My “new” laptop (2 ¼ years old) is now probably old enough to be well supported by later Linux kernels, but I still have a number of concerns. The most important are battery and temperature management. Most laptop manufacturers provide brand specific utilities to manage battery life… for Windows but NOT for Linux. (Call me a cynical – i.e. a student of antitrust history – but I have to wonder if the support offered by computer manufacturers for Linux is bad, the better the break they get on Windows OEM licenses.)
When Windows 8 came out, I started moving to cross-platform apps in Windows 7 (at least as far as it was convenient), and when Windows 10 came out, I was glad I had: most programs which I use most on Windows either have native Linux versions (LibreOffice, Pale Moon, Brave, LibreWolf, Handbrake, Shotcut, Audacity, VLC, FreeFileSync, calibre, TeamViewer), or work well in Wine (IrfanView, Notepad++), either work reasonably well in Mono (Subtitle Edit ). But there are some programs I will *definitely* miss when I switch to Linux:
* The “All” search utility from voidtools. The speed and power of everything spoiled me ROT. It leaves Catfish, Drill, and Recoll in the *dust*. There is a Linux search utility inspired by Everything called fsearch, but I’ve read that it’s still not as good as Everything. Still, fsearch is probably what I’ll have to settle for.
* Macrium Reflect. There is no utility that I know of that allows you to clone or image a Linux system drive* while the system is mounted and running*. (I believe Macrium relies on the Windows Volume Shadow Copy service to enable this. I guess using Btrfs snapshots might obviate the need for imaging, but the horror stories I have read about Btrfs makes me cautious about using it.) Anyway, I’m sure a lot of users are fine with a few (or more) hours of forced shutdown while their system is running. imagery. I am not one of them.
* NirSoft Utilities and Sysinternals Suite. So many useful utilities, all in one place! (Okay, in *two* places!) Is there a Linux utility that lets me find my browsing history in *all* my browsers in one go? I do not know! I should *do some research*. Now multiply that effort by every non-Windows-specific, non-Office-specific NirSoft and Sysinternals utility you regularly use…
* Automatic keyboard shortcut. There is at least one AutoHotkey-inspired scripting utility for Linux, but the consensus seems to be that (as with fsearch versus Everything) it’s just not (remotely?) as good.
* Pro Guitar. Ok, so it’s paid software and it never seems to be fully debugged and optimized from version to version and update to update, but it’s still much more sophisticated and fun than TuxGuitar. Under Linux, Guitar Pro should be run on a Windows virtual machine.
* LG Virtoo. This is a utility that allows LG-branded computer users to “remotely control” at least some aspects of their Android or iOS smartphones via Bluetooth. You can also use it to transfer media files and documents back and forth, but my favorite thing is the mirroring of phone notifications to my computer desktop and most importantly the ability to respond to text messages on a real keyboard. (I just figured out why George RR Martin is taking so long to finish “The Winds of Winter”: he’s probably typing it on a smartphone! 😉 Anyway, to my knowledge, he doesn’t There is no “Virtoo by LG” for the Linux desktop.
*Various other LG utilities. It’s nice to have a small collection of hardware-specific utilities that can check, update, or manage your BIOS, firmware, display, power, and more. I’ll probably find ways to dispense with these dedicated utilities, but I strongly suspect it won’t be as convenient and easy.
*GarminExpress. Garmin stopped supporting browser-based updates to their GPS devices many years ago. Garmin Express is now the only game in town, and Garmin isn’t releasing a version of it for Linux (which seems a bit cheeky, given that GPS itself runs on Linux). I came across a three-year-old tutorial for installing Garmin Express in Wine, but I’m not sure yet if it still works, and if so, to what extent. It could end up being another program relegated to a Windows virtual machine. Or, I could just stop using my Garmin GPS altogether and use my phone for navigation instead.
* My UPS management utility? Not necessarily. My UPS manufacturer has released a command line utility for various versions of Linux which are only slightly outdated; maybe it will also work with the latest versions. Otherwise, the Windows version of the utility goes into my Windows VM (so I can disable that pesky “no AC power” alarm if it ever decides to come back on!).
* MediaMonkey 5. I mainly use it for bulk tagging MP4s. I haven’t looked for alternatives in maybe three years, but the last time I did, I couldn’t find any. I’ve read reports of people claiming to have successfully installed MediaMonkey 5 in Wine, but I don’t count on it working for me. It could be another application relegated to a Windows virtual machine.
* ShutUp10. I am joking! (Or maybe not. It’s *definitely* in my Windows VM.)
* Windows Privacy Dashboard [WPD]. I’m kidding again! (Except this also definitely goes in my Windows VM.)
* Sordum’s Windows Update Blocker. Boy, I can’t stop joking, can I? (Same.)
Other than that, well, setting up a LAN might be a bit more work on Linux, because you have to manually assign static IP addresses to all member devices. (On the other hand, Microsoft did Windows no favors by getting rid of the Quick and Easy Homegroup Assistant, or whatever it’s called.) A firewall is a bit more work under Linux, too, or at least presents a new learning curve.
Other than that, if you choose a desktop environment that works for you – for me coming from Windows, it’s KDE Plasma or Cinnamon – and if you give yourself time to get used to a few new “alternative” apps, run Linux is no different than running Windows, day-to-day, except that the operating system isn’t trying to spy on you and you stay in control of what happens to your system. It’s totally doable for more Windows users than you might think, but it may only be worth the new learning curve for people particularly concerned about privacy and controlling what happens to their system. If you’re ok with playing cat and mouse with Microsoft when it comes to your personal information, and you’ve done well so far with “blob roll-up” “drive-by” updates untested by Microsoft, it’s much easier to stick with Windows.