Linux-based operating systems grants users many flexibilities; however, they still lag behind macOS and Windows in terms of the number of users. Yes, they are dominant in the data center/cloud applications area. But why can’t Linux distributions penetrate daily driver PCs? Let’s look at how my recent experience with Linux has been.
What do I do on my PC?
Since I am a guy who can sit in front of the PC for 16 hours (even though I am trying to limit it by only work hours), I actually do a wide variety of things on it. I write articles, edit images/videos, play games, watch YouTube videos and movies, listen to music, do online shopping, and more.
That kind of variation of “things to do” sometimes make it hard even in Windows 11; I install something for my work, and it affects something when I play games. I enable HDR to play games and then I can’t take screenshots for my work easily. Now let’s see how it goes when I try to daily drive a Linux distribution; to be precise, Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.
Trying to work
Well, working takes a big portion of my life on my PC, and I need to be quick while doing my tasks. I have a 34″ ultrawide monitor; properly placing the windows is very important for me. One of the first things I’ve noticed is I am currently PowerToys/FancyZones addicted. I predefined the window sizes pixel by pixel ages ago and now I need to do so in Linux as well. Thankfully gTile, a GNOME Shell extension helped with this issue. Web browsers just work fine; most of my work goes through web browsers and I had no issue using them, including Chrome.
The first big problem, however, was the image editing software. I have been using Photoshop for many years and sadly, you can’t simply run Photoshop on Linux. There are some ways like creating a Windows VM in Linux but that would affect my flow, so I decided to give shoot for GIMP. Don’t get me wrong, GIMP is great software. But I’ve found myself trying to recalibrate my hands for it and it is not an easy thing to do after many years. Then I installed Krita but it was the same story as GIMP. I accepted the defeat here as it was the first big bump of my Linux journey.
Some other tools and applications I use while working, however, work seamlessly. One of those tools, ORA, works even better than Windows 11 since I had some weird problems with it.
A little pause between work and game
It’s now 18:30; time to change the mode to “fun” mode. Before doing so, I need to order my meal through Yemeksepeti, a meal delivery service in my country. Since the web browsers just work flawlessly, I had no issue with anything that I can complete through web interfaces.
That includes the video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. Even though Netflix did not want to stream a full 1440p video to my system, I still can watch it in 1080p. Spotify, VLC, and some other programs help through all of the multimedia consumption without a hassle.
Game mode: on
Gaming on Linux has always been a problem and it is one of the most important reasons that Linux could not become a mainstream operating system yet. There were some small steps through making Linux viable for gaming for years but those steps are now vastly faster, thanks to Valve and Steam.
Valve, the developer of Steam, has recently introduced a new handheld console that utilizes SteamOS operating system that is based on Debian 8. Valve is pushing hard to clean the rough edges of its product’s operating system, meaning contributing to the Linux ecosystem. We have now the compatibility tool named Proton, which is based on Wine, delivering a seamless Windows-games-on-Linux experience. It mostly works with non-Steam games and even many non-game Windows applications.
I have played Civilization V, Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition, and some other games without any problems. But then, I found the true nemesis of Linux when I tried to play Diablo 2: Resurrected.
Anti-tamper and anti-cheat software, and launchers
Companies of many of the popular and paid applications (we can include AAA games here) want to secure their software against piracy (or cheaters for some online games) so they invest in very complicated and constantly-evolving anti-tampering solutions that rely on Windows.
Mostly, only the huge companies decide to go through this way since they have the budget to do so, and those are the ones that really want to squeeze the last dime out of the customers’ pockets. Those practices hurt paying customers’ experience as well, but it is another article’s subject.
Nemesis of Linux: big, greedy companies
The highest quality software and games carry the companies to the top, then the company goes greedy with its big budget to put anti-tampering systems even if it hurts its paying customers, then those systems become so complicated that compatibility layers can’t make it work. And those companies do not want to bring their software/games to Linux because they will be easier to crack, thanks to the nature of the Linux-based operating systems.
This, I think, is the biggest problem that slows down Linux’s popularity gain. And those are the reasons for this issue, in my opinion:
- Small companies/developers can’t make their software/games into Linux because they can’t afford it.
- Medium-sized companies want to make their software/games run in Linux because they want to expand and have the budget for it.
- Tech giants avoid Linux even if they have billions because of many greedy reasons.
I think Linux won’t become mainstream as long as big software companies keep ignoring the operating system. However, we have one non-enterprise-focused tech giant on our side: Valve. As Valve pushes forward, the accelerated popularity gain of Linux might finally alarm the other giants to revisit their strategy for this forsaken operating system. But I can’t foresee when it will happen.