Why I'm leaving Linux
May 16, 2018
I remember in the beginning of my career going to FISL and seeing a lecture from a Red Hat developer, without understanding almost anything, and thinking: I want to be a kernel developer like him one day. For 6 long years I kept true to this goal. Now, that dream not only does not exist anymore, I’m quitting as a Linux laptop user. Let me explain you why.
First of all Linux interfaces sucks. What is decent in modern standards is buggy (like pantheon), and what is stable is ancient (like LXDE). For long my opinion is that to be a real Linux user one should use as few GUI as possible. And I applied this philosophy to it’s limits. I spent about 4 years on the same minimal ArchLinux installation dropping every unnecessary piece of software.
But if you enter the path of being a CLI hacker you end-up having to do everything yourself. Sure, you get a lot of power and understanding. But things that should be simple end up being extremely complex like: setting up printers, managing displays, connecting Bluetooth devices, configuring email, etc.
And there are times that things don’t work at all. Something in the Kernel change and you end up getting problems forever. I recall losing 2/3 of my battery duration between the change from kernel 3.* to kernel 4.*. Never to recover.
But the worse by far is when some shit happens and you have an appointment where your machine is necessary. I have two exemplary experiences, never to forget, which elucidate how much a Linux hacker suffer.
Twice I was going to the podium and the remote display connection failed. Once I was up to give a course and while my students arrived at the room I - extremely nervous - recompiled the kernel to luckily get the HDMI working.
Another time, during a conference in which I was expected to give a hands on talk, I was about to start and discovered that they had only VGA. Unfortunately after kernel 4 VGA stopped working. This time I could not fix the problem at all and had to borrow a friend’s computer to be able to do a much less impressive version of the lecture I prepared.
But why this things happen to Linux? Are kernel developers sloppy? No. The answer is simpler than that: the Linux kernel is optimized for servers, not for desktops. If you loses battery life probably was because someone decided to trade it off with performance, latency or another thing that is much more important on servers. And they don’t care much about adding that driver you need since it will affect 0% of the user base while they can improve a minuscule part of the networking subsystem and affect everyone.
But one would expect that desktop centered distributions like Ubuntu would take the time to improve users life. Turns out that distributions are much occupied packaging software from thousands of parties and testing if they work together. So even basic tweaks like optimizing cache pressure is not done in almost any distro. So your beloved notebook have a ultra-optimized piece of software that is extremely good at doing repetitive tasks to millions of clients. But really poor to handle your 15 applications without you noticing the cache swaps.
Having a Linux installation can be an enlightening experience. I do recommend it if you are a novice interested in backend development. I learned a lot about OS’s, shell, Unix, and my career would not have been as good as it is without Linux. You can even beat all averageness with it. 90% of the time. I did it. But ultimately, if you want to get things done, and avoid the 10% true misery, you must outgrow it.