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Goodbye XP Hello Linux Mint

Mar 2013

Ever since I installed Linux on to a partition in my 2 year old netbook, I haven’t booted in to Windows XP in months. There’s just been no need. What apps do I use most when I am in Windows?

  • Firefox
  • Metapad
  • Komodo Edit
  • FileZilla
  • PuTTY
  • git shell
  • Paint.NET
  • VLC

I noticed I use pretty much identical apps on my Mac:

  • Firefox
  • Text Edit
  • Komodo Edit
  • FileZilla
  • Terminal
  • git
  • Pinta
  • VLC

XP is over a decade old. Back when it was first released, 256 MB was considered a good pile of RAM. Nowadays, your phone probably has more than that. You would think that may mean XP is screaming fast with all those resources, but I’d argue that is not entirely correct. XP will have a pile of resources, but it won’t use them very wisely. Small apps may work fast, but you’d have trouble with bigger apps (such as any modern browser). Notice how Chrome or Firefox loads pretty snappy on Windows 7? This is modern memory management. Frequently used apps are held in memory so they load faster. XP has no such feature. Also, even a bargin machine purchased at Walmart probably has 6 GB or more of RAM. XP can only handle up to 4 GB. The rest is waste. (Before angry email arrives, I know this is a x64 versus x86 issue, and I know you can get XP in x64, but nobody ever uses XP x64).

There are numerous optimizations under the hood. Just think, how much has computing changed in the last 11 years? By holding on to XP, your computer’s performance is being held in the dark ages. You can make up for some with bolted-on patches and hotfixes, but even those stop arriving when XP is end-of-life’d in 2014.

I decided it was time for me to let go. I gave Ubuntu 12.04 a shot. My computer felt modern again… except for that damn Unity UI. Why do all my apps have to be full screen? My netbook is not a tablet. And that Ubuntu Software Center is quite large and annoying. I dove in to a pile of configuration files to fix these problems and decided I got tired of fooling around with it. I stuck it out for a few months before giving up and giving Linux Mint 14 with Cinnamin a go, and now I am very happy. The only thing I needed to do post-install is get Google back in to my Firefox. A 5 minute fix. Not bad.

Since migrating to Linux Mint, what apps do I now use most?

  • Firefox
  • gedit
  • Komodo Edit
  • FileZilla
  • Terminal
  • git
  • Pinta
  • VLC

My Linux Mint experience has moved closer to my more expensive Mac experience, except Text Edit has been replaced with gedit. I actually like gedit better. It doesn’t scream at me to go to iCloud to just fiddle with a file. Also, “apt-get install” is vastly superior to launching the Mac Store.

Back to comparing with XP, the only slight drawback I see is that Paint.NET works better than Pinta, but I am willing to make that trade. With XP gone, I get modern memory management and a modern file system. Thanks to ext4, I no longer have to worry about defrag. I am pleased to let go of my virus scanner too.

My little Atom-powered 1 GB RAM netbook feels much faster.

The only time I now boot in to Windows is to test Internet Explorer or to compile a Windows app with Qt Creator. My Mac still gets plenty of use though. I use it for Mac, iOS, and Android app development. Linux supports Android development, but the Android dev tools just seem to run much better on the Mac. I’m not a Linux purest. I use the best tools for the job, and Mac is winning for mobile development.


About

Dan Nagle is a SW Developer and the founder of NagleCode. His apps have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and have been featured all over the internet. He resides in Huntsville, AL.

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