Confessions of a Linux geek

Ok, looks like it’s time to come clean, it appears I have somehow turned into a massive Linux geek.

It took long enough I guess, but as much as I’ve always liked the idea of Linux it’s always had a ton of rough edges I just found too annoying to be inspired to learn how to fix. I just don’t get into the ‘OS maintenance’ side of computers.

But we use Linux a lot at work and I was getting a bit more comfortable with it so I decided to give it a month on my home machine to see if I could hack it ‘full time’. And probably just a week later I was fully converted. Linux seems to have matured incredibly over the last few years to the point where there it is far less creaky than it used to be. And presentation wise, it’s just so much more pleasant to use than the terminally dull Windows.

Linux has always been very powerful ‘if you know what your doing’, but if not it can be kind of overwhelming. The ‘control freak’ in me has always hated having to paste ‘magic words’ posted on stack overflow into /etc config files etc, I like to know how everything works all the time. There is of course still the occasional need to go googling for the various spells and incantations required to make things work, but there seems to be much less of it than there used to be. And it usually involves solving ‘good’ problems you created yourself, eg: by adding some cool new piece of software, and not because the OS just crapped itself for no good reason.

I was worried about not being able to play games very well on Linux, but I knew there were at least a few games available on Linux and I still had the PS4 to play on so bit the bullet. But even that fear turned out to be a big bogey-man. With Steam being super Linux friendly, and with the Wine/Proton Windows emulation layers, I haven’t yet found that a game in my Steam library that WONT run flawlessly on Linux. In fact, there are 2 games that used to crash consistently on Windows that I can ONLY run reliably on Linux. The one gaming exception here has been ‘Star Citizen’ which I haven’t been able to get going yet. But it’s apparently possible so I’m gonna give it another shot soon.

My distro of choice for now is ‘Manjaro’. I like its look and feel a lot (I use the XFCE desktop version but there are many others), it comes with a useful default setup so you’re not constantly having to install things to do basic stuff, and best of all it has a ton of software packages available for it. In particular it supports AUR, the ‘Arch User Repository’, a massive repository of packages in source code (only?) form that build themselves when you install them. This works 97% of the time but when it doesn’t you can view the ‘build script’ it uses so can generally just paste everything into a tmp directory and start hacking yourself. This is also a great way to learn how to build stuff from source in general. Usually there will just be some dependencies the package has forgotten to list.

But Manjaro is just one of a ton of very polished distros around these days. The first thing I did when I decided to try Linux was to setup live installers for a bunch of distros on a bunch of USB sticks and give them all a whirl. In fact, for my ‘month of Linux’ on my home machine I was running Manjaro entirely from a 128G USB stick the whole time!

Anyway, that’s it for now. IMO, If you’re getting a bit bored of computers and haven’t tried Linux for a while, I suggest giving it a go again. It has certainly been something of a revelation for me and I think it has ‘fired me up’ a bit again!

Bye,
Mark

1 Comment

  1. I am really happy on Linux Mint myself, but I may give Manjaro a chance someday, I’ve heard great things about it. When it comes to desktop experience, Linux has come a long way in the past decade, although some things are still missing. For example, fingerpring login on my work ThinkPad is not supported, and I never use my headset in Bluetooth mode because it has issues. These things are stopping me from moving away from Windows and macOS entirely.

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