There are plenty of nerdy things to love about using Linux, but one of the nerdiest things has to be the use of the text-mode web browser. And it’s awesome.
I can feel you backing away slowly. Others might be thinking, “Alex, it’s 2017. Why on earth would I use a text-mode browser? What are you, stuck in 1985?” Hear me out: The text-mode web browser is one of those super-useful tools that can really save your bacon.
I always make a point of installing a text-mode browser like Links just in case I need it. Since I’m one of those people who like to break my Linux installation experiment with things, I’ve had to turn to Links more than once.
Running Windows as a virtual machine in Linux may seems like unnecessary work until something like the Wannacry ransomware scare comes along. The PCs that were affected, all running older Windows versions, have few good solutions other than a Microsoft patch or an intriguing workaround called Wanawiki.
Short of shelling out for a new Windows 10 license, it may be time to switch to Linux. Despite its headaches, desktop Linux rarely is the target of malware. (When it is, it can generally present a smaller attack surface.) And if you need to run applications in Windows, running the OS in a virtual machine saves you the hassle of other options, such as using a translation layer like WINE (which will render mixed results), or dual-booting (which is annoying).
Easy connection to the Internet over Wi-Fi is no longer a privilege denied Linux users. With a recent distribution on a fairly recent laptop, connecting your Linux laptop to an available Wi-Fi network is often as easy as it is with your phone.
It wasn’t always like this. Wi-Fi has long been a running joke among Linux laptop users. Many a user would wipe their hard drives and install Linux only to find that they couldn’t get online. I went through this when I first installed Ubuntu 8.04 on my Asus Eee PC. (Luckily, the Eee PC came with an RJ45 ethernet jack.)
Getting Wi-Fi working is less of an issue today (though it still can be difficult on occasion). But just getting something to work is only the first step. With a little extra effort, you can optimize your Wi-Fi connections on Linux for the best speed and improved privacy.
Dell's Precision 5520 is one of the very few laptops to offer a Linux distribution as a pre-installed operating system. Another is Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition, which offers great performance in a compact size. For people wanting something a little more powerful, the Precision 5520 (which starts at $1,399 but is $2,765.50 as configured) packs workstation levels of power while remaining just shy of four pounds (3.93, to be exact).
This is actually the second Precision 5520 PCWorld has received. A first unit suffered two indignities. First, Dell installed the wrong Linux kernel that didn't have all the updated drivers it needed. Second, we failed to follow up with Dell when we had problems with the Wi-Fi, keyboard shortcuts, and display brightness.
April showers bring May flowers, and fresh versions of Ubuntu too. Canonical’s latest official Ubuntu release—17.04—arrived this month after news of the death of Unity 8 and the return to the GNOME desktop in 2018. For now, Ubuntu is still shipping with its Unity desktop.
I wrote earlier that most users who need stability and support over new features will probably want to stick with Ubuntu 16.04, which was released last April, until Ubuntu 18.04 arrives a year from now. However, there are a few small things in Ubuntu 17.04 that will appeal to users who are keen to get all the newest updates.
Hey, Ubuntu users: If you haven’t heard yet, Canonical killed off any hopes of releasing Unity 8 with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS next year. Instead, Ubuntu will release 18.04 with the GNOME desktop. While some die-hard Ubuntu fans may have a case of inconsolable angst, this is actually not as bad of a thing as it may seem.
A brief history of Ubuntu desktops
A long time ago (in internet time anyway), the Ubuntu OS shipped with the GNOME 2 desktop environment, which was beloved at the time. During that era, only a handful desktop environments were widely used. GNOME and KDE took the lion’s share of users, while the lighter-weight XFCE and LXDE desktops catered to users who wanted a speedier desktop and less pizzazz.
Ask any Linux enthusiast, and they’ll tell you how awesome an operating system Linux can be. (Well, except Bryan Lunduke, who will say it sucks before he says it’s awesome.) For the desktop user, the freedom from worry about most viruses is a big plus, and not spending $100 upgrading Windows is a big plus too.
As awesome as Linux is for desktop use, Linux (and BSD for that matter) truly shines as a server. While providing web-based services is one of those server-y things Linux does really well, Linux can do a lot more than host a blog about family outings.
If you’re looking to host your own services instead of paying for or relying on those in the cloud, running your own home server is one of the best ways to keep your files private.