Why I’m switching to Linux on my primary computer

I have been floating between operating systems most of my life, but one thing has been pretty constant. My main computer has almost exclusively run windows. While this was great when I wanted to play games or edit photos in Lightroom, I spend more and more time in a text editor writing code. This is how I have come to experience the biggest shortcomings of Windows.

When I was moving into the dorms of my university last year I decided to only bring my MacBook. I wrote up most of my assignments in LaTeX using Atom. After a few assignments, I got fed up with making the same file structure in the assignments directory so I wrote a simple bash script to do it for me. This has started the rapid transition to using the bash terminal all the time.

Before I get into the issues I have experienced I should mention that I have used one Linux distro or another on my servers all the time, but the amount of time spent in them has been very little compared to all other devices.

As the year went on I became entirely dependant on the terminal where it became the first thing I launched in the morning and one of the last things I used in the evening. The speed with which I could get things done was unparalleled to using the GUI and I was loving it.

In the spring term our data science module and with it my love for the terminal grew. Using it to manage my tasks through GitHub, installing new python packages, or even just making a few new folders was done exclusively through the terminal.

Then corona hit and universities moved their learning online so I decided to come back home. Since my desktop PC has a better keyboard, bigger monitor, and overall nicer amenities than just using a MacBook I started doing my assignments on it. This is when my addiction to the terminal has started showing. I became frustrated with how clunky everything was and even resigned to using an online editor for LaTeX and installed Anaconda. With this, I soldiered on getting all my assignments done deciding I will try to fix my problems once my finals come since this was only a few weeks away.

The exams have come and gone, but I still haven’t done anything to fix it since I ended up being very busy with a new project I am working on. Then finally snapped when I tried using the conda command in both the power shell and windows command prompt and both just threw errors and wouldn’t even acknowledge I had Anaconda installed.

I had to install an OS with a bash shell on my tower ASAP if I was to continue using it. Initially, I considered turning my PC into a Hackintosh since it would integrate well with everything else. A quick google search later the number of parts I would have to swap out made this a null option. My only choice now was Linux.

Originally I planned on running Windows in a type 1 hypervisor what happened next made me decide I need a break from Windows for a while.

As part of installing Linux, I was clearing out an SSD and HDD and moving any important data from there on the other drives in the PC. I did this since I wanted two drives to format and directly give to whatever distro I would choose. As I was going through some of the files on the SSD I got a weird pop up. Windows wouldn’t let me open a folder that I created and contained my files. I quickly checked I was on the account with the highest permissions and tried again to no avail. I then put the drive in a different machine and used root to force my way in. To my surprise, there were no issues with opening the folder and accessing the files. Trying to open the same files again in the main tower windows once again wouldn’t let me.

Then I realized what was going on. Windows probably has a permission level that the user can’t access and for some reason, this folder was covered by it. I found this absolutely outrageous. If as a user I want to go ahead and move or remove even system files I should be allowed to given sufficient privileges. The fact I couldn’t basically means I don’t even have control of the files on my own computer and this is something I will never be ok with. I can understand when such a restriction of access is present on phones or tablets, but they have no place on a computer. It was because of this that I decided not to install windows even in the hypervisor anytime soon unless it is absolutely necessary.

Undergrad Physics student, founder of fair, and host of Quan2m podacst