Sometime, just about two years ago, I had an HP 2000 Notebook running Windows 8.1. It was relatively low power, running only a dual core AMD processor, integrated AMD graphics, and 4GB of RAM. It wasn’t a terrible laptop, and despite it being very controversial, Windows 8 wasn’t a terrible operating system.
That being said, the experience wasn’t well optimized, and I was curious about alternatives. I had studied and tinkered with computer hardware and software before, and I knew what Linux was. What sparked my movement away from Windows wasn’t Linux, however. I looked into MacOS. I’d used it before, and it was an alternative I’d understood fully the option of Hackintoshing. After a bit of consideration, I went on to download my first Linux distro, that being Xubuntu. I’d done this because my original focus was low overhead.
To give somewhat of a backstory to my insanity that leads up to present day, I’d like to say I really had no contingency plan. No backup, no other alternative, just shooting in the dark. I installed Xubuntu, completely wiping my drive. Keep in mind, I also did not have recovery disks. I liked it, but it wasn’t quite for me. So for the course of six hours, through the night and into the morning, I hopped from Xubuntu to Lubuntu to various flavors of Mint . So when people ask me how long it took me to use Linux only, I can honestly answer with “Immediately”, but I generally say six hours because I usually get less of the annoying bunches of questions from people who can’t take a simple answer or just don’t believe it. That being said, I stuck with Mint for quite a while, and through the months, I hopped from distro to distro using absolutely everything I could in an unreasonable amount of time. I actually hadn’t tried Ubuntu MATE until December 2016. I used the 16.04 release, and I was very dissatisfied, I’ll be honest. The entire thing felt more outdated than Xfce, and it was quirky in ways that just ■■■■■■ me off.
In the time of just under two years of using Linux, I’ve already created a successful, local business model servicing various needs from tech support and consulting, to services such as offloaded encoding and storage of files and media. I’ve had no need to use Windows for anything, though I do fix and support systems running Windows, as I do keep up on my knowledge base of it, and remain familiar with it.
I didn’t stop using Windows for privacy reasons, because I’m quite practical in that sense. Realistically, once you connect to the internet, your privacy is gone. Deal with it. No, I just stopped using Windows because Linux works better for me. I have more choices, as cliché as that sounds and is, but I also like the way these systems work. I like the way they evolve, and I love the way the community drives them forward.
All that being said, despite first impressions, and 16.10 wasn’t much better, when 17.04 rolled around I hopped on to give it another shot. I’ve got to say, that some incredible changes were made. I’m a fan of the Ubuntu base, and I was quite pleased with the way things turned out. Not only was Ubuntu MATE much more stable than it previously was, it was also much more refined. Between the welcome screen which was actually useful (something very rarely seen, most of the time they require more work to get the help than is helpful itself.), and the theming improvements, better up to date software, smoother performance and overall integration. Still missing Brisk menu hotkey, and the menu on the panel by default is atrocious, but it’s not a deal breaker. Ubuntu MATE is my current daily driver, and it will be for quite some time. I could immediately tell the difference and the amount of work the team has put into the project, and it’s paid off.
At the end of it all, I’m an Ubuntu MATE user and enthusiast, which is something I never thought I’d say, but I’m definitely happy.