For the past four years, I have been switching between various Linux distributions and Windows frequently. I couldn’t really make up my mind back then. I liked the freedom that Linux gives me (that it is free and open source, the countless choices of distributions available, and the numerous desktop environments out there) but there was a part of me that felt to uncomfortable with giving up some of my Windows applications for alternatives that may not provide all of the features I thought I would need. For instance, in 2014, what stopped me from fully switching to Linux was due to the fact that I had issues installing Microsoft Office 2013 using WINE and at the time, I didn’t feel that LibreOffice would provide me the compatibility I needed for working on my documents.
Around March of 2016 I decided to give Linux another shot. I had an install of Windows 10 on my computer and besides a couple of blue screens of death, I did not encounter any serious issues that prevented me from getting my computing tasks done. That said, I didn’t really like the direction Microsoft was taking with Windows 10. From the controversial Telemetry services, nagging of Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade to Windows 10, to the modern UI applications that I really don’t care for, my perception of Windows 10 turned from “it’s okay” to “this is something that I do not want to use”. So, I started to think about using Xubuntu, a Linux distribution that is based off of Ubuntu and utilizes the XFCE desktop environment. After a few hours of preparing an install, I install Xubuntu on my computer in a dual-boot setup; so that I can use Windows if I have to use an application that does not have a Linux version, cannot work in WINE, and had no viable open source alternative. As of this post, I have been using Xubuntu for over two weeks now and so far I am really liking it. There were a few fantastic things I noticed when I was using Xubuntu.
First, I noticed that Xubuntu uses roughly a third of the RAM compared to Windows 10. This is not a surprise; while XFCE isn’t the lightest of desktop environments I know of (that crown would go to LXDE), it still used a fraction of the system resources that Windows 10 uses, even with Compiz, a desktop window animator that creates cool special effects. Edit: I forgot to mention how much RAM Xubuntu would use compared to Windows 10. In my tests on my computer, Xubuntu 14.04 used about 520 MB of RAM whereas WIndows 10 would use ≈1.5 GB (about 1,600 MB) of RAM. Since Xubuntu is immune to Windows malware (assuming you do not install WINE), I don’t need to install an antivirus, which saves me even more system resources.
Second, unlike Windows, Xubuntu can easily be customized to my liking. If you are a Linux user, you know well of the countless number of customizations you can make on your desktop to adapt it to your own unique tastes. When I was using Windows, I had to use third party tools like VistaMizer, ViStart, Seven Transformation Pack, and StarDock which can potentially corrupt system files if a user wasn’t careful and even then, these tools would add bloat on my Windows installation which in turn can hog resources and slow down my computer. With Xubuntu, I can customize my desktop into what I want without worrying about corrupting my system files since the desktop environment, a set of programs that compose of the desktop UI for a Linux distribution, is a modular component rather than an integral part of the OS.
So far my switch to Xubuntu was a smooth transition and all of the applications I use on my system work well and LibreOffice handles all of Microsoft Office files I opened without any major compatibility issues so far. If you are considering a switch to Linux, my best advice would be to gather information about how to use Linux, develop a list of pros and cons, and figure out if Linux is right for you. You may encounter issues with your Linux distribution from time to time but if you are good at problem solving and using the forums for assistance, you should be fine getting around Linux. Edit: A great resource on troubleshooting issues pertaining to your particular distribution would be the forums for your distribution (Example: Ubuntu Forums, Linux Mint forums, OpenSUSE Forums, etc.)
Lastly, with a Linux distribution, one can liberate themselves from the digital restrictions and privacy issues that come with Windows 10. This is an obvious no-brainer that comes with switching to a Linux distribution. Since the vast majority of distributions use only free and open source software out of the box, you be assured that there are no hidden backdoors in your distribution since the source code can easily be reviewed. Also, many organizations that create and develop Linux distributions are non-profit organizations that recieve funding in the form of government grants and donations. As such, these organizations are community driven and put the users first over profit. The same cannot be said about Microsoft Windows (or any kind of proprietary/non-free/closed-source software).
So there you have it, my take on why a person should make the switch to a Linux distribution. Before I end this post, I want to give out some more resources for those who are considering Linux.
Edited: If you feel ready to try out a Linux distribution, I highly recommend the following beginner-friendly distributions. You can find their home pages by doing a simple Google search.
- Ubuntu MATE
- Ubuntu GNOME
- Linux Mint Cinnamon
- Peppermint OS
Update: As of August 11th, I decided to switch to another Linux distribution called Manjaro Linux. While it is user friendly, I decided to not recommend it for beginners due to its somewhat steeper learning curve.
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