Really I should start out by saying I like the idea of Linux and would use it if I could. Also I used Linux Ubuntu, Linux Gnome and Ubuntu MATE.
I use Windows 7 currently, without the spyware related updates. I use programs like Skype, Steam, etc and others that simply don't work. Yes I'm aware of the alternatives and yes even Skype has a program for Linux but it is old and buggy. The games I play arn't on Steam except TF2. I use a Lenovo ThinkPad T420 (Hopping to get a shot at getting the eBay build because I would like to play new games.) and Linux doesn't like it much, Doesn't work with Optimus (not well at least) Neither my mics or webcam worked right (and I tried multiple times and forums) And most of all for me it sucked up battery life (except Ubuntu MATE) Im also a student trying to get into the IT field and Windows is all we really learn with. So right now Linux isn't for my, sorry maybe another day.
Because going around the forum I noticed others like this but in different topics...
Just fyi, your first two linuxes were both identical. and mate is based on ubuntu but more of an actual distro from what i know. The problems with your T420 might be from using an old version of Linux. the T series generally works well with Linux, but sometimes requires updated versions of the kernel (4.2 where as ubuntu is on 3.19.) that said, yes, optimus sucks, im not sure if it got any better which is a shame, its why i got a laptop with intel graphics.
You'll hate me for this.. dont use skype, its just a massive data collection program. but yeah, i think they discontinued development last year, its not int here interests, but its integrated with outlook, maybe you can get the same functionality through that..
My suggestion to you. Next time your in the need for a new computer, get it with Linux in mind, you have far fewer problems with hardware (none at all actually, ive not had problem for years)
What kind of games do you play? mmos seem the be the ones who'll be the last to switch to linux, a lot of games next year will come out with linux builds, i think about half my library has linux, ported after the fact which is just amazing considering they didnt need to at all.
Do you have an alternative to Skype?
I totally understand; however, you can't escape Linux in the IT field. It will pop up from time to time. At some point, you will be confronted with it. There are many things that will end up in your lap in the IT field. If you want to keep your job, you'll have to take on the challenges that get thrown at you. There are things that I absolutely hate in my job, but if I say no to everything I hate, I wouldn't have a job.
I wouldn't invest my time into Tox. It looked pretty nice from the start but a few of the developers got into drama and it seems like development has slowed down. It's been awhile since I've looked at Tox though, development could be back to normal.
I took a quick look through that list, are any of them video chat type programs? They all seem like texting apps for phones and im clients.
It's not an either/or question when choosing a OS. Linux Mint is my main distro at home, a prettier Ubuntu really. However, in Virtualbox and KVM I run other Linux distros, Windows and Firewalls too. Fedora and CentOS (Server), because that's what I use mainly at work, plus a whole load of other Linux distros/servers for fun and a Zental server. I also need to run Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8 for maintaining Visual Studio applications and websites. Often they are running simultaneously, switching between them as necessary.
If you need Windows to play games, plus other exclusive Windows software, run Windows. Dual boot or run Linux in virtual environment of your choice. Of course you could do it the other way round to, Linux distro, KVM Windows with passthrough. Either way you can't lose.
I'm a proponent of this too, just to use Windows to play games in, use it for the castrated software console it is, keep the linux install clean from binary blobs and DRM-infested spyware like the Steam client and proprietary drivers and games. Microsoft has made Windows into a console, let's use it like that. It's not because you do all your serious computing on your main machines with open source software, that you don't use an Android phone or Xbone or PS4 any more... a PC with Windows as operating system is the same, it's useful as a software console. There are just certain things, like DRM and proprietary spyware, that I don't necessarily want on my main linux system. I actually would prefer using a dedicated machine with windows for that. Of course, if SteamOS turns out great, I would use a dedicated machine for linux gaming, but I wouldn't want Steam crap on my main linux system to be honest. It's not just because it runs on linux that it's better than anything else, it depends on what it is and what it does. For me, there is no difference between playing DRM-infested games on a proprietary spyware application like the Steam Client on Linux or doing the same on Windows. At least when I do it on Windows, I keep my main linux system clean to use for serious stuff that I don't want the spyware and DRM-malware for.
Zoltan, you make some good points to consider. Thank you.
https://jitsi.org/ that i mentioned before does video, voice, chat, etc.
I put Debian on my T420 as soon as I got it. I personally set the nvidia GPU to always-on and just use the regular nvidia driver, but I've heard good things about bumblebee (driver for nvidia optimus).
Bumblebee and optimus support got better and better. many many smart people working on it. But it was a royal pain in the ass.
I did the opposite, I opted for the iGPU until I got the T430p which has no longer a bios/uefi switch for graphics card selection.. :(
Why do people make threads telling people what they use or don't use? Just get it done (whatever you do) and post results.
I considered them and think most of them are overzealous.
I wouldn't put a ton of games etc on a machine that I was required to use for work/professionally as you I'd want it at low risk from anything happening to it but Zoltan sounds like he would only put open source material on his Linux boxes. There's a lot of good stuff out there that's not open source. Personally I'd use the best too for the job, be it proprietary or open source. Like restricting yourself to only one language for coding... it can be done but there are better/faster/more accurate options depending on what the job is.
If you like the 'idea' of Linux and you basically 'want' to use it, but you feel either you or Linux (depends on how you look at things) aren't ready to use it right now, start the other way around:
Start to use more and more cross-platform open source software on Windows.
Add one open source alternative after the other, don't immediately delete the closed source ones.
Slowly get used to it, accept that things work differently and don't pressure yourself.
Over the time you'll get used to most software which you would run under Linux anyways and you give the Linux gaming situation some time to improve too.
However, at the end of the day it's always the same vicious circle:
The main problem that people have with Linux is caused by a lack of support for Linux from third party software vendors.
That's one of the main reason for people to leave Linux ('I cant run this, I can't run than, I don't like the alternatives').
But the only way to really change this is actually to help to increase the Linux user base.
Because the only thing which can software developers persuade to put work into a Linux version of their software is a user base which is big enough to be 'worth the workload' from the perspective of a company/developers.
google hangouts is an alternative... however it requires using a browser. and some might argue that google takes even more user data then skype does so... yeah.