When I first started dabbling with Linux back in the 1990s, a lot of various types of software was missing for me to be able to use it full time.
Games. Video editing tools. High-quality productivity software. Those three categories were the most critical for me (and from what I’ve seen, for most people). Sure, there were some projects in those categories, but not many—and they were not typically overly robust or polished.
+ Also on Network World: Ultimate guide to Linux desktop environments +
So, I kept dabbling. I’d use Linux for a few weeks, then go back to a different system (Mac OS, Windows, OS/2, you name it). There just always seemed to be something—some critical piece of software—missing.
Sometime around 2006 I made the switch to using Linux-based systems as my primary desktop experience. By that point, there had been some significant progress on building more robust office suites and the like. I was now able to do the vast majority of my work and play right here on Linux.
But I still wasn’t full time. I still had other operating systems running on machines nearby (or in a virtual machine) that I used in a pinch. Games and video editing seemed to be the primary reason I needed to hop over to another system. Even as recently as 2006, it was hard to make the argument that most people could use a Linux-powered system as their one and only desktop.
I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime between 2006 and today—which is a pretty big 10-year window—that hurdle simply went away.
I haven’t booted a non-Linux system in … jeez, I’m not sure how long. I struggle to even remember the last time I needed a piece of software that wasn’t available on openSUSE, Fedora, Elementary or any of the other awesome Linux distributions out there.
I’ll take LibreOffice over MS Office any day
LibreOffice is straight up fantastic. It meets, quite literally, every single one of my office suite needs—with gusto. It’s true that I haven’t used the most recent version of Microsoft Office, but I simply don’t see any need to. I’ve looked at the new features, and I’ve checked out the screenshots and video reviews. There’s simply no reason that I can see to even spend time considering moving to MS Office from LibreOffice.
And, just so you all know, this is coming from someone who spent a few years working for Microsoft on MS Office. There was a point where I knew it inside and out—every keyboard shortcut, every preference, the full VBA API—all of it was practically muscle memory for me. But nowadays, LibreOffice is far preferable. I’d go so far as to say LibreOffice is better than MS Office ever was.
Even video editing has become powerful enough—and polished enough—that I never (not once) think about setting up a Windows or Mac PC to edit a video together. Kdenlive has, over the last year or two especially, become rock-solid and a joy to use. There are other (quite good) video editing suites on Linux, but Kdenlive is the one I keep coming back to.
Plenty of games for Linux
And games! Are there games that are not available for Linux? Yes. Plenty. But there are also a lot of new, AAA titles that are. A lot. More than most people could play in a lifetime.
Besides, there are also lots (and lots) of games not available for Windows. And even more not available for PS4, XBox One and WiiU—systems that are built first and foremost to play games. Does it make them terrible because they can’t play 100 percent of the games? No, it does not. And based purely on a quick perusal of the game store, more titles seem to be released for Linux than for those game consoles.
So, games. Linux is all set there, too. I haven’t looked over at Windows for my gaming needs for a number of years now.
In fact, I struggle to think of any type of software on Windows that is not available—in similar, better or “good enough” quality—on Linux desktops.
I’m not talking about specific brands or software, but types of software—functionality. There is nothing I can’t do on my Linux-powered computers nowadays. And I know of no other platform that works so much better that I feel any sort of urge to move over to them.
But I don’t use every type of software out there in the world. I’m sure there’s something that is hard to do on Linux. Right? There must be some obscure piece of functionality that, for one reason or another, simply hasn’t been recreated or ported over to Linux.
So, I put the question to you: If you find yourself needing to use Windows or Mac OS X, why? What is the specific functionality that isn’t available (or isn’t available in sufficient quality) on Linux? Toss your thoughts in the comments here (or let me know on Twitter). I am genuinely curious.