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 and game controller issues, so I hesitated to move 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, the AX210 WiFi card works fine with Linux 5.12, but some patches of 5.13 have a regression. 5.14 works fine.

I decided to hop around to other distributions. I tried Manjaro, an Arch-based distribution, and it was fun playing around with bleeding-edge kernels and packages. But I didn’t know how sustainable it was. I then tried Fedora 35, and it ran well, but I’m just so familiar with Debian-based distributions and circled back to Kubuntu.

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 is well known, and KDE doesn’t support fingerprint scanning as well as Gnome anyway. The battery draining problem seems fixable with some configuration.

My Framework Laptop will continue running Linux or maybe I’ll try 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 at 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 for me. 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 do 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 Linux. Unless I’m willing to dedicate more time or just fully take the plunge, I don’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.