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I switched from macOS to Linux after 15 years of Apple (markosaric.com)
679 points by miles on Aug 26, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 838 comments

I manage hundreds of linux servers... from my windows desktop and mac laptop.

This will be super unpopular, but Linux missed the desktop boat 20 years ago, and my feeling as someone who at the time built his gentoo OS's from source, it was the fault of a few things:

1) Fragmented gui development. There were too many projects with none focusing on really making a better gui than mac/windows.

2) A lack of bread and butter 1st class "business" apps - you know, office. OpenOffice is fine, IF you are ok with the janky ui and no one knowing how it works.

3) lack of open source exchange type mail/cal/etc server and outlook-like client). Holy fudge, I tried to get this going and people just crapped on me for suggesting it.

4) Until recently, installing on laptops was an absolute crap shoot.

5) Just, apps, in general. Gimp is fine, but it has never been close to photoshop. GUI standards are all over the place, etc. People go to a platform because it has the tools they want. The real fallout from point 1 is no one would ever port apps to linux (a little hyperbolic - a lot of high-end post production apps and audio apps all made it over). Open source yadda yadda, thats nice (this is not a brush off, it IS nice), but the ecosystem could be light years ahead of where we are now.

The Linux desktop never made it because it’s a terrible platform for distributing commercial applications.

The brutal fact is commercial software is essential to the success of any desktop or mobile platform. That’s because it brings massive investment. The total ongoing investment in commercial applications dwarfs that of open source desktop applications, in developer-hours terms, probably thousands, or tens of thousands to one. Getting to that scale means paying people money, and not just developers. Artists, designers, QA and domain experts in the specialist fields niche apps serve. There’s just no way open source apps can possibly compete.

By failing to provide compelling support for commercial application development and distribution, the Linux desktop has starved itself of the breadth and depth of apps needed to succeed. When you’re competing with the Mac, Windows, iOS or Android you’re not just competing with Apple, Microsoft or Google. You’re competing with the hundreds of billions of dollars in app and service ecosystems that have been built around those platforms.

I actually love this aspect of Linux, and if it ever does become successful it will kill it for me. Because every medium that gains a certain level of popularity will bring along a whole raft of commercial parasites that will spoil the original experience. It happened to the web, it happened to smart phones and it certainly would happen to Linux if it ever did gain substantial traction on the desktop.

This just sounds like some weird hipsterism. While Linux has plenty of programming tools, there are plenty of other industries that are underserved by Linux and I don't see how putting out commercial programs for those people will "kill it for you." Linux more than anything else allows you to just not involve yourself in things you don't want concern yourself with.

It's definitely not a "hipsterism". I agree with OP as I've been using Linux as my daily driver on both desktop and all personal laptops since 2003. I've gone through a number of distros over that time and I do pay for a few applications that run natively on Linux. However all mainstream OSes, today, are a garbage experience comparatively. Locked down, too many choices made for you already out of the box, excessive local advertising and that's just getting started. I'm forced to use Windows or OS X at work, I choose the latter, but still do the majority of my productive tasks outside of Apple. I'd pick my aging T470 all day long over my corp issued 16" MBP.

I don't want corporations like Apple or Microsoft controlling my hardware. We can see where that's got us and it's a disgusting dead end of the user not truly having control or ownership.

"I'm not like the normies" definitely is a hipsterism.

Linux is the OS for people who like tinkering. Tinkering is the point. It's all about building random crap for the sake of building it and hand-editing config files.

On the desktop 90% of the projects are second rate clones of commercial software with a weird GUI, poorer features, and added user hostility.

As for corporations - they already control your hardware. There is no such thing as open hardware, and won't be until chip-level designs can be fabbed at home. (And even then, because chip design is far beyond the skills of the average hacker and won't be practical without AI doing the heavy lifting.)

But worse - Linux and corporations have both locked down your imagination to the point where you cannot imagine that your experience does not generalise.

Access to source doesn't change that, because access to source code and tinkering aren't a substitute for being able to imagine original, beautiful, and useful new things for end users - not just an endless churn of half-finished clone projects and infinite dev tools.

> "I'm not like the normies" definitely is a hipsterism.

No, it isn't.

"I'm not like the normies, because I am cool and underground." is a hipsterism.

"I'm not like the normies, because unlike them I happen to possess the skills to escape from a situation we all hate" is not an hipsterism.

> Linux is the OS for people who like tinkering. Tinkering is the point.

This is also completely false. Improvements were made, things generally work out of the box. Polished and user friendly user interfaces exist.

_But_: interfacing with those commercial products/services that spoiled the fun of mainstream systems generally sucks. Because those only work if you give up control to them. Which was one of the main reasons you went to Linux anyway.

> Tinkering is the point

No. You can do it if you want, but you don't have to.

I used to have a huge .emacsrc, .Xresources and what not in the far past. Today I have just a couple of lines that help me avoiding stupid mistakes, but nothing at all to try to tune look and feel. I use Xfce on some machines and i3 on others. Both just work out of the box. The former for an average user, the latter of course needs a certain attitude and some learning initially. I am sure you can also work with Gnome or KDE without starting tinkering.

Maybe one exception: hdpi support on Xfce does not seem to be ready, at least not on Xubuntu LTS. So one step of tinkering was needed: Turn off the nonsense. And never look back.

> Linux is the OS for people who like tinkering. Tinkering is the point. It's all about building random crap for the sake of building it and hand-editing config files.

Bollocks. I use linux for my work every day and like my privacy and the confidentiality of my data.

> Linux is the OS for people who like tinkering.

This is just flat out wrong. I spend more time waiting for OS X to "upgrade" than I ever do with package management and kernel upgrades in Linux. Ultimately upgrades in Linux are easier, there's no tinkering required. For odd configurations, sure - there may be some tinkering you can do to make things work more how you'd like. For example I have a SFF desktop machine that runs an eGPU. I only want the eGPU for some OpenCV use cases and I run the iGPU for my desktop window manager. Sure, in that case I did have to tweak things a bit, but I actually found an eGPU manager [0] in the process and everything now "just works".

But printing, window management, software installation, etc are all simple and just as easy (if not more so) than what you've described - "...hand-editing config files". I'd say you are not a Linux user or have not tried any notable Linux distributions in a long time if that's your perspective.

> As for corporations - they already control your hardware.

No, they don't. While, yes, Intel and AMD may have things in their hardware that I don't control - the Linux distributions I use don't have copious amounts of telemetry being fed back to corporations like Apple/Microsoft/Google.

> But worse - Linux and corporations have both locked down your imagination to the point where you cannot imagine that your experience does not generalise.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here but I'd have to say, in my opinion, the comment doesn't seem to make any sense given my long-term experience with Linux on the desktop.

[0] https://github.com/hertg/egpu-switcher

So untrue in my experience.....the amount of times I had to fight with external screen resolutions, bad looking fonts, scrolling issues in chrome, etc.

> Linux is the OS for people who like tinkering. Tinkering is the point. It's all about building random crap for the sake of building it and hand-editing config files.

I would rephrase this as "Linux is for people who like to customize their experience without compromise". Sure tinkering is fun but its the tool to get to your destination. When I first started using linux I spent maybe a year tinkering and playing with things. This would be along the lines of "XYZ isn't working how I want it to, let's find a way of making it work the way I want" where XYZ is anything from my screenshot tool to my window manager.

Over time this has meant switching DEs, writing glue scripts, swapping out bit and pieces here and there to build the desktop experience I want. Now I have things to my liking I just have an Ansible script which I can apply to a minimal install and have everything just the way I want it in a couple of minutes. I've not made any major changes in the last 10 years. I might add things as I find I need them but that's maybe a couple of dozen minutes a year.

I can however totally understand if people don't want that experience, most people just want to turn on their device and have it "just work" even if that "just working" means you have to conform to the way the developer thinks it should work. This is why people love Apple products, and the reason I don't.

Linux is about providing a good OS/kernel, good OS/kernels respect user preferences, respecting user preferences means to allow personalization and tinkering.

Linux is not a puzzle, it is an extensible tool.


> On the desktop 90% of the projects are second rate clones of commercial software with a weird GUI, poorer features, and added user hostility.

A lot of free/open-source software is created by a single developer in their spare time, because they want an open & functional version of their favourite commercial app.

The weird GUI is what you get when you can't devote unlimited man-hours and millions of $ to the project.

A lot of good has come from the Linux and open-source movement, let's not pretend otherwise.

> The weird GUI is what you get when you can't devote unlimited man-hours and millions of $ to the project.

I will take weird or unpolished GUI over polished, dark patterns, thank you very much.

Because that's the choice that we really make.

I didn’t know the opposite of terrible UI is dark pattern.

It isn't, just like opposite of free software is not great UI. Despite that, free software and terrible UI gets conflated; so what's just one more conflation, right?

"Despite that, free software and terrible UI gets conflated"

I wonder why people would conflate those two things? Sure, not all free desktop software is bad, but enough of it is that people prefer the commercial alternatives.

Replace free with proprietary, commercial with free, bad with dark patterns and that will be just as true as your version.

“Replace free with proprietary, commercial with free, bad with dark patterns and that will be just as true as your version.”

So more people use free desktop software? Hmmm

Also, that is the most confusing statement I have ever read.

> Linux is the OS for people who like tinkering. Tinkering is the point.

I don't tinker on my Linux machine. I bought a supported Linux machine (System76) and haven't tinkered with it at all since I bought it. I just wanted a machine that worked and I didn't have to deal with all the ways MacOS terminal experience was different from Linux terminal experience. Simple things like not having docker running in a hidden VM and many more.

My daily driver is stock Fedora+Gnome. The only "tinkering" I've done on the desktop is switching dark/light themes and changing the wallpaper. Otherwise my tinkering is focused on my terminal tools needed for serious work - nvim, git, zsh etc. If I owned a Mac or Windows, I'd probably be the same.

> On the [Linux] desktop 90% of the projects are second rate clones of commercial software with a weird GUI, poorer features, and added user hostility.

GUI and features aside: I thought "added user hostility" was a big-corporate feature?

Reading this comment really pissed me off, and I felt compelled to strike back, but upon seeing from the replies that it pissed off a lot of other people too, I feel much better.

Yes, those weird hipsters that think Stallman was on to something.

Free software is exactly what kept Linux free, the moment it would get locked up it would go the same way that Windows and MacOS have gone: consumer oriented platforms rather than computer operating systems. Ideal for pushing ads and for-pay software down your throat rather than tools for you to use as you see fit.

Microsoft putting ads into the OS was a real low blow, and they've made some really bad blunders over the years.

But there is nothing more valuable to me than my time. It takes me less time to be productive on Windows and OS X and remove all the junk, than it does to waste countless hours trying to get a Linux DE configured "just right" based on whatever combo I'm using and feature parity I need.

I'll chose my time over my money, and I'm OK with that. Turns out paying professionals for quality goods is an alright business model, and I'm not losing any sleep by not having source code access.

> But there is nothing more valuable to me than my time. It takes me less time to be productive on Windows and OS X and remove all the junk, than it does to waste countless hours trying to get a Linux DE configured "just right" based on whatever combo I'm using and feature parity I need.

Yeah, I agree.

But the major difference might be that once configured a linux desktop environment is "just right" for quite a lot longer than you think -- and once it is "just right" you get marginal productivity gains in small aspects, which in aggregate, is probably a lot of time saved.

I'm a bit biased because I already sank the cost into my desktop setup in 2011. But frankly: my desktop environment very much gets out of my way.

Setting a window to be "always on top" saves me more time than all of window's productivity features combined.

To me it's to pull the plug on my ethernet connection.

I too value my time. And yes, MacOS or Windows allow you to be productive almost right away compared to say Arch Linux. Compared to something like Ubuntu, I'm not so sure. And things which I use daily don't seem supported on Windows (using the GPG app on my Yubikey for SSH access).

But this is just an upfront cost. With Windows, which I've tried to use regularly, there are many annoyances which introduce friction in the day to day. So the "opex" if you will is much higher.

Just this morning I started my Windows machine to play a quick game and wanted to check out something on the internet beforehand. It started bugging me about some "recommended browser settings" in some Edge window that showed up half off-screen that I couldn't move. Then there's the Windows Terminal app which sometimes takes forever to start up. And windows that pop up and look active but aren't.

Then there's a bunch of other little annoyances which I now forget but over a work day end up aggravating. Of course, YMMV as they say, and I know people who aren't as bothered by those. But in case you are annoyed, the upfront cost of setting up your Linux DE just right may be cheaper in the long run.

I've spent a while setting up i3 a few years ago, just out of curiosity. I had been a MacOS user at the time for a very long time. But then something happened, and it grew on me. Now I only use my mac from time to time when idly watching a movie in bed, because I find it slower to use. I hate having to hunt around for windows, move then around, click on some Dock icon which sometimes doesn't show, others shows up while it shouldn't (in the full-screen Mail window usually).

I guess the point is that different people have different needs and are willing to pay different prices for those. There's also a case to be made about high upfront cost + low maintenance vs low upfront cost + high maintenance.

> Turns out paying professionals for quality goods is an alright business model, and I'm not losing any sleep by not having source code access.

Well, of course. Only issue is how you define quality, as related to what you need. For me, the price of the Windows license was lumped in the same bin with the GPU. Have to buy it to be able to play a game I wanted to play. But I'd feel robbed if I had to pay for it and than have to use it for my job. In my case, I haven't looked under the hood of the Linux kernel or the DE or the terminal app or anything, for that matter. It just works better for me. And I'm also OK to invest some time if it means I'll be more confortable down the road.

I've used Linux DE far less than Windows/OS X, but I've spent more time setting up Linux than I ever have on many multiples years more use of the others. This doesn't even include things like digging into systemd or other supporting ecosystem players. Wifi, Bluetooth, HiDPI, and other common DE experiences are not always consistent with Linux distros and across hardware.

Wouldn't be surprised if I've spent more time alone on Linux just figuring out network file sharing than all other DE-related configurations combined.

On the other hand, I wouldn't deploy software against any other OS (unless it's an app). There's no world where I don't want or see Linux. I'm just not sold on it's DE experience so far.

There is no customization you can make to a DE that saves me so much time and energy long term that it makes up for all the other time and energy needed to invest in Linux DE as a daily driver. Most of my energy seems to be devoted to task-specific regiments, more influenced by that tasks software.

In twenty five years, I've probably spent less than $3,000 on Microsoft products personally. I've got my moneys worth.

I've found Linux filesharing easier to work with than Windows but that's about it.

When on my local network, I'm at the point regardless of OS (Win, Linux, Mac alike) where I tend to fire up the Python built-in http.server module on whichever machine I want to share from and go to the other to download whatever files I need.

I have never gotten inter-OS file sharing like SMB/Samba to work right other than using rsync or scp. And the only intra-OS file sharing I've ever had a good experience with is Mac AirDrop.

> I have never gotten inter-OS file sharing like SMB/Samba to work right other than using rsync or scp

That's weird. I usually just fire up Samba and everything works pretty much as expected. Granted, I don't use GUI tools, but one of the examples in the default config file is pretty much what you need (share the homes, or something to that effect).

Windows and OS X come ready for both SMB and NFS, which is the bulk of experiences I encounter. Apple AirDrop has also been very useful.

Mounting remote file systems can be done easily in the GUI, as can sharing. Like any such software, it's going to have a learning curve.

I can't remember the last time I was on Linux and didn't have to start off by installing cifs-utils, and then hunting down instructions on writing an .smbcredentials file.

Windows also makes it (relatively) easy to administer file sharing if you're on a AD domain. All said and done, I personally use Unraid for my home NAS.

Windows makes it hard, when you need to have credentials from multiple domains and these domains do not have configured trust. It's a hell then.

Both macs and linux can handle this fine.

Yeah using samba is just as hard on Linux. I've struggled to get AD to work correctly with older PC's. We run CNCs with Win 98.

NFS is simpler and easier to manage.

Windows 98 does not support AD out of the box; the contemporary solution was NT4 domain.

There is a solution for that, dsclient, but it is still missing Kerberos support, so you have to account for that.

> I've spent a while setting up i3 a few years ago, just out of curiosity. I had been a MacOS user at the time for a very long time. But then something happened, and it grew on me. Now I only use my mac from time to time when idly watching a movie in bed, because I find it slower to use. I hate having to hunt around for windows, move then around, click on some Dock icon which sometimes doesn't show

I went through exactly the same experience after trying i3. Also a Mac user. I couldn't move to Linux at the time because apps, so I did my best to recreate that experience on a Mac. Rectangle+Karabiner+Hammerspoon did the trick, and at this point I'm so used to it that when I set up my Linux desktop, I actually recreated the same shortcuts in i3 vs. the default i3 config.

So I would say if you _have to_ stay on a Mac, there are ways to customise and tinker too, with the end result much better than you expect.

I was using Karabiner a lot at the time. I hadn't heard of Rectangle nor Hammerspoon, but I tried Amethyst (or something like that) which would provide a tiling experience, but I hated it. It was laggy, and I couldn't get used to the windows jumping around. Maybe it was my oldish MacBook (late 2013 15" MBP), although I still find that computer plenty fast for my needs.

I was more or less in the same boat app-wise, as for work I use Office 365 and at the time the web apps were barely usable. I also loved Apple Mail, and to me, it still is the best email client I've ever used (disclaimer: I don't tend to do anything "fancy" with my email). Nowadays, Outlook online works well enough for my needs (I'd say it's actually better than when I was using the 'heavy client' on the Windows machine I was given). Teams works well (as in no worse than elsewhere) on Linux, too, so all my work-related needs are met.

Rectangle is just an app that helps to move windows around, like on Windows: Win-RightArrow to move to right half of screen, some other combination to maximize etc. I found that recreating i3 experience as-is on a Mac is counterproductive, especially when it's on a laptop-sized screen. I rarely want to split the screen, and when I do, it's mostly left-right halves. The only exception is terminal, and I use tmux for that.

Hammerspoon is just an automation tool for Mac, you can do a lot of things with it, including moving windows around and a lot of other stuff (just look at the docs to get a feel). I use it as an app switcher: I found that it's more efficient to do "show me Slack" or "show me VSCode" than "move to workspace 3 where VSCode should be". I don't use workspaces at all nowadays. So, with the help of Karabiner, I mapped my most-used apps to combinations like "caps+g" for Google Chrome, "caps+s" for Slack, "caps+c" for VSCode etc. And for cycling through windows of the same app, there's a built-in cmd-` on MacOS.

The last time I configured my DE was when I switched to Xfce 15 or so years ago. Since then, whenever I get a new laptop, I just copy my home directory from the old one to the new one and it just works.

And you've made no tweaks or changes in the 15 years since? I have changes to my dot files on a constant basis (not to mention changing hardware needs).

I've not touched a dotfile in a decade+.

One thing that people fall into is the ability to tweak things endlessly. If you simply don't do that and use a good default install then you are going to do just fine without all that tuning.

For me my main tools are shell, browser, various audio related programs (audacity, midi editors, score editors and so on) and installing a new linux machine takes about as long as copying the data off the medium takes. Then I copy over (or mount, depending on the circumstances) my homedir and get to work.

Ubuntu also had ads in it: In 2013 they started displaying Amazon Books in their “Start menu”, which had the effect of uploading any keystroke of the main menu.

After the outrcy, the also removed it and never tried it again.

The other systems did not react the same way; they still consider that doing it is fine.

IMO the developer experience on Linux is first class, and it's ordinary user experience that drives me to MacOS — all the apps and games which will probably never come to Linux.

Plus, notwithstanding the CSAM detection thing, Apple has been steadily introducing a stream of really sweet consumer privacy features for the ordinary user, such as Sign in with Apple, Apple relay (basically TOR lite for grandma), email aliases, etc.

Even the installation process has junk in the final steps when it insists on asking about cloud and stuff, although you want just a regular local account. In end I found it easier to use an Autounattend.xml [1], then deal with that crap.

[1]: created with https://www.windowsafg.com/win10x86_x64_uefi.html

I don't see why providing commercial applications would cause Linux to "lock up".

Say someone implements an appstore for Linux, and start selling apps. This could theoretically be enough to get commercial developers onto the platform, opening up for wider popularization of Linux. That doesn't mean you have to install that appstore.. Heck of Linux ever becomes popular, it's probably gonna be Ubuntu. If you don't like that, well, use fedora then. Or nixOS!

Except steam. That is a piece of commercial software that i really want on my linux. I wasnt sold at first but a few years in and i love Proton. The ability to install the games i love without headaches, even VR title, is imho the biggest development for linux desktop since web browsers.

The way I see it it's like building a house or buying one. People should do what they want. I'd like more of us to build our houses, but to each his own.

> I don't see how putting out commercial programs for those people will "kill it for you."

Look at nvidia. They release proprietary drivers that do things in the opposite way things are supposed to be done. It's supposed to be integrated, they do their own thing. It's supposed to be open, they close it. They only do things if it's on their terms. They don't contribute to Linux as a whole, they merely co-opt it for their own purposes. They don't believe in making Linux a better system for all, they do just enough to satisfy their customers and call it a day.

If that's what commercial software means for Linux, the other platforms can keep it.

Uh, what? Wasn't Linux about the user's freedom? If people want Adobe and Solidworks (which will definitely behave like Nvidia), let them have it.

It would be a benefit to Linux adoption.

It's absolutely about user freedom. The problem is companies will sacrifice our freedom as soon as it starts making things inconvenient for them. Our freedom literally gets in the way of their business.

What do you expect? They're a business.

I expect them to care and work with kernel developers in order to make things better for everyone. Intel does, why can't nvidia? Intel drivers are part of the kernel and they literally just work. I avoid nvidia products like the plague now.

"Nvidia, fuck you!"

*Linus Torvalds quote

You can theoretically not involve yourself in Facebook either.

Once your default distribution starts shipping with built in ads, and every other distribution follows suit because it makes them boatloads of money, your linux desktop will be well and truly dead.

> Once your default distribution starts shipping with built in ads, and every other distribution follows suit because it makes them boatloads of money, your linux desktop will be well and truly dead.

Is there some idiom or trope to this that I'm missing that makes it obvious sarcasm? Because that's literally not possible without some inconceivable laws being passed, so I'm confused as to what you're trying to communicate.

Then a team forms up to fork and strip the ads, just like Devuan stripped systemd.

Wont happen, Ubuntu tried it by integrating amazon into search and had to backpedal pretty quickly.

But Ubuntu is still in a fringe market. The discussion is about what would be if it were in a mainstream market.

Exactly that’s when I left Ubuntu. They really had a chance, and shot their own foot with dedication. Who would upload every keystroke of a Linux user to Amazon?

Mozilla makes Google the default search engine in Firefox because they're paid to. What's your point? Without money, the biggest projects would struggle to stay afloat.

Is it somehow gonna make the DE not open source?

I think Firefox and Chromium are good examples of what direction can be expected of mainstream open source projects that end up being steered by a company with commercial needs.

Both got forked a bunch, but the mother project remains the popular one due to user stickiness and, frankly, sheer amount of (paid) effort invested compared to small-scale volunteer efforts. Users can still choose to go with Iceweasel, disabled Pocket integration or Ungoogled Chromium or whatever fork de jour, but generally they don't because "the ecosystem keeps moving". They generally get more desirable things added than annoyances. Unless a company gets it wrong and you get a WhatsApp-level backlash to make another competitor viable.

With constantly moving goalposts, commercial interests can keep the upper hand as the community (and much other competition) can't keep up fast enough. That's why Google keeps pushing the web into ever new directions, and why standardized APIs got replaced by ever-changing Electron apps with mandatory auto-update.

If the popular distributions ship with ads, I'm not afraid as long as there is competition out there that does without. I can always do Arch or Debian instead of Ubuntu and I know they'll do the right thing.

Where it gets dangerous is when the base technology is controlled by commercial interests. Microsoft owning secure boot certificates, Android not getting drivers upstreamed, Apple deciding who gets to compete by owning the App Store. Linux may end up in this spot at some point if a particular vendor (or consortium of commercial interests) becomes too powerful compared to the community and smaller competition. Once it gets there, the only escape is having viable alternatives.

If you rely on commercial software, your alternatives come with huge switching costs. Chromium to Firefox is a little tedious, Mac to Linux is a major disruption. The more you rely on a particular piece of commercial software, the more they can control you.

But competition generally does the trick. I don't mind games being closed source, there are so many quality alternatives that the game studios simply can't lock most users in. Now, app stores for games? That's where you want to be cautious, because they control what competition looks like. Operating systems and drivers? If they turn on you, better start swearing and leaving investments behind. Chip-level DRM? Zero leverage, ask your government for help and if they're not willing, you're screwed.

So really, commercial software isn't that much of an issue high up in the stack. The lower you get, the more careful you want to be about end user communities retaining control. Let the companies make apps, let them sell apps, don't let them grow platforms. The platforms should belong to users.

If a company comes along and makes a commercial platform out of Linux, run.

You're missing the part that you won't be maintaining your whole system yourself. You'll instead be relying on other people to do in the form of distros and packages.

The trouble comes from a slippage in expectations and the increased incentives to do bad things.

Once some (e.g.) spyware in some software is expected and acceptable, suddenly more spyware in even more apps could potentially be acceptable. Now it becomes a constant effort to keeping track of a known good application set which expends a lot of energy. And any one of those apps in the good set could spoil at any time.

And of course, the increased commercial incentives of a lot of non-technical people using the platform immensely increase the likelihood of this occuring.

So it's not hipsterism, it's just something that's been observed to happen many, many times.

Sounds more Nietzschean to me. He said something to the effect of universal literacy wouldn’t be without downsides. The quality of written material would drop as previously illiterate people would write and water down literary culture. Not sure I agree with that wrt literature, but tech was certainly more enjoyable to me before everyone had to consider the “average user,” make things user-friendly, and of course not ignore the enormous profitability that mass market software offers.

Elitism is always good for the elite.

> tech was certainly more enjoyable to me before everyone had to consider the “average user,”

Yeah. To people like us, computing has intrinsic value. We like the system. We want to control it. We want to understand it. We want to make it better. We want to make it ours.

Normal people simply don't care about this. Corporations make every effort to hide the computer from them. That's where the money is so we end up getting lumped together with this average person.

Why can't we have systems designed for programmers? It doesn't matter if some normal person can't use it.

My cynical answer is that we often do, but once they are modestly profitable they get gobbled up by The Business and MBA-types find ways to grow their market share by making it palatable to normals.

I think the problem with commercial apps on Linux is just that the standard Linux security model is too loose for it. Android and IOS have the right idea that apps should be denied permission to do things unless the users says it's okay. I don't want random inscrutable binaries from various companies reading my passwords or email just because all my files are wide open to any software I run on the same user ID.

So far desktop Linux has successfully repelled most commercial software simply by being very difficult to package software for.

Sandboxing that is both secure and allows non trivial application software to work correctly is HARD.

I'm not convinced anyone actually got both right so far - see how recent sanboxing improvements basically killed Anbox on modern Android versions. Or try to get a ssh/samba server running on a Samsung Galaxy device so you can push files to it to avoid buggy inconvenient MTP - mission impossible!

It's not easy, and probably involves rethinking things like the basic assumptions of a traditional POSIX-style environment. But I think it's a necessary feature these days, and I hope it eventually becomes commonplace in Linux, or perhaps there will one day be a plausible Linux-replacement.

> So far desktop Linux has successfully repelled most commercial software simply by being very difficult to package software for.

A couple of guys could figure out how to package Ardour so that it runs on every Linux distro except NixOS [0]. The idea that its hard to package software in a cross-distro way is pure BS.

[0] NixOS plays games with ld.so, which breaks any packaging that relies on being able to set LD_LOAD_PATH. It's the only Linux distro that does this to my knowledge.

That's an open-source application, which provides two fallbacks if the binary on their website doesn't work for whatever reason: you can compile from source, or you can install from a package provided by your distro, if there is one. Those last two generally aren't an option for closed-source commercial software. Also, since they're not asking about package format I'll assume their package is just a tarball, which works fine for some programs but it's not a proper package in the sense of being something you install from a package manager (and can later upgrade/remove with a package manager).

In general you can probably get a program to run on just about any Linux platform by providing X86 and ARM binaries, statically linking everything, and having fallbacks in case you need to use a certain subsystem (graphics, audio, etc..) and you don't know which one the user is going to want to use.

My experience with software development for big enterprisey customers is that you figure out what distros most of your customers are going to be using, and you test on those distros. That's a fair bit of work, because you might have to release both apt and rpm packages and maintain them, and the test environment is complicated and it doesn't cover the case where some random person wants to run your product on Arch/Mandriva/Gentoo/Mint or whatever. Testing every Linux distro is just not practically feasible, so a lot of people will end up running on platforms you didn't test. Maybe that's fine.

> which provides two fallbacks if the binary on their website doesn't work for whatever reason

I wasn't addressing the fallbacks in any way.

> My experience with software development for big enterprisey customers is that you figure out what distros most of your customers are going to be using, and you test on those distros.

This is their mistake. If you instead understand how applications run on Linux in general, you can do what Ardour (and Firefox and many, many others) do: create distro agnostic binary installable versions. We don't test every distro - we don't need to. We design the package so that if certain extremely minimal conditions are met, the package will run. Firefox has done the same (even if many people use the distro version instead).

Ideally you shouldn't need to test every distro, and everything should "just work" but then you're likely to have users run into bugs and incompatibilities you haven't seen because you didn't test that case.

Distro-agnostic tarballs or self-extracting archives you can just expand and run can work, but it's also not ideal because it subverts the package manager. Package managers allow you to install, remove, and update all the software installed in a system in a consistent way, and a tarball exists outside that ecosystem and lacks its benefits. In that sense, a binary tarball is a second-class citizen that doesn't integrate well with the rest of the system and is probably a security liability. Maybe that's an acceptable trade-off for a few applications, but it should leave a person with a "there's probably a better way to do this" sort of feeling.

The package manager creates an ecosystem of libraries and applications.

If your bundle contains the application and its libraries, it's not a part of that ecosystem, and it makes sense that it exists outside of it. In the case of Ardour, since a number of the dependency stack libraries contain patches that will never be upstreamed (or are for EOL'ed libraries), it makes even more sense.

Yes, there is the risk that if the bundle contains a security issue that has already been updated within the package manager's ecosystem, that's a liability.

But the flip side is that "integrating well with the rest of the system" is precisely what makes 3rd party packaging for all (or even many) distros challenging. I note that most of the efforts to address the situation all essentially bypass the package manager ecosystem (flatpak, for example), and that macOS has used the "standalone application folder except for core system libs" for decades now. The liabilities are real, but small, and seem to be an acceptable tradeoff for software that developers want to run on all (or even many) distros.

That’s missing the point by focusing on a proof of concept. It’s a very long way from showing a mostly-cross-platform OSS tool, to being an ISV that provides technical support and maintenance for a significant commercial application, for millions of nontechnical users, with legacy support, on a mercurial set of cross-platform moving targets.

To a product manager, this looks like a black hole where money and engineering/tech support resources get chewed up with very little value creation to show for it.

It’s also how some very mediocre distributions became enterprise standards for Linux - their value proposition basically being, “we’re not a moving target, and the Fortune 500 can buy a maintenance contract from us”. But this only happened in server land, where the hardware ecosystem isn’t so chaotic.

It's not missing the point at all.

"significant commercial application": you have no idea how many downloads or users of Ardour there are.

"mercurial set of cross-platform moving targets": precisely what is addressed.

"nontechnical users": that's a new constraint not present in the original description, but probably not much of an issue if you're discussing a specialized tool rather than a "desktop" application.

"hardware ecosystem": completely irrelevant to the case in question.

Looking past the ridiculous hostility; the case in question is why it’s super rare to target Linux for desktop applications. The example offered has none of the trappings of a commercial offering.

By all means, though, all the best with your startup.

It's a 21 year old project that nets in excess of US$200k/year, and has been the basis of 3 commercial spinoff products. Not a large scale commercial project, certainly, but not a startup.

The question wasn't "why it’s super rare to target Linux for desktop applications". It wasn't a question at all, in fact. It was an assertion that it's hard to package 3rd party applications for Linux, and I am asserting that this claim is incorrect.

As to whether or not the packaging situation explains why it's super rare to target Linux for desktop application, that is indeed a different question, with multiple answers.

Commercialization in that anything goes spirit, would results in Linux just becoming another carbon-copy of they Mac/Win flailing walled in garden ecosystems, everyone wants to escape from. The whole project lifes and breaths because it didn't open up to the parasites of decay. And now that these are squeezing there platforms to death, some people will even put up with homespun clonky UI.

GNU Linux was specifically developed, to escape the Softwarmageddon that is currently playing out in the other centralized eco-systems. To weaken that, would be to re-invite disaster. In my eyes, linux should ban commercial software like Teams from running, if there is a open source alternative. Chop of a limb if you want to survive the infection of end-stage-surveillance capitalism. Let the corpo-borgs eat one another.

> Mac/Win flailing walled in garden ecosystems, everyone wants to escape from

Isn't any given distro's package repository basically the same thing? I mean, sure you can go around it but the same is true of Google's Play Store, it's just a pain in the ass in both cases.

"Mac/Win flailing walled in garden ecosystems, everyone wants to escape from."

This is the problem with living in a techie bubble like HN. Meanwhile in the real world billions of people are happily using Windows and MacOS, and would have no idea what you're talking about.

You remind me of the dyed-in-the-wool Marxists I knew in the 80s sitting tight* waiting for capitalism to collapse, and those before them in the 20s and 30s. And those before them in the 19th Century. Still waiting. Any day now. The signs are everywhere.

* Almost literally. One friend at the time quit college to pick potatoes in Norfolk because when capitalism collapsed having practical skills would help him live off the land. That was about 1987. I wonder how he's doing.

Well it does collapse right now, doesent it?

The Tax-idermy, were a society pushes ridiculous amounts of stabilization money into collapsing external peripheral "shell" societies who in return send refugee waves in convulsions, while slowly sinking into the civil/war/crime collapse accepting end-state is in full, brutally visible progress.

The politicians, leering for the authoritarian toolkit, because they doubt they can stabilize the mess that is to come.

How bad does it have to get, before you take a step back and acknowledge, that yes, this is un-subjective worser and even local recovery is unlikely, due to interconnected nature of global society and nature.

Sorry if things are bleak, but software seems to be one of the few levers i myself can pull towards a positive outcome, a better place, by allowing others to escape the dystopia of government eating the cooperated monopolies for societal control because government needs to be in control of something- anything and its definitely not in control of anything that would change outcomes.

Put a pin in this and go back to it in 20 or 30 years, then look at how things actually worked out and ask yourself some questions. Was western civilisation actually collapsing? Were the things you though were most important, actually what drove politics and economies in the decades since? If you were wrong, what basic assumptions were you making that lead to that mistake, and what assumptions were the people making that got it right? Why is it they saw things more clearly?

You can actually do this right now. Go back and see what critics of the developed world economic systems were saying 30 years ago, or 50 years ago, or 150 years ago. What predictions were they making about growth and employment, what signs of failure did they see, and did those things actually matter in the long term? Doom mongering about the collapse of capitalism has a very, very, very long history.

Thanks for being a voice of reason on this. The world is too focused on scaremongering these days.

> One friend at the time quit college to pick potatoes in Norfolk because when capitalism collapsed having practical skills would help him live off the land. That was about 1987. I wonder how he's doing.

Please, please try to find out, and let us know!

That's absolutely fine, I appreciate this view and I don't want my comment above to imply that your take on this is somehow wrong. The fact that desktop linux is this crazy fragmented anarchy of technologies and distros is fine. A lot of people get a lot of value out of it. It's not directly monetisable economic value and that's ok.

The top comment for you right now makes a snipe about hipsterism. Well yes, but that shouldn't be a pejorative. It's great that this ecosystem exists in all it's hipster geekery. It's a hobbyist community serving hobbyist and techno-geek purposes. We need that.

Where the cognitive dissonance comes in is thinking that this has anything whatever to do with mass appeal and serving the needs of ordinary non-technical users. That's a very different and in many ways mutually incompatible objective. What non-technical users need is a radically standardised, easy to use platform with a wide variety of highly compatible software and devices with solid QA, services and support. Only the commercial market has proved capable of providing these at anything like the scale needed because that means paying a lot of people to do these things every day as a job.

This is why mass market Linux projects like OLPC fail. They think 99% of the work has been done by the community already and they just need to package it up and deliver it to users. The problem is making all that work seamlessly and efficiently for users, developing a complete high quality product, delivering and selling it and building services around it is a huge ton of work. It's not 1%, it's more like 50% and you need people doing it day in, day out.

Linux has already succeeded in a way that makes it useful for commercial programs: Just as a layer below enterprise networking and SAAS.

This has already brought along the 'commercial parasites' that have spoiled the original experience, pushing in a thousand different directions with a thousand different things that need to be done quickly to meet business goals, elegance, clarity, and simplicity be damned.

Cloud deployments and serverless running directly on top of type 1 hypervisors make that irrelevant.

Make what irrelevant, exactly?

work on linux, daily driver is windows. how exactly to these commercial parasites 'spoil the original experience'? Sure theres preinstalled bloatware and telemetry, but you still have root access and I have had no problem tinkering to have my setup to do what I want how I want, probably much less than what I would have to do to reach parity on a linux system.

Has this happened to macos? I don't get that impression. It has other problems, but not that.

You mean that operating system that creators of digital content would swear by? The one that you would pretty much have to own if you were going to run Photoshop or a whole raft of other creative pieces of software? The one that developers preferred?

That one is 90% gone and Apple will likely kill off the remainder before long. They're in the consumer gadgets business now, that there is accidentally a computer in there somewhere is more of a historical artifact than the main business driver. It's all about eco-systems and lock in, not about productivity or creativity.

>That one is 90% gone

You'd be surprised. Creatives aren't going anywhere...

The stories of its imminent death are just that stories. 1 for every 1000 users who remain and 100 than come in.

I ditched Apple and Microsoft. Grass is greener on the other side. Latest documentary is done entirely on Linux.

Plus someone has to write the software used by those creatives.

>That one is 90% gone

Citation needed...?

Everything you've listed still works and works very well on macOS.

Twenty years ago, the Mac version of Photoshop was just better than the Windows version. That hasn't been true in a while. And then you don't have to choose between a Mini which doesn't have enough cores, an iMac which tops out at a 27" monitor when you can get a PC with a 32" monitor (or a 40" or 80" or 17" or whatever you want), or a Mac Pro which starts at $6000.

Developers used to prefer Mac because it was Unix when the UI on every other Unix-like was bad. Now the UI on Linux is better than it used to be, and Windows has WSL et al, and Mac is full of "pay for a license annually and deal with code signing nonsense" that developers hate.

Twenty years ago was 2001: the days of Photoshop versions 6.5–7. The Mac (OS 9) and Windows (2000) versions were all but indistinguishable, and Apple had just released OS X which was still a slow and buggy mess, not yet used by creative professionals.

If you said Photoshop 3.0 was clearly better on Mac System 7 than Windows 3.1 in 1994, you might have a point (that was before my time using Photoshop or Windows, so I can’t comment).

>Twenty years ago, the Mac version of Photoshop was just better than the Windows version. That hasn't been true in a while.

I've used both (PS on macOS/Windows) recently and find them to be more or less equivalent. Given the choice of using macOS or Windows, I'd still take macOS.

Not sure what the point of your line re: hardware is when a standard M1 Mini runs very well for this use case. If you want a bigger monitor... just buy the bigger monitor with a Mini.

>Now the UI on Linux is better than it used to be

I ran Desktop Linux for years before going macOS, and I check in periodically. I remain unimpressed, it's still a jumbled mess of an ecosystem. UI is also not the stumbling block to Linux adoption - hardware support alone, while better, still isn't up to what you get with the big two.

>and Windows has WSL et al

This is a fair point, and was an incredibly smart thing for MSFT to do.

>and Mac is full of "pay for a license annually and deal with code signing nonsense" that developers hate.

Have you ever code signed anything elsewhere, where you buy certs and such? It costs money. Apple's setup is a flat $100/year and "just works". This is also only if you're shipping software, you can run homebrew/etc just fine if you're doing dev work - there's tons of developers working on macOS who never pay Apple the $100/year for membership.

Can you actually refute what I'm saying, which is that macOS is still very usable by developers? The OP I responded to originally is claiming that the macOS devs loved is "90% gone", but outside of HN/Reddit echo chambers I don't see people switching en-masse.

Apple's codesigning "just works" as long as you stick to XCode. Outside XCode it's extremely esoteric and opaque.

But to Apple's credit, it can be done, and done using the native toolset. It took me awhile, but my relatively simple Makefile is building fat binaries (x86_64 + arm64), building and signing the application package, submitting the package for signing, and stapling certificates. Not monolithically--it's not a giant shell script posing as a Makefile. I have proper, correctly defined build dependencies for every real target up to `make submit`. So `make submit` will effectively build and submit a package both from a fresh checkout, as well as incrementally from an existing tree where only a few object files need rebuilding. But `make submit` and `make staple` themselves are .PHONY targets; they're not idempotent, but invoking them multiple times is still benign.

I agree on the code signing. I wrote an app in LispWorks Common Lisp, and other people use the same for apps for the Apple Store, I ended up just rewriting it in Swift and SwiftUI because that made dealing with the Apple Store so much easier.

I implemented the codesigning and notarization process for Slippi, which is a Dolphin Emulator fork... based on CMake.

I would not call it esoteric and/or opaque. It's one or two shell scripts and an API key through App Connect for the notarization pass.

It's certainly esoteric if you're trying to diagnose entitlement issues. It's all poorly documented. Some of the documentation on the Apple website is flat out wrong, for example recommendations on signing multiple separate binaries, each requiring an entitlement (spoiler: there's exactly one app id per package (EDIT: per bundle), and exactly one executable that can use that app id for entitlements, so the documentation was recommending a method of accomplishing something that is simply impossible, which explains why it never worked).

Once you figure things out, it's not nearly as bad. The tools can work well. And that's hugely valuable. But documentation and consistency are significantly worse than common open source projects. And at least with open source you can also resort to looking at the code to figure things out. I find myself constantly doing that for Keychain, actually. Fortunately older versions of Apple's Security.framework are open source, which helps me diagnose and analyze API usage problems. Want to figure out how to retrieve the usage constraints (i.e. SecAccessControlCreateFlags) used to generate a T2 Secure Enclave private key? Or even simpler, want to figure out if its even possible to derive those constraints? Only the code is going to tell you.

Have you, or do you intend to write a blog post about your process? Could help other devs working on Macs.

> hardware support alone, while better, still isn't up to what you get with the big two.

I recently bought a Huion tablet only after checking that it works on Linux.

Install on Linux couldn't be easier: plug the thing and ready to work, pressure detection and all.

I did the same on Windows. It got detected, Windows told me that it was downloading the drivers, and after 10 seconds it worked... kind of. Any trace waited like 1 second to start drawing, and long pressure was a secondary click. What!? How can anybody draw with this? Pressure didn't work, it just worked as the mouse. Time to search: disable something called "windows ink", but directly in the register so it doesn't re-enable on boot. Ok, the secondary button issue gone, but the delayed draw still there. Maybe some stabilizer? Disable Krita stabilizer... Nope. Go to Huion web page, download an app to configure the pen: windows ink still enabled some how, the app allows you to disable it for real. Pressure still unseen. More tweaks on the app... Yes, finally, after two hours the tablet behaves just like in Linux after two seconds, and I only have to keep open a third party app that is probably calling home, just to avoid Windows to mess things up again.

Yes, hardware is a breeze in Windows, except when it isn't.

> hardware support alone, while better, still isn't up to what you get with the big two.

Ugh, not this again.

Apple's hardware support is fine because they only have to support a few bits of hardware. Microsoft's hardware support is fine because everyone (aside from Apple) sells their laptops preinstalled with Windows, and so of course they design them with Windows in mind, and test to make sure things work.

Linux's hardware support is also fine, if you buy your hardware with the intent to run Linux on it and look for something that's supported well, or buy something the manufacturer has built with Linux support in mind. All the "Linux hardware support is bad" stuff comes from people who already have a random Windows laptop or Mac and decide they want to run Linux on it, despite the fact that if they just did a quick web search they'd find a list of problems with their hardware.

Saying Linux's hardware support isn't good enough is like saying macOS's hardware support is not good enough, because you tried to run macOS on a random HP laptop. Run an OS on hardware that it supports well and your experience will be fine.

> UI is also not the stumbling block to Linux adoption

I agree that it's not the stumbling block, but it's a big one. The GNOME developers seem to like to completely change everything often, and break a bunch of things in the process. I don't know much about KDE; last time I tried it was in the late 90s. Xfce (which I use) is ridiculously stable (it's hardly changed at all in the 15+ years I've used it, and I think that's a good thing), but it's built by a very small team, and so it's always a bit behind on polish and covering all tasks with GUI tools. But I love it[0], and it works well and stays out of my way.

The other major stumbling block is commercial software distribution. Go check out a commercial software package's website, and unless it's Electron- or Java-based, you'll see one download each for Windows and Mac, and 10 different downloads for various distros and versions of Linux (if you're lucky!). I would hate to be the person who manages releases for all that.

I don't particularly mind, though: most of the software I use is open source and in my distro's package manager, and the few commercial apps I have work fine (because I run Debian, and most commercial apps will have a Debian download, or at least an Ubuntu one that can be made to work without much trouble). But that's just me, and an average user wouldn't want to put up with this.

Honestly, I'm afraid that too much desktop popularity would destroy Linux (and turn it into the ad-laden garbage that is Windows or the increasingly-locked-down prison that is macOS). I'm fairly happy with its current popularity, where hardware support and software availability are good enough for my purposes, but without the platform becoming too commercialized.

[0] Full disclosure: I was an Xfce core developer for 5 years in the aughts, so I'm a bit biased.

Take a look at KDE again, won't hurt. I switched to openSUSE Tumbleweed (best integration IMO, since its their standard DE since forever plus rolling release and btrfs snapshots on upgrades) from Cinnamon on Mint. KDE connect was the app that made me give it a try, more than happy with it. The devs made resource usage a priority, nowadays it rivals and sometimes surpasses XFCE which got heavier in the meantime.

> I've used both (PS on macOS/Windows) recently and find them to be more or less equivalent. Given the choice of using macOS or Windows, I'd still take macOS.

Of course you would, because macOS is better than Windows. That has always been the case. But then you have to deal with Apple's hardware segmentation strategy.

> Not sure what the point of your line re: hardware is when a standard M1 Mini runs very well for this use case. If you want a bigger monitor... just buy the bigger monitor with a Mini.

The M1 Mini has 4+4 cores. Creative work typically involves software that will use arbitrarily many cores, and on that kind of workload the M1 compares quite disfavorably with 16+ core x64 processors. If you want a Mac with the equivalent processing power of a Ryzen 9 5950X, you're paying $8000+ for a 16-core Mac Pro.

Which they do on purpose so that people doing professional work don't buy the Mini.

And it's the same problem for developers for the same reason. Compiling a big project on a 4+4 core machine is a lot slower than doing it on a 64-core Threadripper, but you can't even get a 64-core Mac.

> I ran Desktop Linux for years before going macOS, and I check in periodically. I remain unimpressed, it's still a jumbled mess of an ecosystem. UI is also not the stumbling block to Linux adoption

Many years ago the UI on Linux systems was basically unusable. It was the stumbling block to Linux adoption.

Now it's "good enough" and the stumbling block is... nothing. Millions of regular people have a Chromebook (i.e. Linux) and they use it just fine, and there is nothing superior about ChromeOS over Ubuntu et al, it just has a bigger corporation marketing it.

> Have you ever code signed anything elsewhere, where you buy certs and such? It costs money.

You're comparing it to alternatives which are also a pain in the butt, when the better alternative is to not do it at all because it's totally useless.

They'll give basically anybody who pays a code signing cert. A nobody who nobody trusts for anything can get one. Attackers can steal one from any of the millions of people who were forced to get one. So it's not providing any trust at all, so it's completely pointless, but it's still paying money and wasting time for no benefit.

> Can you actually refute what I'm saying, which is that macOS is still very usable by developers?

It's not that you literally can't use it. It's that it's worse now than the alternatives. And it's also worse now than it used to be. It would be hard to beat Snow Leopard on a modern 64-core workstation, but you can't get that anywhere. And the closest thing is the same workstation running Linux.

apple revenue 2009 $42.7 billion mac revenue 2009 $13.6 billion(30%) apple ""2014 $182.6 billion service""2014 $17.8 billion(%9.8) mac "" 2014 $23.9 billion(13%) apple "" 2020 $274.3 billion service "" 2020 $53.6 billion (19%) mac "" 2020 $28.4 billion(10%) edit"Spanish" from key product to small fish, now sell service to your mac is mor key than selling the mac itself and ipad pro whit magic keyboard is mor expensive than the mac air.

>That one is 90% gone and Apple will likely kill off the remainder before long. They're in the consumer gadgets business now, that there is accidentally a computer in there somewhere is more of a historical artifact than the main business driver. It's all about eco-systems and lock in, not about productivity or creativity.

Huge disagree, the 2021 MBP's that will launch later this year will bring back lots of creatives. Digital Content is going to scream on ARM Macs. I think Apple Sillicon has brought back a renewed focus on the Mac and performance and customers will follow.

That seems like a much different problem! Apple is mismanaging, but it has nothing to do with the commercial parasites theory that was mentioned as the idea in this thread(?)

With the increasing convergence of macOS and iOS, we're surely on the way. Already it's true that the app mindset has encouraged a lot of the wonderful free software I loved on the Mac to become paid.

(Which, (1) of course is the creator's right, but I still miss the old mindset, and (2) "why not just keep using the old software?" doesn't work because Apple's commitment to backward compatibility is, umm, not high.)

You seem to have misspelled "nonexistent" at the end there.

Also their moving Big Brother onto the iPhone is a pretty good sign where they are taking all of their systems. No, I don't want my computer spying on me for the sake of my government. Not so much because I think that they will do me wrong, as because it provides a way to target inconvenient people who I don't want targeted. (Think Snowden.)

Don’t forget MacOS last year or so, would bypass firewalls and VPNs, and Apple said “oops”. That was probably is a hook that was accidentally exposed.

You’ve correctly observed that success can bring unpleasant side effects. I think it’s too late to save Linux from this. It is used by all manner of parasites. The tracking bugs that slow down the web and invade our privacy? They are quite often backed by Linux. The Android OS that allows Google to follow users’ every last movement, web search, and email? Linux. Database servers at Facebook, Google, and any number of data brokers? Linux.

I am not saying this makes Linux bad. What I am saying is, making it easier to charge for software is not going to “spoil” Linux with commercial parasites. If anything, paid software could help undermine the surveillance economy by providing a more direct way to support the creation of good software that doesn’t spy on you, like the default Google Android apps or the Google web apps many people use on Linux desktops. All that stuff is commercial too, you just don’t pay for it in money, and maybe the source code is open, but you darn sure pay with your personal data.

This is gibberish. The discussion topic is about what happens on your Linux distribution that runs on your hardware. The fact that other parties are using Linux for user-hostile purposes says nothing except that Linux is a successful technology. And like all technology since fire was first controlled by humans, it has been used for good and evil.

What most people think of as Linus is really GNU/Linux, and while I don't think the distinction usually needs to be made, it's actually important in this case because it makes it obvious there is no one "thing" to infect and change. Linux is a commodity, and open, and we're in no threat of major problems like that than we are of someone jacking up the price on ibuprofen. The solution is the same in both cases, someone else will offer a better alternative because there's nothing forcing you to use the bad offering.

I totally agree with this. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I feel like Electron is really helping here. I've been a Mac user since 2003, but built an Ubuntu based desktop recently. The fact that I can run Figma, VSCode, Slack, etc. means it's actually a workable solution. I know Electron is slow, but I don't think producing native software for Linux is economically viable or commercially interesting for a lot of companies. But if a company is building with Electron, I get the impression that it's not a lot of extra work to support Linux and it means the platform actually gets an app. Ironically, I think this will make Linux a more reasonable choice for day to day work and will eventually result in increasing the economic viability of producing software for the platform.

I love to hate electron. We all groan about it. But it does bring critical apps I use every day to my desktop. I wish these multi-billion dollar companies like Slack could stomach real native clients, sure they can afford it at a barely noticeable hit to profit, but I’ll take it ya know.

I agree and think that web apps and the SaaS model in general help Desktop Linux adoption a lot.

Office 365 provides good enough Web Apps to get by without having a native Office installation. I don't have any commercial Desktop Software that I'd need specifically for my work: CRM, issue tracker, Documentation, Figma,... - all available in the Browser.

Personally, I wish PWAs were generally better supported so I could skip the Electron bit and could install the same app on my phone. Being a part of the main browser gives better resource handling, better sandboxing that Electron allows but I would prefer most apps didn't have, and access to the extensions I want. Too bad Firefox killed off SSB (site-specific browser) before it even launched.

PWA's only work when you are connected to the intenet for most of the time. Which is not guranteed on mobile. It is fine for some apps which need a connection to be usable like a messaging or a banking app. But others like productivity apps are useless. Sometimes the browser crashes on mobile as well.

At that point might as well make an app.

I'd say my non-browser apps crash more than the browser.

Offline is one of the biggest reasons to ship a full PWA. This is what service workers are for. The biggest reason to not ship a PWA is Apple barely supports them and you can't siphon as much user data if sandboxed in the browser.

I would LOVE if I could get a basic PWA from my bank that didn't have all of these permissions like trying to read if I'm rooted or not, location access, storage -- none of their business what I do with my device or where I am -- and I could still scan QR codes, check balance, do transfers.

That would work for Slack and Spotify, but not for VSCode. PWAs can't get file system access as far as I know.

PWAs have limitations, yes. But you just mentioned how 2 of the biggest Electron users could not use Electron without sacrificing much if anything.

I think once you're in this other territory then you should consider full native instead of Electron. Why you choose to use an editor housed in a browser engine with tracking baked into the application is your decision. There are plenty of other native editors, both GUI and TUI, a user can choose.

Nobody chooses VSCode specifically because it's in Electron, we choose it because it's a good editor.

Any app can send network requests, so any app can incorporate tracking. This has nothing to do with Electron either.

But to your original point: yes, the more Electron apps that are really just web apps and can be gotten as PWAs, the better.

Wasn't Java supposed to solve the platform problem?

Java was supposed to "write once, run anywhere". Instead it became write once, debug anywhere.

Since Electron folks don't want to debug anywhere they just ship Chrome along for the ride.

Ah but Google is taking over the Web and such, blame on all that help them achieve their goal.

Write once, debug everywhere.


I release maintain a small commercial open-source app (partner app for a piece of open source hardware), and I don't think people understand how burdensome "proper" Linux binary distribution can be until they actually try it.

Linux accounts for about 5% of my users, and for whatever reason the community thought it would be a good idea to fragment that minority further into Arch users, Debian users, CentOS users, OpenSUSE users, Ubuntu users (14, 16, 18 and 20, all with different glibc versions).

Modern tools like AppImage make this at least somewhat standard, but Windows has had sane, standardised installers for almost 3 decades now.

> I don't think people understand how burdensome "proper" Linux binary distribution can be until they actually try it.

I have and it's not really that different from what works on Windows: Compile against the base system you want to support and then ship your own libraries for all other dependencies, statically linking those that you can.

Could there be things to make this more convenient? Sure - one thing I'd love to see is for glibc to support a WINVER analogue to target older versions with the same installed headers. But that is only for convenience - you can just build on older (LTS) distros or assemble your own toolchain if you need newer compiler versions (not as hard as it sounds, there are plenty of resources out there).

> fragment that minority further into Arch users, Debian users, CentOS users, OpenSUSE users, Ubuntu users

How does this matter to binary software distributions? What Distro-specific issues have you encountered that weren't just Arch-has-a-newer-library-so-I-get-an-early-warning-for-compatibility-issues-that-Ubuntu-will-have-in-the-next version.

> all with different glibc versions

So? Compile against the oldest glibc you want to support. All newer ones are backwards compatible and will have no problem running your program.

> Modern tools like AppImage make this at least somewhat standard, but Windows has had sane, standardised installers for almost 3 decades now.

Linux theoretically also has a standard package format (RPM according to the LSB). But just like with MSI on Windows, people tend to roll their own thing for various reasons - and it really is not a problem at all.

I'm not denying your experience, but I'm assuming the first time you tried it you either had help from someone who had done it before or a much better understanding of the pitfalls of software distribution than I did.

For me, I compiled a binary on my Windows machine, manually put it into an MSI alongside the the required VC++ redistributable, and it worked out of the box on every single system from Vista through to current version Windows 10 (and probably 11 too) - x86 and x64, with no issues whatsoever. If I had used the XP-compatible version of VS2015 I could have targeted that too.

Similar story for Mac (although distribution there has since become a minor pain in the arse with code signing and notarisation).

For Linux, I built a .deb manually on Ubuntu 16.04, specified the dependencies just like with Windows and uploaded it. Obviously this crashed violently on most things that weren't modern (for the time) and Ubuntu-based.

In the end, I fixed it exactly as you suggested - I built on an older LTS distro (on a CI server by this stage), shipped all of my own libraries and aggressively made sure that it would load those versions and only those versions. This still required some random hack to work on certain modern systems, as it needed a hack to support both modern glibc and a compatibility version bundled with the app.

These days, I could get a reliable Linux release up in a heartbeat, but this is only after learning the details of a fickle system through multiple iterations of user interaction.

The distribution form of open source software is as the name says source code.

How many users compile Firefox or LibreOffice themselves, rather than just downloading the binaries? And don’t even most users of popular package managers just install binary packages?

Installation is not the same as distribution. All upstream packages that I am aware of distribute in source form.

Yes, and if you want to take this route you can either maintain your package yourself on every single major distro or deal with support tickets for issues that have either already been fixed in old versions or arise from strange interactions with dynamic libs.

If you want to draw the boundary that way, fine. But to me, the point of open source is that I can get the source code and compile it myself, if I want to and have the necessary resources to do so.

The issue isn't that Linux lacks proprietary applications. Its that Linux development focuses on apps that appeal to people who write code and this means Linux has a highly technical userbase that prefers open source software.

If Linux desktops had a critical mass of users that were willing to buy proprietary software, the proprietary software companies would make Linux software for the same reason that game development companies make games for Nintendo's underpowered gaming hardware if it sells well (but don't if it ends up flopping like the Wii U).

To get to that critical mass, Linux desktop needs something that Mac and Windows don't offer that appeals to the average non-technical computer user. The single best opportunity for Linux was when Microsoft came out with Windows 8 with its awful new "Metro" interface. If a Linux distro had a GUI that was at least as good as Windows 7, out of the box support for Windows applications, drivers that just work and major OEMs willing to sell it preinstalled at the time, it would have drawn Windows users. Right now, thanks to Valve's efforts at getting Windows games to run on Linux, the Steam Deck is likely to be the most commercially successful GNU+Linux computer ever made because it can run most of your Windows Steam library and gaming is the main reason consumers buy Windows these days (the needs of low end consumers who just want to read email and be spied on by Facebook are best served with an iPad or Chromebook).

Linux is, on the surface, a much more appealing platform than iOS or Android for developers because there's no monopoly app store taking a 30% cut and demanding you take features out of your software. Its also more appealing than Mac because there's no Gatekeeper program that you have to take extra steps to get around. Developers tolerate these practices because the users are on those platforms and especially because Apple products tend to sell to wealthier people who are more willing to spend money on software than Android or Windows users (let alone Linux users who are generally believers in open source and some of whom are "free software" advocates who agree with RMS's views on the immorality of proprietary software). Ultimately, software companies will go where the users are. Platforms don't have to cater to them. They have to attract the users which forces the software companies to release their software for the platform. When you focus on making a platform that appeals to software companies instead of users, you end up with the Epic Games Store which has lots of software but few users.

As a highly technical person that writes code, does media, and fixes high-level computer networks and essential systems, the last thing I want is to have to dig into mysterious config files and have to debug every little thing that goes wrong with installing a piece of software. I can give up a certain degree of control and customization in exchange for a stable operating system and desktop environment that lets me get my work done. This is why I use macOS for the desktop.

This. If my entire workflow were codewriting, I'd be thrilled to go over to a Linux desktop and never look back. Unfortunately about 30% of my work is dependent on being able to work with assets in Adobe formats (including compiling and maintaining older Air apps). On top of that, one thing that "just works" on the Mac is peripheral setup. Audio interfaces, Wacom tablets, printers... plug and play. I'm not sure I could make every peripheral I use work under Ubuntu, but even researching it quickly turns into a days long quest on various vendors' message boards. On the other hand I am deeply, deeply angry about what Apple is doing, and I'm not going to buy any new Apple hardware unless they reverse course on this privacy violation. If I have to deal with all the headaches of Linux and keep an old Apple around just for compiling old stuff or recording music, so be it.

[edit] I'd like to add that my private devices have been exclusively on Mac since the Mac SE around 1992, my company is exclusively on Mac, my clients buy Macs for internal use because we write their internal apps for them, and overall I've been responsible for purchasing somewhere around 100 Macs. I know they don't care and have never cared about my opinion as a customer, but their interests aligned with mine. Now they appear not to.

Even if my entire workflow were code writing, I'd want to focus on my own code and not on the code and configs underpinning my system

Amen to this. I fell in love with the Mac in 2007 after literally hating the company for the prior 17 years due to a weird form of PTSD from having to make that chatty bastard AppleTalk behave on corporate networks.

I became a convert because it just worked. I didn’t need to constantly mess with it to keep it running well. So well that my 2008 MBP lasted until 2018 until the battery swelled and cracked the case. I’m now 3 years into a MBA and this will prob carry me through to retirement.

Actually with a modern Ubuntu like 20.04 there are not many issues at all. With 14.04 and 16.04, yes, it could be a bit rough with some graphics issues with some Java based programs, drivers etc.

Comparing Ubuntu 20.04 with my wife's Macbook Air M1 I do not see any differences in ease of use.

Just like XP was the best time with toy's are us UI, Vista was the best time due to DX 10 being Vista only, 7 was the best time for whatever reason I cannot remember anymore,...

Now Windows 11 will again be the best reason to migrate, and nothing will change yet again.

Windows 7 was Microsofts Snow Leopard IMO, i use Linux though.

We're building a cross-platform commercial application[0] in Rust (with Iced[1]), and it's deployed for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. We get blazing-fast speed and cross-platform operation without Electron or Web tech bloating the build.

Distribution to Linux has been fine so far, and hopefully we're part of the solution to the problem you've outlined.

[0]: https://cryptowat.ch/apps/desktop

[1]: https://github.com/hecrj/iced/

A lot of that probably just comes down to Rust and its standardized tooling and static linking. Which, maybe that is the solution.

it is. dynamic linking is a mistake on today's desktops/laptop. disk is plentiful and most of a graphic programs space usage is in assets rather than the program.

Do you have any concrete criticism or are you just spreading FUD? How do Windows or Mac OS provide better support for commercial development?

The reason Mac OS and Windows have more users is because of pre-installs. It is almost impossible for a regular user to find a PC with Linux preinstalled on it, so application developers ignore the platform.

Lots of companies have successfully built commercial GUI products on top of linux. However most of these products are specialist tools (e.g. EDA, video editor) or embedded. I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with the development or distribution tools.

> How do Windows or Mac OS provide better support for commercial development?

They commit to long-term support for software distributed as shrinkwrapped binaries? You can buy a program written for Windows 20 years ago and it will work. If you try to run a program written for Linux 5 years ago it probably won't.

That's true for Windows, but it isn't true for macOS - Apple released its first x86 computer in 2006 and its last operating system capable of running PPC software in 2009 - no 2005 software could run on a 2009 Mac. Apple released its first operating system able to run x86-64 apps in 2007, and the last OS capable of running x86 apps in 2017 - no 2006 software could run on a 2017 Mac (and lots of post-2006 software can't either, because developers were in no hurry to switch to 64-bit builds).

My employer makes commercial cross platform software for Windows and Linux (and in decades past, various commercial Unixes). If you install the 32-bit libraries, you can run our software from 8 years ago just fine on modern Linux. If you also use LD_PRELOAD to replace a couple of C library functions with ones that don't take the `restrict` type qualifier on their arguments too seriously, then you can run our software from 16 years ago just fine too.

Commercial software didn't come to Linux in the volume that it came to Windows and macOS because the users didn't come to Linux in the volume they came to Windows and macOS. And the users didn't come because Mac and Windows mostly just work, that was far from the case for Linux in the late 90s and early 2000s when the total number of desktop and laptops in service was exploding. And these days Linux mostly just works - I can't remember the last time I had to futz with an X11 modeline or a kernel module - but its too late.

Rosetta was available until Lion, which wasn't released until July 2011.

You’re right; my reasoning was wrong - it’s not the last Rosetta OS but the first non-Rosetta OS where you can’t run old software anymore. But my overall point that in a Mac you can’t use software much older than a decade still stands. Decade from now a new Mac will probably only run AArch64 software.

Packaging systems such as Flatpak, AppImage, and Snap allow Linux apps to have extensive backward compatibility going forward.

Maybe. I don't think the Linux world has made a credible commitment to support all or any of those going forward. In 5 years' time we can try to run 5 year old apps in those formats and see whether they work; I wouldn't bet on it myself.

Flatpak is confirmed to work on 28 Linux distros, and is pre-installed on 9 of them: https://www.flatpak.org/setup. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is committing to a 10 year support lifecycle for its Flatpak runtimes: https://developers.redhat.com/blog/2020/08/12/introducing-th...

AppImage just works on any Linux distribution. There are no external dependencies, since the package bundles all of the dependencies and there is no runtime required. I don't see how an AppImage downloaded today wouldn't work in 5 years.

I don't like Snap because the server implementation is closed source and controlled by a single company (Canonical), but Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (which bundles Snap) is supported until April 2030.

The fact that you're mentioning three different systems kind of proves the point - maybe one of them will still be working in 10 years on some distributions, but I wouldn't want to count on all of them working on the distributions that matter in 10 years' time. I'm old enough to remember LSB, which was notionally supported by all the big distros, but turned out to be useless in practice.

Yes. Flatpak is a game-changer.

Can’t this be solved by statically linking everything to the binary?

> commercial software

All the commercial (proprietary) software I run (and my colleagues run) is web based nowadays. The commercial (proprietary) software we build is also web based nowadays.

Sure there are exceptions. But for most office work: web based is the norm.

The fact that linux does fine in this area can be reduced from the fact that Chromebooks haven't flopped.

Android was (massively) successful with very very few native commercial software.

Android may have been helped along with the backing of, and too-important-to-fail attitude of, one of the richest, most influential, and most technologically adept conglomerates to ever exist.

> The Linux desktop never made it because it’s a terrible platform for distributing commercial applications.

Good. Please let Linux continue to remain exactly what it is now, an amazing operating system for people who want to avoid Microsoft and Apple.

I certainly don't want it to "make it" so commercial apps take over.

Do tools like Electron not alleviate linux app development pains?

The brutal fact is that the web has the same APIs that iOS has at this point.

You should not be running closed apps on your OS. Ever.

I will try some linux apologetics

1. What is great about the windows GUI? Virtual desktops depend on monitors, annoying popup notifications that cannot be disabled and its resource intensive. IMHO linux has always been light years ahead of windows for as long as I remember, theres dozens of window managers better than the windows one. I am never 100% comfortable in windows, it's so locked down I feel like I am living in a hotel.

2. I do everything with the google docs these days, even on windows. So do a lot of businesses.

3. Again, most people seem to be using google calendar.

4. I actually found it easier to install on laptops back in the day. UEFI made it more painful.

5. A lot of unix tools are 2nd class citizens on windows. You can use WSL but file access is dog slow compared to the real thing.

>I do everything with the google docs these days, even on windows. So do a lot of businesses.

Some might, but goodness knows I've never run into one. The corporate America I have interacted with so far (30 year career, so not trivial) is Office all the way down, and deeply enmeshed with Exchange calendaring. (I mean, as an MSFT-hater from the 90s, it pains me to admit this, but Exchange calendaring is materially better than anything else. Sometimes, Redmond does things well.)

I am pretty sure that we're all just myopic and tend to project what goes on inside of our little echo chambers across the entire space (unless I'm the one projecting... nope, couldn't be!)

Heck, I regularly manage to run into people that have managed to convince themselves that nobody actually runs Linux servers or that Java is the only programming language that has any traction...

The truth is that real-world tech adoption is actually extremely heterogeneous and we would all do well to remind ourselves of that from time to time.

I’ll never understand how people can be close to effective with Google Docs.

It’s fine as a replacement for Word (I guess? I’m not much of a Word user). But Excel is so far ahead. And the ergonomics of working in a real application vs a web app is a significant difference.

> It’s fine as a replacement for Word (I guess? I’m not much of a Word user).

Google Docs is to Word what Google Sheets is to Excel in terms of functionality. As long as what you're doing is simple, it's fine, and if what you're doing requires collaboration, it's great. But when you want to do something remotely complex, Docs and Sheets largely get their asses handed to them by Apple's free iWork apps, let alone Microsoft Office.

Two things make Google Sheets infinitely more useful than Excel to me on a daily basis:

- Regex support in find & replace and regexextract(). - FX rates as a formula instead of as a data type. IIRC Excel requires 2 columns to display a FX rate (one to specify the pair, one to print the number); Google Sheets specifies the pair inside the formula.

I mean, you're right, no one at Goldman Sachs is using Google sheets unless it's to get everyone's lunch orders together. (Hell, I bet Google's finance team uses Excel.) But most of us don't work at Goldman and don't do anything remotely complex. I would guess that 90% of Excel users fall into this category and that's who Sheets is for.

I don't know any huge, non-tech companies (insurance, commercial banks, investment banks, heavy industry, auto manufs, etc.) that use the Google ecosystem (office & mail). I'm sure all of them use Microsoft Exchange (slowly moving to MSFT cloud), instead of GMail. If someone knows any good exceptions, please share!


I think the big transition at PWC was 5 years or so ago I think, but to this day every document I get from them is Excel / Word. Despite how much work went into those accounts - these are not complex spreadsheets either!

Did you ever think that PWC is sending Excel/Word to exchange data with outside parties? And internally the use GSuite? It seems possible.

And the rest of the people should be using pandas, a database, or data visualization tools (tableau) instead.

Because being dependent on Salesforce is so much better than being dependent on any other big proprietary corporation?


As someone who has recently had to switch from Google Sheets to Office365 the experience has been very poor. Even things like keyboard shortcuts are very inconsistent with the web version of Excel. And if someone is editing the document while people are editing the web version watch out, random things can happen.

Example: How do you enter a cell to edit in Excel? On the desktop (I'm a mac user), it's ctrl-u (yep - ctrl). On the web I can't find any shortcut. I have to double click the cell like an animal.

Example: How do you select all the text inside a cell. On the mac it's cmd-a as you'd expect, on the web it's ctrl-a. Sigh.

The seamless collaboration of Google's apps is a joy, though as you've indicated, you give up a lot of features and power.

Thing is, with O365, there's always the desktop app.

It's the sharing. In distributed teams that one feature makes up for a multitude of sins.

Maybe for replacing Word, not Excel. Google Sheets is handy for basic tasks among small/large groups. Get even a tiny bit "sophisticated" and it's all over.

I mostly replaced excel with libreoffice sheets where possible. I actually prefer writer in all circumstances. For everything else similar (e.g. shared complex excel docs with tons of VB) I use MS office on a mac mini and my main desktop is a fc33 build with an RTX3070 and AMD5900X

Thanks, good to see some options I can dabble with.

We have a 100% remote company. We run our business on Google Sheets. It's entirely sufficient for our purposes which include cloud cost modeling (we do a lot of that) as well as cash flow management and financial projections.

I'm an Excel fan as well but in our case it simply would not work due to the fact the team is spread across so many locations.

I will give Sheets another go soon to see how it's progressed but I've always run up against a deal breaker before. And I say "soon" because I thought I'd have a Sunday-morning nosey around right now after reading your comment (I was inspired) ... and ... :

** Google Docs encountered an error. Please try reloading this page, or coming back to it in a few minutes.

To learn more about the Google Docs editors, please visit our help centre.

We're sorry for the inconvenience. - The Google Docs Team **

... It went away 10 minutes later, but I can't have that in the middle of a working day.

And then ... :

Sorry, the file you have requested does not exist.

Make sure that you have the correct URL and that the file exists.

Get stuff done with Google Drive

Apps in Google Drive make it easy to create, store and share online documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more.

Learn more at drive.google.com/start/apps.


The above is actually an error produced by me just trying to create a new blank page.

Sorry, I won't be going near Sheets for anything I care about. I'll try again in a year. The above annoyed the hell out of me.

I've never seen this bug, but it would definitely alter my opinion as well. :/

Microsoft has invested heavily in realtime collaboration, and while I think Google still has the edge there, O365's collaboration features are reasonably good in 2021.

I realize the parent question was more focused on how people find success with Google Docs, but if that success is primarily due to collaboration, and collaboration in O365 is now decent, I wonder if some of the justifications for using Google Docs still hold up.

I've had some pretty terrible experiences trying to to collaboratively edit word documents in Office 365. You get all sorts of corruption with people bumping into one another. Big groups, small groups, it doesn't matter, at some point you'll see some malarkey.

I’m with you. I’ve had some pretty terrible experiences with this in the past as well.

I haven’t had many issues over the last 6-12 months, though, and as far as I can tell, they continue to improve.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not a fan of MS products and as I said, I think Google still has the edge in collaboration. But they’ve come far, and it wasn’t that long ago that those collaboration features were unusable or non-existent.

Same here. Office 365 collaboration is cumbersome and awful. (YMMV, this is my experience.)

Google Docs is missing some basic features that Word had in the 1990s, like the ability to define your own styles.

I'm currently in a doc where I just set all of the main styles (title, headline 1, etc) to my own styles. Or do you mean something else? Just change some words, then select headline 1 -> update from here

You are redefining the existing styles, not defining your own styles.

Aah, ok. Well apparently I've never needed to get that fancy with word.

The semi-joke with Word is that we all know everyone only uses about 20% of its features, but it turns out nobody agrees on what that 20% is. :)

Jupyter Notebooks is my Excel, so that's how.

It's a different thing, though, isn't it?

I do a big charity bike ride every year, and track my donors in Excel (largely because the initial dump of donation data came from the org in that format).

I try to be smart about my appeals, and I rapidly ran into limitations on pulling certain sets of email addresses out of Excel easily/simply/etc., and my next-step turned out to be Jupyter. It's GREAT for that, and I can still keep my data in Excel as a source and just query against it.

But I can't imagine trying to do the whole thing in Jupyter.

I do project organization in excel, which is possibly close to what you're thinking, but I really don't like doing formula editing in excel when I can just do it in python. It's personal preference tho.

Excel is an amazing piece of software esp for a power gui. But so is Python. For my work I'm either dealing with about 1k rows max... or I'm dealing with millions of rows or more, things that break excel. Or multi terra, stuff that likes a cluster.

How many of us do actually excel? As someone who never was familiar with the windows or UI world of things I usually solve my excel issues with code.

I do, and it IS powerful, but lots of the things that it's really good at in a finance context I tend to solve with SQL. But that's because I am -- or used to be -- a programmer.

If you've never programmed, "just use SQL" is super daunting. OTOH, Excel gives you access to that kind of data query power without writing code, and the people who are good at it can do pretty amazing things with it. It's a different way of solving that problem.

It's a powerful tool, and it's a well-built one (again, it pains me to say, bc I grew up hating MSFT). If you're on a platform that has access to a native app, exploring it can actually be fun.

My point is it's a niche product. It's something only a few people actually need and use and something that has plenty of 'more powerful' alternatives.

It's not something most people would choose their operating system for.

I'm not sure I consider interoperable spreadsheets a "niche" product at all. It's a key consideration for huge chunks of the Fortune 500, for example.

Just because the average HN poster doesn't interact with these people from their tech silo doesn't mean they don't exist.

And yeah, there's a real history in computing of spreadsheets literally driving platform adoption.

Google sheets with JavaScript seems to be far more useful doing business automation tasks in small companies.

In my world, Office is only used when you are consulting to companies where most data is for monthly meetings made of people that don't really care.

95% of the small businesses I’ve interacted with don’t have someone that knows JavaScript let alone are automating with JavaScript

I'd agree, but I actually know two self taught programmers who started with Google sheets, then added a little gscript.. The same can and does happen with Excel but using python compatibility is problematic and VB isn't as quickly transferable to working with any web API, etc.

I have never worked for a company that doesn't use GSuite since a college internship at a 100+ years old insurance company.

I think that just means you’re not interacting with the 3/4 of large companies that are not in infotech…

I've been writing software professionally for a decade - I wanna know where all these people using ms office are hiding - I've certainly never seen them.

Googles suite of tools have been first class citizens at almost every company I've been at.

I suspect that says more about the sort of companies you've been working at. Office is far and away the dominant player in the segment.

Similarly I'd like to know where the one third of the world's population that use GSuite are.

Honestly? Most teams/organizations use G-Suite unless you are a finance/legal/legacy company or some entities in midwest states.


Excel is so far ahead of Google's offering - or anything else in that space -- that it's ubiquitous. It's insanely powerful, and its power is accessible to nontechnical people. That's an enormous thing.

Remember, spreadsheets were the original "killer app" that got PCs into the biz world. They're still a huge part of everyday life for vast numbers of workers -- and not just in the midwest as you sneeringly suggest.

Why was this downvoted? With the exception of "HILARIOUSLY wrong.", I agree wholeheartedly. I also didn't like the comment about the "midwest". Is Chicago not a Global Alpha city? It has one of the biggest options and futures exchanges in the world and plenty of big banks/insurance/finance companies. And Mayo Clinic is one of largest and most sophisticated hospital systems in the world. Probably has a ginormous IT budget. But, hey, it's the midwest, right?

well other than being needlessly abrassive I would say it's downvoted (although I myself didn't vote on it) because

> it's ubiquitous

it isn't - as I stated elsewhere I've never worked at a company where MS Office tools were a first class citizen, while almost every company I've worked at uses google docs/sheets frequently.

> It's insanely powerful

maybe? I mean I think if you need powerful tools excel/sheets is never the solution - they are really good at solving simple problems easily - there are better fits for problems that need "insane power"

> its power is accessible to nontechnical people

very fair point - the on ramp gets nontechnical people to become technical, but it is _not_ easier to do complex things in excel/sheets than in a general purpose programming language. It's just more accessible.

> as you sneeringly suggest.

starting and ending with a point to make the parent sounds malicious when no malice needed to be interpreted.

I think I will go back and downvote now. It's simply not a conversation that warrants much of any emotional response. We're talking about boring tools here.

1. I don't think you understand what "ubiquitous" means. Was Excel present at all? Yes? Well, there you go.

2. There's no "maybe" about Excel's accessible power. You have a bias to coding, which is predictable here, but "just learn to code" is not the answer for most people who just want to ask questions of the dataset. Excel does this for them. So yes, if you need powerful tools, spreadsheets absolutely ARE VERY OFTEN THE SOLUTION.

3. The power available to someone who learned to code at 12 is one thing, but that power is fundamentally alien and totally unapproachable to the average MBA in finance. And consequently it's entirely irrelevant. OTOH, Excel with its host of data science add-ins is HIGHLY available and will allow the user to get answers without having to learn to code. This is power.

My comment re: "as you sneeringly suggest" was 100% directed at pknomad, who snarked that the only people using something as tragically unhip as spreadsheets were in the midwest -- i.e., out of step with the mainstream and tied to ways of the past.

I stand by that comment without reservation, but it wasn't directed at YOU given that it was a reply to someone else.

+9000 for this comment. So many times I have seen very technical people dump on Excel. It is the most powerful "mid-power" platform I can think of. Just the idea that you can "record macros", then review/edit is an incredible learning platform. I've posted so many times about the power of Excel. And don't me started about custom plug-ins. You can go crazy with it.

Could you clarify? In my experience most non-costal entities outside of education space do tend to use Office as opposed to Gsuite. I'm not passing any judgement about midwest vs coastal cities.

Could you clarify how you're getting snark from me? Just FYI - I didn't downvote you.

My observation is based on the fact that most companies in mid-west (even Chicago yes) use Office generally because they're migrating from on-premise Microsoft solutions. I'm not passing any judgements.

Cargill, Old Republic Insurance company, et al all use Office365 or Microsoft solution.

Excel is indeed ahead of G suite offering but my post never made any indication otherwise.

That may be true for more casual users of office suites, but any organization that uses spreadsheets as a computational tool that does analysis on which the business depends uses Excel instead of Google Sheets. Certainly this is the case in finance and banking. (I am not necessarily an advocate of Excel as a computational tool, but it is used that way.)

Sure, if you're a software company GSuite is good enough.

In our corp we all use MS suite. Once we've decided to track vacation in the team locally. So we've made a Google spreadsheet with like 12 rows and 365 columns for a year. It was running insanely slow, editing and scrolling it was painful. Also it lacks basic things which Excel supports since forever, I don't remember now but a lot of basic styling and formatting for cells is missing. And that's just for basic work. Import a millon line .csv file to apply a formula to it and then export - wouldn't even try in g-suite. (PS: that's way faster than creating and debugging a script to do the same thing on .csv directly).

A few years ago, at my previous job, we did a two week trial of g-suite and o365.

Our o365 was down for about half the trial period. We chose google....

Or do anything with the real world like manufacturing. Or interact with other businesses a lot like recruiting does.

And by "legacy" I presume you mean, "Have been around at least 30 years." Sorry to tell you, but the Walmarts of the world aren't so much legacy as established.

I’m a consultant for large companies, exactly one of the last 5 projects i’ve been on used gsuite. Throughout my career I’ve seen gsuite used at 3 of some 30 companies. Where do you get this idea that everybody wants and loves to use Google software?

I’d be surprised if there’s even 200 million GSuite (not free gmail account, since that’s not for commercial use) accounts active. They have like no market share in enterprise outside of schools. (I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t at a school that used GSuite. Which shows the circles I’m in, of course, but I think there’s a weird HN bias where people think that companies outside of smaller shops are using GSuite. Exchange is still good and cheaper than ever.)

The last three companies I've worked at have all been GSuite shops.

The company I work for, 3k people, is heavy gsuite. The company that owns them, 1.5M people, is all office or aws docs or salesforce docs, but no gsuite. So 1.497M people using office.

This is a great reply. Solid facts.

Regarding you experience with GSuite, assuming that you have used MS Office previously, do you find it sufficient for your needs?

We use Google docs for design docs and proposals. We use sheets for basic organization. Engineering, I think, generally just jumps to SQL (redshift/mode) or Jupyter Notebook once we get beyond a few thousand rows. I use Excel sometimes to view CSVs but that's about it.

I worked with MS Office before. My use of Word was the same and google docs, actually, I think is better due to a lack of fancy features. I just use basic text formatting in outline format and attached pictures.

I didn't use excel before.

So yeah I prefer gsuite to office. I had to do a document with word and track changes over email a few months back. It was brutal. Gsuite destroys that workflow.

More great feedback. I'm glad you specifically answered about "sufficient for your needs". There so much bashing from power users, but (to me) the killer app of GSuite is "good enough for most users" and way cheaper than original Microsoft Office.

salesforce docs???? couldn't find anything about that

Aah I was thinking of Quip.

Note the "smallest shops" bit above.

Did those 3 companies have more than 1000 employees? 100?

How big were the companies? And how long had they been around?

They probably count all Android users who create gmail account with phone as GSuite users. Corporate users should be couple of order of magnitude lower.

GSuite is (or rather was, until they renamed it) specifically the corporate version.

Curious what exactly they're counting since they do say "users"? If I have a domain in G Suite with 500 users, is that 500 G Suite users or just 1 G Suite user?

Yes microsoft still has a near monopoly on the office after 30 years. I am not sure why the competition bureau only focused on internet explorer and not ms office bundling.

Having a monopoly isn’t illegal. You have to show that Microsoft is leveraging their market dominance to prevent competition.

> IMHO linux has always been light years ahead of windows for as long as I remember, theres dozens of window managers better than the windows one.

I confirm, my pathway to linux started with using alternative shells & apps on windows to improve on the existing ones, bblean, xoblite, aston shell... good times

bblean, thanks for the flashback, these were unholy times!

> Virtual desktops depend on monitors

Why is this a negative? This is actually one of the largest pain points for me in switching from Windows/Mac to Linux.

> You can use WSL but file access is dog slow

You can also use WSL2, which has fast file I/O. Unless you're trying to write to files in /mnt/c, at which point the comparison makes less sense, and a more accurate comparison would be trying to write to files on a remote Windows machine from Linux (also slow).

> compared to the real thing

Um, it is the "real thing". It's running in a hypervisor, on the real CPU core.

WSL2 is just a VM. It's nothing new. WSL was actually an interesting concept but it couldn't be implemented right sadly.

How is running in a VM, on modern hardware with virtualization supported natively by the CPU, not the "real thing"?

There's no transparent support for anything GUI or GPU related. There's no ability to use another hypervisor without rebooting the machine and changing a flag and then changing it back. There's no seamless access to the same filesystem. There's no seamless networking. There's no interprogram communication across the OSes without the (kinda broken) network.

Only the first one is something you get running Linux on bare hardware. The rest are goalpost-moving (and I don't even know what we'd be discussing to make those valid points honestly). And about GUI/GPU, that's actually not a valid point either, as WSL2 has OpenGL support now.

UEFI really is an issue.

What is the problem with UEFI? I have only installed Linux on a few computers with UEFI so far, so I don't have a great sample, but I haven't seen any problems. (I have heard about secure boot that cannot be turned off - how often is this the case?)

It's annoying. But for the end user the install is just a button and a minute more. At least on Linux.

I've yet to own a UEFI motherboard without a few glitches. I never had these problems with the BIOS...

I had. For example, HP EliteBook 8470p claims the drive is not bootable if there is a DOS partition table where no partition is marked bootable (I think it shouldn't parse the partition table at all, just check the magic and execute the first sector).

What glitches have you seen (so I'm prepared when I meet them)?

Not sure what you guys are doing all day. But I barely need a calendar and even more rare need any office software. When I document or plan I document in markdown in my favourite editor.

Here's my own slightly out of touch that simultaneously holds true for me and doesn't for a very large part of the populace:

1) XFCE is the pinnacle of desktop environments: https://xfce.org/

It's extremely stable, looks good, works fast and is customizable. It works equally well on old underpowered devices, modern ones, as well as servers (should you ever need that sort of thing for whatever reason). It also has plenty of widgets without any of the modern bloat.

2) LibreOffice is great open source office software: https://www.libreoffice.org/

It started out as a fork of OpenOffice and has since become the mainstay under GNU/Linux distributions. It does word processing. It does spreadsheets. You can make drawings and visualizations in it. It does presentations. There's even a simple database offering in there, a la MS Access.

It also supports MS Office formats for the most part and can convert them to open ones with very few issues! The performance is also better than any web based offering. Plus, it's cross platform!

3) Thunderbird is perhaps the best mail client, regardless of platform: https://www.thunderbird.net/en-US/

It's stable, reliable and has its origins in Mozilla. It does everything i'd expect a mail client to do and i've had no problems with it to date. Plus, it's cross platform!

As for mail servers, i think that mail servers are a horrible mess for the most part, regardless of which platform you need them on. I think that your best bet in that regard is just using a Docker container that packages all of the components that you'd need: https://github.com/docker-mailserver/docker-mailserver

4) This is absolutely true, but then again, you can say the same about any piece of unpopular hardware.

Linux on mobile phones is a mess. Then again, even FreeBSD on certain pieces of desktop hardware oftentimes fails to work as well. Many years have passed, but this can still be problematic, given that perhaps we treat drivers wrong as an industry.

My cheap Chinese netbook (i'm not too well off financially) had the mouse not work on Fedora and some other distros. Sometimes the audio wouldn't work. Now, sometimes the mouse gets stuck in a state where it acts as a scroll wheel. In Windows, function keys worked as they should (after pressing the Fn key you could access them), but in Linux distros it was flipped and i found myself having to press Fn to use the F1-F12 keys, with no option in BIOS to flip this. The fingerprint scanner just doesn't work and isn't even detected. The Wi-Fi drivers didn't work and i had to compile them from some random GitHub repository that i found online. The distro didn't have GCC and the netbook doesn't have an ethernet port so i had to suffer through doing an air gapped install, which was problematic because of the dependencies. I got it working for the most part, but it was a pain.

Things really should be better. But that can probably only be achieved by either open drivers and open standards for most of the hardware out there, or by killing off about 75% of the hardware vendors out there, which in practice simply means that you only have to buy hardware that works well (e.g. Thinkpads).

5) The choices that i find myself making are rather easy - either i use open source software, or i do less.

However i agree for the most part with the observations about Linux not being an awfully popular platform for porting applications. I do think that this has three main causes: packaging being somewhat difficult to get started with (as well as needing to support a variety of distros), the GUI frameworks across Windows/Linux/Mac being a total mess and there being no "good" options out there, and then there also really not being a large commercial effort to make the struggle of porting something over worthwhile.

Interestingly, the GUI framework situation isn't such a large issue if you go with something like Lazarus, JavaFX or even Swing for your software, but those can be ugly, so people don't. Still, i'd argue that either of those have the potential to be better choices than Electron apps.

Use WSL2 for non-dog-slow filesystem.

This is true if you put your code in the Hyper-V managed WSL2 VM but now you have the reverse problem of WSL1, i.e. access via Windows P9 is slow and things like symlinks do not resolve whatsoever (on the Windows side).

In WSL1, access to files on the Windows host is far quicker than WSL2 and symlinks work everywhere.

To try to counteract this, I opted in to the insiders dev channel recently to try the upcoming X11 support, i.e. run IDEA inside WSL. While the performance is quite good, it's broken, e.g. try using find in project, the window disappears immediately 9 times out of 10.

In many ways, I found WSL1 more useable as I could use one shell for both the Windows and WSL filesystems with reasonable performance. I now use cygwin if I want to use gnu linux type tools on Windows.

Once the X11 support matures it will be a pretty good experience overall if people are willing to install things like IDEA in WSL, I'm looking forward to that.

>In WSL1, access to files on the Windows host is far quicker than WSL2 and symlinks work everywhere.

I find this pretty annoying, as I need to access Windows files from WSL more often than the opposite (e.g. get stuff from my Windows Downloads folder, or use bash to quickly interact with a Windows folder). Do you know if access to Docker volumes is faster or slower on WSL2 by the way? I wouldn't switch back to WSL1 since some nix/cabal stuff didn't work on WSL1 at all but I am curious as that's the other point where my windows/wsl filesystems touch in ways I've never looked into.

> Do you know if access to Docker volumes is faster or slower on WSL2

If your files are stored within the VM itself, WSL2's access to them is effectively native. However accessing the files from Windows requires going through the \\wsl$ (P9) network share. This presents problems as Windows isn't going to receive file notification events if you do something like `git checkout`. Additionally, if your project utilizes symlinks, Windows only sees them as an empty file.

Users of VS Code largely will not encounter these problems as running `code` from within the WSL layer will start a remote server, it's seamless, that's genuinely very cool. However, if you use anything else, I've found it to be problematic.

The "best" solution I arrived at (other than dual-booting Linux, which is totally worth it!) is to install `xorg-server` from cygwin, install my IDE of choice in WSL2 (IDEA) and use X11 forwarding. This way the IDE has a relatively real-time view of the filesystem, receives notification events, symlinks work, chmod is preserved if using safe-writes etc.

If you need to use bash (and other tools not provided by Git Bash), cygwin is a useful addition. You can also use `mklink` from cmd/powershell to create a directory hardlink to the \\wsl$ folder if you need to copy things into WSL (although it's easier to access /mnt/drive from WSL2). Either way, I've found any direction of crossing Host/VM filesystem boundaries to be slower than WSL1's approach.

"wsl is real Linux"

Why don't ya'll just use Linux?

This just sounds so much more difficult than using the real thing.

It is more difficult, and no, WSL2/WSL is not linux. You see how much it is not linux when you try to do things like install a job scheduler, or a development environment (hint, try to use vscode gui in WSL2, watch the message you get).

Real desktop linux has been, and is, a thing. I've been using Linux as my primary business desktop for more than 20 years. Yes, really.

Now, in the industry I'm in, I am forced into a windows 10 environment. Which I do the best I can to push out of the way, so I can have a real machine. MobaXterm to provide a single root X window. XFCE4 for windowing, Plank for a dock. WSL2 (unfortunately) underneath, running an older RHEL (not my choice). Looks/feels mostly like a linux box.

I use it for dev/testing/analytics/data science. File access is still as slow as sin, network performance is terrible. Windows apps are unstable, and will take down the machine from time to time.

I am pushing for a linux laptop/desktop as I am far more productive in that desktop environment. Since most of our work is linux based, this makes sense.

I mostly don't do the extra stuff they do (as they mention Code works seamlessly and thankfully that's good enough for me and obviously emacs/vim do, too), the rest is just slower cross-OS file access and I need to tinker with it only roughly as much as with my Linux installs while getting the benefits of a native Windows install on top.

If you need anything Windows-related (e.g. to use a specific game or software) using WSL on top is actually really nice (I do all my real work from there fine when not on my Linux machine currently) and less hassle than dual-booting. If I decide not to use anything Windows related or do GPU-based ML (which I assume is worse on WSl) outside of the cloud I'll install Linux on another drive on this machine and go back to it fully. I honestly never expected to stick to Windows with just WSL on this machine when I put it on for trying some games.

UEFI has really made it difficult to dual boot, especially off the same drive. Windows 10 overwriting your GRUB install every major update is just pure hell. Then if you opt for separate physical disks, you must forego fastboot features so you can use your UEFI Boot Menu to select between separate Win10 and Linux physical disks.

That’s why I put up with WSL2. I hate dealing with bootloaders.

Even if you are fine with fixing bootloaders it's also just a bit much to have to do a full restart to switch between software, and to not be able to use some things side by side.

You can use software that doesn't work on Linux (without WINE/hacks anyway) but still use the power of GNU/Linux for development style tasks when necessary.

It's easier now to just maintain a single installation of Windows than setup a dual boot and continuously switch between whenever you want to edit an image in Photoshop or play a commercial game.

You can do LSW. That is, just use a Windows VM for those software. You make the same tradeoffs except less often.

I'd be sacrificing a lot more resources to run a full Windows VM than just using Windows natively.

And nevermind doing GPU accelerated tasks unless I want to faff around doing KVM stuff.

Easier to just use Windows directly and WSL2 when I need it.

You're sacrifing the exact same amount when using WSL2. The difference is that Windows is only useful for Photoshop and 3% of video games, while as a developer you're using Linux all day.

You're not sacrificing any resources, in both cases you're running a full Linux and a full Windows.

As far as GPU acceleration it's just as much of a pain inside of WSL2 than in a regular VM.

Fwiw I only use Windows for Genshin Impact now. Photoshop works well enough usig Wine, the installer won't run but that's not an issue.

>You're sacrifing the exact same amount when using WSL2.

Not really. For one, you are mostly fine running Linux terminal-only so it's really light and you are using less resources with Windows+WSL than Linux + full VM Windows.

Second, if you need both Linux and Windows you typically need Windows for something heavy - e.g. a Game, Photoshop, whatever, so having Windows in the VM is typically more limiting.

Photoshop isn't heavy nowadays. Games are, yes, but the vast majority just work natively.

Also you really miss a lot of Linux if you're running it terminal only without a GPU. Being unable to use the Jetbrains IDEs on Linux is the biggest one for a developer that's universal to any field.

Also if you have to do something heavy, it's almost universally better to do it on Linux, ie, higher speed and better reliability.

> As far as GPU acceleration it's just as much of a pain inside of WSL2 than in a regular VM.

What do you need it for in WSL2? Perhaps machine learning/crypto stuff?

> Photoshop works well enough usig Wine, the installer won't run but that's not an issue

If you were using Windows it would work better than 'well enough' and the installer would run.

I actually had many serious issues with Photoshop and Lightroom in Windows, random crashes, etc..., the only solution being to rollback drivers and once uninstall windows and not do an update.

GPU acceleration in WSL2 is useful for ML, but also accelerated video encode/decode, and some simulations I had to work on. It's also very useful for anything using a GUI, as all the major UI toolkits in Linux use native GPU acceleration.

What in Linux do you need a GUI for though?

Can you now use WSL2 together with other hypervisors like VirtualBox or VMWare? A while back WSL2 required use of HyperV and that removes possibility to run other VM software.

Big no go for anyone who also want to test software in other VMs

Yes. I don't recall which version support was added in, but a recent Windows 10 release build using WSL 2 can coexist with both VirtualBox and VMware Workstation.

Thanks for informarion! This is actually cool if it works well.

I've got a hazy memory of trying this but had to back out because something broke. There was some big limitation of WSL2 I cant remember.

I'd bet it was network access. It's a bizarre and common problem (I see more people commenting on the issues all the time) which you can kind of fix by forcing or a different nameserver into /etc/resolv.conf but it's unclear to me why this doesn't work out of the box.

yes that was 100% it! I use WSL to do web dev in a windows machine so I can use all my favourite tools. So no WSL2 for me (though that work around is worth a shot).

Actually it’s only faster for native fs access IIRC. So if you need to access cross-fs WSL Legacy may be more performant.

I can’t agree with this in 2021, but not for the reasons one might think. I agree that native app development never became a cohesive or predictable thing. But then most apps that people use these days aren’t native.

Business apps: Google Docs & Microsoft Office both have web versions that are good enough for many people.

Mail / calendar clients: I am a nerd who prefers to use emacs for email, but I’m the weirdo—just like anyone who uses a native Outlook client. I also use Fastmail’s web interface, its iOS app, and the mail app on my iPhone. And even that is weird, because everyone just uses Gmail.

Laptop support: Yes that used to be a problem for Linux for varying definitions of “recently.” Used to be. My corp-issued laptop took to Linux just fine with nothing discernibly less functional than Windows.

The apps that don’t exist on the web are getting more and more niche.

I do not interact with any professional contacts who use Gmail. It's universally Exchange in my professional life.

This MIGHT be because the invite/accept/scheduling setup in Exchange is so good that it's hard to sell anything else. It also might be that most big orgs are very wisely reticent to host their email with an advertising company.

I'm also gonna push back on the "web tools are enough for most people." I mean, how effective is the web version of Excel, really? Can it easily interact with local data stores for elaborate data mining and updatable queries? My guess is "probably not". How is it for macro development? My company works closely with the finance orgs of our client parties, and let me tell you a LOT of these folks are extremely advanced Excel users. Web tools aren't to par here.

Web Outlook is also pretty awful compared to the native version, quite honestly, as is Word. Maybe PowerPoint is okay, but I'm not a power user of PPT so I don't really know.

Huh, interesting. Since GSuite became a thing I've never seen Exchange in my professional life, so, generously, since 2007/8? I've only had one employer that used Exchange and they sold a setup for it, but even they were switching internally to use GSuite by the time I left, if I recall correctly. I recall the switch as being extremely abrupt in that era.

While this isn't a hard and fast rule, GSuite adoption outside of the "tech sector" is extremely low. We have to recognize our own biases and that the experiences of the average HN reader doesn't reflect the larger business world.

Very much this.

My professional life has been interacting with very large organizations (as clients, not employers) -- think Fortune 500 firms, if not bigger. Major oil companies (I live in Texas), major defense contractors, etc.

These are not GSuite users, generally speaking. It's Office and Exchange in these places. Microsoft is VERY VERY STRONG at the Enterprise level.

I’ve used outlook/exchange for nearly 20 years at work, with over a decade of that on the web version, which has got progreso ly more featureful as we upgrade (slowly) to more recent versions. Most recently moved to cloud based exchange and it’s still fine - and none of the sync issues that I hear from people who use macs.

I'm in the UK, have also worked a lot with large enterprise customers in Europe and my experience matches yours.

The largest players in the tech sector are outlook shops. Except Google.


Chromebooks and gmail have eaten the education sector, so if indeed you’re right that GSuite adoption outside the tech sector and education sectors, then this will be short lived.

> Can it easily interact with local data stores for elaborate data mining and updatable queries?

Pushback -- neither excel nor sheets are the right tool for that job.

They're not IDEAL and they're not what you or I might choose in a vacuum, but for the people I'm talking about, they absolutely ARE.

- No other tools are made available to them by their hidebound, ossified IT;

- They don't have training in SQL or other query languages, but they are WIZARDS with pivot tables and related technologies.

One thing that's hard for tech folks to really internalize is that tool choice is secondary to results for many folks. That's okay. It's especially ok if organizational factors prevent better or more "appropriate" tools.

It’s a shrinking niche that uses Excel for data things. I’d argue google docs is fine for people who want to make a shopping list at the low end. And the low barriers to using R or Python with Pandas have been siphoning off the high-end of Excel users for years now.

The people you describe still exist, just like me and my fellow emacs users. But we’re not the future.

Let me ask gently what you do professionally, because in our market -- high-end project management financial reporting software sold to very large customers -- Excel is absolutely EVERYWHERE, even with younger clients.

R and Pandas are cool, but they do not appear to be gaining market share from people using pivot tables and Power Query in our market.

My career experience is along the data science / civic technology / transportation engineering & planning / open data.

I’d posit that customers of “high-end project management financial reporting software sold to very large customers” is starting to get niche.

Again, my point isn’t to say that these people don’t exist. My point is that “data wizard” increasingly means not Excel. Plenty of non-tech firms are happy to hire entry-level “data scientists” who write some SQL queries, gin up some reports with spiffy graphics, and bang together a dashboard in Shiny or Tableau. It used to be that this kind of basic reporting work was done almost exclusively with Excel. Even if Excel has exclusivity in some specific industries, Excel’s influence and utter dominance just isn’t what it used to be.

Put another way, I’ve taught intro R / Python skills to enough undergrad and grad students in professional career tracks to see that the future for Excel looks weaker than its past.

Very true, and yet, enormous swaths of the corporate world do exactly this all day every day.

My experience is different: most companies I have worked for use GSuite. Also, re: web Microsoft 365 Word and Excel: I used to run Linux on the Desktop much more often than I do now, and the web versions of Word and Excel helped a lot stay in Linux.

If one user in an org does something stupid will Microsoft ban the entire org with no recourse? I doubt it.

I setup several companies on google apps. Never had an issue. But I would be more reluctant to do so again.

Given that MSFT still sells Exchange that you can host internally, they wouldn't even be ABLE to shut down the org.

I've been using Linux desktop exclusively for about 5 years and I agree with everything you said.

> Open source yadda yadda.

This is it right here. I think this is the main differentiator. At the end of the day whether a person is happy on Linux depends on how much they care about software freedom. I'm willing to put up with the Linux jank because free software is really important to me and aligns with my values.

I feel like some Linux users (like me) stop noticing the jank over time since we slowly become very adept at coping with it (eg. finding good resources on how to solve the problem so we can find the fix pretty quickly, or just knowing the fix out of experience.

In the end, it gets not so bad. But GUI front ends for package managers, like [especially] GNOME Software are horrendous from my experience. Which is not so great of a look; of all the things that should be user-friendly it should be package management (IMHO). Package manager failures (conflicts, whatever) are handled horribly by GUI front-ends and even then usually require some expertise to fix, which is a pain. At least Fedora Silverblue nails the updates so that stuff usually doesn't break... but of all the things that were broken OOTB for me on my install... it was (duh!) GNOME Software.

This is doubly awful because when I show a non-tech user around linux, the thing they're always most impressed by and which is most distinct about the linux experience compared to Win/Mac is the ability to pull arbitrary software from distro repos.

But the GUIs are awful. The cli experience is awful, too, but better and we get used to it. They're never going to get used to it, and why would they want to? I don't know the answer; package management is a complicated problem. But maybe some sort of distributed app-store experience where the package manager also manages marketing for and forums about the apps. See, I really don't know - but having to go to a webpage and read a bunch of marketing material then download, or go to an app store and get descriptions, screenshots, and commentary by other users is somehow a subjectively better experience for non-tech types than "apt-cache search" or its GUI equivalents.

I've been using manjaro and really like it's package manager. The cli stuff is a pain at first, but worth being able to trivially install two parallel python versions. YaST is my second favorite.

The manjaro gui tool also to you do snap/ flatpak. Those two are about as close as you'll get to a district independent package manager.

+1 for Yast. Dont expect a pretty UI, function over form here, but is pretty nice to only enter your password once and be able to administer packages, docker, VMs and their tooling, btrfs, network services and so much more.

> I feel like some Linux users (like me) stop noticing the jank over time since we slowly become very adept at coping with it (eg. finding good resources on how to solve the problem so we can find the fix pretty quickly, or just knowing the fix out of experience.

I think that holds true for anything honestly. I never cared much about how annoying it is to install EXEs on windows, visiting each website, clicking through another dialog etc. Neither did I care about the GUI.

Now that I'm using Linux on my personal devices however, I got to like package managers and tiling WMs.

My mum, sister and other poor souls I refuse support to if they don't run Linux are all used to apt, which in 99% of all cases has the solution command as part of the error message.

I care about freedom more than most people using Linux these days.

But from a historical perspective, desktop Linux was only made possible by Nvidia and their closed driver. That's a sad fact. I've been on Linux "desktop" since 1995 or so. There are only two businesses that really gave much of a crap about Linux (other than Red Hat) and those were: id Software and Nvidia. ATI had total garbage for drivers for many many years. Practically up until AMD bought them. I built a HTPC back in 2005 around a passively-cooled ATI card trying to get it silent as possible. The idea was that I would use the Radeon driver on Linux and everything would just work. But it didn't. And I was stuck using Windows.

ATI shares part of the blame for why Linux never made it on the desktop. You can't have one of the two major video card vendors dropping the ball for so long and come out okay.

I agree with you, and I hate it, because Nvidia causes me so many headaches. I've been a full time linux user for a little over 10 years now. I refuse to buy a system with an nvidia card now, because that damn proprietary driver and nvidia's slow moving way of not supporting newest kernels or wayland, makes life hell. I could have avoided some of that pain by sticking with a slow moving or older distro like CentOS, but that brings many other problems. I'm grateful for Nvidia for doing what they do, but I'm pretty stoked for my new AMD card that will get my system back to where I don't have major crashes one to two times per day.

> But from a historical perspective, desktop Linux was only made possible by Nvidia and their closed driver.

Intel Integrated graphics has been around for a long time now, it has open drivers and since its first release, it has been more than adequate for most non-gamers.

Maybe that's just me, but I don't really care that much about NVidia or ATI/AMD, and the state of their drives don't impact my ability to meaningfully use Linux on the desktop.

I can't agree with that from a personal level. I have used KDE Plasma for a few years now and I really don't care much at all about software freedom.

It is ultimately just way better than Windows. Windows 10 is just an embarrassment.

I've been using the same arch + i3 setup for at least 5 years, never had to change my habits due to an update (except thunderbird which is becoming worse and worse). I've lost a lot a lot of time setting up hibernation and sleep and solving broken depencies, but I have never been limited by gui tools, quite the opposite actually, it is easier to use Pacman than what you need to do on windows or mac.

I honestly don't see what I would gain using Mac or windows , except that hibernation works from the start

Same sentiment here. About 7 years of arch and i3. Machine migrations are literally dd or rysync commands.

I am in love with the fact my OS layer just does not change at all. It's boring and I like it that way.


~8-9 years of Ubuntu + i3 (and 11 years on Ubuntu in total), on 4 different laptops (3 Thinkpads), all using the same set of dotfiles and working stably for years.

Installing Linux on a laptop is pretty much painless these days. Also, the neat thing about being able to (re-)store my configs / dotfiles is that I can run my install script on any machine and 5 minutes later the entire machine is completely set up and feels like one of the machines I've been using for years. Back in the 2000s I went through the process of reinstalling Windows a bunch of times and I still remember how painful that was because after installation everything had to be reconfigured and customized in some GUI, which would take hours and never result in quite the same setup I used to have. Now with Linux I've been using the same setup for the past 10 years across machines. (Which is nice as it allows me to tweak my settings over time.)

> I honestly don't see what I would gain using Mac or windows , except that hibernation works from the start

And even that. My only longer Mac experience was a MBP (2016?) and this machine (and none of my co-workers) wasn't able to re attach a external monitor and external keyboard after hypernating. The time I worked there nobody found a solution

> This will be super unpopular, but Linux missed the desktop boat 20 years ago

Desktop Linux in 2021 is nothing like it was 20 years ago. Plasma Desktop is a great experience these days, and in my opinion, surpasses both the Windows and macOS desktop shell experiences while implementing features from both systems.

I just spun up a linux Desktop machine for the first time in almost a decade and agree that Plasma has come a long way but it's still rough around the edges and, well, slow. Not as slow as the Windows UI, but still slower than xfce or the like.

One problem I do have with Plasma (though this may just be how arch packages it) - Dolphin, the native plasma file manager, is not included by default. Yes, I know it's not much of an imposition to do pacman -Sy dolphin but a file manager seems like an integral part of the system to me worthy of being included in the base package for a desktop environment.

Little choices like that affect new user adoption.

Try it on openSUSE, the best KDE integration by far IMHO, since it is their standard DE since IDK/forever? Tumbleweed offers the newest packages, rolling like Arch, but with a huge test battery on OBS (https://openbuildservice.org/). Snapshots on upgrade make the thought of breakage (haven't had any) tolerable.

Disclaimer: very happy user

I cut my teeth on openSUSE years and years ago and haven't been back in a while. Maybe ill spin one up in a VM and see how it works.

It is less user friendly/more secure OOTB, in contrast to Ubuntu/Mint, still worth it IMHO, after reading the horror stories about Docker and UFW on Ubuntu.

Getting KDE Connect (Killer feature IMO) to work needed fiddling with the firewall, but while annoying at the time in retrospect it leaves a good impression.

Podman is availlable without jumping through hoops, and nearly everthing i need is availlable via opi (think AUR but mostly official, directly from OBS), if it is not in Tumbleweed allready.

Most new users aren't bootstrapping an Arch installation from scratch. I just installed Manjaro a few days ago and it, along with Kubuntu, both ship with Dolphin by default, as does KDE Neon.

In my experience, Plasma Desktop runs well even on old hardware and uses about the same amount of memory as Xfce.

It's rough around the edges, but have you seen Windows? It's almost hilarious how any component can have UI elements from any of its iterations of the past two decades.

And ask someone who isn't familiar with it to find a setting. It's a hot mess. Just a hot mess a majority of people are used to.

I am such a fan of the way gnome shell reinvented distraction less desktop computing (essentially the thing metro should have been) that I feel sorry for people that can never try it.

Yes Linux desktops have been a complicated topic. But it's incredible easy to build something less distractive than windows 10.

> Desktop Linux in 2021 is nothing like it was 20 years ago.

True, it's now significantly more complicated and there at least 300 more distros worth of fragmentation. But at least sound finally works!... usually...

Spitballing a wild hypothetical that is probably wrong, but was inspired by what you said so I thought I'd share:

I wonder if the arrival of the 3D revolution was just a little too early for computer nerds to embrace an open source ecosystem from the get-go and how different it would've been if "If you want to run DOOM/Quake/Unreal Tournament then install OpenSUSE/Slackware so you don't have to bother Fiddling with drivers on DOS" would've been more commonplace.

From the 80s to the 2000s, video games became a multi-billion dollar industry that inspired two half-generations of kids to pursue careers in technology, but the world of FOSS was so focused on different use cases that the middle ground of "computer curious" kids probably wasn't as big of a revolution as it could've been.

Hopefully, the work Valve is putting into Proton/WINE + Steam Deck will give us a piece of that alternate history.

Proton is already pretty good. I expect it to get better. I've been daily-driving Arch on both a custom-built PC and a ThinkPad for 3 years and I haven't looked back, not even for games.

As someone using Linux on the desktop for a looong time, I don't have any real arguments against any of these except 1(I quite like Gnome).

I think it just comes down to how you uses a computer. I mainly program, web browse, and listen to music. I don't game, watch movies, nor use or want to use 'business' apps. Abiword is about the most business app I use with any regularity. If I -have- to do something else, usually GDocs can handle it.

Re: 5) It might depend on the person. I've only ever used Gimp, and while it has redone the UI multiple times, and some things remain nonintuitive, I find myself around it well enough. When PhotoPea launched with its PS style UI, I wanted to give it a try to see what I was missing. I find myself lost, probably how a PS user feels going into Gimp.

> I don't game, watch movies, nor use or want to use 'business' apps. Abiword is about the most business app I use with any regularity. If I -have- to do something else, usually GDocs can handle it.

A lot of the items that GP and you are discussing are, from my perspective, complaints about Linux circa 2005, maybe 2010 in a few cases.

I do all the above things and problems are rare. To the point where I ditched my Windows install for gaming. Steam's work on Proton means games seem to just work with the exception of specific Anti-Cheat software in certain games (and even in those games it's usually just MP that doesn't work).

KDE Plasma gives me basically the Windows 7 desktop interface with whatever window dressing I want and virtual desktop support out of the box. Plus, I can do everything that Linux can without any Windows overhead.

Maybe I'm really lucky re: productivity stuff but honestly I don't have a ton of complaints about it.

Yeah, I feel like a lot of people who complain about Linux not working well for some things haven't looked at it for 10-15 years. It certainly can't run everything a Windows desktop can, but I think it's caught up meaningfully enough that people who dabbled long ago would find it sufficient for day-to-day use. I don't think it's for everyone; I wouldn't there's even a subset of the software developers I know who probably wouldn't like it, but many of the complaints I hear nowadays are very outdated.

Interestingly, if you like games Linux is by far a better OS than macOS.

Thanks to Valve's Proton, now most Windows games work flawlessly on Linux. When you install them from Steam, you don't even have to know they're Windows binaries, they just work.

A couple of corrections from my perspective (Used Windows since 3.1 in 1995, worked and supported others on Windows until 2012, switched to Linux around 2006 after having used it on and off since 2001):

> There were too many projects with none focusing on really making a better gui than mac/windows.

Many of us have preferred Linux desktops for a decade or two.

Calling a desktop gui better when it lacks the basics like multiple virtual desktops is quite a stretch IMO. Same goes for not being able to update your kernel without getting a brand new desktop environment either you want it or not. Same goes for not being able to customize CMD-tab on Mac.

> A lack of bread and butter 1st class "business" apps

so far so good until this:

> OpenOffice is fine, IF you are ok with the janky ui and no one knowing how it works.

In fact for many years OpenOffice, now Libre Office has been less alien to large segments of the user base.

For a number of things it has also been significantly better at times: I remember very well having to import a certain report patched together by four others to use an actually working styling system.

> lack of open source exchange type mail/cal/etc server and outlook-like client)

This was a good point for a long time. I can work around it by using my iPad for this these days.

> Until recently, installing on laptops was an absolute crap shoot.

Having Linux work better on laptops than Windows is the default state for most laptops and have been for a decase. Last big issue was a screen resolution problem solved by installing the 915 driver using synapse on nc6230 or something back in 2006.

Getting a Windows machine to stop lagging unpredictably though, that is job best left for a specialist. Some come working out of the box, but those are the exception.

(Although it should be noted that I hate lagging as much as designers hate misalignment.)

I manage hundreds of Linux desktops (VDI, laptops, desktops) and about 75 Windows 10 laptops.

I see at least 25 Windows tickets for every Linux desktop ticket.

Sure I am paid more than an equivalent Windows admin but the ongoing cost of support is far less. Stuff just doesn't randomly stop working like in Windows. It's really nice.

How much of this is because the Linux users are more likely to know how to fix their own stuff/not break it in a weird way compared to the Windows users?

i'll argue it's because any given linux install is less likely to shit all over itself and the filesystem compared to windows.

That may be true, but that doesn't negate the question I was asking. At most companies I've worked at, most of the technical/developer types had OS X or Linux computers, and the people with Windows boxes tended to be people using them more for administrative tasks with Outlook/Excel.

I know I have plenty of small problems with my Linux desktop, same as I have with my old Windows desktops, but I generally know how to fix/learn to fix those without going to a support line. That would be true even if you gave me a Windows computer.

Essentially, if you gave the people filing all the Windows support tickets a Linux machine instead, would that fix the problem? Or is it that those people are more likely to need support help AND also happen to prefer/need Windows.

None of the users have admin on either set of machines. We are comprised of largely technical individuals.

It's not your average office I'll admit that, but we do have non-technical people on Linux that work help desk and RMA (think $100k networking gear).

Windows Rant Incoming:

Windows Update sucks. It just sucks. I fucking hate it. It fails for no reason, it fails for every reason. With how important updates are for Windows updating should JUST WORK.

I was trying to curate updates via WSUS and then moved to W4B SAC but recently said eff it and just let them update however they want. Just let the updates fail, they'll work eventually. I really don't care anymore or have the energy to.

Yep. If Windows Update isn't destructive enough in how it decides it will reboot and install updates without the user's consent, Windows Update has also ended up bricking systems at times.

It's vile and a pain in the ass to deal with.

Linux/Ubuntu? "Oh, I should update. Okay, Alt+T, sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade"


It does it when I tell it to and only then.

GUI issues are probably the worst but there's also just more that you have to tinker with to fix/adjust on Linux, even on Ubuntu which is likely the most user-friendly distro.

Good luck getting multiple different sized monitors to work well out of the box (e.g. laptop + external) on Linux, sometimes even with tinkering you are left with subpar scaling on one. Mac on the other hand just handles whatever combo of monitors and resolutions you throw at it with nothing that you have to do on your side and has done so for a decade now.

Things are much more likely to eventually break if you use an installation too long - I rarely have issues with 5+ year old Windows but most distros don't even support that, and even if they do good luck getting through all the upgrades without having to tinker. Hell, I have to manually mess with PPAs at least once a year just to apply updates.

There's also just too much choice with so many of the options having drawbacks that are hard to distinguish between, especially for non-power users.

There's a ton of other stuff like that that we Linux users are used to so it's not too bad for us but that cause so many people who get a linux machine from a friend to eventually just pay for a Windows install on it since they can't deal with it..

> Good luck getting multiple different sized monitors to work well out of the box (e.g. laptop + external) on Linux,

Just Works™ actually. Using a laptop/external simultaneous combo at different resolutions right now, and it's literally perfect. It even gets the scaling right. Not a second of configuration.

Lucky. I'm currently on a 20.04 install with a 1080p laptop + 4k, and the scaling options are 100% or 200% for a monitor with fractional scaling I can apply with tinkering that applies to both at the same time. I just sort of have it in a non-optimal for either monitor state but I'm sure there's some way which I didnt find when I first installed it to make it okay. On a different machine and combination of monitors I've gotten it to work but with a lot of xrandr tinkering instead. I'm hopeful that your comment might suggest that next time I upgrade it'll work out of the box.

Ubuntu's upstream and release schedule ensures that its packages are relatively out of date. It might be worth trying 21.04 for real fractional scaling with Wayland or a different distro with recent packages and Wayland.

You're almost certainly right, as far as I can tell it should be fine with Wayland and 21.04 but I am just tired of reinstalling my OS every 6 months and don't trust direct upgrades much since they lose me even more time diagnosing an issue in the cases where they do break something.

I've upgraded a few of my systems from 20.04 to 21.04 without an issue. If you take a btrfs snapshot before upgrading, you can roll back the changes if it turns out there's an issue with them.

It's not lucky, it's just that I know better than to install Ubuntu. Ubuntu's been a bad choice from the beginning and intentionally goes against the defaults of upstream providers. Random corporate distributions never know better than upstream.

Ok, that's fair. Maybe I'll finally decide that Ubuntu has more drawbacks than advantages for me (and it does have both) and finally switch to Debian directly.

This is more than basic functionality, but I'm experiencing limitations with multiple monitors that I don't get in Windows. The bundled remote Screen Sharing in GNOME does not work in that setup. VSync (on NVidia, possibly not a driver issue) doesn't work well, resulting in tearing in one consistent.

Vanilla Fedora user here, after years of Mac and Windows. It works really well these days. Multiple monitors, including a 5k monitor. And personally, I find Gnome to be almost as good as the mainstream desktops and even better in some ways. YMMV.

Gnome shell is the least distracting desktop concept I ever used. I always liked desktops and tiling is to extreme for me. So far everyone I upgraded to gnome shell has been happy since.

Which 5k monitor are you using? Been thinking of upgrading recently and 4k scaled to 1080p doesn't cut it for my 1440p loving needs.

I have the original one made for Mac, with only thunderbolt inputs. It's nice:

- 5k

- Built in webcam

- Built in speakers

- Built in mic

All work on Fedora. Thinking about it now, I realize that I may be overselling it in that I did have to tinker to get brightness adjusting to work. I installed this [0] tool, and mapped +/- to Super +, and Super - so that I can quickly adjust brightness.

So, it's definitely not as seamless a setup as the Mac, but it was honestly not bad at all and is a great setup.

[0] https://github.com/chrisdavies/lg

> Good luck getting multiple different sized monitors to work well out of the box (e.g. laptop + external) on Linux, sometimes even with tinkering you are left with subpar scaling on one

It sounds like you might still be using Xorg?

These are all solved problems in Wayland (that is, as long as the applications are native Wayland clients, and not running through XWayland) but some people are still reluctant or unable (see NVidia EGLStream debacle) to migrate yet.

> Ubuntu which is likely the most user-friendly distro.

I think this is the biggest issue in the Linux user Space. This is simply a wrong assumption for at least a few years now.

Ubuntu, for some reason, tends more break way more dramatic than other distros (usually something with complex deps)

Linux desktop does not need to be dominant to be relevant. Business apps are important but you seem to forget most people hardly use anything but 1 percent of what Excel or Word can do anyway. I agree that cal, mail situation is not ideal though. Laptops is a no problem if you restrict yourself to certaiin brands.

as for apps, I dont know, Linux is superior in many ways for non GUI work. If you need photoshop then yeah this is not the right OS for you. But I would not want to touch anything Adobe with their dirty subscription models. its not true of all categories though. Krita for digital painting is amazing. Blender for 3d work too. The real answer is... it depends.

For me as a programmer the biggest issue with Linux on desktop was the wifi thing, you were never sure if it would work out of the box or if you needed to copy some obscure .bin files found on the Internet so that it would work with your wifi adapter. I think I lost a day or two on this about 15 years ago when I last set up a Linux desktop machine for myself.

The second thing (and which you mention) is the laptop install situation, I was never sure if running Linux on whatever laptop would work, and if yes if it would work 100%, meaning no wifi/sound/battery drain issues. That was one of the main reasons that has kept me away from Linux since then. Granted, if Apple goes on its current way of trying to restrict access to its machines I may make the switch back sometime in the near future.

I've had the experience you are talking about in the past, But this is mostly gone now. Most of the distros ship with wifi drivers so you can do an internet install.

Most wifi cards on Laptops now are either Intel or Killer. So most distros will ship with these common ones. They also usually ship with universal drivers for things like trackpads and monitors so that at least everything "works" out of the box on a fresh install. However you still are best hunting down specific drivers for your equipment to get the best experience or performance.

My personal experience is that if you use a Dell or Lenovo laptop, that you won't need to worry about compatibility. These two companies in particular seem to have the best linux support so their equipment generally just works. I have found HP to "mostly" work. Good luck with Asus or Gigabyte. I wouldn't even try a lesser brand than those.

Battery life on Linux is a mixed bag. There are tools you can install that can give you incredible control over your battery and drag a battery's life out much longer than you would get from the same laptop on Windows. But you will need to constantly manage it and be aware of it. For example I need to go into the terminal and manually change a profile every time I connect and disconnect from the charger. As opposed to Mac and Windows that mostly manage themselves to get the best performance/battery life ratio. I found that if you don't do anything with Linux and just run it on battery that you will get substantially lower battery life than the same device would give you on Windows.

It's much better now. The last time I had a problem like this was around 2012 on a cheap walmart laptop that I installed Xubuntu 10.04. Mot wireless cards now are Intel or Realtek which are both fine (though Intel is the best). Especially if you buy a Dell or Lenovo you're in good shape.

WiFi is basically fixed with all modern chips. Same with laptops.

Let's be real you won't buy the cheapest Fujitsu or whatever anyway. You are going to get a proper ThinkPad or something and than Linux is the faster and better working system either way.

I bought a usb adapter with the penguin on it. I don't even know what it is called.

That was 5 years ago and I never looked back. I think that adapter is the secret key. Once you have that it doesn't make sense why you wouldn't use KDE Plasma.

I literally only know LS MKDIR and then conda commands. I don't know what any folder does outside of /home. I don't care about these things. Everything has always just worked and if something breaks I can reinstall in about 10 minutes.

The experience people describe on here is what I remember in 1999 when I spent a week trying to get my soundcard to work and gave up.

I'm using Linux on various laptops since 2010 and I haven't seen any problems. These are from multiple vendors and categories:

Asus EEE 1005HA

Asus U36G

HP EliteBook 8470p

HP ProBook 430 G6

ThinkPad x220

Acer that I don't remember by model number (I have installed it for others)

Yes, the wifi issue is solved since like 2013. You usually only need to install firmware, which is a standard package from your distribution's repository (some user-friendly distribution even do this for you).

> 2) A lack of bread and butter 1st class "business" apps - you know, office. OpenOffice is fine, IF you are ok with the janky ui and no one knowing how it works.

Having recently reentered the world of the full MS and Office stack, janky shit is the standard. Word - the app, online and teams. None of them work right. The meme where someone thinks they’ll just move an image is accurate. Headers and footers, formatting and most other parts are actually broken or have unpredictable behaviour across apps that are presumably supposed to be the same?

I feel like an old man shouting into a void, but it isn’t right how crappy the industry standard has become.

Your right, teams and office are really very janky. The difference is, if you launched it for the first time without seeing it before, you'd think (if you were a normal person) it looks clean and modern and so on.

You open up OpenOffice for the first time, it looks like software from 10 years ago.

I hate teams with a searing passion, but the thing is though it does break, it looks pretty good doing it.

You know, all of those were true at some point, but things change, and not in a good way, but in a way that makes Linux much more competitive.

About your #1, well a few tried and for some people they succeeded, but for most people KDE got about equally good some time ago, and both Windows and MacOS kept getting worse and worse. The result is that KDE is much better than those now.

About #2, with the new Office365, Windows is also lacking a reasonably good outlook-like client. The exchange OWA is a much better alternative now, and you can access it from Linux just as easily as from Windows.

Here's the thing, what do you need a desktop to do? I use Gnome 3 on wayland, and I don't really pay attention to the "Desktop", I do 90% of my work in a web browser and a terminal.

I use gimp and inkscape sometimes.

Gnome 3 is perfect for 99% of what I need it to do.

I still own an iPhone, it compliments my Linux laptop well where I do my serious work, the phone is a toy.

Equally or more pertinent: What does an office admin, an assistant merchandiser, a product designer, or a copy editor use their desktop for?

They use a Web browser, email, calendar, word processor, spreadsheet, an image editor, and a dozen smaller proprietary apps that are absolutely essential to their job.

I think it may be the last of those... all the various industry specific apps that are hindering Linux as much as the obvious big players like Microsoft. I think word processing on Linux is fine; but your company's eight year old customized CRM tool will never, ever, be available on anything but Windows. Or specialized document scanner. Or sales commission tracker.

In my experience they don't use "an image editor" or "a spreadsheet program", but there is just exactly one blessed app. If that app is on mac for example, then windows or any other OS is impossible.

When people say that "X has no alternative for Excel", that X includes Windows as well. As a good rule of thumb: If there actually is an alternative on Windows, then there is also one on linux.

Anecdotally, I've done work with a few medium-sized businesses around updating legacy business critical apps now and in at least one case the app just wouldn't run on Windows 10 at all but worked fine in Wine with no special configuration.

Microsoft appears to have taken a step back from their long-held focus of not breaking things on upgrades.

Granted, these clients should not be using Win9x apps still and hoping for compatibility.

Well, good for you (work/pay) and good for them (security/efficiency), win win.

I do feel like this becomes less and less of an issue with many of these bespoke apps becoming web apps. Certainly there are still a lot of old native apps that you might not be able to run on Linux, but there are far fewer of these than there were even 5 or 10 years ago, and especially 15 or 20 years ago when the web browser didn't offer enough functionality to build complex, performant apps.

Agree completely. Back around 2000 my daily driver was running Red Hat, Gnome, and Enlightenment DR16 and it felt like The Future. I still have a linux laptop that I use regularly but honestly don't like it that much compared to Windows.

Considering picking up and older Mac now that the hardware is finally affordable prices as more of it hits the used market. Not sure if I'll leave MacOS on it or install windows or Linux.

> Until recently, installing on laptops was an absolute crap shoot.

Sadly, it still is. I have a System76 Oryx running the manufacturers distro and I still have issues with hybrid graphics, Wifi breaking randomly, Bluetooth devices not connecting, and the the fans spinning up like crazy and the UI freezing for seconds at a time. On a laptop built for Linux! I still like it but I can't tell anyone it "just works"

> Sadly, it still is. I have a System76 Oryx running the manufacturers distro and I still have issues with hybrid graphics, Wifi breaking randomly, Bluetooth devices not connecting, and the the fans spinning up like crazy and the UI freezing for seconds at a time. On a laptop built for Linux! I still like it but I can't tell anyone it "just works"

I mean, my laptop is a MSI GS65 and :

- fans spin up like crazy randomly

- if I plug an ethernet cable, I have to disable & reenable the adapter on windows

- sometimes on reboot the mousepad won't work and I have to power off and wait and power back on

- sometimes on reboot the HDMI won't work and I have to power off and wait and power back on

and all this on Windows, Linux also have the two last problems (though much less since some recent kernels) but not the two first.

Laptops just suck.

dang, this is seriously disappointing. have you alerted system76 support? they have been known to fix drivers, so worth reporting.

I've been using Lenovo Thinkpad's with no problems at all. I just ordered a Frame.Work laptop that I'm stoked for. Hopefully it goes well.

My dell e5470 will bluescreen 80% of time when connecting a screen via HDMI on windows 10. Nothing like that happens under linux. The "it just works on other platform" is a myth - they all suck in different ways.

In its beginning, Apple marketed its computers as easier to use. The GUI was a selling strategy. Applications tied themselves to the GUI and suddenly consumers were buying a computer to use Adobe products, with a little browsing and e-mail on the side.

Eventually, competitive pressure forced Microsoft to develop ("heavily borrow") a GUI. All sarcasms aside, mWindows has become usable. But this GUI is a heavy cost.

GNU-Linux is a success. For the generations of people who were sold "a GUI", Linux is often seen as too hard. But for people who found easy access to compilers and other tools through GNU-Linux, there is nothing better.

There is room for all these operating systems, obviously. As for which one is best, there is no contest in my mind. The one that does not lock me in and lets me build what I need is an easy winner.

> Fragmented gui development. There were too many projects with none focusing on really making a better gui than mac/windows.

Not really true. Windows has copied loads of stuff from Linux GUIs over the years. I began to notice this around Windows Vista.

> A lack of bread and butter 1st class "business" apps - you know, office. OpenOffice is fine, IF you are ok with the janky ui and no one knowing how it works

This is valid. Shouldn't be so bad today with web apps being a thing.

> lack of open source exchange type mail/cal/etc server and outlook-like client). Holy fudge, I tried to get this going and people just crapped on me for suggesting it.

Yeah, because MS locks other mail clients out. Thunderbird is an excellent email client. Outlook is some proprietary business messaging thing that also happens to support email (badly).

Fragmented meaning if I was taking a year or 2 to get a code base up for a linux port, I have to take one of a few roads. 1, my app is specialized enough where we dictate the rules and probably it runs well on just one distro, or I have to account for all the different flavors of GUI and windowing systems to target users with their current setups. The former I think happened all the time with specific apps, the latter kept commercial devs far away.

I think the situation is less bad now, but my point was the boat had mostly sailed.


Thunderbird is fine (i use it daily), but nothing touches the functionality of outlook (on windows - not the limited versions that exist on the web and elsewhere). And I was as anti MS as anyone back then, but once I had to actually implement exchange servers as part of my job vs using sendmail and a bunch of random crap - there was just no contest. I always knew it was important, but it really is the killer business app.

And now that you dont need to hire 1.5 people minimum to manage it, and pay for servers and infrastructure etc to get the benefits, it is now more a killer app than ever, to those who need it. (really, I hope to never manage on-location exchange ever again)


> There were too many projects with none focusing on really making a better gui than mac/windows.

I don't think the target is "better than mac/windows", but I'd argue KDE focuses a lot on making a good UI. Read [1] a bit, you'll see that a lot of work is done on fixing usability bugs and bringing small improvements to an already great desktop environment.

By the way, I've entered in a store that sells computers and noticed the Windows laptops. I was shocked to see myself think "Wait, are they selling computers on Plasma now?". If think it was Windows 11, it's amazing to see that it really resembles Plasma with a white theme.

[1] https://pointieststick.com/

> Gimp is fine, but it has never been close to photoshop.

You can use photoshop cc on linux


Krita, while originally focused on painting, is also worth a try for image editing. It has effect layers missing in Gimp, and an easy to grasp GUI.

In terms of UI or actually under the hood?

I've found PhotoGIMP makes GIMP UI more like Photoshop, which helps me a lot: https://github.com/Diolinux/PhotoGIMP/releases

On a Mac I switched from Photoshop to Pixelmator no problem. Hoping PhotoGimp can help me do the same.

Photoshop CC runs in wine as of the last time I checked, although I think some tweaking was needed?

Gonna be one of those to disagree to some extent.

I flirted with Linux but never used it full time until about 2017 when the C710 Chromebook came out. What I really wanted was a basic laptop that was cheap enough to toss into a bag. So I nuked ChromeOS and started using ChrUbuntu.

Windows 10 had been out for about 2 years by that point and it became an increasing source of frustration, but I also knew I couldn't stay on Windows 7 forever.

What surprised me was that I came to prefer using my ChrUbuntu laptop despite having a much, much, MUCH more powerful desktop.

Windows 10 broke me. Why? How?

Inconsistency in the UI. Still finding old shit buried under several layers of new shit. It was still all shit in the end.

Ads in the Start Menu.

Haphazard driver support.

Forced updates and starts. Kind of a problem when you're trying to do a 17 hour overnight render job, y'know...

The problems I had in Windows just didn't seem to exist in Linux. The things people said "Oh, you have to go to the command line to fix everything" didn't seem to ring true at all. The memes, stereotypes, the disclaimers and talking points, all of it, were badly out of date. With Ubuntu, I could install from LiveUSB, entirely graphical, go through less steps during the installation process compared to Windows and still install software like Steam, vendor specific drivers and other stuff without ever touching the command line. AND Ubuntu doesn't piss me off by forcing me to restart when I don't want to.

After that, I continued to have BSOD's in Windows 10 with hardware that ran flawlessly under Ubuntu.

Networking, filesystem management was slower in Windows 10. I didn't have any issue getting Samba working in Linux to use with the NAS drives during video editing and transfer.

Google Drive was more than good enough when it came to office file compatibility. In the production house I worked out of, it came to be the preferred method. Gone was the Office shackles... and rightly so, after decades of email attachments being the viral vector for Windows systems, it's safer to just share a Drive link.

It was also because of the overhead of management that the house ended up switching from Outlook/Exchange to GoogleApps completely.

The more we did online, the less it mattered what type of system we were using.

The last, and still current, issue we still had? Adobe. After Apple's Final Cut fiasco, Adobe's failure to provide themselves as an alternative on Linux based setups was a major disappointment.

So, at this point... I have a separate airgapped Windows 7 box that runs my offline Adobe CS apps. They don't get updated and they don't need to be. (Why Win 7? Windows 10 BSODs on that box, too.)

Recently did an upgrade on my main system as well. Had a Ryzen 7 2700X setup that ran great for 3 years. Decided to make that my Windows 10 sidebox for apps that still don't quite work under Wine (though Proton is really helping to reduce that number of apps) and... yep. Have gotten hard freezes and BSODs for the first time when all I did was format the SSD to put Windows 10 on it.

Windows is decades of crap compressed into an OS. Despite having started with MSDos5.0 and Windows 3.0, using WinNT4 through to Win7 as my primary and only OS... I find Windows cumbersome, clunky, kludgy and badly implemented compared to where Ubuntu is today.

Year of the Linux desktop? Fuck off. People repeat that like it's some great joke, but the honest truth is... I use Linux now despite never having had a Linux background because it is less annoying to use than Windows.

>I didn't have any issue getting Samba working in Linux to use with the NAS drives during video editing and transfer.

I switched to sshfs as soon as I migrated my home infrastructure to Linux. It's much faster compared to Samba at least if you have low performance hardware on the NAS side. I wanted authentication and you don't have to fiddle with Kerberos.

> Windows 10 broke me

mWindows 11 will be the greatest Windows yet, said Redmond marketing.

Linux is the only reason why I ever discovered a love for programming and computing.

those software you mentioned that are on Linux are opensource. You're really comparing corporate developed software to a software that was developed by a community for free. It's like you're comparing apples to oranges. And this statement is really old, I've seen it in years. Linux apps are better now and gives more functionality and control than bloated apps on Windows and Mac.

Of course, Gimp will never be close to Photoshop because it never aimed to be

1) Fragmented gui

Question of taste. Really. If you like an os inspired by sonic the hedgehog, Mac and windows is for you.

2) A lack of bread and butter 1st class

What are you lacking? OpenOffice not good enough? Use softmaker. Does windows actually have an SSH by now?

3) lack of open source exchange type mail/cal/etc

Evolution, Thunderbird and a few proprietary ones

4) Until recently, installing on laptops was an absolute crap shoot.

I had not had a problem in 20 years

5) Just, apps, in general. Gimp is fine, but it has

Fair point. I have used Photoshop with wine for some specific color maps

1) is 2 points (the second touched on by point 5). 1st, it makes development stupid if you have moving targets (not as bad today, but ffs it was horrible in the early days). 2nd is 99.99% of consumer computer users have a hard enough time with OS GUIs that hold their hand - the fact I cannot sit someone down to any 3 random linux machines and have the same experience (again MUCH worse 20 years ago) means it can never make desktop inroads.

2) here is where peoples blind spots can be, but they really reallllly don't understand that MS made some apps that basically need to be aped feature for feature to allow for migration to linux as a desktop. Again touching on familiarity (as in with the gui) but also feature set. People who make money writing certain things can't use certain apps because the features needed by those users don't exist because the software (at the time it needed to be) wasn't mature enough.

3) Thunderbird and evolution are not replacements for outlook. Exchange/outlook had database backed mail and calendaring. No one to this day is even remotely close. Not google, not anyone. This is the biggest app in business for better or worse. Not only did you have database backed calendaring and email, but you also had ridiculously fine-grained group policy management, and way better tools for retention (and this is actually a bfd) If an oss replacement had been made 15-20 years ago the computing landscape would be hugely different.

Only windows gets the full feature set to this day - ios/mac/android/web all don't get the full thing (because no/limited GPOs)

There WAS a project called zimbra or something, and I think they knew replacing exchange was a holy grail (and wanted to benefit monetarily), but iirc it was a paid thing, and never took off in any meaningful way.

4) remember, you, we, are not 99.99% of computer users. I have had hmm, 4 linux laptops over the years, and while fine, it was never problem free. Driver support mostly came down to age and brand, most of them were Dells.

Lack of software is such a one sided argument always. As Linux user it took me forever to find proper alternatives on a Mac and I still have no idea how and if I can replace and use some for me common things on windows. Which is the only OS I can't get looking like I want to either way

a little hyperbolic - a lot of high-end post production apps and audio apps all made it over

...and some very expensive (6-figure prices - per year) IC design software is Linux-only. Look at Cadence Virtuoso, for example. Not available on Windows nor Mac.

i learned recently that gimp has a command palette that you can access by pressing the / key. this might sound a bit over the top but its been a game changer for me. no more having to scan though icons looking for whatever tool, just type something like /crop. its makes it very quick to create or delete layers, open things like levels, colour balance etc

I'm surprised the photoshop doesn't have the same feature. it would makes things so much easier for online tutorials just to name the tool or setting instead of having to list out the full location in the file menu (which is something that might be subject to change in future versions)

> 4) Until recently, installing on laptops was an absolute crap shoot.

It still is. I mean it will sort of work, but power management, battery management, and even obvious things like swap drives may just not work right after install.

I manage 1000s of Windows servers from my Linux laptop and desktop. I also manage 1000s of Linux boxes too.

I don't denigrate your approach with Windows but please don't tell me I can't do x because I literally can on Linux.

My Linux devices are often domain joined - I log into an AD (used to be eDirectory but wth) I don't care. AD is quite a decent LDAP directory - not as good as eDir though but I doubt many here are capable of discussing that little number. I make huge use of Kerberos - all my browsers can connect to my Apaches etc with SSO if I so wish. Let's Encrypt and putting AD and vCentre CA certs into the various places like /usr/local/share/whatever and running the maint script keeps the browsers from getting upset.

I used to have email via GroupWise but we moved to Exchange back in the day (2011 from memory) I've used Evolution EWS since then. Provided you get your endpoints and DNS in line then you can use Kerberos, otherwise it's NTLM ... lol. You can put Exchange behind HA Proxy. That gets you loads of extra goodies like being able to hide squidgy bits and upping the SSL/TLS to the point where you can make say Exchange 2013 PCI/DSS compliant.

I have no idea why you fixate on GIMP, there are so many graphics apps available it is quite embarrassing. Have a look at say Krita.

Ditch OpenOffice. LibreOffice is capable and where the development is happening. Back in the day I was a MS Office trainer (and a few other things). I know what leading and kerning actually means and dealing with hanging indents, n and m dashes and all the rest. Upper case used to be stored in the upper row of cases in a printer's workshop, leading was shims of lead to move letters up and down. I taught Lotus 1-2-3 macros to company execs as well as Super Calc and even Excel. I can write macros in more languages badly than I care to recall. I wrote a Finite Capacity Scheduler (yes: finite) in Excel VBA for a pie factory near Plymouth. I'm quite happy with LO. It's quite capable in my opinion.

I've got loads of CAD options - I'm a fan of 3D printing. LibreCAD and OpenSCAD are absolutely belting and getting better every month. Blender is quite capable I'm told. I have not even started on that little number but I gather it is absolutely the dog's nadgers. Apparently film studios use it.

I have so many high quality options available to me using Linux. I'm 50 years old. I've used computers from ZX80 and I still have a Commodore 64 (with a USB interface now). My first real PC was a 8086. I managed to get a cracked copy of AutoCAD to work on my 80286 with a 80287 co-processor that my parents bought me for my birthday at something like £120 back in 1987ish.

I'm a sysadmin so not too fussed about IDEs but there are an absolute shitload of them available. Bear in mind the real difference between a Linux distro and Windows and Apples: We've always had an appstore and it is part of the system and not a bolt on.

When I type:

  # emerge -Uve --deep --newuse @world
  # yay -Syu
  # apt update && apt upgrade
etc, I update everything. Everything. Apart from the first one (which may involve a pact with the old gods) they will all finish within a few minutes at most.

I've seen Windows updates last for days at worst. At best it takes at least 15 minutes. On average you'll need around 30 mins except for Defender updates.


1) Take your pick - for me KDE 2) LO for Office apps. There are so many first class apps it's hard to create a starting point 3) Evo + EWS. OK I'll accept that there is only one app here. You do get all functionality including calendar. You also have more options for notifications 4) Really? 5) You have access to a ridiculous amount of software from a central source

I think that open source has already surpassed closed source stuff by quite a long way. I own my own company and live and die by my choices. I've been doing IT for about 30 years and for about the last 15 of those I have not used MS software on my personal gear.

I wrote this a while back but I do keep it up to date: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Intranet - might be handy for someone integrating Linux in a Windows world.

> This will be super unpopular, but Linux missed the desktop boat 20 years ago,

Nothing to feel bad about saying. As a mass-market option it absolutely did. There was no flood of new users coming along back then, and there wont be this time around either.

But for me as a developer, I still think a Linux-desktop is the best desktop I can get. So that's what I'm going to use.

And that's all I care about. That the wider masses run Windows or MacOS doesn't really bother me at all. After all, why should it?

I personally find gnomes keyboard driven Ux to be the best option out there. Managing multiple workspaces/desktops in Mac is almost as good, but isn’t even close in windows.

Foss projects do need to attract more ux designers though. I was telling a friend the other day about how amazing blender is… but had to admit it was so unintuitive/un-discoverable that you can’t really use the program without going through fairly specific tutorials for what you are trying to do

As much as I enjoy my System 76 Linux laptop where everything, including CUDA setup for the GPU “just works,” I find a M1 MacBook Pro just makes more sense for my workflow. For fun, I have a very small Lenovo Chromebook that is a partial replacement for my iPad for web surfing and consuming media, and the Linux container support also just works when I want that, and with a nice UI.

And right when Ubuntu would have become up to paar with Windows, bahm, Unity came, Alt+Tab didn’t work, the docker didn’t accept new icons, the Meta key blanked the screen (to display a search bar full-screen) and we were back to a young buggy desktop again. Linux is the ever-restarting progress.

What the Linux desktops lacked is powerful leadership, period.

This might be true about Ubuntu. But what about Fedora? Manjaro? Arch? Or even Debian?

I would only recommend Ubuntu to people I dislike.

RE 2 and 3: browser apps will do the trick once they mature. I hate office on the web because of the horrible UI legacy ported from the desktop, but it's still an impressive implementation. Another example would be chromebooks with google docs. Google docs is really really well with much less of the legacy bloat others have.

> I manage hundreds of linux servers... from my windows desktop and mac laptop.

Exactly. Except I am quite pleased how OpenOffice is right now, but I digress back to agreeing with you.

I use Linux everywhere, just rarely on bare metal. All the linux I use is in memory somewhere. My bare metal machine recreational and general use machine is Mac. It runs Windows but it hasn't in two years.

The OS isn't the hill I'm here to die on. Its just the fact of life.

Gimp. I shudder at the thought. Honestly at this point, I feel the same about Gimp as I do about people clinging onto to pre-subscription Photoshop. Its like these arbitrary and clueless bragging points they now both have to rationalize life choices - whether it is an attempt to stick it to the man because they became the get of my lawn people resistant to change without realizing it, or because they actually can't afford it and this is also a byproduct of their life decisions. In either scenario, there seems to be a lack of observation that the commercial products are lightyears ahead now and there is no point in intentionally inconveniencing yourself for a cause nobody else cares about.

Regarding number 5, I would highly recommend trying out Photopea.com It's basically Photoshop inside browser (works offline) and I have been using it for creating all my screenshots and icons for my app store listings for 3 years now. It's built by a solo developer.

I agree that there are many apps missing on Linux.

But that depends on the type of users: for devs & office workers, I think Google suite can replace MS Office and many Internet apps can help with many other types of everyday app that's available on Mac or Window.

I completely agree with this assessment. I hate data-lock ins, from the proprietary applications, but the "open source" equivalents have inconsistent UI. Open Office, for example, never rebranded itself or had similar effects to MS Office.

What audio apps made it over? Audio is a gaping hole in Linux land. No drivers, no major support, no major DAW's, etc.. I can't move to linux primarily because of audio... not because of the other stuff you mentioned.

Agree to disagree partially. Bitwig is a major DAW, runs on Ubuntu. Native Instruments interfaces have their drivers in the kernel. YMMV with other DAWs/interfaces though.

This is why musicians are almost uniformly on macOS. I love Linux and I've been using it since 1998, but there's a lot of work to be done on the audio front for them to catch up to Apple.

bitwig and reaper are major daw's imo

The latest versions of LibreOffice are really quite good. They have implemented the Ribbon-style nav as an option and have some decent default styles. I was pleasantly surprised when I last used it.

You're not wrong (you're probably right in the context of the article which focuses on "desktop from MacOS"), but in my opinion here we're once more generalizing too much => I think that being happy with Linux and as well distro [X] is linked to the type of work you do & the type of person you are.

On one hand telling a random MacOS/Winows-person to switch to Linux is most probably NOK. Image&video editing & office apps and probably other stuff (doubts about audio apps - I loved Linux+"Jack"+filters when playing guitar as an amateur) are not as good as on those OSs.

On the other hand telling the same to a techy guy/girl >might< be OK. E.g. a huge amount of programming languages can be installed & handled very easily, many different filesystems (with their pros&cons) are available, same for networking stuff (e.g. Wireguard, nfs with multiple connections since kernel ~5.3, bundle multiple separate TCP/IP connections together, etc...), same for virtualization technologies(Xen, KVM, multiple container flavours), etc... is available to be installed&configured&used quite easily, a lot of stuff can be read/dealt through "/sys" and "/proc" (makes it easy e.g. when reversing-engineering a controller), etc... . It's literally "dreamland" if 1) you wish for something like that (or maybe you aren't even aware that something like that can be done easily on this SW-level) and 2) you're able&willing to invest time in it.

E.g. in my case, on the desktop, I'm super happy with Linux+Gentoo; I guess because I'm a pure techy guy + picky hehe:

I don't have a strong need for any "office" app (Libreoffice is more or less ok for the basic stuff that I need, graphics editing is more or less ok with the available apps), at the same time I want some things (e.g. placement of some windows when I start them, remapping of keyboard keys, ...) to be set up "just as I want them to be" which cannot work with Windows (and I'm excluding OSx by default as being too protective - e.g. bought many years ago an iPod nano 6th gen, could not copy to it files from Linux as the iPod storage was encrypted therefore I threw it away) => yes, Linux & the distro is not easy to handle, but that in turn made me learn a lot of stuff, which in turn made me able to handle a lot of extra stuff (e.g. recently to install ~20 different DBs to do tests & in some cases proof-of-concepts, to understand better networking & tunnels to then work around limitations at work, a lot more stuff...), which in turn made me able to handle as well servers.

Except... how do you manage them? With an UI?

I don't know but I've always interacted in terminal, making the fact that I use macOS not significant.

On the terminal of course, with apps like SecureCRT

This is why WSL is amazing - apt-get is superior to homebrew and macports and the hardware support is unmatched.

Yep. This was it for me. I’m getting a MacBook just so I can run Word and Outlook.

> super unpopular

Only if you’re not in 99.9% of the computer user base.

6) Linux falls over under memory pressure

I've stopped having as much issues with this when I stopped using swap which must be one of the biggest traps for desktop in common linux guides. In my desktop I'd much rather something crash than my system to grind to a halt.

This is true, and I don't understand why Linux doesn't have a smarter approach here. When a process suddenly starts using a lot of memory, and memory usage is approaching the limits of physical RAM, that process should be killed, rather than swapping out things like Gnome to make room for it.

Of course, that assumes a desktop environment. On a server, if a process starts using up a lot of memory, it's probably vitally important to keeping the (database|webserver) up, and should not be constrained in any way.

Which probably explains the situation that we're in.

systemd-oomd is going to take care of that


Actually for me it's the opposite. The linux system grinds to a halt when I don't use swap. See also:



Maybe because nvme is more common now? Last time I had swap was a few years ago now and every time I'd enter it, it'd be so slow as to be hard to even fix it. Since I've had no swap I've had a couple of times when docker or whatever just crashes instead and that's it but possibly with my current nvme swap wouldn't be too awful if it gets used.

Nah, I have a swap partition on an nvme drive, and I still get several minutes of unusability when I run out of RAM and low-to-out of swap, while the kernel takes its sweet time deciding what process to kill. It can get pretty frustrating, and sometimes I just don't feel like waiting and reboot. It doesn't happen often (possibly because I've learned to kill things like IntelliJ when I'm not actively using them), but when it does, it's super annoying.

Yeah it can be due to nvme, because then it's at least somewhat responsive. Ran into an OOM situation with a newer computer of mine that has an NVME and I could close the offending electron application easily.

I want to identify the memory hog(s) first so I can determine the next course of action.

Suddenly seeing a black screen with an Apple while I'm in the middle of something important is irritating at best, especially when it happens repeatedly and I haven't pinned down the RC.

Yeah this seems increasingly more common on Mac lately. It's been happening a lot to me too. And I regularly reimage my systems because I manage a fleet of them. It's not just some weird driver.

For me it was a constant battle with Chromium. On 16GB of RAM it simply wasn't enough. Every other day I was hitting the OOM killer or system freezes.

I was so angry I went and upgraded to 64GB of RAM and now it's stable. I found out that I don't use any more tabs than I have in the past, with gobs of RAM available. So I believe it's just the web getting more bloated over time along with Chrome getting more bloated. One day I suspect I'll be running the same number of tabs and 64GB won't even save me.

Chrom(e|ium) runs just fine on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 GiB, so I think it's the web getting bloated.

The opposite. My issues stopped when I created insane amounts of swap so it never ran out again.

I've rarely actually experienced this (even on HDD based machines). Sometimes the system will chug if a runaway JavaScript somewhere leaks all available memory, but I can usually switch (slowly) to a terminal, kill the offending process, and after a minute or two things will sort themselves out and be fast again. I suspect Ubuntu and them may have pathological kernel VMM and swap settings out of the box.

Lately I've been running with "swappiness" turned way down, but not with completely disabled swap. Eh, I've got 32 GiB of RAM now, my system can handle a few programs in memory -- even a couple of Electron ones.

One of the first things i install is zram.

(edit) if it is not installed by the distro allready (eg dietpi). It creates a swappartition per thread inside ram, unused pages get compressed and stored there. Increases SSD lifetime by reducing writes to swappartition/file on disk.

earlyoom caught on and now distros like Fedora are shipping with it by default.

6) fontconfig

It's way better these days. I'm on Gentoo now and game on it

(1) This is not a problem.

(2) Wrong. Just by you saying "Open Office" means that you are out of touch. You are stuck back in 2010. There is no pathos here. If you have not gotten the memo that Open Office is dead and the project that took over and continued improving is called Libre Office, then it is a sign you are out of touch. Libre Office is not janky, and hundreds of thousands of users beg to differ.

(3) There are several. Thunderbird and Evolution. However you always have your outlook.com for work email.

(4) Wrong. Recently? Define recently. The last 10 years has been a joyride.

(5) Wrong. Krita for photoshop workloads is amazing. Applications are thriving.

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