Linux: It’s all about choice

Linux Choicw

I switched to Linux three years ago. After being a Mac fanboy for fifteen years, this was a significant change in my life. Most of the hardware and software I used daily changed. For sure, the software transition was slightly painful but worth the upside. The most significant benefit of switching from Mac to Linux is choice.

Software Choice

While software availability is sometimes a blocker for Mac users to switch to Linux, it’s more of a benefit. Except for a few Adobe products, I found strong Linux alternatives for the Mac applications I relied upon. Since switching, I’ve been surprised by the amount of quality software available.

Moving away from the Apple software ecosystem is freeing. Do your phone, computer, and tablet need to be one symbiotic system? Previously I thought that was a significant benefit of using Apple, but it’s limiting and smothering. The opposite of choice. After my family switched from Apple’s Messages to Telegram for texting, we had more phone options. At the time, a recent college graduate living independently, my daughter needed more room in her budget for technology. She switched to a budget-friendly Windows laptop and now uses Android phones. Telegram, a simple software choice, made her transition easier and allowed our family to stay in touch across platforms.

If you’re considering a switch, start thinking about the applications you use. Can you switch to multi-platform, open-source solutions? Is there a browser-based application available? For example, Libre Office could likely replace MS Office for most people. It’s available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

Choosing open-source applications often leads to more flexibility. For example, I was using Lightworks video editing software. While it runs on Linux, it’s proprietary with usage restrictions. I was not able to run it on multiple computers or easily move it from machine to machine. Switching to KdenLive, an open-source alternative, gave me the flexibility to use it wherever I need to. Linux-based, open-source application a made to run a wide range of hardware configurations. KdenLive runs on high-end hardware and older hardware. As demonstrated by Jason Evangelo, it also runs on a Raspberry Pi.

Good software choices lead to more hardware choices.

Hardware Choice

In the earlier days of Apple, it was possible to replace and upgrade Mac hardware. Over time, Apple’s mission to get smaller, lighter, and be “the most beautiful ever” resulted in hardware designs that limit DIY upgrades and non-Apple repairs. There are very few hardware choices with Apple. The differences between computer models are minor, and your choice comes down to how much you want to spend, not what you want or need.

After switching to Linux, I discovered endless hardware choices.

High-end, Apple-quality laptops are available from many vendors. Most will run Linux, and more are coming with Linux pre-installed. Mac OS and Windows are heavy, bloated operating systems that require relatively current hardware. For example, Apple’s current operating system, Big Sur, requires a 2014 or later iMac, which has a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor. The current version of Ubunutu recommends a 2 GHz dual-core processor or better. Theoretically, because I haven’t tried it, Ubunutu will on the first Intel iMac model from 2005; it has an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz.

While I have a high-performing desktop and laptop, I also use a 2011 Thinkpad T420 whenever I’m away from my desk. While it doesn’t have the best display or speakers, it performs well and has a great keyboard. If needed, I could use it for my day-to-day work. I bought it for $45 on eBay, replaced the battery, and upgraded to an SSD for another $55. I run the same operating system, Pop!_OS, and software on these three computers. That’s choice.

With Linux, you have a vast pool of new and used hardware to choose from. You can have a computer with USB ports, MicroSD ports, and HDMI ports. Pick the hardware for the purpose and the price that works for you.

Visual Validation

Since the start of the Corona Virus pandemic a year ago, I’ve traveled farther than 20 miles from my home three times:

  1. Helping my daughter relocate to Phoenix with a cross-country trip from Rhode Island to Arizona (2,700 miles).
  2. To visit my sister in Milford, Connecticut (126 miles).
  3. A few weeks ago, my first visit to a Micro Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts (57 miles).
Micro Center, Cambridge, MA

I wanted to visit Micro Center for two reasons. First, they are selling the new Raspberry Pi Pico 50% off, $1.99. Second, a car ride on a Sunday afternoon gave Erica and me something to do. Walking into Micro Center is overwhelming. Being mindful of the ongoing pandemic, I limited myself to one section of the store with single board computers and parts. I could have spent at least two hours visiting each section.

My Micro Center heist

The inspiration for this article came from my visit to Microcenter. The number of choices struck me. An entire aisle with motherboards, another with graphics cards, and hard drives, power supplies, or so forth. My choice to switch to Linux made all the aisle a possibility for me.

See for yourself. Which photo screams “choice!”?

Apple Store, Providence, RI
Micro Center, www.microcetner.com

Originally published at https://www.voice.com.

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