Is Linux a waste of time and should you stick with Windows?

Some people get to know Linux, dive in, and then leave with the feeling that Linux is a waste of time. That’s a pretty broad brush to paint the entire operating system, but there are some use cases where Linux is great and others where you might encounter some challenges.

Here are some of the frustrations people have expressed about Linux and what to do about it if you decide Linux is still for you.

1. There are no apps


Does Linux have all of the apps you got used to on Windows and macOS? No. Does that mean there are no apps? Not at all. There are many apps out there for Linux, and more are popping up all the time. Even if you won’t find the same amount of options, depending on your needs or expectations, you may find more than enough to make you fall in love.

The nature of free software development is different than in the world of proprietary software. There are fewer financial options for people to spend their days creating desktop apps, but the programs that are created tend to be around long and attract contributions from many different sources. While apps may not appear the same frequency as you might expect, much of the software that appears tends to hang around.

Fortunately, finding and installing Linux apps has become easier than ever. You can search much of what is available by searching Flathub, the Snap Store, or the AppCenter.

2. You cannot run a specific program

Even if you need a specific app that isn’t officially available for Linux, there’s a good chance you can run it anyway. There are programs that are dedicated to emulating Windows software, such as Wine. You can run many Windows programs with Wine instead of waiting for a port.

Not every app will work, and even for those that do, some features may work while others will not. So it’s worth checking the Wine website to see if the program you need is supported.

Wine setup can be tricky. Fortunately, there are alternatives that have popped up. Bottles is a simpler app that takes some of the complexity away. There is also paid software from CodeWeavers, a company that helps you run Windows apps on other operating systems.

If all else fails, you have the option of running Windows in an emulator. This might not be ideal for a program that you need to interact with every day, but it isn’t a big deal for software that you only need occasionally. Depending on how you use your computer, it might be safer to keep Windows isolated in a virtual machine than to install it directly on a hard drive anyway.

3. Linux has no games


Windows has long been the dominant operating system for playing games. Many people looking to try Linux in particular cite this reason as the only thing holding them back. But as it turns out, this is an area where Linux is seeing tremendous growth, largely thanks to the continued investments of Valve, the company behind Steam.

Valve has used Linux as the basis for various devices, such as its Steam Machines. But only the Steam Deck really caught the eye.

In order to make a wide range of titles available for these platforms, Valve had to do the work to make the titles run on Linux. While some game developers have targeted Linux, most of them still make their games exclusively for Windows. But with Proton, thousands of Windows games now work great on Linux. So if you want to know where the games are, take a look at Steam.

That doesn’t mean Valve is alone. Humble Bundle has done a lot in raising the profile of Linux gaming, and GOG continues to provide DRM-free titles. Then there is a huge selection of indie titles. So does Linux have 100% of the games? No, but there is a lot to keep committed players entertained.

4. The community is mean and the weakest

Nobody knows everything when they first use Linux. On other operating systems, you generally know someone you can ask for help, such as: B. a tech-savvy family member or the IT person at work. On Linux, many people turn to online help forums or question-and-answer boards. This experience can be hit or miss.

Often someone comes who knows his way around and helps. Sometimes someone will come and tell you that you should be asking the wrong question and trying to do something completely different, or suggesting that you are wrong at all because you want to do what you ask for in the first place.

Since the Linux desktop has as much to do with ethics and ideals as it does technology, it is not surprising that many people have different ethics and ideals and are very committed to them. A question about playing DVDs on your PC could get you a talk on how to use non-DRM-burdened technologies.

However, this is not representative of the entire Linux community. There are many great places online to hang out with people who love Linux and who like to answer questions. You can find such groups on Discord, Reddit, and Telegram.

There are also groups that use more open networks like IRC, XMPP, and Matrix. Instead of leaving Linux, the community can be not only why you stay, but also a source for future friends.

5. Everything is constantly being reinvented

Activity view in Fedora 34 Beta GNOME

This is a problem that is more frustrating to long-time Linux users than to newbies. If you’ve been using Linux long enough, you will likely reach a point where just when a particular desktop or technology feels mature, you will decide to rebuild or redesign it.

This is not a specific problem in the Linux world, but it can get frustrating when you rely on volunteer work and resources are scarce.

Even if the cycle appears to be repeating itself, it can mask the reality that real progress has been made. Setting up Linux is easier than ever. Most desktop interfaces are reliable. Most peripherals will only work when you plug them in, especially if they are at least a year or two old.

The Linux experience has become reliable and simple enough that people are surprised when something is difficult. This is a far cry from the early days when you put most things together yourself.

So are things often reinvented? Yes sir. Many developers find creating something new more exciting than maintaining or fixing an older project that they may not have been involved in.

But it would still be a mistake to believe that nothing will ever be fixed. Linux today is much better than Linux a decade ago, and even further than Linux a decade ago.

Should you stick with Windows?

If you are a seasoned Windows user and you are happy with how it works, then you have to wonder why you care about Linux. It’s a different operating system, and it won’t behave the same way. If you’re not interested in change, you may be happier sticking with what you know.

But Linux isn’t bad just because it’s different. Far from being a waste of time, Linux can be one of the most rewarding operating systems because once you know how it works, that knowledge will stay with you for a long time.

No company has the authority to fundamentally change the way Linux works from one version to the next. So, if you want a computer that you can study long on and stay with for a long time, Linux can be more than worth the investment of your time.

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