30 Oct 2018

Goodbye to Ubuntu, Hello Windows 10

For the past 18 months, I've been using Ubuntu for my main laptop at home. This is my third attempt to use a Linux distribution as my primary Operating System. However, in the past week, I have went back to using Windows on my laptop. This blog post explains why.

I have been using Ubuntu 16.04 on my laptop, and I have to admit to being impressed initially. Everything. Just. Worked. This was in contrast to previous attempts to using Linux, which had failed due to repeated hardware (driver) issues. This time, my monitors and printers just worked in the same way you would expect on a Windows machine, with no messing around in dot files, or desperate searching of online forums for the correct configuration.

After a while, I started to notice a few pain points. These were mainly around programs that were unavailable for Linux, such as WeChat. I could normally work around these programs but the program I really missed was iTunes. My wife and I both use iPhones and iPads, and as I'm the family IT guy, I'm responsible for backing them up and upgrading them. I created a Windows VM to install iTunes on and used this to backup the iOS devices. However the process for connecting the device to the VM, and forcing the host device to release its connection to the device was convoluted. What should be a 10-15 minute process to backup your iPhone would require an hour or two of configuring and restarting VMs and reconnecting devices.

As I only backed up the devices once a quarter, this was a pain but bearable. But the final nail in the coffin for my current Linux experiment was the news that Dropbox would no longer support (the default) Ubuntu encrypted hard disks from November. I've been a paying customer of Dropbox for seven years, and my workflow is optimised around using it. While I'm deeply unimpressed by their decision to yank support from their Linux customers, I'm not currently prepared to stop using it.

To make sure I would be able to continue to use Dropbox, I've rebuilt my laptop with Windows 10. It is great to be using the same OS both at home and work, and I've built both machines using the same configuration scripts. I had thought about running a dual boot setup at home, but as I already use Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), I didn't see it being very useful. If I need a full Linux setup, I can simply spin up a virtual machine.

While I miss the full control I had over my Ubuntu OS (with all the configuration you need to do to try and keep Windows 10 secure and private, you realise that you're very definitely not in full control of it), I do enjoy the ease of using the Windows OS. It is just easier to get stuff done. When I'm at home, I have limited time to work on personal projects, and I don’t want to be messing around trying to fight the OS. While I enjoyed playing with Linux, I'm not sure I'll be rushing to make it my primary OS again. While Linux has dramatically improved (particularly around hardware support), the lack of support for iOS devices, and the lack of certain proprietary programs mean that Linux still isn't ready for widespread use.