Desktop Linux the best it’s ever been—and keeps getting better

While users of proprietary operating systems suffer with new, slower, buggier, more spy-filled systems, Linux users are enjoying better performance and more support.

Desktop Linux the best it’s ever been—and keeps getting better
Michelle Davidson

I can be a pretty pessimistic guy. I’m fairly convinced that the Internet of Things spells certain doom for mankind, and I’ve made a habit of standing in front of large rooms full of people simply to tell them how much I think “Linux sucks.” 

If you were to call me a Negative Nancy, you wouldn’t be far off.

To make matters worse, I’m about to publish three new articles—each of them extremely pessimistic and gloomy—over the next week.  otal “sky is falling, we’re all gonna die” sort of stuff.

Linux the bright spot in the doom and gloom

In the interest of not becoming the internet’s crotchety old grandpa, eternally spouting off about “those kids” and their proximity to “my lawn,” I figured now would be a good time to talk about something happy that I’ve been thinking about. Something optimistic and wonderful. Something I could point people to whenever asked if I ever have anything nice to say. 

And that is this: Desktop Linux, right now, is better than it’s ever been. 

By a long shot. A feat that is truly amazing. 

You know how some operating system companies (not mentioning names or pointing fingers here) tend to release new versions of their systems with the promise of amazing new features, but in reality, each release almost seems to be worse than the one before? Massive performance degradation. Huge jumps in memory usage. Decreases in stability. Increases in annoying adware or spyware built into the system. 

As I listed off those problems, every one of us immediately thought of a specific OS and a specific feature. And when that thought crossed our minds, we were either amused (because we don’t use that system) or annoyed (because we do). Regardless, we’ve all got examples of those problems added in with new releases of big-name, proprietary operating systems. 

How Linux has improved

But not Linux. Linux has actually gotten—better. At least for the most part. 

Wi-Fi driver issues are (mostly) a thing of the past. Sound problems are, if nothing else, at least quite a lot less prevalent than they used to be. As a general rule, hardware support has dramatically improved across the board. 

The availability and variety of quality software has absolutely skyrocketed. Video editing under Linux, while not perfect, is actually in a usable state now. All of my videos can be produced entirely under Linux using nothing but free software. That is, putting it simply, absolutely amazing. 

And gaming? Holy guacamole! We have games coming out of our ears now! Almost everyone I know uses Steam and has a small (or large) stockpile of professional games purchased with in it—all running natively on Linux. 

There is never a point during my day where I need to reboot into Microsoft Windows. Or even fire up a virtual machine. Heck, I don’t even need Wine anymore. 

Don’t need Windows. Don’t want Windows. Don’t have Windows. 

That, to me, is a huge statement. Not only is Linux powerful (it’s always been that), but now, at the start of 2017, it is viable and enjoyable to use for just about every purpose conceivable. 

When I think about new releases of various Linux distributions, I actually get excited. I’ve applied more than one update recently (on two different distros) that led to modest speed bumps and improvements in stability. The fact that I’m applauding that as something unique and amazing might be a sign that just maybe there is a problem outside of the free software world in this area. 

Regardless of the sadness faced on a regular basis by users of those proprietary systems as they “upgrade” to their new, slower, buggier, more-spy-y systems, I’m damned happy here in free software land. No advertisements in my desktop environments. No spyware built into the system. Speed and stability improvements rolling out here and there. 

Just downright lovely.

The hell with it. Gonna say it. I don’t care how much flak I get for it.

2017—Year of the Linux Desktop.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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