So as many of my friends know, on Thursday, which was my birthday, the first point release of Ubuntu 16.04. That day, I installed Ubuntu MATE 16.04.1 on my main laptop, and finally, I think I can actually call it my main laptop again. This laptop came preloaded with Windows 8 on it. It was then upgraded to Windows 8.1. Some time after that, Windows Update ran an update that almost completely borked my install, to the point where a factory reset was necessary. I lost everything that wasn’t on a thumb drive or in my Dropbox. Looking back, I think that update was an (unsolicited) attempt to upgrade to Windows 10, just because of the way the update behaved. Since then, I was running Windows 8, with no updates. As many of you know, that is a major security risk. Then again, leaving updates on was another risk, as was clearly shown by that incident.
So you may be wondering why I didn’t just buy a new computer. Well, that’s the thing, I’m trying to save up for one, and it’s not like I could just keep using this one in the meantime. Security risks aside, there are other issues that come with using a system with no updates. One that was very pressing was driver issues. Towards the end of my Windows installation’s life, when watching a YouTube video or listening to music, sometimes it would slow down or stop, producing an annoying EHHHHHHHHHHHH sound. Eventually, Spotify stopped working completely. Of course, I think a huge source of my problems was Avast!, which has become a bloated pile of shit in recent years. On a Linux system, you’re generally safe, so long as you don’t do anything monumentally stupid. On Windows, you’re never safe from malware. You could have an updated system with really great antivirus software, and it doesn’t matter. One errant click, and you can get a piece of malware that just protrudes through every hole in your system, like some eldritch tentacled horror. Granted, some of that is just because since Windows is so widely used, everybody writes malware for it, but part of it is because Microsoft has security holes in Windows that it just doesn’t patch. Now, I’m not part of this crowd of paranoid people who thinks Microsoft is evil and in cahoots with the NSA or something, but the fact is, there are back doors into your system that have been there for years upon years that may not ever get patched. In the Linux (and, by extension, open source) world, that shit won’t fly. People can look at the source code of every last component of each operating system, of every application, and if they see that shit, they can do anything from providing their own fixes which may get rolled into the main distribution of the software in future, to just not using it, or to, in extreme cases, forking it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still having plenty of problems now that I’ve switched to Linux full time. AMD, as I recently learned, sucks, and this happens to be an AMD-based laptop. For the record, I will never buy anything that uses AMD again, nor will I ever buy AMD components, especially considering that their Linux support is shit and I don’t intend on going back to Windows. Also, funny story. I was originally intending to dual boot, but of course, Windows is a selfish piece of shit and borked itself when the Ubuntu MATE installer was partitioning the hard disk. Anybody who’s familiar with trying to dual boot is, I’m sure, familiar with its habit of hogging the hard disk. Well, this time, it backfired, because I just wiped the disk and installed Ubuntu MATE on the whole thing. I backed up everything I wanted to save on thumb drives, anyway (it wasn’t much; I lost a lot of stuff in that data loss). I’ve also had trouble installing Steam and Minecraft. Steam won’t start up, and Minecraft won’t even install, which is sad. Maybe I’ll have better luck with GOG Galaxy. At least I can watch YouTube with no problems. At least I can use Spotify again. At least I don’t have to worry about security so much anymore.
Also, I found out something disturbing Wednesday. I had the opportunity to go into a Best Buy for the first time in my life, and I went to the back where the computers were. Recently, I’ve been on the lookout for brick and mortar stores that sell computers with Linux preinstalled. One of the sales people came up to me, and I asked him the big question, expecting him to ask what the fuck a Linux was. To my surprise, not only did he know what it was, he was actually super helpful. He told me that no, they didn’t, but they did sell some computers that might be good to install Linux on, and told me the same thing that somebody at Staples told me: you’re probably not going to find a brick and mortar store that sells PCs with Linux preinstalled. He did get one thing wrong, though. He said you couldn’t buy computers with Linux preinstalled at all, but you most certainly can. Dell and HP sell computers with Linux on them, although you have to special order them, and there are also online stores like System 76 that sell computers with Linux on them as well. But then he said, “You’re probably not going to find Linux computers in a store like this because Microsoft and Apple pay for displays like this. Like this wooden floor you’re standing on was paid for by Microsoft, and the black carpeting in the Apple section over there was actually paid for by Apple.” When he said that, I just thought of how much capitalism actually stifles innovation. If Microsoft and Apple can pay to get special placement in stores, what chance does Linux have for widespread adoption? And before anybody says, “The Soviet Union was BEHIND US!”, I just want you to realize that most of the greatest technological innovations come from places like NASA and universities, publicly funded institutions. That’s not even going into how Soviet authoritarianism was a huge factor in their decline.
So I’ll end this post with one last answered question. Would I ever switch back to Windows? Well, in the future, I may end up buying a Windows laptop or something just for a few applications (Microsoft has us by the short hairs not just in preinstalls, but also in the area of a software library), but I’ll never use it full time. I’ve had enough of the absurdities Microsoft puts everyone through with Windows.