I’ve daily-driven Linux in some form or another off and on for a total of about three years now, and seeing LTT’s Linux challenge kinda had me laughing because in my mind, the trade-off you make with Linux are exactly those that devs and other techies are already used to and which we accept because we think it’s a worthy price to pay for the outcome, and seeing techie people try to isolate themselves from contact to become laymen is somewhat amusing, even if it does shine a light on a lot of improvements that need to be made before desktop Linux can go mainstream. (Yes, I know that more-than-slightly mischaracterizes what they did, but that’s not my point)
Then I thought this community would be the perfect one to ask for a wider variety of people’s experience switching to Linux. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’m a Batch 4 owner who switched to Pop!_OS in September after about 10 years of Windows. Here is my initial comment on deciding to switch.
I quite enjoy not being forced to use Edge or Teams without any ability to uninstall them, as well as only having one privacy toggle (location) and a fully open-source operating system. I also had quite the amount of blue screens in Windows over the years, and while Linux hasn’t been without its own OS panics, I’m finding it to be much better (and actually giving me a useful error code when something does go wrong).
But to be completely honest with you, it has been a bit of a challenge, even for someone like me who knows his way around a computer. I say this because I would love to be able to recommend Linux to my friends and family, but I simply cannot in its current state, which is sad since they’ve had 20+ years to make it ultimately noob friendly. However, I understand it’s difficult to maintain compatibility, especially when companies like NVIDIA and Intel don’t always play the nicest, and when there are so many distributions to choose from. I still have screen tearing issues that I haven’t been able to fix with any of the Intel driver suggestions I’ve found online. Additionally, I ran into many problems with getting my fingerprint reader set up and then trying to figure out why it died on me. I was able to get it working again, but only after help from @Henry_Luengas and @Devyn_Cairns. I don’t have any gripes with getting my hands dirty with an OS, but your average person just wants to be able to turn on the computer and be ready to go.
Between Microsoft’s bloatware, spyware, $100+ price tag, and all the OS panics I’ve ran into, I was ready for something else. Additionally, the fact that Valve is shipping the Steam Deck with Linux made me confident in the fact that big companies will embrace Linux and make their products compatible with it in the future. As I understand it, gaming on Linux was pretty nonexistent only a few years ago, but now with things like Proton and Lutris, it is in a much better state. Also, some companies, such as Dell, even ship computers with Ubuntu if the user asks for it.
I chose Pop!_OS since it was based on Ubuntu (which I understand is one of the most widely used distros) so I knew compatibility would be okay, plus it isn’t made by Canonical and it was fully open source, which I liked since I’ve seen Canonical has had some data collection controversies before. Also, the Pop!_Shop makes it easy to install widely used programs like Zoom, Spotify, and Discord. I know people will complain about using Flatpaks or AppImages, but your average person just wants to be able to install their apps, and things like the Pop!_Shop make that easier.
But not everything worked out of the box. One of the strangest things I found was that mp4’s were not playable until I installed some codecs. Additionally, there was no webcam app like Microsoft’s Camera app, and I’ve had issues with Cheese.
And, while this is no one’s fault other than the developers of the programs, certain programs I use simply weren’t available on Linux, such as Garmin Express or iTunes, and even trying to get them to run through Wine didn’t give me the compatibility I needed. As such, I keep a secondary SSD with Windows on it that I swap in every now and then. While I’m talking about Wine, I think it’s also worth noting that I completely broke my OS when first installing Wine, kind of like how Linus did when installing Steam in his Linux challenge. Had I not performed regular backups (through Aptik with Linux), that would have made me panic over all my lost data.
TL;DR Linux has its ups and downs like any other OS, but I’ve been enjoying it and sticking it out over the last few months. However, I wish it wasn’t something I had to stick out and it could just be installed and ready to go so that I could more easily recommend it to people, and so there were more readily available OS choices on the market.
Specifically with the Framework laptop? Battery life (especially during standby) and HiDPI screens (Fractional scaling) are big pain points for me and I see no clear solutions in the immediate future. Which is a shame because I love the hardware. The fingerprint reader doesn’t work out of the box, but I’m fine without it for the time being.
I agree with @CSab6482 here. Most people want to turn on their computer and use it, but Linux distributions are just not there yet. Things could be different if Framework partners with someone for OS distribution, or if they fix everything and ship it. But Framework is not there yet.
Really depends on the Wayland compositor and the distro, to be honest. Everything worked OOTB for me with Debian sid (including the fingerprint reader) with sway (where fractional scaling is honestly about as good as it’s going to get). It’s a shame that Gnome and KDE are so much worse with respect to the fractional scaling, since those are usually the entrypoint desktop environments (not something like sway).
Given that my previous “laptop” had approximately 1 minute of battery life, I was thankful to actually have a battery. That being said, I’m probably getting around 7–8 hours of battery life, which isn’t terrible for someone who’s used to 2 hours tops. I did the TLP tweaks which seem to have helped.
I’ve been using Linux for about ten years, but I still consider myself a newbie because I really just use it to get stuff done and I still look up basic things like ‘how make screen bright’.
Windows is great if you’re doing a particular kind of work in a particular kind of way. But when it breaks, it is for mysterious reasons and can be impossible to fix. When Linux breaks, you usually know exactly the reason (‘oh, maybe that line in GRUB is an important one’), but it’s usually not too hard to fix.
I spend about as much time troubleshooting both. I spend WAY more time customizing Linux though, because I can, so why not (cue ‘oh, maybe lightdm IS a program I want to keep’).
It has changed my relationship to my computer (which is mine), and my software (which is usually not mine). I’ve become very aware of how little most software companies trust their customers. If they can’t keep the software locked in a tidy box, they won’t sell it to you for any amount of money. I find it personally insulting that Microsoft can choose to revoke a software license, or Amazon can decide some media I paid for can be disappeared. More and more I feel like choosing to limit myself to open-source software is an act of rebellion against that relationship, as small as it may be.
I’ve been using Mint forever and have never left except for holidays.
-Had to configure hibernation (because hibernation can break things). It took me about fifteen minutes and I fixed two other things on the way.
-I left the thumb print reader alone because I’m lazy and who cares
-I tripped on the Wine install because I forgot Mint is downstream of an older Ubuntu version. That’s a Linux black eye – no one should have to know that kind of stuff.
-Goofed around with some other neato tools for a bit while watching Father Brown. There’s a ton of cool functionality I didn’t expect with the new hardware (or turned off)
-Everything else worked out of the box
But at the end of the day, this laptop is mine. That’s enough for me.
HAHAHAHA this hit home so hard. Just looking at what a ‘default’ setup looked like for me when I started using Linux (Ubuntu 7.10 right before Ubuntu 8.04 came out) and what it looks like now is…amazing. It’s almost hard to tell that they’re the same OS (or that one could be configured to be the equivalent of the other).
I moved from Gnome 2 to Unity (briefly) to Fluxbox (switched to CrunchBang Linux at that point) to Awesome (somewhere in that transition I also switched to Debian) to Sway.
I used to use gedit and now I use emacs.
I used to use a graphical email client and now I use a highly customized fetchmail+mutt setup.
I went from upgrading or reinstalling my distro every 6 months to never having to do a full upgrade again (hello rolling release!).
I went from using Gnome Terminal to URXVT to foot as my terminal emulator.
I went from using X11 to Wayland, pure ALSA to PulseAudio to PipeWire, OpenOffice to LibreOffice, and so many more transitions due to successor projects, forks, etc.
And you know what? I loved every moment of that journey. The fact that I could be running the same distro as someone else while having everything not only look different but even function completely differently at a basic level is just…amazing. And yet, they are the same OS, at least at a basic level. Any GNU/Linux system will have the same basic tools, use the same kernel, and generally work the same way at the lowest levels. But the sheer depth of customization that is possible never ceases to amaze me.
Y’all, give back in whatever way you can to your favorite Linux distro(s). This could be money or time or bug reports or packaging or any number of other ways to get involved. There is no wrong way to get involved, and every little bit helps with pushing forward the great experiment that is Linux.
When I first decided to buy the Framework the intention was that I would pass on Windows and live in the Linux ecosystem, so from the start, I was set on using Linux.
I initially opted to go with Fedora 34 Cinnamon spin, and it certainly had some challenges. The wifi hardware wasn’t supported right out of the box and took a little work to get going. I had to attach a USB ethernet dongle in order to update the OS and get wifi working, but that wasn’t a huge deal for me. Otherwise for the most part everything worked fine. I did have to do some battery tuning as has been described in other posts since the battery would drain dead after using it for an hour. Using the suggestions here though fixed that issue for me.
I even recently upgraded in place from Fedora 34 to Fedora 35 with very few issues, although I probably could have spared myself some additional work had I not done the upgrade on day one.
The only hurdle I had to really address is that I keep most of my files in OneDrive, so I had to use a 3rd party software (Insync) to correctly sync my files to my 1 TB expansion card. Once I had that up and running though it’s been smooth sailing.
I’ve had the Framework since October, so a few months into it, and overall I’m fairly impressed, even with using it on Linux. I haven’t really experienced any major issues, and what issues I did run into were easily fixed. Now I’m just waiting for the firmware updates to hit the LVFS system so I can update the bios officially. I’ve been enjoying working with it though on Linux and Fedora so my hat’s off to the teams involved for making it such a great experience thus far.
I’ve had a great experience mostly. I got my system in October and have been using Fedora 35. Fingerprint reader, WiFi, Bluetooth, and peripherals have worked out of the box. Fedora has power management modes, but I installed TLP instead.
Standby battery drain could be better and fractional scaling could be simpler, but it isn’t a big deal for me because I work from home. And when the battery does need to be recycled, replacing it is only $60 compared to Apple’s $250.
Coming from Mac OS, it isn’t a big difference. Many terminal commands are the same because they’re both Unix clones.
And Linux is so customizable that I made my system look similar to Mac OS.
I tried Linux with my Framework laptop for the first time and have no intention of going back to Mac OS. I used to build my own systems and run Windows on them, then I switched to Macs, and now I’m building my own systems again, but with Linux.
@Chiraag_Nataraj I’m a little envious of your linux experience, but I totally recognize it’s just a question of spending the time to learn it. I love that you owned it so thoroughly though. How neat we have the opportunity to craft our tools to exactly how we want to use them.
@hand_sanitizer the gestures are great in fedora. I can easily zoom in, swipe between desktops, and scroll.
Fractional scaling is a hit or miss depending on the application. I use 150% scaling. I try to use RPMs when possible and they tend to scale better. Otherwise, a few of my applications are a little blurry, but there are some workarounds. And most applications have suitable browser based alternatives. HiDPI - ArchWiki
I’d been trying out Elementary as a Linux Distro for a while before ordering my Framework machine. I really wanted (and still want,) Zorin to be my OS - but after like six hours trying to get wifi to work, I gave up and went with Pop_OS.
Now I’ve been on Pop for… like a week or two. And it’s gone from good to great. The more I use this distribution the more I’m impressed. All the benefits of Linux, in general, seem to be there: it’s light, responsive, customizable, etc. and the UI of Pop is, (especially for a newbie trying to divorce himself from 30 years of Apple/Windows,) really excellent.
I also tried Ubuntu Sudio for a little bit.
Right now, I’m really happy with PopOS, and still hoping to try Zorin again in the future.
Adjustments that took me some time to figure out, but that I think were really necessary to get it going:
Had to find some other helpful folks here on the forum to figure out how to improve battery drain, especially when the laptop was idle.
With that done, though, personally - my experience has been great.
And it’s a low-cost thing to try out, of course. One can always go back to Windows, if needed. Or dual-boot, etc.
Amen & amen. I’m more and more of the mind that I’ll gladly take some limitations, if I must, or spend some time trouble-shooting/learning, etc. to get my tasks done if it means I can get them done using open-source software – precisely because, small though it may be, it’s worth it to carry-out my tiny rebellion.
I’m also constantly surprised, impressed, and charmed by how intuitive and lovely experiences with open-source software can be. MuseScore is my favorite example - the fact that this is something made by people who are enthusiastic about the subject matter, and for people who are enthusiastic about the subject matter shines-through brilliantly.
Makes me want to write a love letter thanking every person who’s contributed in any small way to any open-source software project.
I bought my Framework due to the influence of my 20 year old son. Being 52 and a self proclaimed OG (original geek), I’m definitely no stranger to the more intricate aspects of computing, but at some point early in my career I became more of an operator than a mechanic. In my 20’s, I bounced back and forth between DOS, MacOS, and Windows as my career in film & television post production dictated. The DAW that was predominant in Hollywood back in the early 90’s was on Windows 3.11, but then as Avid & Protools gained dominance I found my self quite settled and comfortable in the Mac ecosystem. Apple switching to Intel processors and thus making dual boot a reality pretty much made me a die hard Mac owner… I thought I’d never buy anything but a Mac ever again. I had become one of those people who just want to drive my laptop, and not have to go under the hood to fix anything.
I no longer work in post production, and only use a computer for personal work and hobbies these days. My old 2015 Macbook pro was on it’s last legs when I was making a decision as to what I wanted next. I have been growing very tired of Apple, specifically the inability to replace any components on their new models, so when my kid showed me Framework, I was only reluctant to pull the trigger because I hate Windows so much.
It was at this point my son brought up Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, and reminded me of my attitude towards my automobiles. I keep my cars until they die, I keep them alive myself as much as I’m able, and I’m not at all afraid to open the hood and get dirty if something breaks. He said it’s time I get back to that relationship with my computers.
I got my Batch 5 Framework in early December, and bought it with my Apple Card just for the irony. My kid gave me a 250G expansion card for Christmas to use to boot Linux. After a short time distro hopping, I settled on Garuda and have been using it as my daily driver for a few weeks now.
Switching to Linux reminds me of the time I bought a '73 MGB when I was in my 20’s. God I loved that car, but I also had to learn how it worked, and how to fix it on my own. I have my kid to consult when things go screwy on my laptop, but it’s still up to me to roll up my sleeves and make it work.
The first time I ran an update in Garuda, I had my AX210 wifi card stop working. Fortunately I had my old macbook to look up solutions to my problem, which I was able to fix, but I can’t conclusively say what was wrong other than it was related to the ARCH kernel I was using at the time. I still have very much to learn.
Unlike the pre-internet days when I owned my MG, there is an incredible wealth of information available to help when things go wrong, but you have to have the time and initiative to troubleshoot and fix things yourself, and not be afraid to break anything. And it helps to have another machine you can use to look things up if you do.
So much like the message conveyed in “Zen and the Art…”, you have to make the commitment to not just be a driver of your machine, but learn to be the mechanic as well. If you do, you will probably find it to be rather rewarding in it’s own, masochistic way. I have, so far anyway.
Since I wanted to start moving away from Windows, I started with Linux from the start on my Framework laptop (Batch 6, i5 DIY Edition), currently using Ubuntu 21.04. Just about 99.9 percent of everything worked right out of the box, with the only issues being some unknown program crashes when connecting and disconnecting my Dell Thunderbolt dock, jerky/laggy pointer movement, and some brief interleaving when interacting/changing between windows. Those might be due to the OS of choice and their drivers more than the laptop itself, though.
I do like how the built-in USB4 allows me to use a Thunderbolt dock, which works well with Ubuntu if you give it a bit to sort things out. However, I can’t seem to boot with the dock connected; it hangs on a blank screen right when the POST should flash. But that’s an unrelated issue independent of the OS itself and I haven’t fully diagnosed it to verify if it’s just a simple setting that needs to be set. A small issue, but a bit annoying regardless.