Life with Linux: Getting a Fresh Perspective (Day 4)

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

So I've been away for a few days, but I have still been using Linux from time to time and am getting a little better hand on doing things in the system. I'm still not happy with Linux (Ubuntu) overall, but I am getting a little more perspective on what people like about Linux and why it's just not clicking with me.

Why "Normal People" Can Enjoy Linux

I talked at length with someone at work about why he likes Linux and why he has had success getting some of his family members on Xubuntu as well. His explanation for why Linux worked for his family was pretty simple:

  1. Linux runs better on their old hardware than Windows ever would
  2. He does all the setup for them, so they don't have to do the frustrating setup things I've dealt with
  3. Xubuntu is able to be customized so its interface is very similar to Windows XP

I totally get the speed thing. My last piece was all about how zippy Ubuntu is on my Mac, and I'm not surprised that it runs better than the abomination slower Windows versions they were using before.

It's easier for me to legitimize saving $1,000+ for a new computer when I need one because I love computers and will prioritize them over things other people wouldn't. But if someone who doesn't care as much, the prospect of making you current computer faster for free is much more appealing than dropping a few hundred dollars on new hardware.

As far as doing the setup for them, I give him an A+ for that. Once things are up and running and all hardware and software is set up, Linux isn't much different from older versions of Windows. Click the icon of the app you want to launch... Navigate the file system like you used to... If you need your computer to do a finite number of things and you'll never install much more than that, the maintaining of a Linux system can be much easier.

Some People Don't Care About "the Future of Computers"

This is something I didn't consider enough to this point. I spend a lot of time thinking about where computers are going and how young people's entire concept of what a computer should be is changing. I look at iOS and Android and see the future being in our pockets and being on tablet-like devices with operating systems that reject fundamental things about how computers have traditionally behaved.

I think it's great, but there are plenty of people who simply don't care enough about this stuff to be interested. These people grew up with computers being a certain way and they're just fine continuing to use them that way now. Maybe they don't want to learn a new interaction model or maybe they just prefer the way computers have always been to where they're going. Whatever the reason, it's clear that there are people out there who are looking for something very different from me in their computer, and it was good to be reminded of this.