Why I Switched Back To Windows From Linux

I’ve been using Windows as my primary operating system for over 20 years, since Windows 2.1x. I’ve used every major release since then plus some exotics like NT for DEC Alpha. But as I get older, more experienced, and more knowledgeable I get more frustrated with Windows. I’ve always loved the command prompt so when I was introduced to the *nix environment about 10 years ago I took to it quickly. I’ve used Linux in the server environment but had limited experience with it as a client OS. Fast forward to a little over a year ago. I began using a Mac at work, running the latest release of OS X. Setting aside the fanboys’ belief that it’s the greatest thing to ever grace a hard drive, I could see real merit in a *nix based client OS. After my experience with OS X and frustration with Vista’s bloat I decided to try Linux on my laptop.

Most of my exposure had been to CentOS. I had installed Ubuntu briefly before my last Windows re-installation and had liked what I saw. I decided to try the latest development release. This was in January of this year so I ended up with an early alpha of Jaunty Jackalope (9.04). I was excited to get it all setup and spent a weekend installing and configuring. I quickly found that early alpha Ubuntu releases are full of bugs. The system was unstable and had many issues. I decided to persevere and just deal with it. With each update the system became more and more stable. But I also found some important problems that remained unfixed. This would play a big part in my return to Windows.

(get ready for the rant)

From day one video playback had problems. Sometimes videos would just stop playing. This did improve as updates were released but never went away. H.264 videos would stop every 10-15 minutes forcing me to skip around to restart playback. I watch a lot of Xvid and x264 encoded files and never had issues in Windows. These problems were player independent and were either video, codec, or sound driver related. Speaking of sound drivers, Pulse Audio sucked from day one and never got much better. It frequently screwed up my audio by either eating resources or freezing. Flash playback was very very poor due to Adobe’s 64 bit version of Flash 10 being full of bugs. I had to kill Flash almost every time I played something. Due to the prevalence of Flash videos on the web this alone would be enough to switch back.

Multi-monitor support for laptops is weak. When at home I connect my laptop to an external LCD for dual displays. On Windows all I have to do is plug in the display and my previous settings are automatically restored. In Linux I’d have to go into the video setup and enable it every time. Panels don’t like adding and removing displays. Every time I connected the 2nd display they would get screwed up and I’d have to fix them. I do this at least 5 days a week so it got annoying very quickly.

I had trouble finding some common Windows software equivalents. I didn’t rip any DVDs for two months because I couldn’t find a decent ripper. The ones I found either wouldn’t work or were a PITA to use. I spent half a day looking for video editing software that would allow me to speed up a clip and dub a song. I couldn’t find anything that worked. Want a good GUI based incremental backup solution? Good luck, I couldn’t find one. There is plenty of non-incremental CLI backup software, none of which did what I wanted.

Right before I switched back to Windows there was a regression in the WiFi drivers. It would drop my connection every minute or two.

(end rant)

That said, Linux has plenty of great features that Windows is sorely lacking. NTFS permissions are horrible to manage. VirtualBox was 5x faster than in Vista. Sleep mode was 10x faster than Vista. The configurability of Linux is far superior. Tight integration with the command prompt is a plus. Folding@Home dual core support is much easier to setup.

Had I wanted to spend hours troubleshooting, hacking, recompiling, and reading I’m sure I could have solved some of my problems. The thing is I don’t want that. I don’t mind installing software from the source, compiling libraries, and editing config files. I don’t want to have to rebuild everything just to make it work though. There is so much software available for Windows that if something doesn’t work there are 5 other good choices. Most of my time is spent in a web browser. The time I spend in the OS shouldn’t be obtrusive.

After testing Windows 7 RC in VirtualBox I was sold. Windows 7 eliminates Vista’s bloat. It’s what Vista should have been. I switched the day Vista 7 Beta was released and haven’t looked back. Sleep mode is now as fast as Ubuntu. VirtualBox is nearly as fast. I can use my favorite programs again. If I stick with non-Apple hardware I’m sure I’ll try Linux again, maybe a different distro running KDE. I found the X environment too rough around the edges for my liking. You’ll never see me running a Windows-based web server and for now you won’t see me running a Linux-based client.

Posted on June 6, 2009 at 10:43 pm by admin · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , ,

9 Responses

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  1. Written by Alex
    on June 8, 2009 at 8:30 am

    You are bitching about Ubuntu being unstable when you are trying out an alpha release?? What did you expect? Get a stable release and give it a good test then see how stable or unstable it is.

  2. Written by Martinos
    on June 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I worked with Windows for 19 years, and I never like the OS, system administration, security. Last year I switched to Linux but I had all the problem that you describe (problem with video, sounds, wifi). I also did’t like the available email clients (Thunderbird and Evolution)

    For me Mac has the best of both world, the power of Unix (OS X) and a better usability that Windows.

    If you want to please yourself buy by Mac.

  3. Written by Michael Koby
    on June 8, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Interesting article, you rarely see someone talking about going back to Windows from Linux.

    Since switching back to Linux from Windows last month, I’ve been finding issues where Wireless and XOrg sorely lack in easy configuration.

    Until Xorg & Wireless “just work” in 90-95% of circumstances Linux will still have trouble being adopted by the mainstream. That being said, we are LIGHT YEARS ahead of where we were even 3-5 years ago so it shouldn’t take too much longer to get there.

  4. Written by Peter
    on June 8, 2009 at 10:22 am

    What is the point of this article?

    I had all the mentioned problems in Windows.

  5. Written by Doug
    on June 8, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I feel your pain.
    For me, I have the same situation. I tried desktop Linux since Redhat and then Mandriva, Gentoo, and now Ubuntu. Desktop Linux never works out of the box! Period, specifically if you are dealing with multimedia. I had too much headaches already so now I just use Windows Vista for my desktop. On the server side, it’s a complete different story though.


  6. Written by Elite hacker from the Future
    on June 8, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Amen! Windows rules!

  7. Written by ohh god
    on June 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    This is the worst review/post linux bashing/review/rant I have read in a good while. I simply don’t know what to call your opinion!

    Windows is okay if you are a newb. Windows is garbage in my opinion and after playing with linux for about 2 years, I can’t see myself going back to windows. I been using windows since 95.

    If your level of intelligence is limited to windows, fine but you do not ever make bad comments on another operating system if your intelligence is smaller than windows. Linux does require someone who knows what they are doing and should not blame linux just because you can’t make very simple things run.

  8. Written by admin
    on June 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    @Alex – I waited it out into RC versions just before final release. Many of my issues were fixed but some important ones were not.

    @Martinos – I can’t justify the “Apple tax”. When I purchased my current laptop last year a similar spec Macbook (with a lessor CPU) cost ~60% more. The battery life on the new 15″ is VERY impressive though, almost enough for me to consider it worthwhile. I may try OS X on my non-Mac PC.

    @ohh god – You clearly missed the point of this article. As I said I’ve been working with Linux for 10 years and admin 6 LAMP servers right now. I COULD have gotten it working if I was willing to invest a significant amount of time. I’m to the point where I’m OS agnostic. If it works and does what I need I don’t care who makes/sells it or what logo is on the box/website. Windows 7 does what I need without the excess time needed to make it work.

  9. Written by john
    on June 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    windows is for all the people that just would rather have things handed to them. windows sux point blank.

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