Obstacles in switching to Desktop Linux from Windows/macOS

There are many curious individuals who tinker with Linux as a Server OS and want to experience what it is like as a Desktop OS. The switch is often hindered by two obstacles:

  1. Some daily use programs are not available. (i.e. Adobe Photoshop, iTunes, etc.)
  2. The unknown of what to do if something goes wrong or what do I do to get my 3d graphics driver installed and working.

While these are valid reasons and definitely show stoppers for some, others can safely migrate to Linux and I recommend everyone try it at least once.

The obstacle of programs

I like Krita as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop. The menu options are nearly the same and I do not have to install a silly theme (like I have to do in Gimp) or re-learn photo editing just to recognize where everything is at. I have successfully installed Adobe Photoshop CS4 with wine without any issues, but Krita is more featured than CS4. Darktable is also a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop RAW/bridge.

GNOME Rhythmbox connects to iPhones/iPods the same way as iTunes does, but without the store. iTunes does run on a recent version of wine quite well. Some might also want to check out Clementine.

Most every program has an alternative. Alternatives can be found via alternativeto.net or via posting an answerable question on software recommendations at StackExchange. Most programs on Linux are free in cost and free in terms of modifying the source code and redistributing them.

The unknown obstacles

To use Linux successfully as the primary Desktop OS, in my opinion, one must have a desktop with worthy hardware. Technically, most hardware that has been created in the last two decades will run Linux, but you will have a more pleasant experience with something made within the last four years.

I consider myself an AMD guy. I like the price for performance and I rarely do CPU intensive tasks on my desktop. (Developing web applications, when done properly, take very little CPU and RAM resources — even with 16 containers running.) When AMD bought ATI, I was also happy as ATI was my favorite graphics card. Unfortunately, most Desktop Linux users are kernel developers and need that extra performance for building their C libraries. They have desktop workstations that have Nvidia graphics cards in them with Intel CPUs. You will often find that Desktop Linux performs better, is easier to use, and has more tutorials for Nvidia graphics cards and how to get them working. With the recent performance posts of AMD hardware, kernel developers might switch over and we might see an increase in tutorials on how to get them working easier.

Even with these two obstacles, most can safely switch to Linux. Web Devs, SysAdmins, and anyone who regularly connects to a Linux server via SSH are ideal candidates for the switch; however, if you are like most people who just use a computer for surfing the web, checking email, and writing text documents — you will also do well with Linux. It might take a few days of extra searching the web on another device to get fully comfortable where things are at on Linux such as how to install a program, but the trade-offs are well worth it.

I like to tell people to install Fedora with GNOME and enable the RPM Fusion repository, but one easily can find a distribution that best suits their needs.