Second Thoughts on Linux

Not long ago I wrote basically saying “Holy crap, I love Linux!” But, well, three weeks or so later, I’m having second thoughts. Now, I’m still using the Zorin distro mainly (though I’ve faffed about with others) but some of my complaints seem to be pretty much universal.

Now, the three things that stick in my craw and prevent me from being a full-on Linux convert are the following:

1) It’s not as user-friendly as your average Windows system. For example, to install Firefox on the new Zorin OS 6, I have to use the Zorin Software Center… which sometimes doesn’t work because it’s missing a core update. Okay, so run the update center, then run the firefox install. Great… now, how do I make a desktop shortcut or a taskbar icon? There’s supposed to be a right-click option, but the link it creates doesn’t work. You can create a link manually to the program’s executable, but then the desktop icon is a generic one. As for pinning it to the taskbar? Run the program, and right-click on the icon that appears in the taskbar and select “Pin Application.” Note that this option probably won’t be available until you restart your computer.

Compare that to Windows, where all the above is done for you just by running the installer, and the parts that aren’t can easily be done yourself.

2) Despite what some suggest, Open-Source software doesn’t always have an answer. Just off the top of my head, there are two things I looked for and did not find:

A) good webcam software. I tried hundreds of options, but none of them took videos in the same quality as the Logitech software that’s meant specifically for my C310 webcam… and Logitech software is windows-only.

B) A good word-processor. Now, my favorite word-processor of all time is… Wordpad. Good old Wordpad. Used it since the Windows 95 days, continued using it until Windows 7, where they changed it… and then I found a hack to replace it with the old Wordpad, and so I continue to use it. Why Wordpad? Because Wordpad gives me just the features I want without any extra junk. I don’t need pages, I don’t need special stylings. I don’t need my paragraphs to wrap perfectly to an imaginary page (I like wrap-to-screen). Just give me a white screen and let me type what I want on it, with the ability (if I wish) to italicize, boldface, resize or color my text, and I am happy.

On Linux? All the wordprocessors are basically either Notepad (which can only do plain text, no italics or anything unless in HTML code) or else really complicated and you have to constantly tweak to get them just how you like them, and deal with resource hogging and options that you don’t even know what they mean. None of the out-of-the-box simplicity of Wordpad.

And yes, I tried using WINE to rune Wordpad. And it worked… until I discovered that for some reason, once an RTF file reaches a size of 50k, it will stop allowing input. This has never happened on any version of Windows and even after dozens of searches, I have seen no one else report this problem nor provide a fix, and I was unable to find one through experimenting. So, for one of the most basic functions a computer provides–word processing–Windows is the better choice.

And finally:

3) Linux isn’t very laptop-friendly. I do most of my computing from a laptop, and my experience is that Linux isn’t optimized for portable hardware the way Windows is. A battery that drains in two hours on Windows will drain in fifty minutes on Linux, and for some reason the system feels like it overheats more and I constantly hear sounds of activity, like its being stressed. Right now, even as I’m typing this, I’m hearing NO sounds coming from my PC save for the clack of keys. And I’m running Windows.

Now, I’m not totally hating here. Linux has the definite advantage for internet security since if your system gets infected, you can just wipe the drive and reinstall (although… I found out recently that even Windows 7 kind-of-sort-of allows that too). I also find my liveCD useful for some advanced computer stuff, like drive partitioning and the like. But outside of that, I’m finding Linux to be awfully limited in applicable use.

But, I’ll keep experimenting. Maybe there’s a Distro out there that’s just like Windows in every way, and maybe there’s a way to make Wordpad via Wine not cap out. And the internet security thing is no small matter, so I’m keeping my LiveCDs around if nothing else.