I recently posted a tweet on Twitter saying that I thought Windows 11 was "the best Linux distro" or something like that. I can't remember, the post somehow got lots of retweets and attention, so I deleted the post anxiously (and my whole alternate Twitter account which had some personal stuff on it - didn't want the world to see it..). Anyway it was originally a bit of a "hot take" or a take aimed to stir people up if they read it. Which it did, little bit more than I expected.. It just got me thinking, I don't strongly dislike Linux, I don't use Windows 11 or 10 for much paid work anymore, and of course I use my own Mac a lot now. So the post is kind of redundant.
But I must point out a few things about each platform.
I use MacOS because I need it for some of my work, testing software on iOS devices. It's not really ideal to use other desktop platforms (though technically possible with virtualisation, but undesirable and not officially supported by Apple..). Since using my Mac in November 2021, I have started to use it more than the loan Mac I had before. I take it with me places, and work on my projects away from home with the Mac most of the time.
I won't go into my opinion about MacOS, but I do like some aspects of the Mac
- Incredible battery life
- Snappy performance (better than my old Intel 8550U CPU)
- Instant-on feature (can leave it in sleep for a long time, and it always wakes up immediately)
The OS software is nice. Ultimately it lets me get my work done. Though I've had to buy/add on some extensions to make it fill some obvious feature gaps. Such as:
- Magnet - lets me snap windows like Windows and Linux
- CleanMyMac X - 256GB of storage gets tricky to work with, so it's good to clean every way I can..
- NTFS for Mac - You know, that filesystem used on billions of computers..
And I'm aiming to get some more addons when I need them (Linux filesystem support, partition management, Crossover for Windows software, Parallels for running VMs)
I will say that MacOS user interface is still better than any Linux distro I've used. It's polished, has a good layout and doesn't seem to crash. Very well-thought out. Though you get a lot of features that I have to pay for, for free on Linux and Windows.. Sigh..
I briefly used Windows 11 on my ASUS Zenbook right when Windows 11 got released, to when I got my Mac.
A few takeaways from my experience
- It felt slower than Windows 10
- My Zenbook S hasn't got super amazing battery life
- I experienced UI issues when switching between displays with different scaling percentages.
- Linux GUI apps can run on it! Making it "the best Linux distro" - well I'll elabtorate later..
I was on a long-running period of using Windows 10, after having used Linux from 2013-2018 on my personal machines. From late 2018-late 2021 I used Windows on my work and gaming PC. Which Was actually pretty good..
The thing I love about Windows is that everything just works and looks good. I used OneNote (for Win 10) for a while, which was really a staple app on Windows 10. Just excellent UI on a stable mature OS. The closest alternative on Linux is Joplin (which I use now but I still prefer OneNote's UI by far). And email clients! Goodness, they suck on Linux. I have been using Mailbird, an excellent email client for a while (yes it costs money, but that's a rant for another day). It has a great UI, keyboard shortcuts and integrates well with Google and Microsoft accounts (such as calendars and contacts). I can't say the same about anything on Linux. BlueMail is close, though I had a bug where adding attachments didn't work.. See above, "just works".
I'd be happy to use it for my work, gaming and hobby project machine, though it doesn't let me do iOS development. Not sure if that will ever change, sadly.
Also, I use Windows 10 on my home machine currently, as it has older hardware that's not supported by Windows 11! So I don't even use Windows 11 at the moment.. Though I'm building up my old eGPU machine again, with Win11, which I will just be using for LAN parties.
Also, I still use Windows for gaming (not Linux despite high compatibility with Windows games) because; it runs everything including games like Halo Infinite, which my friends play a lot of. I'd hate to miss out on that. And I'm not buying a console to play the hand-full of games I want to play that won't run on Linux.
When at home, I use my Mac for paying work, and my gaming PC for everything else. Including my hobby projects like games and electronics. It has the better screen and keyboard, just feels more comfortable. I don't switch to a Linux machine (or use my Mac) because of those reasons.
I used to love Linux. But that was in a different time. I had a Lenovo E450 laptop, Intel Core i5 dual core machine, and Windows didn't have Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL - Linux shell in Windows). So it was a breath of fresh air back then. Linux ran a lot faster than Windows, and was easier for development tasks (like Python and web development). It was a no-brainer for me, I was strongly compelled to use it for everything non-gaming related (as Linux gaming was still a bit pokey in 2013-2018).
Now though, my circumstances have changed. The ASUS Zenbook runs Windows 10/11 fine, and has a WSL. So I just don't feel the need to run Linux other than the feel-good ethical reasons and for fun. Which have been overwhelmed by my satisfaction with Windows.
Add to that the radical changes Linux is going through right now. X11 to Wayland. Snap, Flatpak potentially replacing package management. It's not as simple of an experience now.
And a bunch of issues I've encountered:
- No (or poorly supported) screen recording on Wayland (I like to make GIFs of the games I am working on)
- No fractional scaling per-monitor on X11 (I like 125% on my laptop, 100% on my external monitors). Not possible on X11.
- GNOME is still slow and the UI hasn't grown on me over time (I thought it would but it hasn't)
- KDE is buggy in my experience (Perhaps due to less people using it and reporting bugs vs GNOME which has more users and funding..)
- I like Xubuntu but it's missing features of GNOME and KDE
- elemenataryOS is nice.. but - no system tray! Nextcloud and Insync clients just don't work on it
- All the other DEs don't appeal. I'm not a tiling WM guy, the learning curve is brutal and most don't have any kind of built-in guidance/tutorials.
Though, I have to disagree that "Windows is the best Linux distro". There is an important factor in Linux distros that makes a good Linux distro. Whether it is free and open source. Windows is not. Because of that, it doesn't get to be included as a Linux distro really.
However, Windows 10 and 11 are great ways to start using and learning Linux, and if you can't make the switch like me, it lets me use Linux in Windows which is great, I don't have that painful choice between two operating systems.
I use Mac for most work now, Windows 10 for gaming (and sometimes projects at home) and I'm waiting for Linux to settle down and mature a bit before I use it for anything serious. So I can't even say I use Windows 11 seriously. Just use what works for you. If you can tolerate the volatility of Linux right now, it somehow works for your setup and all, it's great. I'm not going to go into philosophical choices of open source vs closed source, but personally, I feel life is too short to miss out on things that closed source can provide. Like some popular games and expanded work opportunities. But maybe some people don't need those things, or are on a seriously tight budget. But also don't let this stop you from trying Linux or using it. You might find it's fun and usable. Everyone is different, has different perferences and needs, and that's why there are three main operating systems for computer users.. Each having astronomical amounts of effort put into them to make them work and stay up to date. There is no best desktop OS, just the one that lets you shine the brightest.
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