A little over a year ago (Nov. 2016), I made the switch to using Linux pretty much full time. I wrote a few blog posts about it during the first month, but I have been relatively quiet since then. So, I thought it was about time that I gave a public update.
First of all, am I still using Linux as my daily driver? For the most part, yes. In fact, I’m writing this blog post on one of my Linux machines. Both my main laptop (the Asus ZenBook) and my main desktop computer (an old Dell Precision T3600) run Arch Linux as the OS, with KDE Plasma 5 for the desktop, and I have had very few issues with them overall. Arch gives me the latest version of pretty much any Linux software I want to run, and KDE gives me a nice, fluid desktop experience that doesn’t feel stuck in the 90s/early 2000s like some other desktop environments do (not to disparage them – just not my preference if I have the option).
Also, during 2017 I switched from using Chrome to primarily using Mozilla’s Firefox as my web browser, across all platforms. While I sometimes have qualms about how the Mozilla Foundation operates, Firefox does everything I need, and provides a nice user experience with some cross-platform syncing, which is important for me. I also use Thunderbird on my ZenBook for a desktop email client when I want one, although I typically rely on web mail (I’m still a heavy Gmail user for both work and home).
I said that I use Linux as my daily driver “for the most part”. So where do I not use Linux? Unfortunately, there are a few places where I still rely on Mac OS X and Windows 10, sometimes much to my annoyance.
Mac OS X still works best for me when it comes to photo/video editing (I prefer Adobe’s Premiere Pro and Lightroom Classic), and also when I’m working on notes in Evernote, and tasks in Todoist. While the latter two have web clients, the Mac desktop clients are much easier to use, and I can get my work done quicker there than in the web interface. I have explored using Kdenlive for video editing, but Premiere Pro still feels like the better option for me at this point. Also, yes, there are options like Darktable for photo editing, but since I am already purchasing the Adobe Creative Cloud for the time being, I decided to continue using Lightroom, which I was already familiar with.
Windows 10 gets used for certain development applications at work (where there are often no Linux alternatives), and gaming (primarily Blizzard games). I have investigated using some Windows tools under Wine, but since it is not an option for every tool that I need, I will continue running Windows 10 on one machine at home, and one at work.
In the fall of 2017 I also deployed a server running Linux at my house (ZoneMinder + Emby), and a Raspberry Pi (Home Assistant). The server is currently running Ubuntu 16.04, since that was the easiest way to get started with ZoneMinder (Emby was an afterthought since I already had the server set up). At some point I may move that machine to Arch, or else another server distro, but since it is working for now I have no reason to change it. The Raspberry Pi is running a custom build specifically for Home Assistant (based on ResinOS + Docker), and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, since it is completely dedicated to being my smart home hub.
So, what changes do I have planned for 2018? In no particular order:
- Set up a Raspberry Pi with Kodi: I’ve read about Kodi a number of times, but I have never tried it out. The barrier to entry is pretty low, so this seems like a good project for a long weekend sometime this year.
- Install Gentoo: I have a coworker that uses primarily Gentoo, and I have never done a Gentoo install. I know it will take some time, but it seems like it might be a good experience for me.
- Set up a system with ZFS: I have read quite a bit about ZFS, and was originally going to use it on my server this past Fall. However, I ultimately did an EXT4 RAID-6 array, so ZFS got pushed to a later date.
- Set up a FreeBSD system: This may go along with my ZFS experimentation. Earlier this year I actually did a FreeBSD install on one of my laptops, but I had enough issues with it that I re-installed Linux, and put of FreeBSD for another time. I’d like to purchase a small desktop system to use for BSD experimentation.
That pretty much wraps up my experience and current thoughts about Linux after a year of using it full time. At this point I do not foresee any reason for me to not use Linux primarily, although I also do not see a path forward to it being my only operating system. Hopefully, throughout 2018, I will be able to move some additional tasks to Linux, and also get a chance to work on some of the projects listed above.