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things i've learned after using linux for a year

June of '23 was when I officially switched over to Linux. It's now June of '24 as I write this, and yeah, I'm still using it. My flavor of choice is Kubuntu LTS, which means Long Term Support. I specifically wanted that because I am not a distro hopper. Some who run Linux change their OS every week. I didn't want that. All I wanted is something stable and reliable so I could get my computing stuff done.

I still do keep a spare Windows 10 laptop for just two things. Garmin GPS updates and printing. That's it. The Garmin Express software is Windows or Mac only and that's the way it's more or less always been. Yes, people have been screaming at Garmin to release a Linux version of Express, but they've never done it and probably never will. And as for the printing stuff, this is actually something I could get working in Linux, but I don't bother given how infrequently I print anything. It's not that much of a hassle to put a document on a USB stick, turn on my Win10 laptop and print that way.

What's the best part about Linux?

It made computing actually fun again.

I do a ton of text-based things, usually in Terminal or Kate, just because it is so damned efficient.

Kate is what I use to do all my article writing. The only reason I don't write articles in Terminal using nano or micro exclusively is because Kate has spell checking that I get along with better.

Outside of editing, I use FFmpeg quite a bit for simple video editing tasks, and Kdenlive for when I need a GUI and multiple video track stuff.

For documents and spreadsheets, that's all LibreOffice.

For archiving, I use tar, zip and 7-Zip. The graphical archiver I use (not for creating archives but opening them) is Ark that comes with KDE.

Image viewing is done with Gwenview, screenshots with Spectacle, image editing with GIMP.

Audio editing is done with Audacity, but I was already doing that in Windows before I switched over to Linux.

The fun part, as ridiculous as this sounds, was with the scripting and automation.

On Windows, I made huge use of AutoHotKey. Loved that software because I could create keystrokes or key phrases that just instantly worked on command without touching the mouse.

In Linux, I use AutoKey, custom shortcuts with xdotool, and both to launch custom scripts if I have to extend things even further.

Whenever there's any computing thing I do even on a semi-regular basis, if there's a way to script that, I'll do it - even if for no other reason than to use the mouse less. I've always been anti-mouse ever since the Windows 3.1 days. When I was using XP, Launchy was a godsend because I could launch things so much quicker using that. Win7 had a built-in text search on the Start menu to launch stuff so I didn't need it there. Win10 has it also, but on that OS I used Everything for search because it is, without question, the best and fastest local search for Windows. In fact, I have it installed on my spare Win10 laptop and binded to hotkey CTRL+Win+Insert. In Linux, fzf from Terminal accomplishes more or less the same thing. I believe that's in every Linux distro file repository.

Linux stays out of my way

This is something I truly enjoy and is difficult to describe, but I'll try.

Fighting with a computer is not fun, obviously. The biggest fights are either when the computer absolutely forbids you to do something, and/or does something behind your back you didn't want to happen.

Linux doesn't do that.

In Kubuntu, if Discover (what it uses for system software updates) is going to update something, it will tell you first and not just download stuff and install behind your back. You get a notification and CHOOSE if you want to update now or later, and moreover tell you WHAT it will update very specifically.

If I'm working on something and an update comes down the pike, I absolutely do not have to stop everything, update and reboot right then and there. I choose when to perform the update(s). I choose when to reboot. And only if I want to.

Linux in general also has nothing in it that ever tells me "you can't do that". A really simple example of that is the window manager. I can change/modify literally anything. Taskbar, positioning, fonts, themes, whatever. And yes, it is possible and somewhat easy to totally screw up your desktop. I'M OKAY WITH THIS because at least I'm not forbidden from doing so.

Linux also does something really nice. It's quiet. The only system notification I ever get is from Discover, and it is, thankfully, a polite notification. And if it bothered me, I could turn it off. I never see giant notification boxes telling me about crap I don't care about. In fact, I never see giant notification boxes at all.

I'm sticking with this

The only major change I can see happening in the future is a switch to straight Debian.

Right now, I don't need to do that because Kubuntu is working fine. But when this LTS eventually runs its course, then I have to make the decision of whether to stick with this distro and go with the next LTS, or take the plunge with Debian directly.

I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, Kubuntu LTS totally works for me.

Published 2024 Jun 6

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