I’ve played/worked with computers for a very long time. I’ve gotten to use operating systems that are popular with the masses as well as obscure OSs that work for only one model of machine. As a result, I’ve had a lot of time to weigh my preferences. In recent years I’ve come to like Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular.
Let me start out by saying that there has only been one line of OS that I’ve loathed and that’s been Apple’s series that have populated the Macs. Yes, I know a lot of people like it, I also know that a subculture of people like it more than it probably deserves, but I’ve never been able to warm up to it despite numerous attempts. So many of the ways it makes me do things is like fingernails on a blackboard to me.
Other than that, I’ve been pretty flexible.
I’ve been trying out Linux distributions since not long after there were enough variants for there to be distros. The thing is, compared to the other options available on an Intel-based computer, i.e. Windows, it was lacking. If you were willing to spend all of your time hacking, or really loved Unix, it was fine, but if your job(s) required you to actually be productive…well, it just wasn’t ready for me to take it seriously. I wanted to. I’d often install the buzz-generating distro-of-the-moment only to realize that it still wasn’t quite there.
While I was doing this, I was also growing increasingly dissatisfied with Windows. Not that I had stability problems or anything—I’m pretty good about setting up a solid system that only bombs out in extraordinary circumstances. No, the dissatisfaction stems from (but is not limited to) the agonizingly slow boot-up. There’s little recourse in changing the order of booting programs, cache-clearing can take forever, and…well, there are a lot of problems. And then came Ubuntu.
I installed Ubuntu on a test machine to play around with. I almost immediately fell in like with it. It was stable (which didn’t surprise me), quick loading (again, no surprises), and not the PITA to install and configure that other distros had been (wait…what? Finally). I’ve been using it for a few years now on my laptops and have been pretty happy with it. There have been a couple of factors that have prevented me from shifting over to Ubuntu on my main work machines: key applications, and configuration.
In terms of apps, for me the Photoshop thing is big. Yes, GIMP will do what you need most of the time, but PS really is the standard for good reason. While just about every other application has a Linux analogue, the fact is that some industries (<cough>publishing</cough>) have calcified on a single program (<cough>MS Word</cough>) and working around that doesn’t always garner good results. Personally, I think LibreOffice should be the standard, or no worse than co-standard, but the current reality is otherwise. There are a few more key applications like this depending on your industry, but actually surprisingly few at this point. For the most part, you can get by fairly well.
I mentioned that configuration wasn’t the pain that it used to be. That’s true…mostly. If you have to dive into the various script and conf files…well, you better hope you have a good Internet connection because you are going to need it. To fine-tune an Ubuntu installation you are going to need the resources available online to help you out. Fortunately, most everything has been answered, so if you have even a modicum of patience, you’ll likely find the answer you need just by searching. Woe, though, if you need hardware drivers for new equipment. You might be SOL for a while unless the maker of your equipment is savvy enough to include them or at least have them available online. Best to check before you buy.
At present, I use Windows for media and Linux for writing and similar endeavors. Given my druthers, I’d be fine with dropping Windows. If it weren’t for Photoshop, I probably would. At this point, Microsoft will only be seeing me buy a license for one install of its OS, for my primary machine. All my secondary machines will be sidling next to Tux.