Hello Newbies in Tech! Switching From Windows to Linux? Read This First

I am a newbie in tech. I have been using Linux and Windows side by side for quite some time now. This blog post is based on my personal experience.

I love Windows. I have used Windows all my life. Once, I thought of trying out a Linux distribution. I installed Ubuntu, but then I uninstalled it very soon. Why did I do this? This blog post will answer this. Being a newbie in tech, my experience with Linux was not good for the first time. But every distribution gives you some things to love and some to hate. Love and hate are like twin sisters.

From a Windows user's perspective, this post outlines some key issues that absolute beginners in tech face while using Linux for the first time.


Why do I love Windows ?

I won't go into the details on this. We know it already. Most of the laptops and personal computers comes with pre-installed Windows Operating Systems (OS). So, the first OS we try out is the Windows.

Welcome Image by Undraw.co
Welcome Image by Undraw.co

For the beginners, it is exciting.

  • Windows is for everyone (even the developers use it for several reasons)
  • You don't need to learn command lines to perform tasks
  • You can do multiple tasks with ease with a few clicks
  • Windows' User Interface (UI) is well designed and convenient
Let's look at the market share.
Statista.com - Operating systems market share of desktop PCs 2013-2019
Statista.com - Operating systems market share of desktop PCs 2013-2019
Everything looks well with Windows. Then why do I hate it?

Why do I hate Windows, sometimes ?

I am a total noob when it comes to web development and programming. This is my personal experience. A few months ago, I thought of learning Clojure programming language for various reasons.

Initially, I started learning Clojure on Windows machine, but honestly the support is not good. I ended up googling several commands specific to Windows OS for even simple tasks in Clojure. Most of the Clojure developers are either using a Linux distro or a MacOS. The questions and queries in the support groups and forums are mostly based on either a Linux distro or a MacOS. That's when I thought of using a Linux distro for the first time. I uninstalled Windows and installed Ubuntu - a popular Linux distro. 

But after a few days, I switched back to Windows. Why? Keep reading please.

🤔 Downside of using Linux (for the newbies in tech)

Being a Windows user all my life, I would definitely say my experience with Linux, initially, was not smooth at all.

But it should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Some absolute beginners who are never exposed to a Linux environment might find Linux a bit uncomfortable while using it. 

Windows Users Trying Linux. Pic Credit: https://bit.ly/2qpYluK
Windows Users Trying Linux. Pic Credit: https://bit.ly/2qpYluK

Consider a case where you have installed only Linux OS. You have been using Windows since the beginning, and have never used a Linux distro before (similar to my case). Here are a few problems I had faced.

  1. Windows OS is for everyone, Linux is not. There is a steep learning curve for the Windows users who switch to a Linux distro for the first time.
  2. Installing Linux for the first time was actually a pain for me. During my first attempt, I got a screen with several technical errors, so I had to modify some settings in the Windows Boot Menu (in Lenovo i5). Google did help. But it took hours. You need to check your system hardware before considering switching to Linux.
  3. A computer with only a Linux distro installed means newbies might end up Googling several commands to do even simple tasks. You are not familiar even with the Start Menu. The same task could have done with a few clicks of buttons in Windows. I googled several command lines on how to use Ubuntu effectively, noted them down, and started using Ubuntu.
  4. You cannot run Microsoft products (such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint) in Linux. That was a big disappointment to me. I was an Excel-person, and even now I use it every day. Though you can use open source alternatives to Excel, but they are not advanced and mature enough. I used Google Sheet for some hours and it was a frustrating experience, as it was slow.
  5. I am a big fan of Tableau - a data visualisation software. I use it at least twice a week to create charts and running some quick analysis. The problem is Tableau Desktop is not available for Linux, but only for Windows and Mac (as of January 2020).

🛠️ A Solution ? Yes, more than One 😍

Use Windows and Linux side by side. Two ways we can use both the OS side by side are: 

  1. Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10 dual boot - I think newbies should use this approach with caution. Here is my experience. Once my company gave me dell XPS 15 9570 (32 gb ram and i9 8th gen) with dual boot Ubuntu + Windows10 Home Edition. After 2 or 3 attempts, I installed Ubuntu+Windows dual boot. One day, Windows asked me to update the bios, I updated it. And Boom ! It crashed. I tried several troubleshooting methods,wasted almost whole day. None of them worked. Went to Dell centre, they told me some update in Windows made the system crashed. So, I usually don't recommend dual booting to my friends who are still learning some web dev.
  2. Install Ubuntu on Windows 10 using Virtualbox - This is the most common approach. You will find several free resources on this topic. Just Google the topic.
    • Disadvantage: The biggest problem with this approach is the performance of the Linux machines inside Windows. Virtual Machines take a lot of resources and you will have a disconnected experience when using VMs with Windows. If you have good amount of RAM, video graphics and a good processor, you can optimize the Linux machine. However, that might be costly, time taking and overwhelming for newbies. So, what now.
  3. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) - I recommend this approach for the newbies in tech. WSL is a powerful tool introduced by Microsoft in 2016 to get a full Linux environment inside of Windows. You do not need to use VirtualBox anymore. WSL is fast, and you can use Windows and Linux side by side. I have been using this for some time now, and I am quite satisifed. I have not felt disconnected experience yet. If you would like to try out WSL, here is a comprehensive guide to Install Windows Subsystem for Linux.
    • Disadvantage: This feature is still in its early stage of development. WSL might not be ready yet for gaming purposes. Tooling for Java development is not good for now. It may be a hit and miss experience for the hardcore developers but for the newbies, this tool is good to go.

💡 What Next ?

If you are a newbie in tech, I recommend you should learn Linux and use it as your full-time development environment. In my previous blog post, Linux Vs Windows - Why Linux Is Better For Programming & Web Dev, I compared the features of Linux and Windows OS. It has a tons of free resources to get you started with a Linux distro Ubuntu.

Once you are convinced to use a Linux distro, do read this step by step guide to Install Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Credits 🙏:
Cover image taken from Undraw.co
Emojis taken from Emojipedia