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Leaping toward Linux

After flirting with the idea for over a year, I’ve asked my husband to help me set up Linux on my computer. (I’ll dual boot with Windows.) Yikes! Am I ready for this? I hope so.

Why Linux?

I’m not enjoying Windows as much as I used to. It feels like Windows and Macintosh are moving toward becoming closed systems, much like iOS. They’ve become complicated black boxes, always sending out telemetry to some distant mothership, and they make a lot of choices for me.

I was lucky enough to get introduced to computers via UNIX as a teenager, and perhaps I’m feeling nostalgic. I’d prefer to have more control over my own machine. User friendliness is important for most folks, but my tech muscles have grown soft and flabby under Windows 7-10.

I have no beef with Windows or Mac. But I’m in the mood for something different. Something less prescriptive. I want my computer to do exactly what I ask it to, nothing more and nothing less.

My Hurdles

I’ve had good reason to avoid Linux until now. The two software programs I use more than any other are Scrivener and Photoshop. I use Scrivener to write my books, and Photoshop to make my covers and website images. It seemed foolish to switch to Linux if I’d lose 80% of my utility.

So what’s changed? Well, I think I’m ready to move away from Scrivener. Scrivener has a ton of powerful features for writers, but lately, the complexity feels unnecessary. Give me a blank page and a cursor!

I’m enjoying the simplicity of old-school word processing.

And I really like Writer by Libre Office. It’s more intuitive than Word! I used to love Word, but it took a big step back when they moved to ribbon-style menus. I waste a lot of time flipping menus and hunting for things.

Still I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to make the leap to Writer. For example, I need to export an ODT document into Word format, send it off, get it back with “track changes” on, and be able to view those changes. From what I hear, it should work, but I want to see that with my own eyes.

I may need to keep Photoshop on my Windows partition for the forseeable future. GIMP looks good for 90% of what I need, but it lacks CMYK color management, and I need that feature for producing paperback covers.

Rumor has it that color management is coming to GIMP, so perhaps I’ll be able to move my cover design work to Linux too. We’ll see.

Am I Techie Enough?

I doubt I’d be trying out Linux if it wasn’t for two things: learning about electronics and working on my new website.

My electronics hobby has made me a bit more comfortable with computer technology. I’m still not a coder, although I’ve written a few Arduino sketches and CircuitPython scripts with the help of tutorials. There’s something exciting about direct communication with computers. I tell an LED to light up when a switch is pressed, and that’s what it does. There’s a precision to coding that I never encounter in my non-STEM universe, and I like it. It really appeals to my inner control freak.

Working on my professional website with my husband has forced me to get comfortable with using a command line interface and working with code repositories. I say forced because there was a fair amount of whining on my part. But now that I’m over the hump I’m less intimidated by some of the things I’ll need to do in Linux. One example: the VPN I use operates on the command line in Linux. That used to intimidate me, but now it’s no big deal.

Wish me luck, fellow Linuxians!