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Rant: Year of Linux on the desktop (liw.fi)
427 points by tapanjk on Jan 1, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 513 comments



it’s not possible to use Linux on the desktop, or to only use Linux on the desktop

Does anybody say this? I've always interpreted the phrase "year of Linux on the desktop" to mean a year when people who wouldn't list "computers" among their personal interests were noticeably using it on their desktops. That still hasn't happened. There are a lot of "year of the -" things I've seen come, when things that were used by professionals and nerds entered common usage and parlance, like burning a CD or installing Firefox (granted those have come and now gone).

You ask a normie "what's your opinion of Windows 10?" and they'll have one, good or bad. You ask a normie what their opinion of Linux is and most of them won't even know the word, let alone have one. That's why it isn't and may never be "the year of Linux on the desktop".


Yeah, the 'Year of Linux on the Desktop'-trope comes from the end of the nineties. Mainstream Windows was still the Windows 9x branch. Consumers didn't switch to the NT line until Windows XP. And there were a bunch of well-funded Linux distributions that wanted to be serious competitors to Windows (Corel Linux, Caldera OpenLinux, etc.). Given the sorry state of Windows at the time and the strong interest of the industry and press in Linux, there was a contingent within the press and Linux community that believed that desktop Linux could replace Windows. Which lead to the regular question "will this be the year of Linux on the desktop?".

The year of the Linux desktop didn't happen (unless you consider Android phones desktops), but Linux has been massively successful in other ways (servers, phones, embedded, IoT). If anything, the underlying OS matters less and less, since applications are steadily moving to the web (for better or worse).


It also came from an era when utter Microsoft dominance seemed like an existential threat to many people--and the native desktop (and its applications) was an important front in that war. So winning over a material number of governments and companies to Linux, OpenOffice, etc. on PCs seemed an important objective.

Today, what operating system people choose to run on their desktop/laptop just isn't a terribly important question any longer in the scheme of things especially given that most live largely in their browser anyway.


> given that most live largely in their browser anyway

You mean like ... in MS Edge?

EDIT: Adding to my remark by referring to another quote "an era when utter Microsoft dominance seemed like an existential threat". I still see this as an existential threat and that's why I posted the above. We no longer have a healthy competition of browsers and the fact that Microsoft pushes some kind of Chrome fork doesn't improve the situation. The same goes for MS Teams. It's ubiquitous, even in schools, and therefore drives people into the Microsoft ecosystem.


Yep with 4.5% browser market share, Microsoft Edge has sure crushed the rest of the industry. [1]

Teams is better in its category at 16% but that's a case of Office 365 pulling in teams rather than the other way around. (The same way Google Workplace pulls in Meet.)

[1] https://mspoweruser.com/edge-november-2022-desktop-browser-m...


From the chart you posted the desktop market share of Edge is 11%. It's the second most used browser behind Chrome. Also I wonder what's the "category" for Teams.


Ah, the 4.5% was from a different article and I linked to this one.

Teams is video conferencing software. It competes with Zoom, which is the category leader, Google Meet, Bluejeans, Webex, etc.


Regarding Android, there is hardly any Linux on it besides the Linux kernel, which isn't exposed as stable API to Android's userspace.


Whilst I agree strongly with your general point: Android is not GNU Linux (that is, the Linux kernel plus a userland largely based on and around the GNU's Not Unix toolchain), there is Termux, an Android app which provides a Linux-like userland, including X11 applications for what it's worth. You'll need to install it through a third-party app store or source, such as F-Droid.

Software is packaged under APT, and whilst the package selection is markedly less than, say, Debian (roughly 70k distinct packages last I checked), there are now several thousand available packages, plus more available through Python, Ruby, Perl, and Node.js package managers (and probably others).

You're still subject to Android limitation:

- No general filesystem access outside Termux's and specifically-shared areas.

- Very limited file permissions options unless rooted.

- No privilege escalation unless you've rooted your device.

- Android's mysterious and quite frequently annoying app process management killing off sessions with no discernible rhyme or reason, let alone owner-based control.

But you'll get all the standard base shell utilities, scripting and programming environments, a selection of networking tools (which function again depends in part on whether your device is or isn't rooted), editors, and even a number of servers, though typically running on high-numbered (unprivileged) ports. There's also a slew of tools for interacting with Android itself, including clipboard, screen brightness, wifi, flashlight (if available), "toasts" (alerts/messages), and more.

Termux has long been the one Android app Which Does Not Precisely and Exactly Suck. It was the first app I found which made the OS vaguely useful to me rather than a captured walled-garden toy.


Linux is the kernel.


Which is something that those that equate Android with GNU/Linux keep forgetting.


> Does anybody say this?

I have certainly heard it said that Linux as a desktop operating system is an utter mess or completely unusable.

> You ask a normie "what's your opinion of Windows 10?" and they'll have one, good or bad.

The "normies" I know do not have an opinion on Windows 10. Many do not even distinguish between Windows and Word. They have a computer, they know how to get some of their shit done with it. But they don't have a concept of "operating system", let alone an opinion on any one of them.

Some have an opinion on Android vs iPhone, but more often than not it's the quality of the camera they point to, rather than any feature of the operating system.

That said, I agree with your Interpretation of what "the year of Linux on the desktop" means and the fact that it hasn't happened.


I noticed that normies — my extended relatives, SCA folks I know, neighbors — spend their time on mobile and not on the desktop. And Windows is as frustrating to them as anything else. They don’t really care if it is Windows or Linux; it’s mostly a means to get to the browser, or something their desk work requires it.


People don't author papers on mobile yet do they? I mean, an android tablet with a mouse and keyboard should be fine for that given webapps, but I just don't know people who have that workflow. And itbis a biased sampling because of internet pricing, but on planes as I look around I mostly see windows or mac laptops for actual work. A few adults will have tablets, but mostly kids. Adults mostly have a phone reading a book or watching a movie.

At work it seems like developers don't care what the machine they are sitting at is as long as it has ssh and vscode with remote plugin and of course a browser.

Some domain specific tools don't work so well remotely and those people have whatever that software requires, sometimes as a VM but often on metal with a beefy workstation.

For generic office productivity I still see people using Microsoft.


I think people author papers on MacBooks at this point more than Windows, but I think my anti-apple bias is doing a number on this one.


Overleaf works well for writing papers on any tablet, hell it's even usable in a pinch on my phone.


Given how many kids are and have been on ChromeOS since 2020, I wouldn't be surprised to see this changing fairly rapidly, moreso than I'd have otherwise expected. More and more it seems the choice for people is between a Macbook or a Chromebook -- the windows PC is just an expensive gaming device in the realm of personal machines.

Windows still rules the office, for now, but it's not gaining ground, and offices tend to move slowly, but steadily.


A very US specific view, ChromeOS hardly matters outside US school system and most countries outside tier 1 only get Macs to target Apple's mobile platforms.


In my experience, 99% of people just want a browser and maybe Microsoft Office. Plus maybe some other software to work with random stuff. Office works with compatibility layers, so just the "random stuff" category, and the occasional printer issue, are all I see keeping most people from using Linux. That and not knowing about Linux in the first place.


Typically the thing that keeps people from using Linux is their lack of comfort actually installing an operating system. Why do I believe this? Because smart phones are popular and Chromebooks are popular. A Chromebook is generally much _more_ restricted than Linux, and an Android or iPhone is at minimum a different user interface which cannot run the same software, or be installed the same way as Windows. But technically illiterate people have adapted to this just fine.


So I believe since most of them use Adnroid (tablets/smartphones) possibly it is already that Linux achieved goal of pushing Windows out of the window.

While desktop computing still has its value everything shifted and yeah fight from 1990s or 2000s does not matter anymore.


Android’s prevalence should not remotely be considered a victory for the desktop Linux ‘advocates’ because it basically happened almost entirely orthogonally to any of their efforts. The desktop Linux advocates of the 2000 and beyond infuriated me because they were/are in such a bubble that they thought/think that the typical Linux desktop experience was remotely tenable for a civilian, and somehow would mentally blank out all the times they’ve needed to monkey about in the terminal to get something to work.

Of course this entire thing is inconsequential first world problem BS, but within that sphere the desktop Linux advocates certainly don’t deserve to take that W.


That is also my point - whole game shifted.

Maybe to clarify, by Linux I did not mean any people like "Linux advocates". What I wrote is about Linux as an idea of open kernel that won on its own.


Android is Linux only in kernel. Also it's not a desktop environment.


> You ask a normie "what's your opinion of Windows 10?" and they'll have one, good or bad. You ask a normie what their opinion of Linux is and most of them won't even know the word, let alone have one.

True “normies”, my mom for instance or most of my wife's colleagues, have no idea on which version of Windows their computer is running, let alone have an opinion on the specific version they are using. They don't even know what an operating system is.

People who do know about the different versions of Windows aren't “normies”, they are people who are somewhat tech savy but not nerd enough to try Linux (which most of them have heard about somehow, often from their nerd friend) because it sounds scary and time consuming (installing an entire operating system, wiping your entire Windows including the drivers that comes pre-installed is rightfully scary for most people).

“Linux on the desktop” for the masses cannot exist until it ships with the computer you buy without knowing it. Like Chromebooks for instance.


> You ask a normie "what's your opinion of Windows 10?" and they'll have one, good or bad. You ask a normie what their opinion of Linux is and most of them won't even know the word, let alone have one. That's why it isn't and may never be "the year of Linux on the desktop."

The fact that the vast majority of consumers don't have any awareness at all that Linux is a simple, widely-available desktop is evidence of the opposite: that the public hasn't decided against Linux, and that the sky is the limit for growth.

i.e. If electric cars had 2% of the market, and 90% of people hadn't even heard of electric cars, the first approximation of the potential market for electric cars as they are is 20%. You'd refine that based on comparing characteristics of the 10% who had heard of them to the 90% who hadn't, but 20% is good enough for a napkin.

With 1) the slow decline in quality and growth of data mining and ads in Windows and MacOS, 2) the ending of Moore's Law, meaning that the development of at least single-threaded software is slower than it used to be, allowing FOSS to catch up where it is behind, 3) greater compatibility and shared software than ever between Windows, MacOS, and Linux through various subsystems, VMs and containers, and 4) the movement of a lot of software to the web, I believe that desktop Linux could take over at any time (or never.)

Windows could just pull another Vista at the same time Apple disables some functionality as a business strategy. Or they could both get cancelled due to major personalities associated with the brands also being associated with politics and the media; Bill Gates obviously, but Jobs' widow owns the Atlantic. Both, neither, or anything else could happen while the Linux desktop was in really good shape and compatible with most of the software that people use.


I think people just overthink it, I've been using linux for so long that it's just what computers are to me at this point

I don't care if anyone else does or dosen't use it


Agreed. Hardware support has gotten good enough that it "just works" for me 99% of the time, I can watch pretty much any video format, play a lot of video games when I care to, the application I need are there.

Different people have different needs, for mine, Linux has made a better desktop than Windows or macOS for many years now.


Ask a normie what they run on their desktop these days. Then say, okay, fine, your laptop, as you understand they don't have a desktop and haven't for years. Then say, "oh, no laptop either?" to the 30% or so of average folks outside of the tech industry -- turns out, they're using Linux or a BSD on their primary device, that simply doesn't happen to be a desktop anymore.

The year of the linux desktop is the year when the only ones left using desktops are linux nerds. The only desktop in my house has run Slackware for years, because the wife and kid have never had a desktop.


My main workstation is a fedora 36 install. I record videos on OBS for my YouTube channel, I edit those same videos using non-linear video editor. I game via steam and do all my work on it with no issues whatsoever. Oh and i3 changed my life. Tiling done right is amazing. And no vendor lock-in no BS corporate nonsense other than what comes from Redhat


> people who wouldn't list "computers" among their personal interests were noticeably using it on their desktops

I know a number of "normies" with no interest in computing that use Ubuntu because they trust it more than Microsoft. (Rightfully so)


Such anecdotal evidence is cherry picked and completely useless. Ask a random person on the street. If they still even have a laptop or desktop, 80-90 percent will run Windows and macOS as a distant second. In some domains (e.g. education) you'll find some Chromebooks, they run Linux, but it's largely irrelevant, because for most users it's just proprietary Chrome (and if they didn't have a ChromeBook, they'd be running Chrome on Windows).


> Such anecdotal evidence is cherry picked

Citation needed. Desperately.


without context, spoken language group and some simple demographics, these "percent" declarations are worse than completely useless.. they mislead


I am wondering what is the cross-section between “no interest in computing” and sufficient knowledge of Microsoft to have an actionable opinion. I am not sure this group is what “normie” is meant to refer to in this thread.


>That still hasn't happened.

Chromebooks are at around 10-20% of laptop sales, running Android (based on Linux)


How much of that is school sales? Anecdotally, I don't know a single person who has bought a Chromebook for personal use.


My wife's laptop is a Chromebook. My kids also had a Chromebook but 2 died in quick succession and I got fed up with the fact that the ones available for sale in my country are only the really shit models and buying one from overseas means no support or returns. So I've bought them a MacBook instead - not my first choice but Apple sell locally and have reasonable (existent) support.


I looked at Chromebooks, but when I added a few requirements (touch screen is a big deal for me), the price goes up above a cheap refurbished Windows laptop. Of course computer prices fluctuate, and the moment I think I know what I'm talking about, I'm wrong.


I think it is common to buy them for older relatives who need something simple and low-maintenance.


In US...


You ask a normie "what's your opinion of Windows 10?" and ...

... they'll tell you that they really like their now iPhone.

Most normal people don't know what Windows is. Maybe they'll find the sticker on their Laptop, but that's about it.

But what everyone knows from work is Word and Excel. And as long as they don't work well on a Linux desktop, Linux feels "broken" to them. Similarly, A LOT of people are stuck having to handle PSD and AI files. Good luck getting the Adobe suite running on Linux. But as long as all of their life's creative work is being held hostile in Adobe-proprietary file formats, they surely won't jump ship.


I wouldnt say "never", but it certainly isn't now

but the community is allowed to be excited in growth, albeit small, right?


I guess a lot of people now purely use phones and only use desktops for work, so perhaps it will never happen.


maybe it will happen, but maybe it will take 'a long time' until we pair/adapt commercial applications into the Linux/GNU ecosystem... as from a business perspective i really can not understand why you would not migrate to a free to use, as well to modify, OS... as long it have what you need


I use many, many commercial applications that run on Linux everyday. In a testament to how “the desktop” has evolved though, most of these applications are hosted in the cloud and I access them through a web browser.

I create applications at work that run on Linux as well though most of those are bought as appliances. Some customers care that they run Linux but most don’t.

In fact, the environment I personally use to create applications is itself a commercial application running on Linux—-JetBrains Rider. I can answer for it at least why I do not use free alternatives and that is that I have more fun and get more done using Rider ( though truthfully I use the free ones too ).


I mean it's already the day of linux on mobile! Quite literally winning in market share :)


A half functional mainstream Linux distribution is infinitely more stable than Windows 10 and 11. They don't even pump ads into your start menu! There's no telemetry!

I've been using Linux forever in one form or another. It was tough in the Windows XP days (which is the most superior Windows distro to this day), but after Windows 7 released Linux came into it's own. I've had no problems running it on all sorts of hardware and gaming on it has gotten better since proton.

People are just set in their ways. Mac-people will mock Linux because they're the kind of people that will pay $1500 over marginal cost for a few extra pixels and some more color depth. Windows people will mock Linux because...it's not Windows. M1 is not cool enough to justify the cost. Once Windows started calling home every time I click something on my desktop it became too much for me to bear.

The reason is as you stated. When grandma goes to buy a budget PC it comes loaded with Windows crap. Their market penetration is deep and their budget is nearly endless. Based on my experience with Windows 11 demos I think Windows 11 will finally push people to look elsewhere. Either Macs, or a out-of-the-box Linux system. Until Linux natively supports Excel, however, I don't think it'll ever reach widespread corporate adoption. Windows and OS X are both moron-friendly as you can tell by their userbase. That's important when you're trying to sell something. It'll always be "people who know" vs. "people who think they know".


If I were you, I would just ignore the people who mock those who choose another platform. They're zealots or idiots and any attempt at conversation with them is a waste of time.

The truth is, in the wider world, nobody cares about their operating system. They are all good enough and have been for a while. What matters is the same thing that has always mattered - applications.


Mac vs Linux vs Windows feels like something from a bygone era. I don't think people are so zealous anymore. I've used all three as my primary OS at one time or another and currently use Mac and Windows. They're all better at some things than others. None could fully replace the others.


The only people I know of that are using Windows 10 at this point are primarily gamers, as they're the only people who didn't let the automatic update to 11 happen. To be fair, aside from having Windows for work, they're also the only ones I know at this point who have a Windows computer at all.

The real battle these days is BSD vs Linux, aka iOS vs Android. Linux is winning globally, but the domestic kids are still huge on their Fischer Price phones.


> The only people I know of that are using Windows 10 at this point are primarily gamers, as they're the only people who didn't let the automatic update to 11 happen.

Are you claiming that W10 autoupgrades to W11, if you have automatic OS updates enabled? Doesn't seem right to me.

I have Windows 10 with automatic updates enabled, and it hasn't tried installing Windows 11 even once. There is an option for manually triggering the upgrade to W11 in update settings, but I haven't clicked it.


iOS has hardly that much BSD into it, just as Android only shares the kernel with GNU/Linux


..and, by extension, maybe some game developers, too :)


The main sentiment in the article which I don't think I've seen addressed in other comments is the fervency of the people attacking the mere notion that Linux is a viable option. I can understand Ballmer's "Linux is cancer" (it was in his commercial interest to say so), but I'm often surprised with the confidence and sheer malice of people who will attack any notion of Linux being used as a desktop or for gaming.

I've seen it on HN, I've seen it in Gaming subreddits, I've had it in non-technical subreddits and I've had it in real life. People just have no qualms with shitting on it and it confuses me that people care so much and have so little consideration for the opposing point of view.


I've attacked it as a viable option because linux users seem to handwave some of the things that make it a non viable option for a large % of the population.

I've tried linux 3 or so times over the years, always the "friendly" distros.

I've dropped it each time because while yes, things do work, they tend to STOP working. Drivers, updates, compatibility lag, whatever it is, linux often has me "under the hood" trying to fix stuff that is literally never an issue on another OS.

And i say this as someone who wants linux to be a thing. It's unquestionably healthy for linux to be a real option, ESPECIALLY given windows penchant for trying to sneak in more and more tracking and ads, but even as someone decently techy, I have frequently found linux to feel like gambling, with a question of "will it work today, or am I about to go on a 10 min to multihour rabbit hole hunt to fix something"


"I've dropped it each time because while yes, things do work, they tend to STOP working."

I've used Linux on the desktop since 1994. In all that time I recall one breaking update on Debian affecting the wireless network driver. I've used Ubuntu since 2006 and never had any issues like you describe. That is across multiple machine types from Dell, Lenovo and HP. The same is true for my wife who is non-technical and has no issues using Linux (Ubuntu).

As another case in addition to the multiple I mentioned already, I'd vouch for the majority of Android phones running fine without issues caused by new updates, I mention Android since there are people who use their phone exclusively for computing, and oddly.

Summary, use Ubuntu on the desktop, pick a decent manufacturer like Dell, HP or Lenovo (I prefer Dell and/or Alienware from Dell or Lenovo) and maybe pick one that sells with Linux or made for Linux to further enhance your success. I've heard System 76 makes good systems too.


Even Ubuntu desktop can be pretty daunting. I remember the App Store (or whatever they call it) falling apart when trying to install Discord and having to resort to command line magic to fix it. That’s sort of the pattern in my experience - Ubuntu desktop mostly “just works”, but occasionally needs a prod from the command line to fix some issue or install some piece of software… but that’s not really acceptable for nontechnical (or even technical but not Linux-savvy) users.

The LTT videos where they try to game on Linux and experience a range of interesting issues that require semi-advanced Linux-fu to fix is also a good illustration of this.


Ubuntu is still riding high on their very real and definite status as "The most usable Linux Desktop" from ~2008, but they've long since destroyed everything that got them there, so personally I think the community really needs to pick a new champion in that regard.


I've only ever used Discord as a discussion forum. I use Google Voice frequently (audio). I've used Teams and Zoom successfully (native Linux installations). Linus Tech Tips is a jack ass channel. I find it overwhelmingly difficult to comprehend anyone having major issues with Ubuntu. I've not run other Linux varieties much since around 2006.


That's because you are familiar with Linux. I also have had major problems with Linux. I've tried switching to Linux many times, but it has always been a hassle, with major problems (including Ubuntu, although maybe it's gotten better since, I haven't touched for ages). I was only finally able to do it after I learnt a lot more about computers and had the experience from my previous attempts. I could not imagine anyone who is not into computers being able to use Linux in it's current state. I love using Linux now, but it's not perfect, I constantly run into problems, that I can work around, but the average person wouldn't know how to. The reason I still use Linux despite the issues I run into is because I like figuring out that kind of stuff, and I personally find it worth it for all the benefits of Linux.

I've only ever tried Ubuntu based distros (Ubuntu, Linux Mint, KDE Neon), so maybe that's the problem, but I doubt it, seeing as everyone always recommends Ubuntu based distros for beginners. Or maybe it's cause I have an Nvidia GPU, which might've been the cause for the worst problems, but Nvidia is really popular, so it's not like other people wouldn't experience those issues.

Also, you say "Linus Tech Tips is a jack ass channel" in reference to their Linux videos, are you saying that those videos are wrong or misleading? Because the videos showed you all the issues they ran into (and I found that their experience was almost identical to mine, having to spend days troubleshooting various issues, until finally getting it working properly). Are you suggesting that they lied about the issues that they came across? Cause to me it just seemed like a video showing their experience, it didn't seem biased or anything to me at all.

Whenever someone says that they've never had major issues with Linux, I wonder whether we're even talking about the same thing. Did I accidentally download the wrong thing or something? Cause I can't imagine how someone would be able to use Linux and just happen to never come across them.



> I remember the App Store (or whatever they call it) falling apart when trying to install Discord and having to resort to command line magic to fix it.

I wonder why launching a terminal to fix something on Linux is seen as esoteric, but editing registry entries in Windows isn't.


> I've used Ubuntu since 2006 and never had any issues like you describe.

Listen, if you're using Linux and you've never spent hours trying to find out how to install something or fix a problem deep in some obscure configuration file somewhere, are you even on Linux? Don't lie to yourself: you use Linux exactly because you enjoy doing that and pretending like everything works and you never have to fiddle with anything is just dishonest.


This sounds superficially convincing, until you consider how many hours I've spent trying to figure out stuff that goes wrong in Windows or MacOS. It's a coinflip between whether the conclusion of those efforts resolve in a solution, or instead ends with finding out there not a solution, or even that the lack of a solution is intentional, and every OS update comes with code designed to detect those solutions and silently remove them.


> Listen, if you're using Linux and you've never spent hours trying to find out how to install something or fix a problem deep in some obscure configuration file somewhere, are you even on Linux?

This is different from parent's statement that "things stop working".

I definitely spent countless hours with tweaks and fixes (although the pattern is radically different between desktop and laptop systems), but I've essentially never experienced that any component "stopped working".

There is only a single exception - an ethernet card that required a 3rd party package, and an update was buggy (later, the driver got upstreamed).

Based on my old desktop experience with Windows, it was actually inherently more unstable than Linux, as installers could do whatever they wanted - in Linux, package managers track the changes in the file system instead (to a large extent but not fully, although in worst case, excluding packaging bugs, the leftovers are just data).


I have used GNU/Linux as my personal desktop and laptop OS exclusively since 2012 (though I have used Windows 10 and MacOS Yosemite on work computers), and I have had a few issues:

- Going from Ubuntu 12.04 to 12.10 broke Xorg (maybe a problem with the AMD drivers, I lacked knowledge at that time to look into fixing it).

- I have occasionally gotten kernel panics under OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, I seem to recall a time when watching videos on YouTube via Firefox would reliably cause it to happen, I don't remember at all how I fixed it at the time; maybe an update or running from a snapshot... or was it under Arch and I installed the LTS kernel?

- And a problem of my own making: around the time when the KDE project started transitioning to Plasma 5 I was going back and forth between Arch and OpenSUSE TW and wound up trying Plasma 5 before it was really ready for use and I had a difficult time for a week or two.

I also wound up wrecking an Intel NUC the day I got it by putting it to sleep when it had an issue that suspending to RAM would wreck the thing, but that's more of an Intel failure than a GNU/Linux failure.

Anyway, I used Windows from version 3.1.1 until I wrecked my 7 install in 2012 so I've seen plenty of blue screens in my life, and I remember the iMac I used Yosemite on hard rebooting every time I started a Xubuntu VM in VirtualBox, so I have no issue just using GNU/Linux even if I do encounter some warts every now and again.


I've used Ubuntu since 2016 and the only issue I had (which I couldn't solve at the end and had to give up) was to install a driver for an old laser printer. Apart from that, I've had absolutely no issue for installing something and I am not a geek by any means.


For me those issues are either self-inflicted or Nvidia related. It's hard to blame Ubuntu when I'm trying to change the WM for some obscure thingy. I don't tend to do distro upgrades though but install fresh.



I use system76 pop os as a main driver for my desktop.

There is a learning curve to do everything and i do occasionally switch to windows for some games. I am a senior engineer as well.

I think the biggest thing holding linux desktops back is not technical really it's a human element, like the services to talk on a forum, having things setup ahead of time for the user etc...

Windows has a learning curve which people went through if you want to switch to Linux you need to learn. Just as if you start on Linux and wanted to switch to windows you'd have a learning curve.


I use PopOS on a newer Legion 5i. Randomly the BT stopped working after a kernel update last year. Sound and wifi will sometimes not work after resuming from sleep even now. This is my average desktop Linux life experience.

Some will trot out their anecdotes that they've never experienced even one issue in decades and others will have showstopping issues at the installer. Both will be right. Anything that doesn't ship with Linux preinstalled is a total crapshoot in my experience of 25 years of using Linux on desktops and laptops. Chromebooks and Android and SteamDecks prove it can be reliable, but it takes coordinated manufacturer effort. Anything else is always a gamble of current support or future updates breaking something that previously was working.

Linux issues aren't necessarily harder to solve than Windows issues, but since software compatibility still remains the motivation for average users to switch still remains minimal, and if you recommend the switch you instantly become that person's IT support.


For a number of hobbies -- mostly but not entirely male-coded -- there is the hobby itself, and then the hobby of hacking around on the hobby.

I got an espresso machine last year. I was looking for a grinder. A huge chunk of online coffee folks suggested buying a weird grinder from China and swapping out burr sets and and and and ... and all I wanted was a turnkey grinder. I just wanted coffee. I didn't need to make a hobby of the equipment itself.

This also exists with motorcycles. I just want to ride a motorcycle. I don't have any interest in the endless mod culture of motorcycles.

And so Linux on the desktop. Linux on the desktop is great if you enjoy having to actively sysadmin your work environment, but it's shit if you just want to get some work done. The people who run it full time are people, mostly, who like the hacking part of the hobby in addition to the using part of the hobby. And I don't see that changing.

There was definitely a window in the late 90s when this could've been different, but then Apple moved to OS X, and I think that window closed forever.


I’ve been using Linux on the desktop for 4 years now. Im no means a sys admin. I bought a pre configured machine because i didn’t want any hassle. It’s largely delivered and hasn’t been any worse than the Mac I used to use at work.

Im using pop which is a Ubuntu flavor. I’ve had one problem upgrading (some package was ahead of where it needed to be..). It got resolved with a few terminal commands. (I think because I installed steam..) it’s not perfect, the software installer could be better, but man it’s pretty great. Window managers are fantastic.

Honestly after some adjustment I’m staying here. I’m not dependent on any one company and I feel the OS is respectful unlike the commercial offerings.


> it's shit if you just want to get some work done

I donno what work you want to get done but I've been getting work done on Linux for over 15 years without any issues unless they were my own creation by messing about/tinkering with what was provided out of the box by the distro - for those cases, I knew I was into risky waters and was willing to accept the risks (as it happened, I was always able to overcome those and never lost any data etc).

If you do a fresh install and do things like, use web based apps, manage documents/worksheets (say using Libreoffice) and maybe run your business application, I don't know why things would go to shit. Keep your base software changes to security fixes and don't upgrade unless you have to - things should basically chug along.

Disclaimer: if you are running a laptop with Nvidia, then I have to accept that it is shit; causes all kinds of issues with upgrades etc. In that case, either use integrated graphics or go with AMD.


But it sounds like you're also the sort of person who wants to do the tinkering, so...


"Linux on the desktop is great if you enjoy having to actively sysadmin your work environment, but it's shit if you just want to get some work done."

My wife who is non-technical uses it to get stuff done, all that she ever did on Windows, no issues after years of use. I know of other non-technical users who use it without issue. They probably know many who use it without issue. So your case seems to be isolated and unusual.


Try using a new RTX GPU or a Wifi 6E network to it's fullest, or two screens with different scaling with Linux. You will not have a nice experience.


Using a new Dell Alienware PC now, first thing I did, install Ubuntu, wiping Windows. RTX 3080 is the GPU. Been using nvidia for years, they rock. I game on it using Steam Proton which also rocks, and run other native Linux games. Haven't needed to try the WiFi on it yet. Only use one screen, not sure why I'd need two.


"Haven't needed to try the WiFi on it yet. Only use one screen, not sure why I'd need two."

I actually laughed. "It's fine! Just don't do things that most people do all the time! In fact I think those things are dumb!"


Found a new one for you just this morning. My laptop was plugged into an external monitor and I walked away for a bit. I came back a couple hours later, closed the lid, unplugged the HDMI and power and carried it upstairs just like I would do with my Macs or this same computer booted into Windows.

Whoops! How stupid of me. This is Linux, I'm holding it wrong. Unplugging a screen from a sleeping Linux computer is not reasonable user behavior, so an unresponsive black screen it is.

Yeah, I probably could have restarted the UI service manually by hopping over to another shell but it's flat out faster to hard reboot. Linux is still a 3rd tier desktop experience.


"Haven't needed to try the WiFi on it yet. Only use one screen, not sure why I'd need two."

If you never use WiFi or two screens then maybe you shouldn't dismiss other people's issues with Linux as being unusual.


> , linux often has me "under the hood" trying to fix stuff that is literally never an issue on another OS.

no, on other OSes you just cannot fix it. e.g. for instance on my computer I have a win32 install and for some reason on it the ethernet network speed seems locked to 100mbit-ish while on linux I get my gigabit ethernet performance. what can I do to debug this on windows when i tried the usual install / remove drivers, etc etc ? absolutely nothing, I just learn to live with the issue like most people on that OS.


I had an issue with a wifi card in my self-built win 10 PC and I'd agree there's nothing I could do myself to fix it. I'm not competent to even help write drivers but at least in theory the Linux community could write me a new one if the same issue happened on Linux.

But the reason I'm on windows in the first place is that I left Linux several years ago when I bought a second monitor and Linux would sometimes work great but sometimes fail to display anything on either of them at startup. That just was not useable. I tried again about a year after and same issue - I would like to go back to Linux but I don't have time to roll the dice on being able to start work in the morning or have to ssh in from another device to figure out what happened to my display.


If you have a windows install and your Ethernet card isn’t getting full performance a normal person will claim on your manufacturer’s warranty, or drop it off with the geek squad. They won’t ‘troubleshoot’.

If they’re running Linux, they can’t even do those things.


A normal person would have no clue they aren't getting full performance. If it's too slow they call the internet provider or buy a new computer or live with it and hate computers or ask a teckie friend.

If they can't login or the screen breaks they run to geek squad. Under no condition will they claim manufacture warranty on an internal part without a techie recommending this and removing the card/part for them


Been using Linux daily on laptops for 20 years. I haven’t ‘tinkered’ with anything for over 10 years of that. I install Debian, get my keys on it and then just clone my tools from git and run install. It’ll set it up so I have (far more) battery life than windows, have all my tooling and software. I upgraded laptops for a very long time without issues. I do pick my hardware for Linux support and I don’t care about gaming. I have really no idea what you or others mean by this? What breaks? Do you have blog posts with details? What do you do differently than me?

I know some use cases are different than mine so I wouldn’t know them, but I always wonder when I see people complaining about things like battery life (I consistently have at least double or more for Linux than on Windows for the same workloads across laptops, both 32 (aka old) and 64 bit), missing or broken drivers (I don’t use gpus locally) etc.

My non tech acquaintances have issues with Windows all the time but they just ignore them. Seems when installing Linux people suddenly want perfection?


It's an unfortunate side-effect of unreliable packaging systems like pacman. Systems like Fedora Silverblue and NixOS offer fascinating (if incomplete) glimpses into how this can be fixed, though:

- Fedora Silverblue wants to reduce software reliance on the OS as a runtime. Relying on Flatpaks allows you to freeze most dependencies in-place and have a fully reproducible (if a bit redundant) runtime environment.

- NixOS wants to eliminate software reliance on the OS by removing the OS altogether. A default NixOS install only has a symlink to sh in the /bin folder, everything else needs to be dynamically loaded by the package manager through the Nix Store (big nuclear soup folder with hashed/labelled package tarballs).

Both OSes have some rough edges that make them hard to recommend, but it does suggest a silver lining for Linux packaging in the future. It's definitely a problem, just more of a distro-specific one rather than a Linux-specific one.


I think the issue I would have with your sentiment here is that you say Linux users are hand wavy about things that make it non viable, but I also see your main argument as having a fair amount of handwave, especially the phrase "they tend to".

This isn't to say that your complaints aren't valid or that you're misrepresenting your own experience, but it doesn't further the discussion and depending on the context with which you are raising it can be seen as a disingenuous way of trying to discredit or undermine Linux as a viable option.

That is to say, in isolation your comment is fine. If a thread on a topic that is related to the Linux desktop only features people citing their unspecific list of issues with desktop Linux then it stop being a reasonable good faith discussion and starts becoming ideological Linux bashing.


> I've dropped it each time because while yes, things do work, they tend to STOP working

And over 25 years of Windows updates, I've had breakages too. And I've had disastrous upgrades from XP->7, and 8->10. I'd say I get one bad driver update with Windows every couple of years or so. Windows just seems to not break the main things like the desktop.

On the other hand, I've run a linux desktop for quite a few years: Arch/sway for 2yrs, Ubuntu/kde for 4yrs, and Fedora/gnome for a year. I had zero problems with Arch, a few problems with Ubuntu, and zero with Fedora.

The year of the linux desktop is now largely irrelevant because so many people are using other devices. Still, developers are now using it as their primary driver, as you can develop for the web or for Android on it.


As a counter point, I installed Ubuntu on a 5 year old laptop someone gave me because they bought a tablet and gifted it to a computer illiterate friend whose Windows laptop died. He didn’t notice it wasn’t windows and he has had 0 issues. This was over 5 years ago. He uses it for everything and takes it everywhere.

Like I said in another reply: do you have details on what happens when things break. I have never seen it myself and maybe the community can prevent it if they would know.


My wife didn’t mind Ubuntu on her laptop, except for the initial install had an upside down screen so I had to reconfigure the gyroscope to know which way is up and down, and when her RAM would get full, the system would just lock up and she’d have to restart. She could even use Microsoft Teams for calls with our daughters doctors!

To be fair, these laptops were quite old and I installed windows on another identical laptop, but Windows had totally broken Bluetooth and you couldn’t change the display brightness, which was way more annoying than the relatively minor Ubuntu issue with RAM. I never managed to fix those issues on Windows, so I’m not bashing on Linux here.

Eventually I bought her an M1 MacBook Air. She hasn’t complained once.


I've been using Linux as my daily driver for over a decade. I used to really fight things like multiple monitors, but things for better.

My current laptop is an HP Envy from Costco and I was kind of shocked that everything just worked, even the fingerprint reader.

And then it happened - one day my brightness keys quit working. Why? I have no idea and haven't spent time to find out. You are correct, it still happens, but it has been rare for me where it used to be common.


As a counter point, I've had multiple issues with my HP Envy on Windows that are similar (keys stopping working, random glitches in software).


>they tend to STOP working

The worst part is that when they do stop working, I have forgotten the horrible kludge of steps I had to go through to get something working the first time around. Of course the answers are out there, but finding the one answer that worked on the distro I used? Needle, meet haystack. I feel this is due to a reliance on CLI to do almost everything. CLI wouldn't be so problematic if those steps worked on every distro. This is the reason that fragmentation is holding LoD back IMO.


> I've tried linux 3 or so times over the years, always the "friendly" distros.

I did the same thing, it wasn't until I used Arch Linux that I really started to understand Linux. It turned I wasn't looking for a wannabe-MacOS distro, I just really liked a minimalist Gnome 3.12+ (when Gnome hit the sweet spot) or i3 based Linux that had zero background processes, installed programs, or anything that I didn't opt-in to. If you want MacOS just use MacOS.

On Arch I could run `top` and know what everything is which had amazing performance and battery benefits.

Also learning Linux deeply (ie, the directory structures and meaning of /usr /etc, logging, managing services with SystemD, managing diskspace size, proper bash scripting w/ all of the unix tools, etc) really helped me at my job as a programmer ssh'ing into servers.


This is why I'm using Linux in the form of ChromeOS more nowadays; the updates are handled, generally, well by Google and the virtualized Linux container running on the side is quite stable because of its virtualized environment.


Weird, I’ve been using it as a professional desktop for about 20 years now, with a few forays into MacOS for a couple of years at a time thrown in. I can count issues like you describe on the fingers of one hand.

MacOS is generally very stable, of course, because they also control the hardware, but I have experienced unexpected reboots on MacBooks.

I find windows pretty frustrating and opaque, I certainly don’t know how anyone could work on it effectively. Having to find and install third party software packages just to get hardware going is a right nightmare. Recently my windows 11 (I keep it around for gaming) was complaining that it couldn’t activate a safety feature, memory consistency checking or something, due to outdated drivers, and listed stuff for hardware I no longer owned. I ended up on a multi-hour trip down the google rabbit hole to try to fix that because there were no updates and the official line is people should never uninstall any drivers!

All I’m saying is YMMV, maybe you just grok windows but not Linux. It’s not universal though.


> I've dropped it each time because while yes, things do work, they tend to STOP working. Drivers, updates, compatibility lag, whatever it is, linux often has me "under the hood" trying to fix stuff that is literally never an issue on another OS.

It's funny because this is, in fact, my reason for dumping Windows and macOS.

The only difference is that I can't open the hood if I'm on Windows or macOS. So, if something breaks there, I'm simply screwed.

Between forced upgrades on macOS (sure, you can keep your OS back, but things like XCode, for example, will do their damndest to force you to upgrade) and random "Windows Update" stupidity ("Nope, no work for you! I must spend 30 minutes upgrading. Oh, by the way, do you want to upgrade to Windows 11 and we put the GTFO button in 6 point italic on your other monitor and we'll harass you again tomorrow.) I finally decamped for Linux permanently and haven't regretted it one iota.


I've used linux for two decades and enjoyed every year of it. The recent 7 years or so have been as painless as windows in my experience. Honestly, handling updates on linux has been better I would say.


All OSes can stop working, or have a component that stops working. What I think is happening here, is that we are more forgiving towards our preferred OS. When something stops working on Windows, I first complain about yet another thing not working in Windows, and then I fix it. When instead something breaks on my favorite Linux distro (not naming it intentionally to avoid a distro war) I just fix it. In my experience, I have less problems on Linux than on Windows, but different users have different experiences and value different aspects of an OS.


> I've tried linux 3 or so times over the years, always the "friendly" distros.

In 2023, you should not try as many distros as possible. They are all similar enough. You should try hardware designed for Linux, instead of one forcing Linux developers to reverse-engineer WiFi and suspend to make it work. Ideally, try it preinstalled. I am happy with my Librem 15, no tinkering is ever required.


> I've attacked it as a viable option because linux users seem to handwave some of the things that make it a non viable option for a large % of the population.

Yep, exactly this. A portion of the Linux Desktop community is so high on its own farts that it can't tolerate the idea that people might have legitimate reasons for not using Linux as their desktop. If you have a problematic use case, their suggestion is to get a different use case.


Do you have anything to add to the discussion other than calling people "high on [their] own farts"?


No more to contribute then those who add their anecdotal experience of having used Linux on the desktop for 20 years "flawlessly" or that their grandma uses it and doesn't have any issues as a response to someone talking about how things they need don't actually work.

If you want to chastise me for echoing parent's sentiment then that's fine. I'm used to getting grief literally any time I complain about anything in Linux. Remarkably, the same is not true when I complain about Windows. Funny that.


What use cases?


IMO Linux Desktops can be the best option for both for a certain type of developer¹ and for extremely unskilled users².

¹ e.g. web, system development, backend, admin. KDE Plasma is both extremely usable and customizable. I haven't missed anything in comparison with Windows and Mac systems (in fact I always miss stuff when using the other systems).

² I switched my parents to Ubuntu a while back and it has been a surprisingly good decision (90% less support call about weird popup windows, missing icons, etc.) Linux comes with it's own challenges, but compared to 10 years ago most of the stuff just works now


I really love KDE's power user configurability as much as I hate Gnome's opinionated design :) I moved to Linux because Apple pissed me off too much so gnome was too much of the same. Though I can see how it does work for other people. So great that Linux still has choices.


I've never used Apple, never liked Jobs or the too high prices. KDE rules, Gnome 2 was good but was never a fan of Gnome 3. KDE has done it right (speaking as a technical user).


If the Mac didn't exist, yeah, it would have been TEMPTING to try and get my parents onto it . . . except: no.

They wanted Quicken and Quickbooks. They wanted easy document sharing with Office. They wanted easy access to scanners for photo conversion. So the Mac was the right choice.

I can see setting up a Linux machine for a less demanding audience, but it's a narrow use case.


Linux won't Quicken for you (a tragedy, I know), but interop with scanners and Microsoft office is easy. Libreoffice has had really straightforward docx support for years and the printer/scanner driver is literally the same one MacOS uses (CUPS).

It's still a nuanced decision and I agree with your original conclusion. That being said, if you're going to assist them with setting up any machine then I don't see why Linux would be particularly difficult (besides the Quicken-ing).


But Quicken is a dealkiller here.

Also, the interoperability of Libreoffice is, in my experience, deeply flawed. It was a compelling option when Office was expensive, but now that the real deal is cheap I don't see many non-ideological reasons to use it.


You have hit on the real issue here, in my opinion, but framed it terribly. The suitability of Linux for any given person often has nothing to do anymore with ease of use or of its capabilities.

As with others here, I have people in my life I provide tech support to. I have moved some off Windows to Linux and had those requests go down. There are others I would never recommend Linux for. My wife uses MacOS.

I use a bit of everything operating system wise. My most frequent daily driver is my wife’s old iMac but I run Linux on it. By default I would have left MacOS on it but MacOS was a massive pain actually. Many of the applications I want to run are a hassle to source and maintain on MacOS. A bigger problem was that the iMac no longer runs the most recent MacOS which means there are many other apps whose current versions cannot be run on it either. For me, moving to Linux on this hardware meant dramatically fewer problems, more focus on actual work, and easy access to a much larger and up-to-date universe of applications. I do not mean just Open Source either. Examples of applications whose latest versions only run on Linux include Microsoft Edge, Teams, Zoom, Slack, and probably a bunch more I have forgotten. I use a lot of Podman ( Docker ) containers and these work significantly better under Linux. I collaborate professionally and share office documents every day using both LibreOffice and Office 365 on the web. To counter your example, peripheral compatibility including my newer printers and scanners is better under Linux as well.

I honestly doubt I represent a less “demanding audience” than your parents. The percentage of the market that would be perfectly happy with my setup is probably not “narrow”.

I have no doubt though that running Qhickbooks would be a hassle for me.

And this I think is the key point of the “normies” argument.

My mother does not have demanding needs. What she does have are friends that will recommend things or send her stuff that assumes the same environment they are using. Her “techie” friends ( hardly ) may send her instructions on how to do things which again assume she is using the same environment they are. Unless you are a tinkerer, all this is just easier and goes better if you are using the same platform ( Windows for almost everyone ). The same could be said of Chrome vs Firefox though really. People buy iPhones so that their text messages to friends show as blue instead of green. For many people, the killer feature is “being the same”.

If you are a “normie” and you heavily rely on an platform specific application, switching is hard. Not because other platforms lack power but simply because they are different.

My wife’s friends and colleagues mostly use Macs and, because of her iPhone, she is a heavy user of the Apple ecosystem. MacOS makes the most sense for her.

If I completely switched back to MacOS or Windows at this point, I would hate it and have a long list of examples of basic tasks that are too hard or how they are not powerful enough for me. Many people who switch to Linux feel the same.

As above though, I use all the major operating systems regularly and, as a casual user ( what I am much of the time ), they are all fine.


Don't get me wrong here, I used (and still use) Windows for decades. All my Video stuff, all my Audio stuff is just not there yet on Linux.

I think Linux Desktop can be great for experts and beginners with simple needs. The inbetweeners are where it can fall short. With the added malus that the network effect favours the big operating systems.

When it comes to audio and video it is weird for me because at the same time there are some bread and butter plugins that I just won't get on Linux, on the other hand the customizability is off the charts. You want to automatically load a certain configuration when a certain device connects? Write a simple udev rule. You want to use three sound cards at the same time? No problem.

I can see how that kind of tinkering is not for everyone, but if a certain thing doesn't work on Windows or MacOS it often means there is no way to do it, while on Linux it often means you just need to spend a day or two on it if you really want that.


"I would hate it and have a long list of examples of basic tasks that are too hard or how they are not powerful enough for me."

What things are you thinking of here that you cannot easily do on the current rev of MacOS?


same - the only issue I run into is printer


I can't remember the last time I plugged in a printer/scanner on Linux and it didn't work without me needing to do anything. Brother, HP, and Kyocera printers over the last couple of years have all worked without issue on first plug.


Same gah. Also bluetooth. TIOATOA solves the prob tho


What is TIOATOA?


Turning it off and then on again


TIOATOA?


polynesian god of high fidelity bluetooth playback


I think one of the best things that happened to me is that my desktop’s onboard graphics card died sometime mid 2021 or so.

What that meant was that Windows was incapable of booting my computer (even though I have a perfectly functional external graphics card) but Ubuntu was able to do so flawlessly on the first install.

So any “You’re an idiot to use Linux on the desktop because XYZ” comments are super easy for me to brush off. It doesn’t matter what Linux doesn’t do or does wrong, it’s given me a working computer, something neither Windows or MacOS could.


I haven't noticed this.

I am negative about linux on desktop because it has been a major disappoinment every time I try it.

Last two attempts - ever since I've built my 5900x desktop last summer I can't even get fedora to boot from stick without freezing. I don't have the energy to deal with such issues anymore - I've spent years rebuilding custom drivers, dealing with upgrade breaking my system, etc. Same desktop - windows just works - needed to download a few drivers manually - other than that - plug and play.

And MacOS is next level in that regard.

I dislike Windows choices very much but Linux desktop is just not an option if you want low maintenance/streamlined experience.


Your comment here is pretty typical of a medium grade HN response. That is to say:

* Thorough and well thought through. Well written (unlike, say, Reddit)

* Polite, doesn't attack the person you're responding to or represent their position as ridiculous

However

* Entirely rooted in personal experience and often missing the broader point or use case being described in OP.

In this case I can see that you're describing why you yourself are negative on the Linux desktop (which is on topic), but responses like this miss the context of Steam Deck, Proton and imply that the issues found are never going to improve, to the point you are writing off the whole concept of a Linux platform for all use cases.

On HN this seems to appear a lot and is used very often to stifle tangential discussions. A thread about how many games now run on Proton will have at least one and likely many people writing a list of all the technical issues they've had with Linux recently and then either explicitly or implicitly saying that as a result Linux is not ready or not suitable for case stated in the article.


But steam deck is not a desktop - it's a console.

Linux on the desktop usually means a Windows replacement - historically, and the most relevant meaning to me personally.

The reason I'm not hopeful things will improve is same as always - not enough critical mass to get the momentum going. I was buying a PCIe wifi card a few months ago and wanted to check support for Linux in case I try again. There were zero options locally where I could reliably determine that onboard BT would work, and there were like 5 modern cards available.

I just don't see what commercial entity is going to push Linux desktop development ? Linux server is mostly a result of big players working together to commoditize the OS, scaling with commercial os on the backed would get prohibitively expensive immediately. Don't see where the desktop push will come from.


Deck seems like a desktop to me. Has x86 hardware, all the same ports as the venerable Macbook Pro and a nice beefy GPU built-into the machine. If the Deck ships with KDE installed and accessible in the settings, I think it's safe to call it a desktop.


The Steam Deck is a full PC that boots into a console UI. You can switch it into desktop mode which uses KDE - a very popular desktop environment.

You can dock the Stem Deck using a USB-C hub to connect to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. This is a use case that is supported by Valve and Valve sells a first party docking station to facilitate this.

There have been multiple people citing on the Steam Deck subreddit that they regularly use the Steam Deck in this way and a few even saying they use it as their daily driver.

It's a laptop in a handheld form factor. That is all.


It looks like you edited your comment to expand, so I'll address the new points separately.

I think the first thing to note is going back to my OP in that I simply don't understand why people like yourself will go to such lengths to argue against Linux desktop, citing all the issues you've had with it when I don't see this kind of kick back against any other technology or even any other concept more widely. If people don't like something or don't think it'll work they'll either ignore the thread or post a much shorter response expressing doubts. I think the only thing that I saw get to a similar stage was crypto, but it seems like the crypto community split off into their own little world whereas the Linux communities still stay in a fairly close orbit to technical circles.

I think secondly this speaks to another comment I made elsewhere where the counter-arguments for Linux desktop are firmly rooted in personal experience. Here you're also explicitly saying that the issues you're having you don't think are going to improve.

But Linux had improved. It's improved massively in the last 5-10 years. 2 years ago I couldn't play Apex Legends. 5 years ago I couldn't play Direct X games without a lot of effort. 10 years ago I couldn't get YouTube or Netflix.

Things are improving and whilst your personal opinion may still be that Linux still won't be viable, the sheer number of people that comment in a similar vain means that there is a negative smog around Linux that stops or discourages more positive discussion.


The only reason I'm adding negative feedback is because every time I read optimistic feedback on forums I get hopeful and try it - only to get hit by a cold shower. I'll try again - I see that Fedora dropped a new release, but I suspect I'll get similar results.

So I'm not against Linux desktop - I'm just saying the people singing it's praises probably have different expectations from me so I'm trying to add another viewpoint (because it's always subjective experiences in these threads - I can't remember reading statistics about hardware coverage and similar news)


idk looks pretty desktop-y to me: https://youtu.be/PxLB5khCmGo?t=422


I'm not into consoles but if I were, that video would encourage me to get the steam deck.


Most people never mention the hardware issue in regards to installing a successful Linux desktop. The expectation that all hardware combinations will just work is a little bit optimistic. I've run Linux desktops ever since X11 was available, but I always research the hardware aspect prior to installing a distribution and have always had a good experience (not perfect, but good).


> ever since I've built my 5900x desktop last summer

As someone who’s been using Ubuntu exclusively since 2008, this comment is bizarre. The pain point with pcs has always been compatibility and driver support. The Microsoft miracle was ubiquitous vendor support they enforced with their monopoly. Apple handles this by tightly controlling hardware and peripherals. Linux being the odd man out has always suffered.

The result of this dynamic has always been that Linux is best on previous generation hardware. So the question for the parent is; did you check support for the components used in your custom build? By explaining the history, I hope this question is received in a non hostile manner by the reader.

Maybe this advice or reality is lost today I don’t know. I find it to be annoying that many don’t know. Related to the way many dismiss the Linux desktop because they can’t use photoshop or application of choice; when cross platform apps have always been the exception.


How hard is it to build a working hackintosh system compared to making a useful Linux install? I've tried Linux a few times over the years (including last year), and every time had to dig deep into terminal commands, tutorials and config files to make basic OS functionality work. If that's what you have to do, maybe it's less of a hassle to build/install a hackintosh system.


This is so alien to me.

I've got linux on half a dozen machines around the house, and all I do to install is decide whether to use ubuntu or debian, then run the install and get a working system spat out in little time.

Hackintoshes require a lot of thought and preparation and things like (for example) nvidia graphics cannot work, and intel wifi is problematic (I see there is an alpha driver now).

What "basic OS functionality" are you talking about that needs terminal commands, tutorials and config files?


> This is so alien to me.

Indeed, it’s FUD as if sent by bots from Balmers time, that are still running, inexplicably.


Re-reading my comment and considering the general tone of the thread, it seems I was making a rhetorical question or suggestion, but I'm genuinely interested in knowing from people with experience if a hackintosh could be a better alternative to Linux. Looking online it seems to be a horrendous process, but there is also a helpful and competent community, great guides, and very detailed hardware suggestions. If I have to waste a couple of days to turn a new machine into a hackintosh and then have it work as normal, that would be a cheaper price to pay than learning programming - which is more or less required to use Linux as a power user. Not even considering all pro software available on Mac that is not available on Linux.

As for the basic OS functionality I couldn't get functioning in Linux Ubuntu when I had to use it for some weeks last year:

1. Installing software: In the Ubuntu App Store, most software just gave an error without details trying to install. You can't download files and open to install like in other systems. You have to mess with installing different repos and then use commands in terminal. But apt-get Firefox doesn't work, it has to be apt-get install Firefox. Or Yum if you're on another distro.

2. Dual displays with different DPI: I had to make some kind of xrander script with a 0.99999999 instead of 1 hack and run it on every boot to make this work.

3. E-Mail: I couldn't find a client that was good enough for my professional needs and had to resolve to using Fastmail in the browser. The same with Calendar apps; all the Linux options were very basic and not good enough for pro use.

4. Keyboard shortcuts are not shared by all apps like in other OSes, very hard to configure. In macOS there's Better Touch Tool that does absolutely everything.

I won't bring up hardware problems, since that can be blamed on the device manufacturer equally as on Linux, but these things above are already deal breakers to me. I tried other distros, but they were worse than Ubuntu to get to work.

Linux is great for server admins and programmers I believe, and I'm sure it's much better than Windows for a grandparent to browse and just use web apps. But there exists many power users and professionals who need a useful computer and are not able to recompile the OS or nano/vim in huge config files to make their system work. I'm one of them, and desktop Linux is not an option in its current state.

MacOS is not perfect, maybe not even great, but it has all basic OS functionality out of the box. If anything is bothering me or I need special functionality there is always well-polished software available to easily install to solve any problem. Sometimes free, and sometimes for a cheap price. Among many programmers and Linux enthusiasts it seems to be a crime against humanity to pay for software, something I never understood. If I can pay $10 to buy an app that fixes my problem, why would I waste my time recompiling and tinkering, dredging through dense Linux forums? Add to this all the incredible productivity software that can be bought in MacOS for a cheap price.

So that makes me wonder if Hackintosh is not a better option for power users who are not programmers?


> In the Ubuntu App Store, most software just gave an error without details trying to install.

That does sound like an issue. I don't think it's a common one though. I can't say I've had that problem with any of my Ubuntu installs. When was this?

> You can't download files and open to install like in other systems.

You absolutely can, but you shouldn't, we have repositories that handle those, publish updates etc, and everything is of known provenance. Download-and-double-click is a pretty broken model that encourages people to install compromised crap from god knows where and get their systems owned.

> apt-get Firefox doesn't work, it has to be apt-get install Firefox

Seriously, your complaint is that, in multi-function tool apt-get, you have to type "apt-get install firefox" instead of just "apt-get firefox".

This is not a reasonable complaint. You claim to be a "power user", but an extra word (which distinguishes between install, update and remove tasks for apt) is too much trouble? That doesn't sound very power-usery to me.

> Dual displays with different DPI

Yeah fair enough, this has been a problem area. Nvidia-settings will often do the job or you end up with a script. Wayland allegedly fixes this, but isn't suitable for nvidia users.

IMHO once you have your xrandr script though, you end up with a system that's better than either MS or Apple can manage, which displays things more consistently across your screens.

> E-Mail: I couldn't find a client that was good enough for my professional needs

Who even uses an email client any more? Everything's web based. Are there mail clients that provide more functionality than Thunderbird?

> Keyboard shortcuts are not shared by all apps

It's true, however they are consistent enough these days, especially within an ecosystem like gnome or kde, I barely notice.

> need a useful computer and are not able to recompile the OS > why would I waste my time recompiling and tinkering

Yeah at this point I'm going with the other responder, there's quite a lot of FUD leaking into your post here. The idea that you have to recompile your OS or anything else to get a functional system is around 15 years out of date now and straight out of microsoft's old FUD playbook.

> dredging through dense Linux forums?

Just last week my windows 11 install (I keep it around for gaming) complained that it couldn’t activate a safety feature, memory consistency checking or something, due to outdated drivers. It listed drivers for hardware I no longer owned as being a problem. I ended up on a multi-hour trip down the google rabbit hole to try to fix that because there were no updates to those drivers and the official microsoft line is people should never uninstall any drivers, so they don't provide an interface to do it. Eventually I found some command-line tool, after dredging through a dense windows forum, that MS don't want normal users to know about.

So IMHO, windows is not suitable for the desktop user.

> So that makes me wonder if Hackintosh is not a better option for power users who are not programmers?

The idea that you can run a Hackintosh without messing around even more than a linux install, and without risking total system breakage on every update, is kinda funny.

This is why I felt the need to respond to you - setting up a hackintosh starts as an exercise in finding compatible hardware (because you can't just throw anything at it). Nvidia won't work. AMD cards will work, but you may end up having to do all sorts of odd stuff like device id spoofing (https://www.reddit.com/r/hackintosh/comments/y6yzue/drivers_...)

AFAICT this is the current state of the art guide to setting up a hackintosh - https://dortania.github.io/OpenCore-Install-Guide/installati...

Note how far you have to get before you even proceed to installation!

I love Macs, and have run hackintoshes in the past, but in general it's not an exercise for someone who's afraid to type the word 'install' in their apt command line to install firefox.


>I can't say I've had that problem with any of my Ubuntu installs. When was this?

This was in 2022 using Ubuntu 20.04 I believe. Like probably many users I was following online tutorials / forums to try to set up my system and maybe I broke something, since it's all copy and pasting terminal commands. Tried to repair/reset but couldn't. I just accepted to use apt-get instead. I needed a working computer every day for my job.

Downloading apps would result in .deb files if I remember right, which would usually not install.

I imagine for a beginner-intermediate Linux user, having to resort to terminal and apt-get command to install software and get started is already too much, unless they have a special interest in Linux. If distro makers insist on terminal use, why not have some mercy and just call the command "install" instead of "apt-get" or "yum"?

Power users are not all programmers or sysadmins, they are also other kind of professionals who use computers effectively for work.

>Who even uses an email client any more?

Millions of people I would believe. The native Mail client in MacOS is really nice and integrates completely with the rest of the system. This saves a ton of time, and to me it's always nicer to use native software. And there are many high quality options to install if I don't like the one that comes in the box.

I haven't used Outlook, but it seems to be very powerful and integrated in the MS Office ecosystem. I know the Linux crowd prefers online clients, and I think it is because native clients are not good enough.

> Yeah at this point I'm going with the other responder, there's quite a lot of FUD leaking into your post here.

I've certainly been down that path where the advice/solution to solve my Linux problems is starting to recompile stuff. My apologies that I don't remember what it was, I believe it was for Bluetooth or sleep to work.

> Just last week my windows 11 install (I keep it around for gaming) complained that it couldn’t activate a safety feature, memory consistency checking or something, due to outdated drivers.

I haven't used Windows for many years, but if things are as they used to be, you can always reinstall Windows to fix it, right? With Linux, reinstalling never improved things for me. With MacOS I could never break the system to the extent that reinstallation would be necessary.

The reason why I'm even here talking about Linux is because Windows is a hopeless case, but why can't Linux devs meet their users half way and make things a little easier? Make some GUIs for common settings and don't throw people into the command line when scratching a little on the surface. Most of users don't want to learn terminal commands, the GUI was invented for normal users.

> The idea that you can run a Hackintosh without messing around even more than a linux install, and without risking total system breakage on every update, is kinda funny.

That's why I'm asking! OS updates would be out of the question on a hackintosh, but after getting an install with all basic OS functionality working would be golden - and could be a better option than Linux for many people. Maybe it could even be a job for people to turn PCs into hackintosh boxes, just like many people here are installing Linux for their grandparents?

> I love Macs, and have run hackintoshes in the past, but in general it's not an exercise for someone who's afraid to type the word 'install' in their apt command line to install firefox.

No need to get stuck on that idea. I'm just wondering if hackintosh would be worth the effort compared to making a well working Linux install, if after that you have an OS with a better user experience and never have the need to mess with it again.

Also to remember is that MacOS is made by a company that for profit reasons is hostile to users trying to install the system on other machines, making the process harder. For Linux there should be no reason making things hard.

So how has your hackintosh experience been? Could you use it as a normal Mac after having gone through the install process? Was there any problem with Apple ID accounts and such? I'm curios to know. Would it have been a computer that you could give to someone else and have them use productively with the caveat "Don't upgrade the OS"?

Edit: One thing I loved with Linux during my recent use was the fantastic looks of the Gnome user interface. Professional and friendly, super consistent. A new gold standard in computer GUIs, superior to MacOS.


> Downloading apps would result in .deb files if I remember right,

You've done something very wrong at that point. Very, very wrong.

> No need to get stuck on that idea. I'm just wondering if hackintosh would be worth the effort compared to making a well working Linux install

Resoundingly no.

Before you fly off on a hackintosh flight of fancy, try actually reading the link I gave you above, it's a massively involved process.

I'm not going to bother going through the rest of your post. The recompilation stuff is many years out of date and there's just so much supposition in there.

> One thing I loved with Linux during my recent use was the fantastic looks of the Gnome user interface. Professional and friendly, super consistent. A new gold standard in computer GUIs

Now I know you're a troll.


> Now I know you're a troll.

Each one to their own. If this is the face and the conduct of the Linux community, then good luck I guess. Why take it as a personal insult that a stranger has a different opinion than you on GUI look and feel? I looked at your link, yes I know it is a complicated process.


I'm not of nor do I represent "the linux community", I'm a multi-os user with no explicit favourite. I called you a troll because your posts read like deliberate trolling to me.

Good luck to you, I'll not engage further.


> rebuilding custom drivers, dealing with upgrade breaking my system

If you compile custom drivers for your operating system, then maybe it breaking at some future upgrade shouldn't come as a great surprise? Presumably you know what you're doing and find these things fun and rewarding in their own right.


Well, Linux has had a rough decade. The messaging around Wayland was like a stubbed toe for many users, with a lot of people trying it and denouncing it for being unfinished (a completely fair criticism). Now that Wayland is starting to get finished, the 'just works' quotient is increasing quite a bit for Linux, and people can share their recent success stories with a bit more impunity.

It's not unreasonable to assume Linux is bad, it's only unreasonable to assume nothing has changed since the last time you tried it. Make of that what you will.


All decades have been rough decades, from modeline generation, to the switch to PulseAudio to Wayland. There is always a construction ground in desktop Linux. That's the sad story of the Linux desktop. It's really a hard problem to crack, it requires vast amounts of manpower, a lot of coordination between various parts of the ecosystem and it doesn't help that most hardware vendors are not cooperative. Go back ten or twenty years and you'll find exactly the same message as yours "it used to be bad, but most problems are solved now, really".

Desktop Linux will always be in a state where it is great for technical users who have the expertise and time to fix and work around things. Because once you've done so, it is infinitely malleable. It will always be a miserable experience for non-technical users or technical users who don't have the time to fix the issues. Linux on the desktop only really excels when one party polishes the experience to be great and makes all the bit work togerther. E.g. like Google did with Android and ChromeBooks or to some extend Red Hat with Fedora (which is the best and most consistent Linux desktop experience).

Outside the desktop, little software is as successful as Linux. It's the substrate of the modern tech world.


Linux fails because it's not a product. Ironically that's the exact reason why it's a breakaway success in the server world, but gets no desktop market share. When you turn Linux into a product and market it (a-la Android, FireTV, Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, Tesla Car™, et. al), it's successful all of the sudden again.

Desktop Linux' success is like a hedge bet against Microsoft and OSX. It's just capable enough to be dangerous in a Mexican standoff between the three OSes.


The Nintendo Switch is not running Linux. There is Android and FreeBSD code in there, but at its core its a rewrite of the 3DS OS. it's not like the Steam Deck at all.


When you turn the Linux kernel into a product and...


Sinking a lot of time into Wayland (via Sway WM) around the pandemic is what finally got me off Linux on my Mac laptop (yes I've worked around the usual issues, it was an arbitrary switch). It's a solid operating system and the configuration can be powerful, but having to mess around with per-monitor screen scaling, installing extra software to get screen sharing to work, learning way too much about pulseaudio and the bluetooth stack to route audio around correctly, I decided it was not worth the effort to get what comes out-of-the-box in commercial operating systems. Modern software is complicated and we really expect so many things to somehow work correctly that it's any wonder that things work at all (and they often break in unexpected ways anyway).


Starting with Sway is not going to give you anything out of the box. Both KDE and GNOME will give you nice settings for display scaling, screen sharing, networking and pre-configured audio.

Not to accuse you of shooting yourself in the foot, but a lot of these things are much nicer managed by complete desktops.


Fractional scaling does not work at all in GNOME. There is an experimental hack to enable it, but all your X11 applications will be blurry. Screen sharing and Bluetooth doesn't properly work half of the time when video conferencing.


I did try to switch to GNOME 40+ but, as a sibling comment says, fractional scaling did not work, and I found GNOME to be even more difficult to tweak precisely.


Wayland only added support for fractional scaling a couple months ago, it will be a while before we see it standardized in desktop settings and app libraries (maybe longer for Electron).

GNOME is certainly a tweak-lover's nightmare though, I'd recommend giving KDE a spin if you're brave. Qt applications and KDE should recieve fractional scaling support much sooner than GNOME (patch is already written/submitted), and generally the settings menu on that desktop is much more granular.


X has worked great and continues to do so and is far more feature rich than Wayland will likely ever be. As long as X is available, I will use X. I can do remote desktop with X and I can so "ssh -X hostname" to run an X app.


FWIW as much as I want Wayland to become the norm already, I still run into bugs when I try to use it. My latest issue is that Firefox somehow stops responding to mouse clicks after I interact with a certain element (I still don't know which one). I'm sure this is an addon or plugin or extension or whatever causing issues, but even for me as an enthusiast, X11 Just Works (TM). My experience trying Wayland on Nvidia, the most popular GPU brand for PC gamers, is also not exactly great. Could just be my hardware though and I'll admit I'm due a reinstall after brute forcing system config files.

On the other hand, Pipewire has fixed so many small audio problems for me that I didn't even know I was having that I'm glad I switched over.

My biggest issue with Linux for mainstream is not Linux or its distros, but the guides online who are outdated, tell people to open a terminal for every little thing, tell people to add random software repositories that will definitely break something about the system within a year as a workaround without listing the implications, or are extremely condescending towards users.

Microsoft Certified Technicians and user forums will usually tell you to reinstall your OS every time an error shows up but at least they don't give detailed instructions on disabling all security on your computer, fucking up your bootloader config with a oneliner from 2009 that doesn't even solve anything or tells you to modify UEFI settings (like secure boot) for no reason at all.

People with no knowledgeable friends and family will find they get little support from help desks and other paid service centers and that's a big problem. Many normal people rely on external parties to help them with their computers when their printer decides to show some kind of error and computer service employees seem to only know Linux from their community college OpenSUSE server management course.

Back when I did helpdesk for a small ISP I had the occasional Linux user (often installed by friends or family because Windows XP stopped getting updates) and the problems I helped fix were all solveable by GUI settings and were documented in the internal IT knowledge base but still I got to do every single call because I "knew Linux". They did the same for OSX, whose users I also gladly helped to the best of my ability, but that's only because I bothered to Google and try because I'd never even seen a Mac. I've been gone for years but I don't think you'll get any support if you try to call that company with a Linux device today.

Strangely enough, this wasn't a problem for my coworkers when Windows released a new overhaul of all systems and settings. I remember when Windows 8 hit and everybody managed to sort out the terribly unintuitive GUI in a week.

My conclusion from this is that people have a very strange view of what Linux really is, based on something they've seen someone else do years ago. It's like basing all your opinions about Windows on someone managing a barebones Windows 2012 install through PowerShell. Several people were amazed when I showed them a screenshot of Linux running a GUI and the fact you could download Discord from a built-in software store blew their mind.


> My latest issue is that Firefox

Firefox defaults to XWayland - you need to edit a setting to switch it to Wayland (MOZ_ENABLE_WAYLAND=1).


Thanks for the suggestion but I've already tried that. It didn't really change much for me.


I think it's because some of us have heard about it for... 20 years maybe? And then lost a few days or weeks to trying to make it work.

I'm sure for some people it works perfectly, and I haven't tried for at least 6 years, but I was damn annoyed after the last time I lost a week to a laptop with no WiFi, 45 minutes battery life (instead of 5 hours in windows), and no external monitor support. I was sure (at the time) to tell other people of my issues, so they were aware, if they were being told how awesom a Windows replacement Arch (or whatever) was.


If you're still interested, I would try again now. The experience has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 5 years. I haven't had a WiFi issue since 2018


I've been reading comments like this for 15 years now.


Yes. People should ignore them.

The thing about long-time Linux (on the desktop) users is that they've got so used to how bad it is, they think it's good.

Install Ubuntu/Mint/Pop/etc on a 3-4 year old laptop and.. Great, it probably works now! That is better than things were 10 years ago. It'll even connect with your Google account, etc. Wow! Looks slick.

Close the lid. Open it again. Hmm. Blank screen. Fans going crazy though. Wait a while. Hold down the power button, start it up again. Spend 3 hours googling and trying things (and in the process, 'sudo'ing all sorts of stuff which appeared to do nothing but may be breaking things even more). Give up. Try to remember to power down instead of expecting sleep/suspend to work.

Let's listen to some MP3's.. Oh.. Sound doesn't work! [Spend all night trying multiple ways to make sound work] Yay, sound works, unless it doesn't, in which case reboot. Good enough for now.

Time to do some actual work. Plug in a couple of monitors. Hm, resolutions are a bit weird, let's go and change those in the easy GUI config screen and whaaaAAAT?!

I don't think there's any need to go on.


I think you do need to go on. What you've just described is absolute fiction.


And have you tried it in the last 5 years? Desktops like KDE and things like Proton have genuinely meant it's crossed a threshold.


No, I haven’t, and it would only be anecdotal evidence anyway. The issue is that there’s still the same mix of “it works without issues for me” and “I gave up making it work” comments as there was 5/10/15 years ago. I certainly believe that some things have improved, but it appears that in practice it’s still a gamble and heavily depends on one’s particular requirements and use cases.

KDE isn’t exactly new, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to here.


I'm explicitly referring to Proton, a Wine and DXVK project from Valve that now means that many games now work on Linux [0][1].

KDE has had a similar level of investment and polish and I believe has now crossed a threshold where it is comparable in usability and smoothness to Windows or Mac. It now uses Wayland which means that it solves a lot of the janky issues inherent to X. KDE is not new, but it is much better to the point where I feel unless you've used it in the last 2 years you wouldn't be able to fully appreciate.

I think the article linked and my original comment both take issue with the number of negative comments here. People like yourself seem to be taking them as a general barometer at best or at worst a complete indictment, when many of them see to be citing issue that haven't been seen for years.

Specifically, my OP was complaining about how people are so free to spin off these lists of issues without any qualifying context which I believe leads to this misleading representation of the current state of things.

[0] https://ProtonDB.com

[1] https://areweanticheatyet.com


Slightly tonque-in-cheek, but:

> The main sentiment in your comment which I don't think I've seen addressed in other comments is the fervency of the people attacking the mere notion that Linux is not a viable option...but I'm often surprised with the confidence and sheer malice of people who will attack any notion of Linux not being a viable desktop.

> I've seen it on HN, I've seen it in Gaming subreddits, I've had it in non-technical subreddits and I've had it in real life. People just have no qualms shitting on anyone who expresses problems with linux and it confuses me that people care so much and have so little consideration for the opposing point of view.

You can see it up and down this thread, anyone who expresses frustrations or compatibility issues immediately gets 3 replies to the effect of "You're wrong, I've been running linux since 1954 and it works perfectly and no issue like that exists".

I like linux. I maintain a cluster of linux machines at work, and have 2 linux boxes at home because it does things that windows just can't. But those 2 boxes take up about 90% of my "tech support" time.


I also see the complement. My comment's top reply is someone including an attack on Linux rather than expanding on their main motivations (unless they see them as one and the same?) and the responses and children thereof are then all about people either also attacking or trying to defend Linux.

It seems like a topic that is really deeply seated for this audience, but the fact that it is so deeply seated is a blind spot that doesn't seem like people have the ability or the interest to examine.


It's because I've expanded on my issues with linux over and over and over again. And there's always some laundry list of "well did you try..." followed by the kind of forum hunting for answers and CLI inputs that I haven't had to do on any other machine since the 2010's.

And that's if people are being reasonable. I've had plenty of insanely nasty interactions (not that it's unique to linux, but the ratio sure is higher) and it's the only time I've ever been told "well why don't you just write your own driver".

Hell the most simple, concrete, easily documented example in recent times was Linus' attempt to use linux as a gaming platform, where when trying to debug a basic issue, he nuked the machine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0506yDSgU7M

This entire series is an extremely well documented example of what many "mid level" users experience is going to be, and 10 minutes into that video, in attempting to install steam on PopOS, a distro designed for gaming, he uninstalls his desktop.

This is SUCH a red flag for anyone who's ever worked UI/UX. Seriously, look in detail at what he did about 10 min in.

1. Installs PopOS for gaming.

2. Trys to install steam, it fails with a complicated error that is of very little help.

3. Some amount of time spent on offscreen research.

4. Comes up with sudo apt-get install steam as an answer.

And if you're moderately techy at all, that seems like a perfectly reasonable answer (still not the "just use the installer that was SUPPOSED to work but it doesn't seem malicious). Sudo for admin, apt-get is the cli everyone uses, and then just install steam right? Cool.

5. You then get a couple of pages of heavy technobabble if you're not a common linux user with a "type yes you really want to do this prompt". That's a red flag, but again when the CLI entry basically translates to "admin install steam" yeah you're not really expecting it to then uninstall your desktop.

Now the pinned comment on the video is "this has been fixed and shouldn't be possible anymore". And there's TONS of comments saying "oh well he should've done x or y first", but this has been my and many other people's experience with linux for decades, and we're all tired of going in circles.

This video series was a wonderful example of all the little "oops" and "gotcha" moments that I think a ton of linux users just handwave away, or don't even realize they're naturally preventing by having just adapted (well of course i ran a system update after the install? Don't you?). I spend a lot of my job looking very carefully at how people do things, because what most people think is a 4 step process is actually a 10 step process where they just assumed 6 of those steps were obvious, and that's what it has always been like to try and learn linux for me.

I'll try it again in the future I'm sure, but this semantic argument nonsense when there's so much evidence of linux flaws floating around gets old. I don't want to have to write an essay on my childhood traumas and motivations and how that led me to linux every time I try to use an OS. I want it to work, and when it doesn't work, I want the solutions to be easy to find and implement. Not based on what configuration of OS, hardware, versions, and phases of the moon.

Some of that is not directly linux's fault, being unpopular makes it harder for them to support all hardware, but that doesn't matter to the end user.


> it confuses me that people care so much and have so little consideration for the opposing point of view.

It's extremely easy for people to absorb what they do into their identity.


I think this is a phenomenon less specific to choice of OS and more based in some bad part of the human psyche that inclines people to punish nonconformity/“the out group”. 20 years ago using a Mac was often greeted with similar nasty attitude.


Maybe Windows fans holding onto one of its last remaining advantages? I have a Windows desktop solely for games. I’d be 100% done with Windows if all the games I play worked flawlessly on Linux


I’m working on running windows in a VM with near native performance and then running that under gentoo.

Not technically divesting myself of windows, but having it abstracted from my bare metal will give me a certain peace of mind and smugness. I think anticheat freaks out on one or two games I don’t play doing it like that.


90% of games work flawlessly on Linux. 10% of that 90% work better.


I did the same until a few weeks ago. I then decided that if it doesn't work on Linux I'm not interested anymore. Same with games that I want to play but don't natively support ultra-wide resolutions (looking at you, Fallout 4).

The reason I gave up is because most games that I want to play but don't work is down to anti-cheat software.


I switched to Linux full-time a couple years ago. I had a Windows desktop for the same reasons - games.

Once Valve incorporated Proton, it was all over for Windows for me. I already used Linux (Debian/Devuan) full-time at work on my laptops and servers.

I don't miss Windows at all. Running Devuan right now on an AMD B450 with a 5600, 64GB RAM, and a 1080ti.

I will admit that video driver updates are a little more involved than on Windows, but since I don't have a mainstream Linux distro like Ubuntu, that's to be expected.


I basically went the same way a few years ago. It's a shame that there are still gaps, and I understand why it doesn't work for everyone. But if you really enjoy using Linux or you're really sick of Windows and you're willing to try limiting yourself to Linux-compatible games, you will find that there are more games than you have time to play.

If you're willing to pair Linux with a gaming console, you get coverage that's more than good enough for me.


All of the games on my Switch run on linux flawlessly :)


I think it's likely just tribalism. There is no nuance to the comments, which is a hallmark of tribalism. A more nuanced discussion might make some key basic concessions:

- Windows will have better support in most cases. - Linux users might need to be more technically savvy in most cases. (although most PC gamers are probably technically savvy enough to _use_ linux.) - Windows will usually (but surprisingly not always) get somewhat better performance than Linux in gaming. - etc.

A more nuance discussion might then state that all things being equal, Windows is usually the better gaming platform, however Linux is perfectly viable, particularly if your operating system concerns come before your gaming concerns.


I think this is on the money and makes me sad.


My problem with people saying stuff like this in the open is that we all know it's not true - by recommending it to others, or even saying it out loud for others to hear, they are wasting the time of those who try it. It's malicious.


It is surprising.

Just as surprising to me was walking my dogs down my street a couple months ago, and hearing one of my neighbors loudly talking about software that is free from corporate and government interference, and that you can see the source code for such things. And it wasn’t the neighbor that was getting rid of his rack-mountable equipment in a garage sale because he is retiring. Most of the neighbors tinker with cars and off-road vehicles.


I haven't really seen that. In fact, it has tended to be the other way around, for me (as an Apple dev). I won't go into details.

But I have great faith in Linux; partly because I have a lot of faith in the "Linu" part of "Linux."

Despite his acerbic reputation, Torvalds is one hell of a coder.


Linux is amazing but I still prefer to ssh to it over using the desktop. Mostly because there's always something fiddly to do.


Linux must run well on ALL laptops because every distro tells you to just burn a USB stick, install on your rando laptop, and it will work great! Which is, if course, a lie. You end up with a lot of disappointed users who have "done the experiment" and have determined that the Linux desktop doesn't work! Which is true, for their hardware.

Distros aren't doing anyone any favors by not warning potential users that their hardware may not be compatible.


I bought ubuntu-supported dell laptop, and there were still plenty of issues. Ranging from randomly wake up from sleep in my backpack, to display issue plugging it in an external monitor (this still happens to this day, Linux doesn’t work well with a 4k monitor + a lower resolution monitor).

Two years ago, I built a threadripper machine, and even more than 6 months after the CPU was released, linux didn’t work on that yet (iirc, you had to patch or used a special settings on boot, or it crashed). Ubuntu on that same machine suddenly decided last week to NOT recognize a monitor being plugged in via a KVM (there are 2 monitors), booting to windows still works so I am not even sure if it is a hardware or software issue.

At this point, I think people who are claiming linux works perfectly on their machines are the one with special hardware, either very old, or very limited.


> randomly wake up from sleep in my backpack

That seems to be common to many laptops including those running Windows at this point in time: https://youtu.be/OHKKcd3sx2c


For me the only laptops I’ve ever seen that had consistent, efficient, and “just working” sleep is MacBooks.

I’ve had ThinkPads and and Dells over the past 10 years that I just shut down every time I put them in my bag because there were too many occasions where I opened up my bag to find my laptop on, fans blasting, and very very hot.

On the other hand I’ve had a MacBook for the past couple of years and the only time it ever reboots is for system updates. My M1 Pro I can close the lid, come back 2 weeks later, have it instantly wake up and have 90% battery left.


Sleep works consistently for me on older laptops in Linux. My main personal laptop is still an X230, which is rock solid. I do still check that it's asleep though, and there's a handy indicator light on the lid to confirm that. Newer laptops have indeed been less reliable. I always check the power LED if the machine has one.

> For me the only laptops I’ve ever seen that had consistent, efficient, and “just working” sleep is MacBooks.

Up until last year I've used exclusively MacBooks for work (not by choice) and I've had the same issues with those at various points. Tip for MacBook users with the same issue: turn off the setting that allows Bluetooth devices to wake the machine. If a key on your Bluetooth keyboard ever gets pressed while the laptop is nearby it'll wake the laptop in your bag and then often it won't go back to sleep.


>Ranging from randomly wake up from sleep in my backpack //

This has come up a few times on HN recently, it appears to be an issue with all brands of OS. There was an explanation for it to do with Windows wanting to keep the network stack live in "sleep" and so proper sleep having little support. Reports suggested it might be a problem with OSX too.


no no, you see, when it happens on linux, well that's linux not being ready for prime time

when it happens on windows, well, it's probably $mfg's fault


Yup, people are way more prompt to shit on something free, than something they've paid for.

Seem counterintuitive, but people will always defend something they've spent money on. The more they've spent, the more they do.


100% this.


I never had this issue on MacBooks (a user since 2007, after using desktop Linux from 1994-2007). I don't know any macOS users that had this issue.

I had a Linux certified ThinkPad. I enabled S3 sleep in the firmware to avoid this issue. My battery was always dead after letting the laptop sleep overnight. The fun thing is when this happened Lenovo's USB-C charger would refuse to charge the laptop.

At any rate, I really wanted to switch to Linux on laptops, bought a Linux-certified ThinkPad with a Ryzen CPU that everyone recommended. And it was just a miserable experience. Everything from terrible sleep-wake, bad support for 4k screens to half-working Lenovo USB-C Docks. Near the end, I'd just run Windows, since at least the hardware worked properly and the battery didn't drain in 3-4 hours.


While I appreciate your personal experience, a quick Google search gives a great many examples of this issue on every OS. Example: https://www.google.com/search?q=macbook+wakes+up+when+closed...


Definitely doesn't happen with Macs. I've had multiple MBPs over the years and it hasn't happened once. Based on what other people say on HN it doesn't happen for them either, while it seems to be common for Linux and occasional for Windows too.


I've had one MBP and had it happen multiple times. Burning hot by the time I got the thing out of the bag. Worst laptop I've ever owned.


You have to go deep and really research it, which is confusing and rules out most users. If it’s not a well known Linux friendly model you have to search every chipset and other element of the system.

It’s too bad that Dell is selling supposed Linux-supported laptops that are not.

I’ve heard good things about the Thinkpad Carbon X1, System 76, and Star Labs.


> Ranging from randomly wake up from sleep in my backpack

This is so much of an issue in Windows that LTT basically took the stance to tell everybody to buy a MAC instead because they just can't take it anymore. It seems to be more an issue with gaming laptop, not that they wake up more, but that they go through their battery so fast that you charge it overnight, and by the time you take it out of your backpack, the battery is already dead.

Personally it's not that Linux "just works" for me, it's that Windows doesn't either anyway. Once, I had Windows 7 not being able to find my user account and I had to open Windows in failsafe mode and play in the bios.

The worst I've had happen to me in Arch is the DNS not working after an update and having to manually edit it in a file. The thing with Arch though is that when something breaks for you, there's a ton of other people with the same problem so it takes 2 seconds to find an answer. Ironically, Ubuntu, Debian and Mint always gave me much more smaller problems. Like KDE on Kubuntu makes the os bar disappear after I play a certain video game in steam, or my monitor stopped working one time after playing that game, etc.


I've had the exact same things happen to me with Windows machines - apparently computers are still hard. I won't disagree though that the Linux laptop experience is still pretty bad - basically the power management has made it unusable in my experience.

I'm a happy Pop!_OS (or however ridiculously they render their name) desktop user, and so I'm inclined to give their hardware a try next time I look at laptops. Framework may also be a contender.


Built my own machine early in 2022 with 12th gen intel chip and other new components and put arch on it. It has never given me an issue. The only occasional problem is KDE clock freezes rarely and I have to restart the window manager. Overall it’s an incredibly fast computer.


> It has never given me an issue

I had constant iGPU-related crashes until kernel 6.0.x on my Framework laptop. Since then it's been smooth sailing.


> Two years ago, I built a threadripper machine, and even more than 6 months after the CPU was released, linux didn’t work on that yet (iirc, you had to patch or used a special settings on boot, or it crashed). Ubuntu on that same machine suddenly decide

Are you perhaps thinking of a different Ryzen processor? I built a ThreadRipper PC 5 years ago, and got it running Linux weeks after launch. Interestingly, I couldn't get it to boot off a Windows USB stick; so it only ever ran linux.


Well, my Company provided a Dell XPS 13 running Windows, and that piece of crap doesn't work right with their own docking station. I think it's an issue with that particular company. Same docking station, but with an Ubuntu based Hp DevOne doesn't cause any troubles at all.


Assuming Dell is providing this laptop, the fact Ubuntu doesn't work properly on it sounds like Dell being at fault.

I've said previously that Linux gets the blame for not working in situations the OEM gets blamed if windows doesn't work. I personally don't think that's fair.


> this still happens to this day, Linux doesn’t work well with a 4k monitor + a lower resolution monitor

I'm typing this response right now from a Thinkpad that is connected to a 4k monitor and two 1920x1080 monitors (using KDE Plasma); works perfectly. All the monitors are Dell.


I'm sincerely not trying to be contrarian here, but I'm curious what issues you've run into and on what hardware? I've installed Linux on literally hundreds of machines over the years, many different architectures, makes, amd models. The only real compatibility challenges I recall were modems in the early 2000s, and graphics cards up until around 2010? I actually have the impression that hardware support is pretty fantastic. As an example, on quite a few occasions occasions I've moved an existing linux installation from one machine to another. New laptop? DD the drive from the old to the new, alter the partition size, grow the filesystem, and you're off to the races.


Brand new hardware can have an issue if Linux hasn't integrated support yet. You get that from day one with a Windows Update or through the shipping hardware. But after a few months it's usually plain sailing. Linux installs nowadays are trivial that my mother-in-law can't even crash them anymore.


Yep, I got a Ryzen 6000 ThinkPad T14s on launch and it would occasionally freeze due to graphics drivers issues. The problem fixed itself after a kernel update about a month and a half later.

Then again, ThinkPads are definitely some of the better hardware for running Linux. At this point Linux support is a major factor for my hardware purchases, though 99% of the time I haven't had to think about it, it just works (Nvidia tends to be that 1%, though it's way better now than a few years ago :S).


slight tangent: I've been looking to upgrade an old AMD card and I'm looking at Nvidia cards, is there a way to know which cards are compatable with Linux and which aren't worth looking at?


Pretty much no nvidia cards will give you good performance with a pure-mainline stack.

Nvidia released an "open source" driver recently... As in it moves lots of work to firmware and just plays nicer with OSS. Maybe check for cards that work with that driver.


Aw man, is that true? Can I not get Nvidia's proprietary drivers on Linux, at least?


Yes, you can. That's what I and almost everyone with Nvidia cards do. The big caveat IMO is if you want GSync/FreeSync, you can't use Wayland. It is also in general less stable/polished with Wayland. I'm ok using Xorg though, at least on my desktop.


You can. I don't know much about them. I do know that some software (especially Wayland compositors) don't like the closed source nvidia drivers.


Surely that's an OEM and driver support issue and not a Linux issue? The two don't equate if the OEMs and drivers they produce are actively supporting windows and the developers on Linux get no support, meaning reverse engineering drivers, or late support.

Yeah it's shit Linux takes longer to support newer hardware but it's hardly linuxs fault.


Linux and the Linux distros can hardly fix this problem, but for the end user it doesn't matter whose fault it is. They bought their laptop, they want it to work, and in such cases the only way to do that is through Windows.

For example, the Linux kernel had a bug that caused the boot process to freeze after less than a second when you plugged in a display through an HDMI-to-DislayPort-converter on systems running Intel GPUs, caused by a change to the Intel driver that somehow interacted badly with another change in the NFS system if I recall correctly. Not your normal use case, but definitely a problem that shouldn't have taken half a year to get fixed for normal users. I ran into it when I helped a colleague upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu (LTS to LTS) and the only way I could find to work around the issue was to pin the old, unmaintained kernel package and keep and eye out for updates on the bug tracker. If I hadn't known some deeply technical details about the system, he would've probably had to reinstall (or more likely, install Windows) and lose several days getting his dev environment set up again.

There's nothing the Linux project could've done to prevent this issue and I'm not blaming volunteers for not spending their days debugging this, but for the end user such problems are unacceptable.


> For example, the Linux kernel had a bug that caused the boot process to freeze after less than a second when you plugged in a display through an HDMI-to-DislayPort-converter on systems running Intel GPUs, caused by a change to the Intel driver that somehow interacted badly with another change in the NFS system if I recall correctly. Not your normal use case, but definitely a problem that shouldn't have taken half a year to get fixed for normal users.

Ah, the cable pull test. That is a pretty standard test for QA for supported platforms.


Do they say ALL laptops? Here's a direct quote from page 1 of Ubuntu's installation guide:

"Whilst Ubuntu works on a wide range of devices, it is recommended that you use a device listed on the Ubuntu certified hardware page. These devices have been tested and confirmed to work well with Ubuntu."

No, it's not straight up on the download page but should it be?


If you substitute "windows" for Linux, you have a true statement.

All the (mostly rando) laptops in my house (5) which were shipped with windows pre-installed, with broken features/drivers were wiped, and Linux was installed. Many things didn't work under windows. Wifi was the big thing that failed under windows. Then the more generalized networking stack, which was stock, was unable to connect to the internet, despite getting wifi working.

With Linux, none of these were issues. Sound worked well. Networking just worked. GPUs just worked (though there was was some stupidity with nouveau and 2060 bits early on, that's been the only GPU issue I've had in the last 15-ish or so years running linux on laptops/desktops).

I migrated family to MacOS, as it was easier to support than windows, and like linux, it just worked.

Your mileage may vary of course, and you may be the occasional unlucky user with an odd problem. But really, none of the problems are worse than windows, and from my perspective (using computers since 1979 or so), if you start with a well designed distro (Linux Mint, Pop!, elemental, ...) you really won't have a problem. FWIW, Linux Mint is a reworked Ubuntu, with better defaults, drivers, codecs, etc. .

I know people get worked up over this and often try to make jokes about "this year is the year of linux desktop" ... but its been my daily driver for 23 years, its been my desktop/laptop OS as long. Its figuratively all over but the shouting.

So argue against it if you wish, there are many other windmills you can tilt against which might bear better argumentation. This battle is over. Ordinary people are using it, migrating to it.


I'm happy that you have success, but I think there must be something seriously weird with your setup if the default windows install can't connect to WiFi.

If WiFi didn't just work out of the box, I'm sure most people would just return the laptop, as it's most people only connectivity.


I have run Linux as a daily driver on probably 50 laptops/ desktops over 25 years. I have never found a problem I could not solve. Sometimes that required me to use a search engine and understand a bit about debugging. In a few cases issues required my to gain an understanding of how the Linux kernel works, and make some patches. I got code upstreamed in the kernel before I was old enough to drink.

These days you can buy plenty of computers that ship with Linux and everything will work great. If you just want it to work you can pay money and even have a support plan.

That said, if you work in tech you should take note that the whole world runs on Linux now. You will do yourself a major favor just buying any random machine off the shelf, build a DIY distro like Gentoo on it, and learn how to make it run rock solid.

The ability to fix anything about Linux to adapt it to virtually any hardware it was not designed for is a feature, not a bug.


I needed to install Linux last week on a new Intel NUC.

* The NUC has an intel Ax411 Killer 1690i and Linux wouldn't recognize it. * On my monitors (I tried two different ones) the setup screen didn't fit and the OK/Next buttons on the bottom weren't displayed. I had to guess how many times to "tab" to finish the install. There was no way of fixing that.

* The video card isn't quite compatible. It won't come back after the screen blanking kicks in. I disabled the screen blanking.

* The machine won't wake after a sleep or a suspend

Windows 11 works perfectly on this machine.


The AX411 is supported in Linux 5.14. Were you using something like Ubuntu 20.04LTS that didn't have a newer kernel? 22.04 LTS should support it.

Fwiw, Windows frequently doesn't support Wi-Fi out of the box but, when it's preinstalled, the drivers usually are too.


I tried 22.04LTS and 22.10 Ubuntu

It turns out there are two versions of the AX411. It's the "killer" version that's not supported unless I either:

    - recompile the kernel to tell Linux that when it sees the ID for this card, use the driver for the standard card. That has been claimed to work.

    - recompile the kernel to enable an experimental feature
This is 22.10 Ubuntu. You can see that the PCI device ID of 0x7af0/1692 is rejected by iwlwifi.

   # dmesg | grep iwlwifi
   [    4.753725] iwlwifi 0000:00:14.3: enabling device (0000 -> 0002)
   [    4.755454] iwlwifi: No config found for PCI dev 7af0/1692, rev=0x430, rfid=0x3010d000
   [    4.755471] iwlwifi: probe of 0000:00:14.3 failed with error -22
One frustrating thing was that all the information in the forums was wrong. People (like you!) will tell me that something will work when it won't. This doesn't help the Linux community get new useres. I had to read the source and figure out what was going on.

After spending a couple of hours on this for a client, I realized I was insane and bought a $20 older, supported WiFi M2 card for this box. These machines will be installed by a client and I didn't want to have to specify a custom kernel build, too. I wanted to specify Unbunto LTS and have the software ready-to-install.

You mentioned that "preinstalled" Linux has fewer problems. Not so. I bought a dell rack-mount server with Linux pre-installed, and that machine couldn't wake from sleep either. It would go to sleep and need to be hard reset to wake up again.


> Fwiw, Windows frequently doesn't support Wi-Fi out of the box but, when it's preinstalled, the drivers usually are too.

That's very true, sometimes even the wired NIC driver.

My dad just replaced an old NUC with a modern AMD based miniPC and everything (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ethernet) works out of the box with Ubuntu LTS, while Windows 11 doesn't even include a usable driver for the Intel I225-V NIC.


Most systems that run Linux are unsupported by the vendor who refuse to provide support. This is the dividing line I find. The vendor might provide source code to the community to make their widget work with Linux but it's provided as-is and unsupported.

I found this out with a dodgy NUC recently. Intel support told me that Linux is unsupported so they can't help. I had to install Windows and show the same issue before the issued the RMA.


How bad is it? Is it just the occasional peripheral that doesn't work? Or will systems fail to run entirely?


"occasional peripheral" is usually WiFi, trackpad, Bluetooth or GPU. Bluetooth may be manageable from that list, but if one of those 4 doesn't work pretty much out of the box, it's a non starter for most people


Install Linux. Find out that WiFi doesn't work. Manually transfer files to compile WiFi driver via usb. Compile WiFi driver. WiFi works. Boot a few weeks later. WiFi no longer works. Driver built without being signed. Kernel now requires signed drivers. Work out how to sign and trust driver. Boot a few weeks later, WiFi no longer works. Kernel has upgraded again. Signed driver not in the right place. Disable security on driver checking. Put laptop in draw forever.

Even though I am capable of fixing all of these things I just don't have the energy. If I want Linux I'll just use WSL or a VM.


The last I had this problem was in 2015, when Dell in their infinite wisdom (or because they got a deal) decided to ship _some_ of their XPS 13s with a "Killer" (?) wifi, which didn't have proper Linux drivers, it was too new. Actually, half of the hardware in that machine at that time was unsupported by Linux, I remember I had to wait for about 6 months to get audio working properly. Oh, and I bought an Intel card which solved all wifi issues immediately...

I haven't had that problem since, in fact, I find that Linux runs more reliably on a typical laptop (OK, I'm a Thinkpad person, if that's "typical") than Windows (except bleeding edge hardware, I don't understand why Intel can't release their drivers for their next in line CPUs in time, but I'm sure they have their reasons...).


My failed attempt was on an HP stream. It was the cheapest laptop in the store and was woefully underpowered for running windows that it came installed with. I thought maybe I could use it as a lightweight, cheap little Linux notebook to do some hobby projects away from the desk. It wasn't to be.


This is my experience. I've been using Ubuntu exclusively since 2015, having installed it on a variety of my own laptops and desktops, as well as a few systems of friends and relatives.

Sure, on occasion something breaks, but I've not encountered any major compatibility issues or installation blockers.


Most WiFi drivers don't require a module. Recent Qualcomm, Intel, and MediaTek chipsets are supported OOTB.

If you need an out of tree module to get your WiFi to work, it might be worth it to get a new WiFi card and get rid of the FakeTek chip your laptop came with.


In my very small sample size, those things "work" well enough. What doesn't work is sleep state and power management. Just my personal experience, but that's what I'm always fiddling with.

My laptop still drains much faster in Linux with the lid shut and "sleeping" despite my fiddling. Hopefully this will be sorted in the next few years and the technology doesn't change again.


Yea, power management is absolutely terrible. I've been messing with it for a year, but I can't really get my Linux laptop on any distro to have better than about 2 hours of battery life while running, and 5-6 while in "standby".

That said, the wifi and mouse issues are often by far the worst. It's probably somehow related to the standby stuff, but sometimes I'll just log in and it'll decide my trackpad didn't reinitialize correctly, so rebooting is the only option to easily fix it. There's also a persistent issue with Gnome where the modal for asking for a password for a wifi connection just crashes consistently until you restart. It's happened to me on 4 different distros.


I've yet to see a laptop trackpad not work in Linux. I've run Linux on many, many, laptops, including Apple's PowerPC iBooks.


Power management and sleep (like, closing the lid of the laptop and it waking up correctly every time) has basically never worked for me on Linux machines - of which I had several.


Very interesting, when was this? That, and "audio doesn't work", are one of the few Linux issues I hear people about that I've never had to deal with myself.


Same. Currently my Framework drains battery far too quickly when suspended. Also the fingerprint reader doesn't work, which I don't care about. It turns out for my typical patterns the battery thing is only a nuisance. I assume this experience was at the top of heap, since Framework actively courts Linux installations (I believe they sell Linux preinstalled?).

It's also a bit strange, if predictable, that so many HN commenters seem genuinely surprised that Linux doesn't cleanly find and install every device driver on every mainstream laptop. Given the insider nature of many people here, I wonder if this implies that distro maintainers aren't getting enough first installation feedback. Unironically I suggest starting a TikTok (or something) campaign that encourages people to post short videos of Linux laptop installation going off the rails and wanting to throw the machine against the wall. A bug report, but with more passion.


In my experience: hardware out for fewer than six months will have issues, especially on outdated LTS systems like Ubuntu. For example, my laptop (which I bought before it was even on the Lenovo website) had issues with Intel's audio driver that they forgot/didn't bother to submit firmware for to maintainers, though there was an easy workaround.

In my experience, Linux will usually just work if you don't have any hardware from crappy vendors. Nvidia is one of the most important vendors that refuse to work normally, but many "gaming" vendors also haven't done any work to support Linux. Elgato and friends have hardware that's useless without software support and for that you need Windows or some weird project from Github.

Unlike ten years ago, bluetooth, WiFi, ethernet, sound, video acceleration, suspend/sleep, and all the usual suspects just work if you give the kernel people time to merge the drivers (Windows drivers are ready before release, while Linux often gets them later) and if you pick a recent enough Linux distro.

I think most people can grab a copy of the latest version of Linux Mint and just get started. Maybe Pop_OS! if you want a more Ubuntu feel without the Ubuntu hassle.


I installed Ubuntu on a Dell laptop recently that wasn't on the approved list. It required a few tries, and running some scary commands in my BIOS to change the filesystem parameters. It works fine, and I can still dual boot to my old windows partition.

The issues, funnily enough, happen when I go back to windows: the clock has been set back to UTC time, and the Bluetooth has forgotten my mouse.

And now I switch back to Windows so rarely that it doesn't matter.


Might be true for brand new laptops or some rare brands which are not using common touchpad or wireless chipsets.

But almost any older laptop works, if it is made by any from the top10 biggest manufactures.


Not really. The most successful Linux laptops are probably the various Chromebooks. They sell in the order of tens of millions per year, and certainly doesn't advertise running on any other hardware.

It's mostly a problem with the semi-free Linux distributions that found their market share in this niche. It is not intended to be some majority option, despite what the marketing says.


And with Proton and the Steam Deck, Valve is also removing the argument that you can't game on Linux.

For those who don't know, it's basically a PC in the form of a Switch, with access to a large part of the Steam library (even a lot of unsupported games play well if you're willing to tweak things).

It has very good specs for a handheld, and you can emulate most games up to the Switch, and some Switch games run even better on the deck than on the Switch.

As it's open, you can even install Windows or replace parts if you want.

It has surpassed all my expectations and it feels like the deck together with Proton is solving the last big obstacle with Linux on desktop.


> For those who don't know, it's basically a PC in the form of a Switch, with access to a large part of the Steam library (even a lot of unsupported games play well if you're willing to tweak things).

Not just "basically a PC" but an actual PC running a modified version of Arch Linux (called SteamOS). One of the options in the menu is "Enter Desktop Mode" which does exactly what it says; drops you to a KDE desktop with all the bells and whistles of a normal Linux desktop. From there, you can use it as a normal PC if you want. Hook it up to a USB-C hub with HDMI and USB I/O, and you have a portable computer you can connect to displays with your keyboard and mouse.

Flexible as hell, and it's also pretty nice as a gaming device.


I still see people arguing against it in very much the same manner as the article outlines.

"Linux won't be viable for gaming until it has Anti-cheat"

EAC and Battleye announce Proton support

"Linux won't be viable for gaming until there are AAA titles working"

Apex Legends, Fall guys and a bunch of other titles get support

"Linux won't be viable for gaming until the Steam Deck can meet demand"

Valve increase production

"Linux won't be viable for gaming until I can run Fortnite, Destiny 2 and Xbox Game pass"

Well you have me there..


I've had about 2 decades of experience hearing that gaming on Linux is here and being disappointed. I started hearing about Proton and how it was really doing it this time and I was skeptical as always, but I figured it was worth a shot based on who I was hearing it from. And I'll say that for me, Proton is it. Not only does it provide awesome compatibility, it's basically just a checkbox in Steam to enable. I'm sure you can still find issues; even Windows can't provide 100% compatibility with decades of games, but for me, it's arrived.


Agree, and I’m wondering - as a Steam Deck owner - when / how I can setup my own Linux / proton gaming desktop?


I mean you can do that now.

* Install the OS of your choice. I would recommend Nobara for minimal tweaking for games. PopOS is another popular choice

* Install steam and enable proton for all games in Settings

* If you want Steam desktop UI, you can opt into the Steam Beta, set Steam to load on boot with launch option '-gamepadui'

and voilà! You have yourself a Steam Deck gaming desktop!


That's an interesting path to using a Linux desktop, but it makes sense. I'm not sure if you're asking rhetorically, but I'd say that if you wanted a Linux gaming desktop, you'd just start with a normal gaming desktop (prebuilt or custom - you'll find endless guides on either). The thing about Linux/Open Source is that there are nearly endless distributions and politics around those, which is confusing, but I'm a fan of Pop!_OS for its simplicity - I suspect I could install it on my parents machines and they'd be OK, but it's also fine for my uses. The other option I'd consider is SteamOS so you could presumably just run the OS installed on the Deck on your dekstop for commonality, but I have zero experience with it as an OS, so it may be more complicated than that.

I'm using Pop!_OS with an AMD CPU/GPU system that's pretty far from what I'd call stout, but I'm able to play games like "No Man's Sky" or "Crysis" just fine. I've probably tested around a dozen games personally going back as far as "Total Annihilation" from 1997(?) which ran without issue.


I run steam on an oryx pro laptop (nvidia graphics, intel 8th gen) and pop OS (Ubuntu variant) It works remarkably well.

Proton works from the steam Gui so I don’t think there is any install except the steam software.


You're putting up a scarecrow... you're saying people said that linux was perfect for gaming, except for the fact that it doesn't have anti cheat? No way. If anything, people said: If Linux wants to take off, it needs to have anticheat, but a whole lot more too.


Friend, I've had each of the arguments stated above as absolute statements.

The format of the arguments aren't coherent or well thought through. It uses the quoted argument as a jumping off point before going into an anti-Linux rant, often citing the perception that the year of the Linux desktop has been "coming for 20 years" (or pick whatever number you want) or that the Linux community are toxic (which is ironic since most of the attacks are incredibly toxic).

I think it's laudable that you're giving these people the benefit of the doubt, but they absolutely do exist and their positions are always thin or in bad faith.


Heh. Except the anticheat solutions that don't work are basically rootkits.


   > "Linux won't be viable for gaming until I can run Fortnite, Destiny 2 and Xbox Game pass"
   > Well you have me there..
FYI MS Game Pass has worked on Linux for months now.

Fortnite and Destiny 2 are two games where the developers have both, for whatever reason, specifically gone on record to say they will ban players that attempt to play their games on Linux.


For what its worth, the Destiny 2 developers did create a feedback thread a few months back on Reddit for the purposes of seeing the level of interest in them supporting Linux/Steam Deck


Game Pass works on Linux? I can't find anything about that, seems unlikely. Unless you're talking about Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is not a replacement for games running on your system, especially for people with bad internet connections.


You can run a big chunk of Game Pass via xCloud https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/topic/xbox-cloud-gaming-...


Isn't that cloud streaming?


Yes


If Steam Deck was being sucessful by having game studios write Steam Deck games like they bother with Android, iOS, Switch and PlayStation, that would be inovative, emulating Windows and DirectX via a translation layer, not really,


It isn't going to be something I choose to run until there's a VR system that works for it that doesn't feel like it is alpha quality. Even Valve's own Index only kinda-sorta works with half of the features.


Sure proton is great and it does a good job on my steam deck.

But to me the fact that the games are not natively supporting Linux and are instead needing a tool like Proton still means that Linux is not ideal for gaming. Just like Mac is not.

It has nothing to do with the OS itself and everything to do with developer support.

I love my steam deck but I also strongly believe that going with Linux was a short cited decision on Valves part to try to protect themselves from Microsoft. Many (most, all?) of us here are technical enough to understand at least on some level what proton does and what native actually is. But most users are not and that is where the problems come up.

When a game pushes an update that breaks support on the steam deck most users will go to complain to the developers. But the developer was not involved in supporting Linux and rightly so they don't test every update on it.

That is not the right path here.

I strongly believe that to claim that an OS can be good for something it must be targeted by the developers of whatever that thing is and run natively (or at the very least if it is prepackaged with something like proton, it is still distributed by the developers for that OS)

And yes I fully realize this is a chicken and the egg problem with linux and gaming.


> But to me the fact that the games are not natively supporting Linux and are instead needing a tool like Proton still means that Linux is not ideal for gaming. Just like Mac is not.

You’re holding a proof that it isn’t so in your hands and still claim something opposite. The biggest issue with gaming on Linux has always been impossibility of providing a binary build that works everywhere due to lack of a stable kernel API and ABI. Turns out, win32 API is exactly that and works really well on Linux if you put in the work, see proton.

IOW Linux is ready for gaming thanks to and because of Windows, not despite it.


> really well on Linux if you put in the work, see proton.

That work is exactly the problem though. This is not an ideal solution for the average user. My dad plays games and there is no way in hell I would give him a Linux machine to play games. If I end up buying him a steam deck (which I am considering) I will be installing Windows on it for him.

Again I will point out the issues with this not being an officially supported release from the developer of a game. Meaning when they push updates they don't test on Linux and could very easily break it. It happened with Halo recently and could just as easily happen with another game.

If we really want to argue that "if you put in the work" linux is a viable solution, it has been for years been viable as a desktop solution and many people played games on it.

But until we enter a time that on Linux you are running native packages from the developer targeting Linux, we will remain in a situation that Linux Gaming will always be an update away from breaking completely. Not that Windows isnt either, but at least developers test their Windows release.

Edit: For the record I would LOVE an alternative to Windows for PC gaming. Wether that is Linux, Mac, or something else. I despise Windows but I relucantly have a Windows PC. BUT I do not believe this is how we will get there.


Random advice from personal experience: if you buy a steam deck for a non-techy, don't get them to use windows, the user experience is awful. Just use the default OS, and only install games that a labelled as working well through Proton. Anything else will be a fairly painful experience.


I disagree, I have Windows on my steam deck and it works just fine. It is the primary way I use mine (Windows 10 though, not 11) because of the issues I have mentioned here.

The only real issue I have is it being a small screen. But I just have any games I need on my desktop and its easy enough to tap an icon.


Interesting you had more success then me. I just got annoyed with the tiny screen, and lots of minor things that seemed to not work smoothly (although now I can't remember exactly what they were I'll admit).


I detest ageist and ignorant comments like "My dad plays games and there is no way in hell I would give him a Linux machine to play games.".

My mom and dad were gaming into their mid-70's around the time they passed away. I'm approaching 60 and have gamed for 4 decades and see no stopping. I've read multiple comments from people in their 80's and even 90's still gaming.

Proton enables a lot of great games to play on Linux, I use it every day.

Linux lets all users including non-technical, use it every day with ease.


Great job just ignoring the issues I bring up and trying to wipe them away because of "ageist".

I think I can speak on my dads technical understanding better than you can. We have tried to give him an iPhone and he has struggled with that so he continues to use a flip phone.

The last thing I want to do is give him a device that due to Valve pushing a bad OS update (I mean the last Update made it so I could no longer boot normally and I had to do a boot from file and then fix that in the terminal) or games won't load because something breaks in the update for that game, which has happened to me.

That is not ageist to worry about a device not working as expected (which has happened to me, I just have the technical knowledge to fix it).


While I respect your ideological opposition to this and understand your logic, I'm not sure if you've ever seen the lifecycle of a Linux-native game.

For the first 6 months of its release, everything works great! A few minor bugs to fix but your game engine figured everything out for you. Flash forward 2 years - your game is broken on every distro. An Ubuntu hotpatch broke your game on most systems months ago, and glibc changes have decimated the runtime for every user. Steam's own runtime has already bumped it's versioning and is missing 3-4 libraries you used to rely on. The Windows version boots through Proton though, so nobody is complaining yet.

Linux shouldn't need Windows as a stable runtime, but until it fixes it's packaging issues this will continue to be the status-quo.


Admittedly I have not seen how a native linux game works and that to me just makes me continue to feel like linux isn't ready?

Logically I get it, a tool like proton is most likely the only way that Linux (or anything not Windows) was going to be an option for gaming at all.

My concern here is not in how it runs, how good proton is, or even how "easy" it is to setup.

It all boils down to average users for me. I continue to find myself (and I feel like many of us do) overestimating the technical knowledge of the average consumer. I know for many years I had assumed that my generation (I am now 32) would be the generation that the average user would be able to pick up any new technology and run with it. That has been proven false to me many times now...

What happens with it fails, what happens when a game was previously working but breaks in a future version of proton or worse breaks because the developer pushes an update (and maybe its an online service game so you have to update).

Idk something about this entire thing has just felt wrong to me in how we are pushing Linux as a gaming platform.


> What happens with it fails, what happens when a game was previously working but breaks in a future version of proton or worse breaks because the developer pushes an update (and maybe its an online service game so you have to update).

All of these are good questions to have, Valve didn't directly come out and address them so it makes sense that people would feel anxious about it.

Largely, Valve has solved this by running every game in a lightweight container runtime, kinda like Docker. Regardless of the distro you're running on, Valve can define a common runtime for the game and the title should boot using the defined settings. If something then breaks with that runtime, Valve can actually go through on a game-by-game (or even system-by-system) basis and fix it. This is how Elden Ring got performance patches on Linux at launch, or how titles like Rocket League became playable when their native version was not.

It's a complicated technical solution to a nuanced problem, but Valve has done a bang-up job so far.


They have done a good job, I am not denying that. But this approach is not without faults.

I mean when the big winter update for Halo Infinite came out it broke Proton support. Sure they (the people working on Proton) were quick to fix it, but it did break and since it was an online game there really was nothing the user could do about it.


I used to think this. But with so many Linux variants out there I think supporting it is harder than just supporting the windows api that makes it work.

It’s odd but things like docker and the JVM and browser based software mean the software will run abstracted a bit, less optimally, but good enough. Even among the different Linux distros software is distributed differently (rpm, debs, flat pack, pacman….)

Brining more people to Linux is the goal, more developers! and better software packaging eventually.


I do wonder if Valve has tried to discuss with Microsoft what it would like to see out of Windows in the future (potentially Windows 12) to make it a useful OS for a Steam Deck device.

Some sort of advanced suspend/resume functionality similar to the Series X's Quick Resume would be a killer feature. And I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't mind having native Game Pass hooks into a device like that


There has been rumors about Game Pass discussions with Valve at one point but I have not seen anything about that recently.

I feel like most likely not, that seems like something that would benefit Microsoft and not give any benefit to Valve. I know they have stated before some concern regarding the windows store or something.

Game Pass is also the reason I installed Windows on my Steam Deck. Being able to sync game saves between my PC, Xbox, and Steam Deck is just way too powerful. And the obvious benefit of the games in game pass.


Steam Deck is a single hardware configuration that is being supported by multibillion company.


Yes and no - the work that's gone into it, and into Proton in general has made game support on linux generally leap forward. I don't have a Steam Deck myself, but because it exists, things are getting patched in Proton often before games even come out, which is a far cry from where things used to be with Wine.

Having a site like ProtonDB to be a single place to go look up any tweaks or config flags for Wine/Proton to get a game to work is invaluable, and it's now actually getting good traffic and data because of Steam Deck.


Presumably you mean that as a criticism but "being supported by a multibillion company" is normally a fantastic sign of success, and "a single hardware configuration" is an indicator of seriousness about guaranteeing a good UX.

Look no further than power management/sleep/awake, which is flawless and snappy on steamdeck. That's more than you can say for 95% of "supported linux laptops".


Valve's work on Proton has been repurposed for other hardware configurations with great success


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