the corner office : tech blog

a tech blog, by Colin Pretorius


I was going to post about something else and then realised that while approximately 0% of the world's population would care, the tiny fraction who do (me) would be quite surprised to see me posting on my tech blog about something else, where implicit in said topic would be the fact that I'm using Linux on my desktop at home. Noone likes a continuity error ruining the story.

When I bought my PC I installed Linux (XFCE), then soon after I switched to Windows. And then at some point late last year, I decided that I really didn't want to be running Windows, that I had a hankering for something a little more interesting (eg), a little less phone-homey, a little less annoying in various subtle ways.

And so I switched to Ubuntu MATE. Having switched away from Linux once before, I was rather cautious and methodical about it. I set up a VM, and over a few weeks, migrated all aspects of my computing life to the VM. I promised myself that if I was still happily using the VM in a month, I'd switch properly. A month passed, and I was still using the VM, so I took the plunge, wiped the hard drives and switched.

That was 6 months ago, and I have no urge to return to Windows.

Good things:

  • switching was a breeze. I copied across all dotfiles from my VM, found the right incantation to get MATE to pick 'em up on the new machine, and everything was set up exactly how I wanted it.
  • I couldn't say why (18.04 versus earlier 17.x versions?), but the issues I'd had with app performance and bluetooth and the like have been largely nonexistent. Also, I've enjoyed using MATE. I wouldn't say the experience is hugely different to using XFCE, but it looks good and I'm happy with it.
  • even with the arrival of WSL, and a pretty well-tweaked Cygwin set-up, it's just so much nicer doing unix-like things on a real unix-like system. Suddenly my headaches with borg backup and random git oddities and personal scripts for doing things just went away.
  • I can actually do what I'd spoken about doing when I got this machine and installed Linux on it - allow my son to be doing his thing on the PC, with me logged in remotely from a laptop upstairs and doing my thing at the same.

Niggles and things I miss:

  • pulseaudio (the sound daemon) is a bit rubbish. I regularly need to restart/killall the processes, especially if anyone's switched users on the machine. Also, weirdly enough, just opening windows in Chromium vs Firefox (I tend to have both open all the time, for different things), can cause sound to go fuzzy.
  • there are some Windows apps I miss. Notepad++ followed me via wine (there's a snap version, but that stopped working for me at some point, and I've stuck with a vanilla wine version). Also, sad to say, apps like TortoiseGit (as much as people love to hate it, there are some use cases like rebasing and cherry-picking where it's still the best tool for the job) and WinMerge don't really have decent Linux equivalents.

... and now I've forgotten whatever I was originally planning to write about.

{2019.05.19 14:43}

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