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On this gaming computer anyhow...

Perhaps a fitting subject for the last blog entry of the year.

As of this moment (31 December 2019) I run Linux on two computers. One is an old AMD K6 desktop that has Xubuntu installed. The other is a dual core Intel based laptop, which runs the Arch Linux variant, Obarun.

This laptop has served me as a scholastic and fiction-writing device since 2011.

I use Linux on these machines, as I use them rarely. For instance, I haven't started the K6 computer in over two months.

My main computer, and the one I'm writing this on, was built for the purpose of gaming. It's an Intel I5 based quad core with 16 GB of RAM, and a Radeon 390X video card. I've had it for over three years and it continues to serve me admirably in its dedicated role.

But...I periodically get the urge to install Linux on this machine. Sometimes that urge realises. And within days I'm back on Windows 10.

My last foray was Kubuntu, the KDE spin of Ubuntu, and a fine piece of work it is. I own a 33 inch 1440p monitor, and KDE looks damned good on it. So does Windows, admittedly.

But as much as KDE is a sexy beast on this machine, I soon encounter my inadequacies with Linux on a gaming machine.

Note that I say my inadequacies and not those of Linux. Like many people who try Linux (or any other FOSS operating system), I kind of expect it to do what I'm used to in Windows. After 25 years of using Linux on and off, you'd think I'd know better. The simple fact is that Linux either cannot run your favourite Windows apps natively, or needs to run them using a compatibility layer like WINE. And often, the FOSS alternatives to Windows apps aren't as good or as well-featured.

Case in point for a Windows-only app: MusicBee. This is a freeware music/jukebox app.


There is nothing in the FOSS world that comes close to MusicBee in features, power and ease-of-use. I mean nothing. I've tried them all. The closest would be the estimable Clementine, which is a fork of the KDE app Amarok. It lacks an in-player album view - it has a cover manager, but it's separate from the player. Another contender is Cantata, a QT-based app that's a client for mpd, but it lacks an equaliser, and adding one is non-trivial. Alas, they all lack one or more features that MusicBee has. This syndrome is also not atypical for Windows apps, I must add, in case anyone thought I was being mean to Linux.

Many Windows apps, freeware or otherwise, lack features you'd expect too.

Games are another issue. Linux has about - based on evidence from Steam - 20-25% of native games compared to Windows. The overwhelming majority of these run in Windows too (and were probably written for it). And of that 20-25%, very few are AAA listed titles. Most are independently made and produced. WINE and to a greater extent, the Proton project, are closing this gap, but your mileage definitely varies running Windows games on non-native OSes. Some work flawlessly, but most work with issues or not at all. And setting your system up to run Windows games can be a fun challenge in itself - video drivers, sound issues, etc.

This isn't a drama if you run Windows.

Again, I'm not trying to slam Linux, or any other FOSS. But...and this is a tremendous "but" - when you run Windows, the stuff is there and it just works. I don't get malware or viruses: I know what I'm doing in front of a computer, so that typical objection to Windows use is a non-issue with me. So is its telemetry. I'm not fussed about that either. However, I agree that software shouldn't spy on you, and I wholly support people's desire for privacy, but personally, I couldn't care less what information Microsoft gets from me. I do nothing computing-wise, in my opinion, that'd interest anyone at Microsoft, but I certainly support anyone else's right not to be tracked or profiled by software.

On my other two machines, Linux is there to stay. I'm not paying for Windows licenses to put on two older machines.

But on this gaming computer, which gets use as a writing, an art, and a world-building computer, I think my days of acting on whims, and putting Linux on it are over, no matter the appeal.

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