How and Why To Switch to Linux for Good in 2021
I’ve been advocating to explore alternatives (of any kind, to anything really) for a long time now and I feel like 2021 is the year where you, no matter who you are, should really consider switching to Linux. For good.
Why you should switch to Linux in 2021
There are many misconceptions about Linux. Mostly concerning difficulties installing and setting up a Linux system and file compatibility. While some of this holds truth, most of it has become a non-issue in recent years. But the best reasons to switch to Linux permanently, especially in 2021 are the following:
Especially if you’re not tied to certain programs, you’re free to bring your daily computing needs to a different platform, like Linux. For every basic need and many advanced onces, there’s a free software alternative on Linux. That’s another big advantage of using Linux. A vast library of available, open source, free software for you to use. Most filetypes are not bound to any operating system anymore (except executables), so you can work on your textfiles, photos and soundfiles on any platform.
Installing Linux has become really easy. Grab a 8 GB USB drive, download the image of your distro of choice, flash it to the USB drive, put it into your target computer, reboot, follow instructions, done. I highly recommend starter-friendly distros with a familiar user interface, like:
There are plenty of other options out there, please feel free to go explore, but I feel, those listed, are the most familiar to Windows and Mac users. Solus feels a lot like Windows, it’s fast and reliable but since it’s not based on any other distro, getting all the software that’s available on distros that are based on Ubuntu can be tricky at times.
Elementary OS is a wonderful replacement for macOS. It looks quite similar and Mac users feel at home right away. Also, it’s based on Ubuntu, which gives you the easiest possible access to a plethora of software.
Linux Mint is somewhat like Windows, depending on the desktop environment you choose. It is also based on Ubuntu, has a huge, helpful community and is probably the safest bet for absolute newcomers to Linux.
Also, always remember: Linux is free.
It can run great on older hardware, as typically Linux doesn’t affect system performance as much as macOS or Windows 10.
But now for the biggest reasons to switch to Linux in 2021.
Security and privacy.
Apple and Microsoft are both sniffing out your activities. That is a fact, even though Apple promises to not share your data. It’s on you to decide whom you trust. Also since especially Windows holds a huge majority of the OS marketshare, you’re more likely to get hacked on a Windows machine, just because it’s more popular all around.
Linux is a somewhat obscure system and doesn’t run on too many desktops yet (it does run on plenty of servers and little gadgets though, even Android is based on Linux). Most software is open-source and thus automatically peer-reviewed. No government backdoors, no telemetry for “diagnosis” and “to provide a better user experience”.
You don’t need to be a criminal to long for greater security and privacy on your computer.
Your totally normal, boring, consumer-behaviour is of great value to the big tech companies. If you’re about to leave WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media just because you don’t want to be datamined anymore, you really should go and jump ship to Linux as well.
I won’t elaborate any further here, as to not break the limits of this article, but if you’re interested in the extent you’re being tracked and analyzed, go and websearch (I recommend DuckDuckGo.com for obvious reasons) for “windows telemetry” or “social media privacy”.
“Having nothing to hide” is no excuse for not caring about your privacy, trust me.
If you want to go full-on privacy and security, you can do so on Linux perfectly. There’s plenty of encryption and backup software available and most communities around Linux are friendly and welcoming to new people.
Why you should NOT switch to Linux in 2021
Personally I see only two good reasons why you shouldn’t permanently switch to Linux in 2021.
- You’re locked into an ecosystem of apps and software and Linux alternatives just don’t cut it.
- You’re a heavy PC gamer.
Sometimes, especially when you’re working in a company, it’s necessary to use certain software. Most of that software won’t run on Linux, even though there’s more than likely an adequate alternative, this doesn’t help you if you need to share InDesign files seamlessly or collaborate on certain documents with your peers.
There is still the option though to switch to Linux and then run a virtual machine on top of it, in which you can install Windows or even macOS (it’s a bit tricky) and run all your well known software inside that virutal environment. There’s a catch though. And that is a huge performance hit. But still, this workaround could work for you.
As for gaming, there are more and more Linux native games coming out, especially smaller indiegames. But you can easily install Steam and even bigger, triple A games will run more often than not on Linux. There are compatibility Layers like Proton, that make things easier than ever. Still. If you want cutting edge gaming with biggest possible compatibility and least hassle. Linux is not for you, yet.
How to switch to Linux in 2021
Okay so you made your mind up and want to switch to Linux. As I mentioned before, figuring out how to get and install Linux is not hard to do. So when you got your Linux distro of choice running on your hardware (any Laptop of the past 5–10 years will easily do), you might want to get certain apps and software as alternatives to the software you know.
While most communication apps and web-based apps are easily available on Linux as well (like Telegram, Steam, Thunderbird, Firefox, …), some more specialized software is not. You need to get used to alternatives . Here is just a quick list of suggestions for popular software from my use case:
- Libre Office can easily replace Microsoft Office.
- GIMP will replace Photoshop, but takes getting used to.
- Ghostwriter or Focuswriter are good, basic, distraction free Texteditors.
- Scribus can replace InDesign, but the GUI is a bit oldfashioned.
- Inkscape is a great replacement for Illustrator.
- Darktable easily replaces Lightroom.
- Kdenlive is a good alternative to Premiere Pro.
- DaVinci Resolve is also available on Linux and is a perfect alternative to Premiere Pro and After Effects.
- Audacity is a great all around soundwave editor.
- DejaDup is an easy-to-use Backup program in the veign of Apple’s Time Machine.
These are just the Alternatives straight off the top of my head. On Linux, software can be installed through the terminal (don’t be scared, it’s easy) or very comfortably via the software store, app store, etc.
It’s a little app that let’s you browse all the available software and apps. Everything is free (or asking for free donations you don’t have to pay), quick and simple. One-click installations.
There’s plenty of browser and mail-client options too, like Brave Browser, Midori, Firefox and Geary, Evolution E-Mail and many more. Don’t be shy, go explore.
There you have it. In 2021 security and privacy will become even bigger subjects than before and since you can testrun Linux off an USB-drive, without installing anything, I really urge you to give it a whirl. The bigger the Linux community grows, the more software will be made available. If Serif would have brought their Affinity software suite to Linux by now, I’d have switched full-time already. But right now I’m still bound to Adobe software, which is not available on Linux at the time of writing.
If you’re a freelance writer, an author or journalist, there’s really no real reason I can think of, why Linux couldn’t replace your main OS today and meet most, if not all, your daily computing needs easily.
Thank you for reading my article. Please note, that all opinions expressed are my own. This article is not sponsored in any way and does not contain any affiliate links. Keeping it authentic. Stay safe and stay smart.