In late 2012 I decided to make the jump to free software and began using Linux as my primary operating system. I did it mostly for political reasons, wanting to tend a little patch beyond the reach of Microsoft's cold corporate shadow. At the time, I was sure the user experience would be so unsatisfying that my resolve would shrivel, and I would run back to Windows with my tail between my legs.
It has been a truly delightful voyage. I have learned an incredible amount about how software, hardware, programming, networking, servers, email, filesystems (and more) work, and I have quicky come to realize how totally wrong I was about Linux. It is stable, easy to use, and really good-looking. These days, when I find myself in a Windows environment for some reason, I am bemused: at how unpolished and clunky it looks (to be fair, Windows 10 is better), at how leaden its user experience is. And I laugh at myself for thinking I couldn't live without it.
However, not everything is bread and roses. Linux is currently being gravely threatened by the introduction of systemd, a software complex that aims at integrating and standardizing the Linux ecosystem so that it can be more tightly controlled and valorized by corporations (Red Hat is the prime mover). Some Linux distros have held out (AntiX, Gentoo, Slackware), and some new ones have been created, like Devuan, but most have succumbed to systemd, at least for the time being. While this struggle plays out, I have chosen to cast my lot, for now, with MX Linux, a distro that is based on Debian but that runs sysvinit by default, and encourages its users to do so. You can find a list of some of the many Linux distros without systemd here.
Here's my setup:
- Desktops: a Lenovo tower and an HP server-type race-horse the IT guys at school made me get. They are both fine.
- a 2009 HP desktop with an Intel Core Duo (this one is doing most of the work)
- a 2010 Samsung laptop with an Intel i3 (this one is currently serving you)
- a 2012 Toshiba Satellite P755 laptop with an Intel i5
- Operating System: everybody runs MX Linux 19
- Tiling Window Manager: i3wm
- Floating/Stacking Window Manager (which, why would you use these?): Fluxbox
- Terminal: xfce4 terminal
- Text Editor: Vim 8.0
- Office Suite: LibreOffice 5
- E-mail Client: Mutt
- Browser: Brave (all browsers suck, this one just sucks less)
- File Manager: Thunar (which crashes too much)
- Image Manipulation: Gimp
- PDF Editor: Master PDF Editor, which good but not entirely free, and
- PDF Reader: Okular, which is free but not entirely good.
- Torrents: Deluge
- Synchronize Files: Nextcloud. We really can't go on offering ourselves and our data up to the corporate cloud (Dropbox, Google, and so on). Running your own is actually pretty easy, and virtually free.
- Web Server: Apache
- Database: MariaDB
- System Monitor: Htop
- Network Connection Manager: NetworkManager
- Virtual Private Network Provider: AirVPN (love it!)
- Tools for hackin--uh, ethical penetration testing: Kali Linux, which uses systemd, which is bad, but Kali's the acknowledged leader for this activity
- Theme Manager: Lxappearance