I am fed up.
Linux as a Desktop OS pros:
Linux as a Desktop OS cons:
- Does not work
- Have you ever used something free that does not work?
My bona fides: I installed my first Slackware Linux v3.0 distribution back in 1995. I have used extensively various Linux distributions since then for studying, research, and work. I have compiled kernels, implemented modules, written countless applications, and administered hundreds of boxes. Linux has been my primary desktop OS for work for the past 15 years. I have been through the nonsense of using the command line to do everything (including wasting five years “programming” with emacs; geeky remark: “I don’t want to take my fingers of the keyboard”, reasonable person’s reply: “ok then, push 10 keys like a monkey just to copy/paste a few words, rather than doing a swipe and click…”), and having to remember countless insignificant details (command line tools, flags, configuration files, etc.) for configuring various aspects of the OS. At the same time I have been an avid Windows user, mostly for fun stuff, like playing games and using devices initially not supported on Linux (e.g., sound cards, webcams, tuners, fancy printers). Hence, I have been through the pain of having to re-install Windows 98 every other week, and experiencing blue screens every other day. I switched to using Windows XP as my desktop OS, at work, in 2006 and I am still using it very productively to this day. I also switched to using Ubuntu as my desktop OS, at home, in 2008, and I am still using it as I type this post.
Here is the bottom line of my experiences: Irrespective of which Linux distribution I have tried the past four years (including Mint, Ubuntu and CentOS), the state of Linux as a desktop OS is worst than what Windows 98 used to be, more than thirteen years ago. This is appalling. I can honestly say that every time I use my Ubuntu machine to try to do something new (and sometimes when trying to do ordinary tasks that I have performed before), there is some kind of annoyance I have to deal with, which can usually take more than an hour to resolve, searching the Internet and trying different ideas — in other words a complete waste of time. More importantly, one would expect things to get better with time, issues to get resolved. This has not been the case, in my experience. Each and every time I upgraded to a newer version of some distribution, a long list of things stopped working or stopped working as well as they used to. Even worse, in certain cases, bugs that had been fixed after applying incremental updates, resurfaced in a newer version of the same distribution. Finally, the stability of Linux as a desktop OS is a myth. I cannot even count the number of times that X applications crash or become unresponsive, each day; especially when it comes to dealing with multimedia applications and plug-and-play devices.
At the same time, my experience with Windows XP has been stellar. I can honestly say that I do not remember ever seeing a blue screen on my Windows XP boxes. I am sure I had various applications crash or become unresponsive at times, but it has not been very often, except the X server of Cygwin, which crashes all the time (guess why?). There is not a single thing that I haven’t been able to accomplish using Windows, and that is without having to buy an application (pretty much all major open source applications for Linux can be used with Windows as well), and without having to waste more than a couple of minutes to figure out how. On the contrary, I find it often necessary to use Virtualbox or dual-boot on my Linux boxes, to run Windows to perform certain tasks, every now and then. I have to admit, that Windows without Cygwin would be useless to me. Cygwin works fairly well (except the X server, that is). Of course, Windows is not free, and it is not very cheap either. But it seems to be worth it, given the level of frustration I have to deal with when I am trying to accomplish certain tasks on Linux.
And just to try to silence Apple fans, I own a Powerbook G4 running OS X Tiger v10.4 (which is a BSD based OS). My experience was terrible. I can deterministically cause blue screens (yes, there is such a thing in OS X) by plugging in and out a network cable while disabling wireless networking. I can crash iTunes and other apps on demand. I am not thrilled with the user experience either (I find the menu bar on the top of the screen causing unnecessary long mouse travelling and the one mouse key silly, since the need for a right-click using control-click is as frequent as a normal click). Furthermore, Apple does not support my machine anymore since it has a PowerPC CPU and Apple releases newer version of OS X for Intel CPUs only. Finally, within a month after buying the laptop the F11 key broke off. Within two years, the hard drive failed. Within three years, the little magnetic latch that is used to hold the screen tightly closed, broke off. Why does Apple have customer loyalty is beyond me. Then of course, I have no experience with newer versions of OS X…