Usually every few years i try linux just to see how it has improved since last time i tried it. So far i have not migrated permanently to linux on my desktop. Simply, windows (7) is better for my purposes.

Whenever i try linux, i picked the most popular distro. This time it was Mint. Overview here. The reason to pick the most mainstream one is that it is the one likely to have the best driver support, least number of problems, most features, easiest support for programs and so on. Basically, im picking the best linux distro to compare with windows.

The first problem after installing was that i cud not make fully use of my dual screen setup. In windows i use the program UltraMon so that i can have a taskbar on the second screen as well. Very useful when one has lots of programs open. After googling it, this feature is apparently not avaiable in the default Cinnamon desktop. It’s been an open issue for 2 years.

So the solution was to install some other desktop environment. A few people mentioned that this cud be done in KDE. So then i tried installing KDE thru the standard Software Manager. However, it only worked halfway or so. Asking my linux expert roommate, he told me that SM is dumb and doesn’t install necesssary dependencies. Why would anyone make the default program so stupid? Anyway, i then did it with Synaptics (another Software Manager-ish program, also built in). I loaded over to KDE and it was possible to get a working taskbar on the second screen, altho not intuitive and kinda complicated (so complicated one needs a guide even if one is considered a computer expert). Hurray!

So, the next annoyance was to change date format and stuff, especially getting KDE to display a 24h system clock was difficult. But again with guides i managed it.

Then there was the very annoying thing that KDE opens stuff with 1 click instead of 2 clicks. This was easily solvable tho.

A larger pain is that linux still does not have a proper winamp alternative. None of the alternatives i have tried (>10) have a specific feature of library indexing that winamp has. If one has a huge library full of compilations, one will automatically have thousands of artists, most of them with only 1 or 2 tracks. All the other programs offer only alfabetic sorting of artist names. This is useless. What is needed is sorting by number of tracks by that artist, which winamp has. One cud run winamp thru Wine but it is silly that this feature is still missing after so many years.

There is ofc also the usual issue with gaming. Few games work well on linux. DOTA2 runs with unplayable 15-30 fps on linux. Using the same settings it runs with 60 on windows. Not strictly linux’s fault, but due to microsoft monopoly with directx, it is still a problem.

Another issue was that there were no useful hotkeys by default in KDE. No hotkey for minizing all windows. No hotkey for opening the applications launcer (start menu equivalent). Worse, one cud not set the WIN key for this purpose in KDE since it’s apparently purely a modifer (dead) key. In windows and Cinnamon, the WIN key is treated specially in that it can both be a modifier and a key in itself. Fortunately, there was a hack to fix this problem.

What linux needs

For linux to become decent for mainstream use, there are some obvious requirements. First one, it must never be necesssary for normal users to use the terminal or any other non-GUI app to do anything. Everything must be GUI. Linux is clearly not ready.

Some good things

Some good things i noticed. Booting is much faster. The system is lighter, especially important for my shitty laptop (which still runs linux and will continue to do so). Important working programs like R and LATEX works mostly fine. In general, Cinnamon is good. They really have to fix that obvious problem with using dual monitors effectively.