Life with Linux: Getting Help and Settling for Less (Day 2)

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

This is part 3 in an ongoing series called Life with Linux.

A little help from your friends

Well, yesterday's pieces got quite the reaction! It turns out the Linux community is quite passionate about their platform! Thankfully, they're also generally quite helpful when you come in with an open attitude. Yesterday's piece was quite negative on the software, but I got some tips from some of my friends who use Linux that should help me understand the best way to use this new operating system.

I should note that all of the people I know who actually use Linux are developers. Their needs are quite different than mine for this series, so the thing they love about Linux typically aren't things that are great for me.

I do have someone who has actually gotten a lot of his non-computer savvy relatives on Ubuntu, so I'm going to ask him what their set ups look like and how they like it.

One more note on the app selection for Linux

Okay, so yesterday I lamented on the quality of consumer and professional1 applications available on Linux. That became even more painfully obvious when I had to make a few quick edits to a graphic I'm using on a little project I'm working on. I used Gimp, which is the widely-agreed best Photoshop clone for Linux and it was a huge pain in the ass. First off, the app is plain hideous. That's not the biggest deal in the world, but once again this UI looks like it's from 20 years ago. Nothing is easy or intuitive, and the tools available are pretty simple compared to all other image editing apps I've used on the Mac.

For comparison's sake, here are my options on the Mac:

  • Adobe Photoshop: The best, most powerful editing software out there. A little slow, but constantly evolving and just a fantastic tool.
  • Pixelmator: Photoshop for the rest of us. Fewer features than Photoshop, but has the most commonly used ones and takes advantage of OS X's low level performance features to be super fast.
  • Affinity Photo: Named Apple's best app of 2015, this editor is very customizeable and has some innovative editing tools built in.
  • Acorn: Great for photos or graphics, Acorn excels at shape manipulation, vectors, and general workflow speed.

I would rather use any of those apps than Gimp, and it really frustrates me that this is my only option. I'm sure there are people who are wizards with it, and I know that I could spend more time with it to get more familiar. But I didn't have these fist impressions or issues with the 4 Mac apps mentioned above.

The story is the same for finding replacements for Lightroom, Final Cut Pro, RSS readers, writing apps, and email. There are some options, but there tends to be one just one and it's generally terrible.

  1. I'm talking about professional apps for people who aren't developers.