A Month with Linux

Last month, I tried using Linux for my daily driver and the results were mixed. While using Linux for work is as easy as using macOS, I had some minor hardware support issues, game controller issues, and I hesitated moving my personal computing needs to the platform.

Hardware

I initially installed Kubuntu 21.10 on a decently spec’d desktop machine from 2017. Due to its age and being a desktop, I had no driver issues and everything ran great.

I also tried installing Kubuntu 21.10 on a Framework Laptop. This machine has the latest Intel CPU and the latest Intel WiFi card so support requires the latest kernel.

The results were mixed with Kubuntu. The installation was fine, but after the first update my WiFi flaked out and bluetooth stopped working. I had to revert the kernel update. Apparently, regarding the AX210 WiFi card, Linux 5.12 works fine. Some patches of 5.13 have a regression. 5.14 works fine.

I tried Fedora 35, and it ran well. However, I figured if I was going to jump to another distribution, I might try something else. I needed up using Manjaro, an Arch-based distribution, and it has been fun playing around with bleeding edge kernels and bleeding edge packages. Though I don’t know how sustainable this is.

In all of the distributions I tried, the fingerprint scanner wasn’t fully working and suspend/hibernate drains the battery more significantly than Windows did. The fingerprint hardware issue well-known, and KDE doesn’t support fingerprint scanning as well as Gnome anyways. The battery draining problem seems fixable with some configuration.

My Framework Laptop will continue running Linux or maybe OpenBSD. Joshua Stien is putting in a lot of effort to get OpenBSD running well on the Framework Laptop. And the Framework Community seems very active about trying to get board Linux support for the hardware.

Gaming

I was surprised how well Windows games ran on Linux with Proton on my desktop machine. However, I could not get games that ran with Proton to understand my Xbox One controller. I tried a lot of the suggestions from the forums but had no luck. Native Linux games like Portal understood the controller, though.

Not being able to use a controller for games like Fallen Order is a deal breaker. However, I expect this to get better the closer we get to the Steam Deck shipping.

Work

I was able to move my work to Linux without issues. All of my work-related projects are web apps that deploy to Linux servers, so this wasn’t a surprise.

Visual Studio Code runs great. So does Slack, Postman, and other Electron-based apps I use for work.

For the few documents, presentations, and spreadsheets I deal with, LibreOffice was just fine. We don’t really have any complicated formatting, intense animations, or Excel-specific functions so it wasn’t much of a stress test.

Personal Computing

My personal computing needs were harder to play around with in Linux. Unless I’m willing to dedicate more time or just fully take the plunge, I didn’t want to disrupt things too much. My photos are in iCloud Photos, my music is in Apple Music (though the web interface was decent), and some of my personal projects are iOS apps.

It would be nice to focus on this aspect a bit more. I just don’t want to manage two different silos of the same data during a transition and possibly start losing data or have changes get out of sync.

I think I will always have Windows and macOS installed on something, and for mobile I don’t see myself switching to Android. I’m not trying to replace an Apple account with a Google account, I’m just trying to get a little more control over my computing needs one piece at a time.

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