It sometimes takes an outside force to spur action. Necessity is the mother of invention and all of that? Everyone has heard I suppose about the end of Microsoft’s support for Windows XP. Well, let me start off by saying that I went to college and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems and Technology, however all of my computers still run XP! If a piece of technology does what I need, I don’t buy the latest thing, and XP works fine for my needs. I purchased my main desktop refurbished back in mid-2006 and other than adding RAM and re-installing Windows every few years, it still works great!
But I decided it was time to finally give Linux a try, it’s free, lots of people praise it, and I had a reason to try it out.
I consider myself computer savvy, but I don’t like to devote a lot of time to tinkering and reading message boards for help every time I want to do something. And while looking into Linux I was spending more time reading message boards than actually using the OS! I know it takes time to get things set up properly, sometimes you have to type code into a terminal, I’m not afraid of that. But these programs just don’t deliver what I need.
First there’s the word processors. I like to read on the computer in MS Word so I can make notes, make the background any color I want, etc. But none of the word processors I’ve tried do full screen mode how I want.
For example, the most advanced one, LibreOffice does full screen of course, but leaves an annoying “idiot box” which only exists to help you “escape” from full screen. As if I didn’t know how to push the damn Esc button! A simple macro in MS Word removes this permanently, but the best minds out there can’t get rid of this thing in Linux. All I want is flowing text, no toolbars, idiot boxes or scroll bars. Speaking of scrolling, LibreOffice doesn’t scroll correctly either. I like a seamless reading experience where I push Page Down and can keep reading. Hit “Page Down” in LibreOffice and it will go down a whole page the first time, but the cursor is left in the middle of the page, so the next time you hit “Page Down” it will go down about half a page unless you move the cursor first!
These sorts of problems (and more) plagued every other word processor I tried. For some who reads for hours on the computer, this just isn’t acceptable.
Then there were the comic book readers. I don’t read comics that often, but I do occasionally, and I like to do a full screen and I like the zoom function to be easily activated so I can zoom in or out to see each panel. On CDisplayEX (unavailable for Linux) I can push Ctrl and just roll the mouse wheel and easily zoom in and out. Fairly easy. On Comic Rack (unavailable for Linux) it’s even easier, just push down the mouse wheel and move the mouse down to zoom in, up to zoom out. Everything I tried on Linux would only zoom in by pushing Ctrl and + or -. For someone who likes to zoom in and see each panel, this is a major hassle to hunt down, especially in low-light situations (which is how I like to read comics).
I final problem I had was with media players. I’m use to using Foobar (unavailable for Linux), the best, non-bloated media player in the world. I can have as many playlists open at once as I want; one for Jazz, another for Classical, etc. It doesn’t waste resources pulling up pictures of the album cover, or advertising pop artists to me that I don’t care about. It easily plays .flac and .ape files, will save all my playlists and settings easily, has a great built in equalizer and a ton of options you can tweak. None of the players in Linux came even close to delivering the same level of experience.
I was excited about Linux, I believed it really could do everything I wanted, because my needs are pretty simple, I’m not playing super-advanced games or processing video or using Photoshop! All I do on a computer is read, surf the internet and listen to music! I’m sorry, but these programs just aren’t as powerful, well-thought out, nor do they offer as many options as those widely available for Windows. I’m open to new experiences, even a new OS, but I don’t want a worse one.
I can afford another laptop, but for now I’m planning to just secure XP as much as I can, and get another one if I get overrun with viruses. On a side note, I think considering the resources required, XP is the best operating system Microsoft ever put out. Everything since has used far more resources to pretty much deliver the exact same result.