Why I use Linux

I’m not sure whether I wrote an article like this before. Either way, the Why I use Linux Project is a nice opportunity to write (again?) about this topic.

History

First of all, some history. I was introduced to “the other operating system” in grade 11 by a close friend of mine. At the time, I didn’t know a thing about computers. I just graduated middle school (“Realschule” in Germany) and started high school (“Gymnasium” in Germany) and made new friends. My friend showed me his notebook, which was running Ubuntu Gnome 09.04 or something like that, and I was blown away by the fact that there was something else besides Microsoft Windows - and one also got it for free (as in beer).

Soon, I started with Kubuntu,… KDE 3 was amazing to me. Maybe half a year after my friend suggested, because I was only using terminal applications by that time - learning vim and so on - that I should try Archlinux. So Archlinux it was.

In 2015 I switched to NixOS, using i3 as window manager and was a Linux-only guy.

Today I use XFCE on NixOS and couldn’t be happier. All my machines work perfectly well.

The reasons

Now that you know my history with Linux, let me give you some reasons why I use Linux today:

  1. It works. Sounds strange, but for me this is perfectly reasonable: I’ve become a pragmatist - and because my setup, my machines and my workflow just suits me perfectly well, I absolutely have no reason to switch operating systems.
  2. It is fast. Just today I had the opportunity to compare my workstation to the workstation of someone else running Windows 7. The workstations are approximately the same (so not handheld vs. datacenter): AMD 8 core processor with 16GB RAM on my side vs Intel i7 4-Core + Hyperthreading with 16GB on the other side. Tell you what? Mine is much faster with everything. From loading websites, loading applications, … everything is just smooth and performs really well. Of course this is not a scientific approach in measuring and comparing these machines… but my point is not that my machine is faster, my point is: My machine is fast. My second machine, a Lenovo Thinkpad X220, is fast as hell as well - I never experienced any lagging or something the like.
  3. I know what is going on in my machine. With Linux under the hood, I know what is running on my machine. With free (as in freedom) software, I actually can read what is going on. How many times have Windows users asked my why some application does not work as intended… How many times have I replied “Wait, I will check the Sourcecode on what it does… Oh, wait, you’re running proprietary Software? Well… not my problem then, is it?” (yes, I’m a bit of a jerk in that regard).
  4. I can configure how something should work! If I don’t like how my menu works, how switching windows works or on which screen an application appears when starting it… I can change it! Some time ago someone complained that the “Print” dialog on his window machine always opens on the wrong screen. That’s a problem I’ve never experienced with Linux or Linux-running machines. Just configure it how it should work - and then it does that!
  5. If I don’t like something, I can use something else! Well, if you purchase software and you don’t like it, you cannot return it. Sometimes there are trial versions and that helps a lot - but what if you don’t like the UI your operating system ships? Well, for me that is “uninstall XFCE, install KDE” … ready to go, don’t even need to reboot.
  6. I can make it look as nerdy or as hipster-like as I want. Customizing a desktop environment is not one of my favourite ideas of how to spend an evening. But I could do it if I would like to.
  7. I can adapt it to my workflow - I don’t have to adapt my workflow to it. I’m a heavy user of keybindings. And I love having vim-bindings in my desktop environment, in my bash, in my tmux and in my vim (of course). I can configure that! Hell yeah, that’s the power of free software! I can make it behave like I want to!
  8. I don’t have to rely on a company to fix their bugs! I can do it myself if I need to. Or I can pay someone to fix them!
  9. It is free as in freedom and as in beer. For me, as a poor student, both count equally. I love to have free (as in freedom) software at my hands I can mess with. But it is also important that I can use it for free (as in beer). My friends at university pay hundrets of bucks for their Software,… I can use that money to do something else,… for example buying a camera and start learning photography! And because of the free (as in beer) image processing software, I can even post-process the images without purchasing expensive software for it!
  10. I am a programmer. Unix (or in this case Linux) is my IDE! I’m also a techie and Linux is my playground.

Wanna try?

So, there are some good reasons for using Linux. If you want to try using Linux, go ahead with some of the beginner-friendly distros like Linux Mint Ubuntu Mate or Fedora KDE - and remember that you can make each of them look like the other - because with Linux, you have the choice!