Friday, 18 October 2013

Moving back to Windows

After using Windows since I was 2 years old, I changed to Ubuntu at the end of 2012. The last several months made me think I'd never go back to Windows: on Linux, everything just worked. It had taken me hours to get Pip (the Python package manager), Git, and PuTTY to half-work on Windows in December, when I needed them for an internship I was doing with Cable Kiosk, and even after I'd read thousands of forum posts and discovered the source of all the issues I had, I was left with an unsatisfactory experience. After I decided to move to Ubuntu, all these tools needed a simple sudo apt-get install and then gave no further trouble. Seconds later and I was using the tool for what I needed to achieve, instead of looking for more tools to make the first tools work. Except for PuTTY, which was even simpler: it was unnecessary as Ubuntu came with a SSH client by default. Hours of work had been made completely unnecessary. 

Then a few days ago I discovered XMonad, and I became even more pleased with Ubuntu. Window management was the one thing which had continued to irk me, and this solved almost all the problems I'd had. It actually felt like a much better version of something I'd hacked together for Windows years previously using AHK - with a few keystrokes, I could have the window I wanted, the size I wanted it, aligned with other windows as I wanted.

The one problem I continued to have was a compatibility issue between my Atheros wireless chip and Ubuntu. My internet connection worked very seldom, and when I got it to connect at all to any wireless network speeds were ridiculously slow. I'd read a million billion forum posts, and found a few people with the same issue. I thought I'd found a fix, but it was a temporary fix, and for some reason no longer works. I've been living with this problem by connecting to wireless networks using my phone, and tethering that to my laptop, which mostly works, but is always an annoyance.

Today, several files I'd been using yesterday (two .PDFs and two .docs, my seminar worksheets and readings for today) wouldn't open. I'd been reading them using LibreOffice and Document Viewer yesterday, and had written answers to some of the seminar questions. Today they refused to open under any application, Linux or Windows.

I booted into Windows to connect directly to the network and download the files again. As Microsoft Word is, for all its faults, still better than Libre Office, I decided to use Windows for today. My laptop battery, which I thought was growing weaker with age, pulled off an unprecedented act and lasted through a lecture and two seminars, with WiFi on, whereas I am used it barely making it through an hour lecture, with WiFi switched off.

So while there are things one can so easily achieve under Linux which take pain and effort under Windows, I have now found enough conveniences of Windows to tip the scales again. Maybe I'll try Linux as a primary OS again when I get a new laptop, but for now, it'll go back to sitting dormant until I specifically need it for something. Or until a "NextNextNextNextNextIAcceptNextNextNext" Windows Installer proves too much for my sanity.

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I'm far away from home in this country called "Europe". I'm studying towards a Master's in Computational Linguistics (I think - this might help: https://xkcd.com/114/). I write about web applications and Python and other things that you may find interesting (considering you got this far).