Why I stopped using Linux and went back to Microsoft Windows

I started using Linux in early 2009. My first distribution was Kiwi Linux a Romanian Linux distribution, based on Ubuntu. I knew nothing about Linux back then, nothing more than it “can’t get virused”.

After Kiwi Linux, I switched to Ubuntu with version 8.10 being the first in line. I have tried Fedora, OpenSUSE, and I think some other smaller distributions. I’ve played with all the major Desktop Environments, Gnome 2, KDE Plasma 4, XFCE and LXDE. I loved Ubuntu for it’s simplicity, for the fact that it was getting out of my way, I could do anything I wanted with it. It was the Compiz era and as most of the Linux users of the time my desktop consisted of 4 desktops which were rotating in a 3D cube. The windows were wobbly and they caught fire when closed. Compiz effects were the best. I loved that era. And Doing all this with the same RAM consumption as my friends that were using Windows which was just a plain boring classic desktop.

When the Gnome team decided that it’s time to ditch all the fun and launch the Gnome 3 I was extremely disappointed. Around the same time Ubuntu decided to launch their own DE, Unity. I hated both Gnome 3 and Unity. At first I switched to Linux Mint and other small distros. I used Cinnamon, KDE, XFCE, Unity sometimes… none of them felt at home, as Gnome 2 did. I tried Arch Linux and I loved it’s power, but hated it’s instability, any update could render my computer unusable for a few hours at least. For work I mostly sticked with Ubuntu and it’s Unity.

Recently I tried Elementary OS and I really liked it, it was simple, light, elegant, out of the way, mostly intuitive. I still had some issues with it, mostly minor and slightly annoying. ¬†After I got border/fed up of Elementary OS and it’s Pantheon I switched back to Ubuntu and tried Gnome 3 once again. This was around the time Ubuntu announced that they’ll drop Unity and switch back to Gnome as default DE. I really loved Gnome 3 this time, it matured and got a slick new look. It has it’s own applications like Maps, Contacts, Weather, it integrates well with my Google account so with my Android. The extensions allow you to customize it any way you wish. It’s awesome. Except it’s not. After simple updates the extensions got all disabled and I had to reenable all of them. This is just a minor annoyance. A much bigger issue was that after updating the extensions sometimes I had to reboot or stick with a “broken” desktop.

In all this time I’ve used Linux on 6 laptops and more than 10 desktops plus a lot of servers. Some of the desktops were work computers and I specifically asked to use Linux. It was easier for web development as most of the tools are native to Linux and some are just ported to Windows.

Now here comes the rant. In December of 2016 I bought a new laptop, an ASUS ux305ua. I love this laptop and although it’a medium class ultrabook it’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned. HiDPI, lightweight, relative high performance. The model was around a year old when bought. I considered this in order to be sure the Linux community fixed any driver or compatibility issue. The only think that I haven’t managed to make to work on Linux was the auto brightness sensor, which I also keep disabled on Windows. I have managed to make it work at some point, but it was a dirty hack and I had to undo it. Since 2009 and until today I’ve had a lot of issues with Linux, from updates that rendered my computers useless to misconfigurations and incompatible software installed or vital software removed. Some of the times it was my fault, other times all I did was update the computer. Heck, a few times my OS crashed without me doing anything to it for days. But every time it was easy to fix, in the worst case scenario I had to reinstall the Linux (or another distribution).

This time it’s different. I was using Ubuntu with Gnome 3. Lots of configurations, lots of installed software and tweaks. I had gestures working for virtual desktops, all the laptop features worked flawlessly. The only problem was that the RAM consumption was high. High like 1.5GB RAM freshly booted with no custom services running. That wasn’t the only problem, opening PhpStorm, Google Chrome with no more than 5 tabs and a javascript compiler would use almost all the available RAM (8GB). I thought that this was the problem for my 3-4 freezes and forced restarts daily. So I started really optimizing the resources I used and monitoring my system resources. With 50% CPU use, more than 1GB or ram free and almost no activity on the system (no disk operations, no network traffic) simple operations like opening a new Chrome tab (empty) was a lottery and sometimes it crashed my system. Some of the freezes were a few minutes long and then the system recovered itself, others took as long as 20-30 minutes before I decided to kill it.

So I did what I always did since 2009. I grabbed an USB drive, wrote a new copy of Ubuntu Gnome 17.04 on it and reinstalled my Linux. Now the touch gestures don’t work anymore, the freezing issue is still there and some old configurations don’t work anymore (backup and restore of old configuration files). Okay… so the issue is with Ubuntu 17.04 (that’s what I was using before the reinstall). No problem, I grabbed the USB drive again and wrote Elementary OS 0.4.1 Loki on it. Elementary OS was the last known stable OS running on this laptop. Guess what. Same issues.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, some hardware issues. But for the last 14 hours my laptop was always on. Not a second of sleep, not a restart, not a second of unresponsive mouse. How? With the Microsoft Windows 10 it came. I saved it on a separate partition, first time I’m doing this since 2010 when I removed my last Windows partition “never” to look back. And guess what. Windows use less RAM, less CPU and I’ve done more intensive work on it on these hours. The same editor (PhpStorm), same compiler, more Chrome tabs and a few more applications running. It’s warmer than it was on Linux, but way more responsive.

What was the problem with Linux that my computer was unresponsive? I don’t know. Could I find out and do something about that? Probably yes. Should I do that? Well, I’d love to do it if I’d had the knowledge, but more important the time to investigate such a delicate issue. I have parting ways with Linux and I already miss it. But I’m afraid I’m just missing the “good old days” of Linux. Lately Microsoft Windows evolved a lot so I think I’ll give it a try for a few weeks.

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