2014-05-19

Switching to Linux

It looks like I am now using a Linux based desktop operating system on a regular basis.

I installed Ubuntu last November as a dual boot because I was curious to see the Steam client for Linux, and also test some games. How would they behave in comparison to Windows?

At the same time, I challenged that new operating system to get me the same experience than on Windows. I looked for software or alternative I was using on Windows, and so far all went right:

  • TrueCrypt: I use this program to cipher sensitive data, and it exists on Linux
  • KeePass: I use this program to store my gazillion number of accounts on the Web (protip: always use a different login/password for each website) and it exists on Linux
  • Beyond Compare: my favorite file & folder comparison tool, I even bought a license. A Linux version exists
  • FileZilla: for FTP access, exists on Linux too
  • Firefox and Thunderbird: of course
  • Winamp: yes, I was still a user of Winamp, I could not find a satisfying alternative. On Linux I use Audacious that looks quite the same
  • Media Player Classic: to watch videos. I am now using VLC I was reluctant to use because of the interface, the settings management and latency problems. At least the latency problem is now gone and the nice thing with VLC is that it can read any format.
  • Notepad++/Programmer's notepad: two good text editors on Windows. I tried to use the built-in text editor of Ubuntu, gedit, but after some frustration I switched to SublimeText. That editor is wonderful. The only drawback is that it is not free but I would not mind paying for this kind of quality.

After some weeks of booting to Ubuntu only, I felt like it was possible to do the same tasks I used to do on Windows. But after this try, I went back to Windows until... I had to reinstall it!

Recent versions of Windows are more solid than the dark era of Windows 95/98, where you had to reinstall it regularly. Unfortunately that happened for my Windows 7 after I tried for two weeks to repair the game-pad handling. None of my games would recognize my game-pad, though the control panel of Windows was able to detect it successfully. I just gave up and reinstalled Windows, but then I lost motivation to reinstall all my usual software and reconfigure everything, not counting all the update/reboot cycles mandated by Windows Update.

I decided to only reinstall Steam, for games that are Windows-only, and Chrome, for some basic browsing. As I had already made a full environment with everything I need on Ubuntu, it became naturally my first-choice operating system:)

It's been some months now I am on Linux and everything works fine, regardless some small frustration caused by some applications. The next step is now related to development! I started porting PngOptimizer but I am still missing Visual Studio. I will probably write a bit more about that experience.