I am ExpitheCat, a 17 year old asexual male who is a socialist/communist and a furry, who is planning get better at art and begin writing a series titled Town of Anibi. My previous DeviantART account was under the name of GamerTTTEBrony, but I've moved to this account to sort of start fresh.
I enjoy writing, gaming, computers and politics. My favorite games of all time are Overwatch and Super Mario World, and I mostly play on PC.
Favorite Overwatch Characters: Mei, D.Va, Lucio, Tracer
Favorite MLP Characters: Rarity, Starlight Glimmer, Trixie
As far as social media or whatever goes I have:
-Youtube: ExpitheCat and ExpithePCNerd
In 2015, I wrote an editorial that went over what my thoughts were on PC gaming. Two years later, a bit more recently, I revisited that same editorial after having more experience with PC gaming. And now, I decided that I would make sort of the sequel to that editorial I wrote two years ago, and go over my thoughts on the newest underdog of an OS (or kernel or group of OSes or whatever), the GNU/Linux kernel.
So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I figured it’s time to go over my thoughts on Linux… or, well, GNU/Linux.
The Linux kernal itself has been around since 1991, originally coded and released by Linus Torvalds, and since then has spawned a plethora of different distributions that offer as an open source alternative to Windows and Mac. I, myself, remember first hearing about Linux around 2011, a year where I got really into OSes for whatever reason, but after doing some research I didn’t really think too much of it as the time, as I was a huge ROBLOX player which had just then come out for Mac OS X and as a result had long ways before coming to Linux. But in recent times, I have seen the topic of Linux pop up a lot more. In 2013 in particular was when Steam and Valve’s line of first party games ended up being natively ported to Linux, and in recent times people have been calling 2017 the year of the Linux desktop, which is understandable. Just recently, Linux usage share as hit it’s peak of 3.37%, which may sound small, but for a competitor to Windows (which pretty much has the monopoly on the OS market), that is still a lot and usage share is still growing. And to celebrate the year of the Linux desktop, I might as well talk about my overall thoughts on Linux as an OS. I’m not going to go too much into my history, but let’s just keep it at I’ve been using Linux Mint as sort of my “laptop” OS for a couple years now and my Linux history was pretty much started from that.
In my “Thoughts on PC Gaming” tutorial, a lot of what I wrote was more or less based off the freedom of the platform. One of the biggest advantages to PC gaming as a whole was the ability to do a lot with your PC, such as customizing it, being able to select the hardware and software you wanted, having the ability to buy different types of cases, fans, etc for some real eye candy, and really, just being able to do what you wanted and build your PC how you wanted, selecting the parts you wanted really based off what you wanted to do with your build. And with that out of the way, pretty much all of the freedom and customizability is very well reflected in Linux as a whole. The first thing I could talk about here that really reflects is that Linux is open source and free to use. Most, if not all the common distributions of Linux that you can find and that a lot of people use are free to download, which alone is enough to say that Linux definitely fits more as a Linux alternative compared to Windows where you typically have to pay over $100 for the latest version. Only just recently did Windows somewhat go the route of offering a free OS with the free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and 8.1 users, but even that was only for the first year of the OS’ release and these days that offer has been long gone aside for some loopholes that people found. With Linux, typically every major distribution is free to download, install and use. There are some versions that have a paid version for extra features (i.e. Zorin OS) and others that do require a fee (Red Hat), but most of the ones that I’ve seen people use like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, etc are all free. So, if you wanted to at least try Linux, you have the option to download an ISO for no charge and are completely free to have it up in a virtual machine or live environment. If you have a distribution that needs an upgrade, no worries, you have the ability to update it to the latest versions or manually install the newest version on your computer, again, for no charge. Most Linux distros typically have the business model of allowing users to use their distro for free while also giving them the ability to donate to the companies working on these distros, which I think is a great and user friendly business strategy.
And with that all out of the way, another advantage I find is that, unlike Windows where there’s typically a few options that are actively supported by Microsoft, with Linux there are tons of distributions to choose from that fit the needs of different people, whether they have more general or specific needs. Want a distro that’s incredibly easy to use out of the box and doesn’t require too much BS to set up? There’s Ubuntu + it’s respins, Linux Mint, elementaryOS and Zorin OS. Want a distro that’s advanced and hands on? There’s Arch, Gentoo and, hell, Linux from Scratch. Want a distro that fits more between the two? There’s Debian, Antergos, Manjaro, Fedora, openSUSE. There’s a lot of distros that satisfy specific needs, between daily desktop use, servers, multimedia use, privacy, hacking, and so on and so forth. There’s even distros like Hannah Montana Linux and Ubuntu Satanic Edition for those Hannah Montana fans and Satanists out there. I’ve commonly heard that there’s basically a Linux distro for everyone, and I think those last two I mentioned in particular are solid evidence of that.
In general, there’s also tons of customization features in Linux, far more than what you get with Windows. Yeah, with Windows you can change the wallpaper, themes and do a few things with the taskbar, but typically that’s really the most you get. And yeah, with Windows 10 you have the ability to add start menu icons, which is definitely a plus, and you can use third party programs to change how those icons look, and you can also use programs like Rainmeter and Wallpaper Engine to do a lot with the Windows desktop, but even with all that you still don’t have quite the amount of customization options you have in Linux. With Linux, I just talked about having tons of different distributions, but you have tons of different desktop environments and/or window managers to choose from that alone you can do a lot with and fit to your liking and you can do things like have separate panels for different uses, that you can also add a selection of desklets and applets to depending on the desktop environment. You can also install multiple desktop environments or window managers to a distro if you’re not satisfied with the desktop environment that a distro came with or if you want to go between different desktop environments to compare them and try them out. And since Linux is open source, you have the ability to get more hands on and work with different settings that you might want to improve about distributions. You also have Conky, a program which serves as a good alternative to Rainmeter, so that plus what else you can do with different desktop environments and distributions while also being able to get hands on with the operating system, Linux has a huge edge in terms of overall customizability of the operating systems, getting it to look and work how you want. While Windows does have all the games and software that Linux doesn’t have, Linux to me symbolizes more of what I would a consider a “true” PC Master Race OS, as it goes hand in hand with the overall idea of freedom and customization that PCs have over consoles, and having Linux would technically make more sense in this way, as you get a lot of customization and options with what you could do with your OS.
Now that I got out of the way, I want to discuss what is seen as a major advantage to Linux - security and privacy. I won’t deny that as far as operating systems go, I do think that Windows 10 is good for what it is. I do like that they brought back the classic start button and I do feel that it improves issues I had with previous Windows OSes and I do feel it does a good job being a “modern” operating system with lots of features and whatnot. However, the issue I have with it as does a lot of people is really what’s going on behind it. A lot of my issues with Windows 10 comes more from what Microsoft is doing with it makes it feel more controlling of the user without any regard to their privacy or voice in the matter. A major complaint with Windows 10 back when it came out is it’s intrusiveness and disregard of privacy to the user. It was reported that Microsoft had been collecting data off the users and sending it to other parties for to create an “advertising ID” for the user, making Windows 10 feel incredibly intrusive to the end user. You are able to turn off privacy settings and opt out of most of this, but as it is no matter what data regarding usage and error reporting is still sent out, which can not be disabled. Not to mention, even if you were to turn the privacy settings off, later updates would essentially rollback your settings to their defaults anyway. I can definitely speak for this, as while this isn’t quite a “privacy setting,” I typically have my default browser set to Vivaldi, my preferred browser for daily usage, but sometimes when I update it gets set to Microsoft Edge even though I previously set it to Vivaldi. Alongside this, Microsoft’s practices in order to “push out” Windows 10 and its update ended up being very sketchy to say the least. If you didn’t already know, for the first year it was out Microsoft opted to give users a free direct upgrade to Windows 10 if they were using Windows 7 or 8.1. For what it is, this is definitely a good idea. It was what Apple had been doing with the Mac OS X and obviously what a lot of Linux distros do. And for a while, it was all fine, you would get the occasional nag but you were free to close it. But as time went on, Microsoft really tried to push it onto everyone with sketchy, intrusive tactics. The first thing they did was set Windows 10 as a “Recommended Update,” which was enabled by default for Windows 7 and 8.1. This alone ended up being a huge red flag. You were able to disable recommended updates, but for the casual user who was not aware of this, they wouldn’t have known to disable it and then would be upgraded without any consent. As time went on, this free upgrade trickery only got worse, to the point where if you clicked on the X button of the nag window it would schedule you an upgrade without your consent. This, in my opinion, is a horrible business practice no matter what my opinion on Windows 10 is. It only caused problems with many computers that weren’t quite up to snuff with the resources of Windows 10, and in a particular case that was brought in case it left someone’s computer in an unstable state after the upgrade failed. If anything, this sort of thing can be seen as straight up malware if you think about it, and I’m really surprised this wasn’t brought to court earlier or as often. This really only reminds me of my main issue with Windows 10, and how it feels more like Microsoft is forcing you to use it they way they want you to without any consent from the user.
With Linux… well, you really don’t have this problem. A claim that is often made by the Linux community is that Linux as a whole is more secure and does not get viruses or malware and… this isn’t quite true, pretty much any OS can get viruses, but at the same time, it’s a lot harder to get a virus on Linux and for what it is you are most likely not going to need an antivirus when running Linux. While it might only seem this way because Linux does not have a very large market share, it also has to do with how Linux is designed. With Linux, most users do not have root-level privileges which prevents viruses from spreading to the system and all that would happen is the infection of local files and programs. There’s also more regular updates for security and with a large community behind it security flaws are found and fixed at a faster rate, especially since it’s open source. With that out of the way, there’s also the fact that you won’t have to deal with the same sketchy and intrusive tactics in Windows 10 with Linux. Keep in mind that there isn’t really any sort of major corporation behind Linux and there’s plenty of different distros to choose from, so unlike with Windows 10, you most likely won’t have to deal with data collection and forced upgrades. And when a company behind a distro tries this sort of sketchy crap? Well, Linux users won’t take it. I mean a major example would be when Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu (pretty much the most popular Linux distro I can think of) made a deal with Amazon that involved sending them data regarding searches for advertising, there was a lot of backlash from the Linux community, with many users switching off. And since Canonical isn’t a huge corporation with a monopoly on the market, the message did get to them, so they ended up cutting this sort of thing out with following releases. You also have more of a choice regarding system updates and upgrades. When updating, you are allowed to actually see a description of the updates and determine if it’s something you want or not, and you also aren’t forced to upgrade to the latest version of a distro. What I’m saying overall here is that with Linux, the control over the operating system is given more to the user compared to Windows 10 and you also have a lot more privacy.
All in all, I can definitely say Linux has many advantages. You get a lot of choices with different distros, desktop environments, window managers, and customization features than with Windows and you also have more control over your operating system without having to deal with forced updates and telemetry going on behind the scenes. Linux definitely works well as an open source alternative to Windows. So, all things considered… why haven’t I made the switch yet?
Well, the main issue that I’ve seen a lot of people have with switching to Linux is program compatibility, especially in the case of games. Since Windows has a far greater market share than Linux, typically all the major programs, especially games, are developed for Windows and you typically can’t get them natively in Linux. There is WINE, a compatibility layer that allows you to run .exe files on Linux, but at the same time… it’s not perfect. Some games and programs work pretty well, but many others don’t run so well compared to on Windows. There’s also GPU passthrough, but even this requires good specifications and as it is requires a Windows virtual machine anyway. For what it is, it is getting better with things like Vulkan and what not, but it’s still not quite there yet. This is really the only thing keeping from switching to Linux, as some games I play on a regular basis, including Grand Theft Auto V and Overwatch, still don’t work well on Linux and from what I’ve researched suffer from bugs and framerate issues.
That said, I won’t be ruling out switching anytime soon. Once I get a bigger SSD, I plan on dualbooting Linux Mint, and from there I want to experiment to see what I get running well on Linux and try to use more for daily usage. And once Linux gets to the point where I feel satisfied enough, I want to officially say goodbye to my Windows installation, and from there just straight up stick with Linux from then on. I can definitely see why Linux has seen an increase in market share over the past couple years. With distros such as Linux Mint and Ubuntu MATE, it’s gotten a lot easier to get up and running for the average user and does a better job with getting drivers set up and everything. Considering all the options you have with Linux, it does serve as a great alternative for those who want something more open source and is overall a lot more friendly to the home user than what has become of Windows. If you haven’t checked out Linux before, well, I would definitely recommend finding a distro and loading it up in a virtual machine or a live environment to get a taste of it and to get a feel for it. Linux is really at it’s peak right now, and really, it’s only going to get better from here on out. Gabe Newell stated himself, Linux is the future of gaming.