Transitioning to Ubuntu full-time

Switching from Windows or OSX to full-time Ubuntu usage is easier now than it ever has been. The OS has made great strides in the 11+ years since its initial release, and most software needs can be met or exceeded.

Getting hooked

Ubuntu LogoMy first use case for Ubuntu was employing a live CD to recover some files before reinstalling Windows on a machine that wouldn’t boot, sometime in 2007, just 3 years after its release. I downloaded the ISO and burned it to a disc on another PC, popped it into the ailing Windows machine, and booted it up.

Like magic, it just worked. It was a working OS running from the optical drive. Even on a hardware configuration with a particularly needy network chipset, it just worked, and I was hooked.

Dual-booting with GRUB

A few short days later, I decided to install Ubuntu and give it a try Like the first forays of many into the world of Ubuntu, I started by dual-booting it alongside Windows. At the time I saw Ubuntu as a hobby. Something to noodle with in my free time, when I didn’t have anything productive to do with the computer. There was no Steam for Linux yet, and support for AMD GPUs was spotty. I relegated its use to editing the odd website, checking email, and browsing the web.

Fast forward nearly 10 years

The modern Ubuntu experience is smooth compared to what it was early on. The range of supported hardware has widened, which is amazing for AMD users and anyone that has older hardware. Steam has come to Linux, which means that–even though we only make up about 1% of the population there 1–we casual gamers can find a home on Ubuntu, too.

According to Valve’s numbers, only about 1% of their users game from Linux. That’s still pretty high considering they have over 100,000,000 active users.

For everyday computing needs, Ubuntu has everything you’d need, including a familiar email client in Mozilla Thunderbird, and the ability to open any standard office documents that you can throw its way via LibreOffice.

On top of all that, I’m hard-pressed to find a piece of software that I used to love on Windows that I can’t find a fully capable alternative for on Ubuntu, Photoshop excepted. 2

There are multiple ways to still use Photoshop on Ubuntu if you really need it, including installing it with Wine, or using a virtual machine. My personal recommendation if you really need to maintain access to Photoshop is to simply keep a partition on your computer with your preferred OS. The time spent booting between the two will likely be lesser than or equal to time spent configuring your VM or working around the known bugs when running Photoshop via Wine.


Obviously, switching to Ubuntu won’t meet everyone’s needs. There will be cases where you need software that exists only on OSX or Windows, and that’s ok.

However, if you have been interested in trying Ubuntu in the past and are looking to try it again, now is a great time to do so. It’s free (though you can pay if you want to, since it helps support further development) and available for just about any piece of hardware you can think of.

Written on May 8, 2016