Stuck in Limbo Between Ubuntu and Windows

About a year ago I decided to try out Ubuntu GNOME and jump aboard the "switch to linux" bandwagon that was very rampant at that time. I started out on my old Windows 7 laptop that was getting unbearably slow and the experience (after the switch) was absolutely and immediately wonderful. Upon installation and a bit of tinkering, I adored how fact the os was, how many out of the box features GNOME had: the amazing disk utility tools, the ability to not just remove programs, but purge them fully and manage disk space in such a smart manner. I adored how the operating system handled permissions and security, but most of all, I loved being immersed in this new and wonderful world where everything was fresh and new – trying out several distributions just for the hell out of it and learning so much about computers in general as a result of the heavy command-line based approach. Not to mention, GNOME just had some features that baffled me that Windows hadn't adopted – rather it be really efficient screen scaling options, the software repository approach, or the simple concept of a universal dark theme (something I always miss very much on Windows).

I eventually made the decision to buy an SSD and install Ubuntu GNOME on it, using it as my daily driver on my main, everyday gaming desktop (with Windows on a dual-boot on an older hhd). For a while I had no problems at all, but I noted that my productivity levels, for whatever reason, actually started to decline at a steady rate. I quickly learned how to do everything I needed to, but I found the inconvenience in some things with Linux to be so tedious I would avoid them altogether. Rather it be Skype being incredibly buggy and awful to look at on Linux, or some menu items in Garry's Mod still being completely broken on Linux after years of bug reports. What drove me away most, however, came in the form of software. I use FL Studio as my main software for music creation (which is a major hobby and joy of mine), while it is possible to get it to run on Linux via wine, i've had some audio related issues with it, and beyond this, after the FL 12 update, I found myself unable to run it for a while (until compatibility was worked on). I'm personally not a fan of running Virtual Machines and did not want to go that approach either. I found myself having to switch over to Windows constantly to achieve actual productive tasks, or to run a particular program or to play a certain game. This drove me further and further away from Linux as a daily driver, and soon, I found myself mostly running Windows – and occasionally booting into Ubuntu GNOME whenever I wished to do programming work due to it's great multitasking system and quick access to multiple open windows. This was however, until once again, I came across an IDE I really wanted to use but any alternatives on Linux were not that appealing. I found myself having to force situations in which I would use Linux instead of naturally jumping in and having fun.

Do not get me wrong, I absolutely adore the experience of Linux (in particular Ubuntu GNOME – and yes, I have tried other distros such as Open SUSE and Elementary), but after a bunch of quirky and very picky issues popping up (especially involving hardware drivers and resolution issues with the GTX 960) I can't help but grow away from it. The amount of frustration and time spent resolving minor issues that would not occur at all on Windows was enough to break my motivation and productivity on many occasions. I used Ubuntu GNOME as a daily driver for close to a year...and now I find myself not wanting to boot into it, because I will eventually just need to boot back into Windows to do whatever else needs to be done and simply, that is enough of a frustration to discourage me form using it. I think I will still run Ubuntu GNOME on laptops, because it is a great experience, and the wonders of the open-source world will certainly always be with me in spirit.

I'm curious as to if this situation has ever occurred to any of the Linux purists around here or to those that have tried to switch to Linux. In most ways I adore the experience and think Linux is way ahead of the game. However, at the same time there are so many things keeping Linux behind that I can't help but's not quite there yet. I'm not biased one way or the other particularly, I just want to hear what most people have to say on this.


I personally feel like my production levels are highest when I am booted into a Linux distro whether it be crunchbang (sadly dead) on my old macbook or Mint on my desktop. Partially I think it might be because I feel OS X and Windows can't live up to the speed of getting certain things done. But as you mention, those can be very specific things like: something I can do completely in Chrome or programming which I've started doing in Vim.

I also find myself torn as to which OS to boot into sometimes if I don't have a very specific objective in mind when booting (i.e. game, program, write a book), considering I essentially triple boot (but not really, separate machines) and they all have their strong points.

I personally say Linux is THE choice for a laptop, especially an older or underpowered one like a Macbook. Your hobby is one that I don't share so I don't really have anything for you there but I can say that, regrettably, I have not been completely pulled away from the Adobe suite when it comes to image processing. That said, with almost any other kind of software I was either satisfied with or maybe even enjoyed the F/OSS version better.

That's my 2 cents. I will continue to cherry pick my OS based on what I want to do atm, which could be affecting my performance but I haven't noticed because I seem to enjoy the torture.

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I started with linux in '06ish and pretty much always dual-booted up until about 2 years ago. However my transaction went the other way around and I switched to linux completely. While my productivity did struggle a bit when I couldn't complete some job in linux & had to jump to windows back and forth, the biggest hallelujah moment for me came when I was forced to run linux fully for a couple of months (windows just kept crashing due to a hardware fault in the pc), forcing me to actually fix things on the linux side when I broke something instead of re-installing, and actually had to search for solutions on how to accomplish some tasks in linux instead of booting to windows to complete them. Sure it was a struggle at first but not being able to escape to another platform I for the first time actually learned how to use linux effectively.
All in all the transaction was fairly painless for me since I'm not a developer or anyone who actually work with computers.
But still... now I'm in a situation where I'm completely out of my water on windows lol.

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Switching the actual OS isn't the hard part. You have to accept that moving away from proprietary software isn't going to be a smooth experience and there will be moments where you're going to feel "trapped" and not 100% comfortable with the tools. The trick, like with many other things in life, is to maintain a level of discomfort that's low enough not to discourage you and high enough to get you to your long term goal. Much like trying to get in shape, it's always tempting to return to old unhealthy habits.

In 2013 i had already switched to using 100% open source alternatives on Windows, so it only took me 2 weeks to delete my Windows partition and use Mint fulltime. That wasn't the case back in 2009 when i first tried, and quickly deleted Ubuntu - it had nothing to offer me compared to XP as i was relying on things like 3ds Max, Paint Shop Pro, MSN Messenger, Maxthon, Winamp etc. Of course, now Linux is much more "mainstream" and you will find proper alternatives for most things. Don't be afraid to use the bugtrackers whenever something is broken and stopping you from getting work done.

I suggest overcoming your aversion for virtual machines and give them a try - they're not as slow and broken as you might think. Unless you're running something graphics-intensive like 3ds Max it should be fine for most productivity stuff and keep your "comfort levels" in check.

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I hadn't thought about that. I haven't done that on my laptop, but desktop is basically like that minus some school stuff (but I don't need that anymore!), and that's actually a great idea to start the transition. Unfortunately even sourceforge has started losing their reputation when it comes to acquiring F/OSS for Windows.

I also agree with the fact that virtual machines can be worth it to get away from rebooting for one program or whatever.

Part of the problem when someone intiialy moves to another OS is you bought shit hardware and got used to using locked in software. To no real fault of your own, how were you to know some hardware ship had propitiatory locked in software drivers that only works with a specific version of windows? You didn't.

I didnt.

When I first used Linux I had some similar problems if you can call them that. I had windows hardware and had used windows software. So my shitty peice of crap wifi wouldn't work because it was a terrible piece of hardware, I never noticed because they made some backwards hack of a pile of crap bloatware to make it work in windows.

The next time I bought new hardware i had learned my lesson, do more research and buy hardware thats actually decent and has proper drivers.

Ont he software side, a lot of people say but it doesnt have "insert propitiatory windows program and i want that to work". Keep in mind, your not using windows. why should you have windows software on it? this is one area where really, you need to decide what works for you, there are very good peices of software out there for most things you need, and most of them will require learning how to use them, just like you had to when you first used windows.

You dont have to switch in one go, use free software in windows, get linux on a VM and put it full screen. or get windows in a VM and use seemless mode for the things you still havent transitioned over.

arch all the way!

For me, not to long ago, I was just like "Screw it" and I wiped my main drive and installed Ubuntu Gnome, I love it, my friends get mad at me because I can't play all the games that they can play, to an extent. There are a lot of ways to get around games that do not have Linux as a download option. I love the tinkering fact. I do miss a lot of games like arma and the dayz mod, but I'm going to try my best soon to get them working. If I were you, I'd try your best to get all the games you like to work on Ubuntu, it is not that hard, to run for Starcraft and such, all you need to do is install wine, download from its website, then run with wine. That easy, but it is not that way for all games, you are going to have to tinker like that. Just do what you'd think is best.

Never actually experimented with Arch, how is it and what are its advantages?

The only major problem I had was with my GTX 960, it seems the 900 series in general has a lot of driver related problems, to the extent that I have to manually adjust my resolutions using xrandr. If I make a linux specific build in the future or something, I will keep in mind to use older series graphics cards (I've also heard AMD is a bit better when it comes to driver support on linux - but I may be wrong). Weirdly enough, regarding wifi, Ubuntu GNOME had less problems than Windows 8.1 at detecting my tp-link wifi card.

As far as "windows proprietary software" - i'm not necessarily referring to Microsoft products, but just programs that are specifically designed with windows in mind such as FL Studio or the Adobe Software Suite. I can use Krita as an alternative to Photoshop and Illustrator, but nothing works like Premiere and After Effects - the alternatives just aren't as good. And, somewhere in my mind for some reason, it feels i'm defeating the purpose of using Linux if I am just going to be using a virtual machine for everything anyway - or struggling with compatibility layers such as Wine, and waiting desperately for updates to certain software versions.

I don't know, as much as I love Linux, I find that I can't use it on my main desktop for productivity and gaming. I will continue using Linux Distributions on my laptop and continue using Linux on my multimedia/itx machine, but running Windows on my main desktop just seems to be the better option for me at the moment - less hassle and nonsense, more of getting things done without stress.

I use a lot of open source software and still really support open-source as a general movement, but I still have my exceptions, I suppose. I use Libre Office, VLC, 7zip,, and so forth (on Linux and Windows), but I also find myself using many proprietary software, and really genuinely supporting them. Simply, some open-soruce solutions aren't as great as the proprietary ones, and sometimes I don't want to use an alternative to a program, I want to use that exact program.

There's always a few exceptions, with the F/OSS software library being small compared to everything else. Thats why my suggestion would be to run those in a virtual machine. Which proprietary ones do you use most heavily? The Adobe creative suite is ok for now but it's destined for the shitter in the forseeable future with its subscription based model. You'll find that a lot of the big players like Autodesk are going that route as a means of countering piracy.

You should definitely give it a try, if you're already using mostly F/OSS stuff. Another reason was that after stubbornly using XP for the longest time i hit the 32bit wall where Blender would crash if i used more than 2GB of ram during render (out of 5GB total). The choice then was to either "get used to 7" or "get used to Linux". A funny thing i noticed in the first week was that a lot of the smaller apps i'd normally install on Windows like XnView, IZarc, Winamp, FileZilla all had some sort of alternative already bundled as part of the installation. Speaking of sourceforge, it's annoying is that on Windows you normally get spoon-fed with nice uploaded binaries, whereas on Linux you have to rely more on repositories that don't often have the latest versions. Using PPAs is easy enough, but it took some getting used to.

I had lots of issues with my 980 using gnome. moved to xfce 1000% better.i later wiped the drive and went with xubuntus install. Recently amd drivers have been going down and nvidia have been making strides. I got dying light and it was unplayable even on low at first but a few driver updates and (a game update?) now its playable on max.

I was a windows only guy and now im a xubuntu 95% and windows for specific games only. There will almost always be a few programs that just will not work on anything but windows.

Also win 10 is basically windows version of linux. Workspaces? Store? Integrated file search and web? hmmm I seen all of these in Ubuntu. It does seem like it will be the next windows for me even tho it will only be used for specific games. It has some cool features and some ones i pray to the coffee gods that i can remove.

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You're telling me that AMD drivers are worse than current Nvidia drivers??? I just wen't through a a whole ordeal with Nvidia drivers for a GTX 280 completely freezing my system ~1hr in every time (windows AND linux). I was hoping the new system I'm planning with all AMD would halfway solve those types of problems as well as give me that "supporting open source supporters" fuzzy feeling.

I've literally been having the exact opposite experience. AMD open source drivers are very good, nvidias are non-existent. AMD and trying to integrate more with the kernel, nvidia are sted fast against it, should see that this year with 4.2

That's a lil closer to what I expected/wanted to hear lol

I have never had issues with nvidia on windows. even with old as fuck hardware in windows 7. I had some issues with it on Linux with dying light which is now fixed.

I should have worded my post to say nvidia is getting better drivers. Not that amd is getting worse, that is not what i had intended to say.