. Oh, the advice is actually realizing the problem, as living a happy life is not always possible.

Thx 4 reading~