Skip to main content

Mike Kreuzer

A year of Linux on the desktop

31 May 2022

It's been more than a year & Linux is still my go-to desktop. It actually worked. I was fully prepared to have to bail on it, but it turned out to be pretty easy.

I switched to linux more or less full-time by March last year. A lot's changed in that time, but I'm still on Ubuntu. I still have my old Intel Macbook Pro sitting on my desk, but I use that pretty infrequently now. There's still a Windows drive too, but there are enough Steam games that run fine on Linux to mostly keep me from bothering with the inevitable update hell that booting into Windows entails.

I was expecting peripheral problems, but printers, microphones, cameras, speakers… fancy keyboards & mice, they all just worked.

Software wasn't ever much of a problem either, but like I said when I was starting out last year: my software footprint's pretty small, & mostly development focused. If dev stuff doesn't work there's a much bigger problem with your ecosystem – looking at you Mac – so I may not be a great canary for your particular coal mine, unless your goals are similar.

I'm still very much not a fan of Canonical's Snaps as a software distribution method. Flatpak is better, but not by a lot. But so far it's the software that keeps me on Ubuntu rather than any other Linux distro. Fedora would be where I went if I left Ubuntu I think, it has a lot of nice things going for it as an operating system. A year ago too most of the EC2 boxes I worked with used Ubuntu, but now they're all on Amazon Linux 2 which is pretty much just Fedora. With Fedora I could never work out how to make the dock appear by hovering my mouse over it, but the availability of software was its main problem as a desktop OS, for me.

Installing software with Ubuntu mostly goes something like: go to the app vendor/author's site. If I'm lucky the preferred install method is apt. Mostly that's it. Use that. Done. Sometimes it'll be an app image, but not usually. With Fedora if it wasn't an app image I'd get referred to FlatPak and/or some lone guy's website where he patiently explains how to install a port of an out of date version of one of the Ubuntu copies. I used to try out different Linux desktops twenty years ago, & installing software on Fedora's a lot like that was. Do-able, but a lot more work. So far Snaps on Ubuntu are eminently avoidable – for me – but if that ever changed then Fedora's where I'd likely go. Choice, it's a good thing, I'm a big fan.

I think the only software that I changed relatively frequently over the course of the year's been the image editors. I tried Krita for a long time, but eventually settled down to GIMP (still a ridiculous name) & Inkscape. Other than that my software changes were mostly driven extraneously. Getting a Twitter app was important to me back when I started this, but then Elon Musk happened & now I'm on Mastodon, & the web interface works well enough. Likewise, a Spotify client was important to me a year ago, but then Joe Rogan happened & now I'm on Apple Music. Apple Music's web interface… works, I think I'd go that far. There's a snap app that's just a wrapper around the web site, but I'm not sure how that's meant to help.

But here I am, listening to Apple Music on Ubuntu as I type this. Thinking how hard doing something similar would have been at literally any point in the past. Not just the distant human past but at any point in my own life. A lot of people have done so much work to get me here. To all of you, a very big thank you. Happy Linux user here.