Goodbye, Windows!

Why I’m ditching Windows after 15 years and why you should too!

Goodbyes are always painful. But not this one! Photo by Jake Roxen on Unsplash

I’ve been a dedicated Windows user for the past 15 years! Since 2004’s Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and finally Windows 10, I’ve seen it all. Everything changed in 2019 when I started using a Linux distribution on my desktop for the first time. And over the past year of Linux usage, I’m convinced enough by the Linux ecosystem that I’ve decided to ditch Windows. Here are my reasons why I’m finally ditching Windows and why you should too!

Speed and Performance

I have a reasonably powerful home desktop system that has served me well since 2013: Intel© Core™ i5–3570 CPU @ 3.40GHz × 4, 24GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Graphics card. Admittedly daily tasks like booting up the computer, opening up a web browser with ten tabs, running Excel, Word, Powerpoint, and a Jupyter notebook should be a breeze on this hardware. And it used to be until sometime in early 2019. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened because it was a gradual decline. But I remember one day booting up my computer and waiting several mins before apps would open up.

As usual, I did a Google search for why my computer that was fine for five years suddenly started to show signs of aging. What I found made me deeply unhappy: Microsoft pushed out some broken Windows updates that affected computers in all sorts of ways! [2][3][4] This is utterly unacceptable QC from a respected organization like Microsoft, whose Windows OS runs on presumably hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. Don’t get me wrong; I love Microsoft as a company and love what they are doing with Azure. But sub-standard QC is not acceptable from a company of their scale and resources.

Security

Computer Viruses have been part and parcel of the Windows ecosystem since I started using computers. Nothing has changed in 15 years! If anything, things have gotten significantly worse. Who can forget Independence Day, the 1996 movie featuring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, that’s meme-worthy even today!

Independence Day memes

But jokes aside, viruses are a severe problem on Windows leading to trillions of dollars lost yearly [6]. I used to pay ~USD30 per year for a subscription to anti-virus software that has kept my computer safe over the years, but I am still worried when I browse the internet and visit unfamiliar websites.

With Linux, viruses are almost a non-issue [7]. There is drastically better virus protection on Linux. After several months of Linux usage, I am comfortable enough to entirely rely on the Linux Firewall plus a free anti-virus software called ClamAV [8] on my Linux distribution. I’m still paranoid about visiting unfamiliar websites, and will never key in my password to a prompt that I did not trigger. I sleep easier at night, knowing the chances of getting infected are drastically lower.

Cost

Yes, Windows 10 is free (for now, at least [9]). Yes, you can install the excellent LibreOffice [1] on Windows and cancel your Office 365 subscription. Yes, there is free Anti-Virus software for Windows as well (Though I wouldn’t be comfortable relying entirely on it). However, consider the cost of loss of productivity, frustration struggling with a sluggish computer, and peace of mind. These are intangible but considerable costs I save on the Linux ecosystem.

+-------------------------------+-----------+
| Antivirus Subscription | $30.00 |
| Microsoft Office 360 | $100.00 |
| A Stable, Fast, Responsive PC | Priceless |
+-------------------------------+-----------+

Look and Feel

Why does my freshly installed copy of Windows 10 have Candy Crush and a bunch of other software that I never asked?

Seriously, I don’t know what the folks at Windows thought when they decided to bundle a bunch of bloatware with the OS. I don’t know if this bloatware results in sluggish performance, but it sure doesn’t look or feel beautiful to me personally.

Linux has extensive customizability options with a clean and slick interface. It makes me enjoy my time with the computer more than what I used to experience with Windows 10.

My Linux Mint desktop look and feel

Where to Start

Finally, if you’re still sitting on the fence like I was a lat year, you could consider the following as I did:

  1. Download Linux Mint (Cinnamon edition) from [5] and create a bootable USB drive following instructions from [10]. This bootable USB drive can be used to run Linux without installing anything on your next reboot.
  2. Play around in this and get a general feel of whether you like it or not. You could try all the different customization options, but take note you will lose all the settings once you reboot as you are running Linux from the USB drive.
  3. Once you are a bit more comfortable, you can install Linux Mint as a secondary OS on the same computer as your Windows system using the same USB drive. You should see an “Install Linux Mint” icon on the desktop when you boot up through the USB. After the installation, you will be presented with a menu to choose which OS you want every time you boot up your system. The default option is Linux Mint, but you can boot into Windows if you want to. It is how I’ve set up my system currently.
  4. If you are using an NVIDIA graphics card on Linux Mint or other Ubuntu-based distribution, you will need to follow instructions from here [11] to ensure you get the correct drivers. It could change as rumors say NVIDIA is about to support Linux officially [12].

In the end, I will continue to keep a small Windows installation on my computer for two reasons:

  1. Testing out tutorials on a Windows OS. The vast majority of my readers and audience are on Windows, so for professional purposes, it makes sense to test out any tutorial on Windows as well.
  2. Gaming. Linux gaming is just not at the level of Windows gaming yet. So if you even play any graphics-intensive games, it makes sense to keep a dual boot with Windows.

But as far as my daily driver goes, it’s Linux all the way now. I’m currently on PopOS [13], but I highly recommend Linux Mint for beginners. If you found this post useful, please consider taking a look at my youtube channel https://youtube.com/agnidata.

Thank you for reading!

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Director of Data Science | NLP | ML at scale | GCP | AWS | linkedin.com/in/marie-stephen-leo

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Marie Stephen Leo

Marie Stephen Leo

Director of Data Science | NLP | ML at scale | GCP | AWS | linkedin.com/in/marie-stephen-leo

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