Open Source Angst

As many of you may already know, I use Ubuntu as my primary operating system. I’ve been using it for about 6 and a half years, and I’ve been using other Linux operating systems since 2002. Linux, being a free, open source solution for computers, fits with my philosophy of technology and software. I also like the way Ubuntu works and the way Gnome looks and feels. I love how I can customize my computer to a really fine degree in so many ways.

But there’s a flip side to using Linux. Desktops and laptops are not generally manufactured for Linux use, so not all of the hardware will always work quite right with it. (The sound on my laptop has vanished, reappeared and vanished again with the regular Ubuntu updates. I’ve no idea why.) It’s easy to ask questions on various internet forums to get answers, but those answers are not always easy to implement if you’re not at least a semi-serious coder. And sometimes, there are no good answers to be found. (When the sound on my laptop first disappeared, I posted on the Ubuntu forums for help. No one was able to figure out why my sound wasn’t working and no offered solutions fixed the problem.) There are a number of free, open source games available for Linux, but playing the commercially available games my friends are often playing is generally problematic. There are other software programs and apps that I would love to use which aren’t available for or usable with Linux.

As much as I love using Linux, I’m starting to think that a more commercial OS would actually suit my purposes a bit more. It makes me sad to think that. I feel like I’m betraying my own principles. And I know there’s no OS that doesn’t have problems and frustrations. But I’m not willing to put in all of the work needed to keep Ubuntu running smoothly on my laptop and I’m tired of missing out on some of the games and apps I can’t use on my laptop.

I’m not completely sure if I’ll go over to the commercial OS dark side…but I’m thinking pretty seriously about it.


4 thoughts on “Open Source Angst

  1. Your sound problem may be the sound card and not your OS.

    Ah, yes, the Dark Side….. Not being facile with computers and knowing nothing about programming, I wouldn’t attempt to use Linux. My own computer needs are pretty simple, so Windows XP has done just fine for me.

  2. The problem is the sound card, yes. But it’s not the sound card, it’s how Ubuntu interacts with the sound card.

  3. It’s interesting you should post this, as I just made the switch from Mac to Ubuntu (for real this time)- and I totally love it!

    For the longest time I said these exact things about Linux – it doesn’t do everything I need it to, software is less polished than it’s proprietary counterpart, it takes too much fiddling to get all the hardware working… but damn, on my new laptop Ubuntu just SCREAMS, battery life is super super good, all of the software works just how I expect it would, I reboot about as often as I do with my mac, and I’ve got a windows install tucked away in the corner of my hard drive for those (rare, nowadays) times I want to play games, and it dual boots *beautifully*.

    Rather than ditch Linux, I’d plop Windows in a corner of your drive and boot it when you want to play games. I can almost guarantee that it will happen less often than you think it will.

    No regrets here on making the switch away from Apple – I’m the proud owner of an android phone, an android tablet, and an ubuntu laptop – and I’ll never buy another i* device, no matter how pretty it is.

  4. Thanks for the good advice, Liz. I’ll think about that.

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