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Changing to a Linux Based System

A Little Background

So I've been in school for programming(focusing on javascript) for about 4 months now. Until yesterday, I'd been running Windows 10 and using VSCode with WSL. Now, don't get me wrong... This setup, with the proper hardware seems like it could perform well enough to get the job done. Unfortunately for me, I came into school on a shoestring budget and have been using a cheap HP laptop to get all my work done. After the last few sprints though, I'd had enough of sitting and watching my computer spin as it tried to make out what was happening in VSCode as well as running two servers. Wasting what now seems like countless hours on this frustrating activity, I decided to make a few changes...


Upon first searching into switching to a Linux base, I noticed that there are a lot of options. Where to start...Eventually, based on a recommendation, I settled on the current version of Mint Xfce.

Mint provides a stable, open source OS with a ton of options. Although I did have a setback with an incorrect driver for my wireless adapter(if you have an HP laptop and make this switch, be prepared to deal with troubleshooting without a wireless adapter!), it was a pretty easy and fun installation. Mint offers three versions of their distribution(a what?..see next section), basically a "small, medium and large" of interface styling, ranging from as sleek and modern as possible(Cinnamon), to very basic and efficient(Xfce). I settled on Xfce, because it performs the best and I'm not too picky about styling.

Things to get used to

You may have come across the word 'distribution' or 'distro' when reading about Linux based systems. If you're switching from an Apple or Windows OS, it's a bit confusing, because so much of their environments are proprietary. The easiest way to understand a distro is by thinking of it as software collection made up of contributions from many different people. Because Linux distros are open-sourced, there can be as many contributors as desired by whoever is organizing/maintaining the distro. This obviously has some great advantages like having a community that not only uses a product but also creates it. Considering that open-sourced communities are not based on profit, you can safely assume that the people involved actually care about user experience.

Another aspect that took a little adjustment for me was how much control you actually have over everything. For example: The concept of being able to choose how every little thing looks is appealing to think about...but it's easy to forget how many small details actually go into create something like the view of a window. It's great to have options. Just remember that the more options you have, the more you have to know and decide upon.


In short, I absolutely love having switched to an Ubuntu18/Mint19 distro. The flexibility and performance FAR exceed what I was experiencing using Windows 10. Of course, making this switch is a personal choice, and it does require some effort and learning. But, the most rewarding things in life require effort and learning! Unless you are using OSX or Windows because of a particular constraint(you need certain software or your company/cohort uses a particular OS), I advise you to give a Linux distro a chance. There are over 500 current distros with active communities, and each is geared toward a very specific use. What's the worst that could happen?

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