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Why recommending that you switch to Linux in 2020 is different than on all previous occasions

26 mayo, 2021

Using Linux in 2020 It is not like using Linux in 2008, but it is not like using Linux three or four years ago, although the difference is not so drastic. For years free software enthusiasts and those concerned about user freedoms and the antiprivacy practices of large technology companies have told us their thousand and one idealistic reasons for using Linux, but that discourse still does not reach much.

People care more about other things, as sad as it sounds. Mainly your time. Linus Torvalds himself knows this and it is the most important reason he attributes that Linux has succeeded in everything except the desktop, no one wants to install an operating system.

For the few who do feel like, or at least curious, this is one of the best times to hear that recommendation to switch to Linux, and we will explain exactly why.

What motivates those who create new Linux distributions?


The usual reasons, but a little better

Linux Use

There is always someone who tells you that there are lots of Linux distributions specially designed for all kinds of needs, that you try this one and then this one, that the best is this, that the freest is that, that the most free really and approved by Stallman is that other.

None of that matters, choose the simplest, the best known, the easiest. Use Ubuntu and now, if you like what you try and want to try other things later, go ahead. Most of the big and popular distros have reached levels of maturity like never before. Choosing between Debian, Fedora, Mint, Ubuntu, SUSE, etc., is more a matter of taste.

We are at a point of maturity of the distros that anyone is worth using, you do not have to be exquisite to have a good experience

With all of them, you will be able to do basically the same thing and have a relatively similar experience. In Linux everything is easier than ever, the transition if you come from Windows 10 is much less painful than it was in other years, and the same if you are from macOS.

Snap, Flatpak, and Mastery of Web Applications


Skype, from almost dead on Linux, to reborn thanks to Snap packages

Do you remember that of looking for alternative software to Windows that would work in Linux?, With minor exceptions (cough, Adobe, cough), there is a lot that can be done today simply by using a browser.

These days everything is a service, everything has a webapp, from Skype to Microsoft Office. So much so that those of us who prefer native apps sometimes suffer from the shortage of good native apps on our favorite system.

The snap and flatpak packages have given new life to applications that lagged far behind their versions on Windows and macOS

The other big change recently hitting Linux distros are the Ubuntu snap packages, and the Universal Flatpak packages. They are very similar things, but what they offer us are Simple ways to install multicast apps without complications, from a click on the app store of our favorite distro.

"Linux sucks.  Forever"

Apps like Spotify, Skype, Slack, Telegram, VLC, OnlyOffice, Atom, Kodi, etc. They all have a snap package, which not only makes installation easier for the user but also makes it easier for developers to maintain their packages, updates are simpler and significantly increase the odds of having the latest version with all the features that arrive on Windows or Mac.

Proton, the paradigm shift

Steam Linux

But the real reason and the most important for which I have the audacity to ensure that using Linux in 2020 is so different from other years, is definitely Proton.

If you are a follower of this site, or you are a gamer, or you are aware of Linux news, you should know something about Steam Play. It is basically a “new” tool from Valve, still in beta, that works like Wine, in fact, it is a modified version of Wine, and that it works for play Windows video games on Linux.

The difference with Steam Play and any other previous initiative to improve gaming in Linux, is that this time it is a system that it basically doesn’t ask the user for anything, just install the game and the Steam client does everything else.

Linux games

Steam Play launched with a small batch of video games initially, including a few triple A’s like DOOM or NieR: Automata. Games that are working perfectly on Linux. And that although they are officially recommended by Valve, the community long ago created its own compatibility list that It already exceeds 12,000 games, of which about half are said to work perfectly.

Being a gamer on Linux is no longer what it was just a few years ago, and that’s thanks to Proton

This coupled with the constant improvements in the Linux kernel with better and better driver support, one of the biggest headaches for the average Linux user 10 years ago, has made the experience really transform. Even the Steam Controller was supported by the Linux kernel a couple of years ago.

Linux gaming is not what it used to be: in less than two years Proton and Steam Play have brought us more than 6500 games

For the first time in the history of Linux, despite the great growth of the Steam library for Linux in recent years, we are facing a landscape in which playing on a distro is incredibly easy, at the level plug and play. And not just a dozen games, but thousands that were made for Windows, not Linux.

None of this means that from one day to the next Linux is going to start gaining just over 2% market share, or that all gamers can go and switch to Linux tonight. It just means that using Linux in 2020 is a much more complete experience even for gamers, a sector that has always complained a lot about in Linux “you can not play”.

It is the beginning of something that has perhaps the greatest chance of turning things around for current Linux users, and potential users of the future. And that’s definitely a good thing.