Final Straw

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I've had it. I've finally had it. Windows has infuriated me for the last time. I am currently near the first release of a project I've been working on for the past two weeks and in the middle of getting help with an issue, Windows popped up to tell me that it wanted to restart to install updates. I was busy so I went to reschedule. I set my new time and instinctively clicked the button below. Now, normally there would be a "Save settings" button, or just no button. Not on Windows! Windows has a "Restart now" button. And you better believe that there is no turning back once you hit it.

With my PC out of commission for what was apparently Windows reinstalling itself, I decided to play on my 3DS. An hour later, I can finally use my PC. But there is a problem. A bunch of my settings have been refreshed. Microsoft bloat that I uninstalled has been reinstalled. Everything is awful.

So that's it. I'm done. It's time to try out new options. I've decided to re-purpose one of my hard disks and try running Linux as my daily driver for a few weeks to see if I can adjust. My friend suggested I install Fedora, the same distro I use for my arcade machine. I want to try and write a few posts about my experience in switching to Linux and perhaps it will be of some use to somebody. Otherwise, these posts will be something for me to vent on during what I can only assume will be a rocky road ahead. I'll end this post with an explanation of my initial setup.

To begin, I needed to download Fedora. I went to their website, clicked "download now", and was taken to a direct download where was going to take about 40 minutes. Nah. I looked around their website for a link to a torrent but nothing really popped up. I ended up having to Google "fedora torrents" to find their tracker. Considering that torrents are way faster and consume less server bandwidth, I find it odd that Fedora tries to hide their torrents from users. Maybe they just like analytics a little too much? Once I found my torrent, I had an ISO in about four minutes.

To create bootable USB media, I use Rufus. I had a bit of trouble here but it was largely my own fault. For whatever reason, my PC does not like booting from an EFI USB device by default, so I had to tinker with some settings to make it work (read: I had to select the right option in the boot menu. Third time's the charm!). Booting into the Fedora livecd was no issue, but I do have a few qualms with presentation. When you boot up, you are shown... Nothing. No icons, just a blue wallpaper and minimal UI. If you are totally new to Linux, this might be scary. You are expected to just know what to do. Coming from Windows or OS X, you'd be quite confused by this. Anyway, I ran the install app and found a bit more trouble. When it asked me which hard disk I wanted to install to, it didn't really give me the information I needed to decide. In my PC, I have three nearly identical drives. Fedora presented me with hardware model numbers and arbitrary drive letters. Since all of my drives are NTFS, they all show up as "full" and there is no way for me to differentiate between my empty drive, and my drive filled with data.

To solve this, I tried opening up the file manager to check out which NTFS drive names mapped to my hardware model numbers. Unfortunately, the file manager doesn't tell you the model numbers, not even in properties. I had no simple way to determine which drive I wanted to format. Okay, fine, let's do the Linux thing and crack open a terminal.


Well! Fedora has hidden their terminal a little bit, at least compared to other distros I've tinkered with. The terminal is not front-and-centre as I expected, it was in a "System Tools" directory within the App Drawer, something that was not immediately obvious. I expected that when I clicked the "Show all" button in the App Drawer, it would show me everything, similar to Android. Instead it included grouped apps. I ended up running "Software" and finding the terminal in there. Bleh.

With the terminal now open, I was told to run lsblk which I assume lists mounting points or something. It showed me a bunch of hard disks and their mount points. I then mounted all my drives except for the one I wanted to install on. Running lsblk again gave me the info I needed: The only drive not mounted was sdd1. All right, now I can run the installer.

Installing after this point was a breeze. I let Fedora handle the partitioning for me and grabbed a glass of water while it did its thing. Now at this point you might be thinking "Wow, he must have been trying to install Linux for hours!", and you'd be wrong. Despite my verbosity, the entire installation process, from downloading to staring at my fresh new OS took less time than the Windows update. Yeah.

Once I was on my new OS, I immediately installed Fedy which is a pretty useful package installer. This installed a whole bunch of things like rpm-fusion that make life easy. It also had a whole bunch of goodies readily listed that I was planning to install anyway such as Telegram and Atom. It also lists Skype as "adware" which I thought was both hilarious and unfortunately true. For some reason, after Fedy did its thing, my whole system locked up. Colby says it was probably Nouveau being unstable with my GTX 550 Ti. I installed the NVIDIA drivers after rebooting and all seems well. Running sudo dnf update -y to bring my system up to snuff took a few minutes, but no hitches at all were had.

Other than installing software, the only other thing I did tonight was use the Gnome Tweak tool and several extensions to make Linux a bit more comfortable. I installed "Dash to Dock" which is a pretty happy medium between the Windows taskbar and the weirdness that Gnome has on by default. "User Themes" allowed me to have some more control over how the shell looks. So far I'm pretty okay with Fedora visually.

A few pluses I want to note that Linux has over Windows are as follows:

  • More control over start up applications. Any app on Windows can just decide to start itself and you need to opt-out of it (if you're lucky). With Linux, starting apps with the system is opt-in.
  • Native SSH support. PuTTY is nice and all, but being able to just open a terminal and log into a server is really, really handy.
  • The terminal. A lot of people, including myself, give Linux flack over having the terminal so front-and-centre of the OS. But in truth, it is a very powerful tool. You can control the entire OS from the terminal. All graphical interfacing is just a formality.
  • Updates aren't evil. On Windows, updating your system is a nightmare. This is probably why no one likes to do it and then everyone ends up being vulnerable to exploits. Just think about it. If I run Windows Update, 99 times of a hundred you're going to have to reboot your system. That can take several minutes of your time. If you're in the middle of something important, this can be infuriating. Especially if the update takes over an hour. Not only that, but Microsoft has an agenda when they push updates. They want you to be using the latest versions of their software. Or maybe they want to show off new features of some program so they enable it for you. Linux is very different in every regard. Updating a Linux system is one of the most painless experiences I've ever had with computers. First off, Linux doesn't try and force your hand. It might tell you updates are available, but it doesn't shut everything down and update for you. It's your computer, you get to decide when to update. And when it updates, it simply installs a newer version of the things you already have, and perhaps new dependencies if they are required. Linux won't install new programs for you, it won't reset your settings, etc. And best of all? 99 times of a hundred you don't have to reboot. You just run the updater and go about your business. You can totally ignore it and feel confident that your day isn't about to get rained on.
  • No registry. That thing is a nightmare. Any program can install data to it, it's difficult to navigate, it's extremely cryptic, and tinkering with it can cause serious problems. It should not exist, and on Linux, it doesn't.

Okay, I think I'm done ranting for one day. I look forward to waking up tomorrow and starting my recovery from the abusive relationship that was Windows.

P.S. it took me less time to write this wall of text than it did for Windows to update.