Note: This is part 2 of my series on switching to Linux. To see my first blog post, click here.
In “The Long Road to Linux”, published in late November, I wrote a post stating that I was attempting to switch to using Linux full time as my operating system of choice. And so, after spending slightly over three weeks running Linux on my main laptop, I figured it was time to post an update on how things are going.
Thus far, everything has been going smoothly. I have used Linux at work long enough to know that there are often a few bumps in the road, and was therefore prepared to have some hurdles in using it daily, but my experiment with running Arch Linux on my Asus Zenbook has been one of my nicest user experiences in recent memory. That is not to say that there haven’t been some small issues. But nothing has been a showstopper, and I continue to use my Zenbook day in and day out.
So, what issues have I ran into? The first annoyance I had once my computer was set up was some tearing when watching full-screen video, and also when scrolling through websites in Chrome. After a bit of research on the Arch wiki, it turned out that there were a few simple settings I could tweak in the video driver .conf file. I made the changes, and after a reboot I have had no further problems with my graphics card. Easy fix.
The next problem I tackled was finding a replacement for Airmail. I’ve followed the Linux community long enough to know about most of the major email clients, and so I tried out almost all of the big-name applications: Nylas N1, Geary, Wmail, Evolution, and Thunderbird. Geary and Evolution were very quickly checked off the list. Neither felt comfortable to use in my opinion, and were lacking some features I was interested in. Next, I checked out N1. It looked nice, but I had no interest in having my email going through servers other than Google’s (which I’m not actually 100% comfortable with either, but I am living with for the time being). And though they have a self-hosted option, I was not ready to put that much work into my email. Which left me with Wmail and Thunderbird. Wmail is nice, but it is effectively just a wrapper for Gmail. And Thunderbird feels old and clunky, but it will get the job done, and will let me have a combined inbox (something I am very keen on having). After a few hours of testing, it was settled: I’m using Thunderbird for my email client.
The last major issue I have run into is using Evernote under Linux, or else replacing it entirely. I have tried a couple of the alternatives to Evernote, but so far, nothing has really impressed me. The tools were functional, but not nearly as handy as Evernote. And so, I have once again decided to punt on finding a replacement, and continue using Evernote. This does mean that I must use my Mac for the occasional document-scanning or database-backup task, but it is normally limited to around once per week.
As you would expect, there were some important decisions I made when I switched to Linux that have affected my experience so far (desktop of choice, web browser, etc), as well as some specific config settings that I have used to improve the performance of my ZenBook. But, that’s another post for another time!