switching to Linux (again ๐Ÿ˜…)


This is the first, and hopefully only, general purpose Linux PC build of the year for me.

The main purpose of doing this was to get all my software development work and general-purpose computing off of the Mac. I like the Mac, but it's more like a game console for running expensive and accurate guitar amp simulations. I mean, fuck a closed-source OS for general purpose computing, right? Right??!

That's what I say, but is historically not how I act. Even though I actually use Linux every day for development, I usually do so from a Mac, running the Linux part either in a VM, or as a remote host for VS Code (which does work fucking great, btw).

But the other day, for the first time in maybe 10 years or so, I installed Linux onto its own physical, local hardware:

my 2021 Linux PC build

basically just a box with a fast CPU, fast SSD, and a low-end but modern GPU

I try to move to Linux every couple years, but usually end up crawling back to the Mac because high-resolution displays are annoying, or sound doesn't work, or some shit like that. This time, though, everything works — including the Dell UP3218K 7680x4320 monitor, which incidentally absolutely blows away my Apple Pro Display XDR 6016x3384 display, at two thirds the price.

yay I can see everything

anything less than 7680x4320 is honestly just barbaric

So, I mean, that's pretty basic! In 2021, a PC built out of current-generation parts with even the lowest-end RTX GPU will drive an 8K display just fine for coding, doing email and calendar, web browsing, etc. Also, modern SSDs are officially fast as fuck nowadays. 7GB/second reads, holy fuckin' shit! ๐Ÿ˜

So, uh, woo hoo, the year of "Linux on the desktop" has finally arrived! (For me, I mean — yes I am well aware many people have been using it for years). Interestingly, the motivation to try again this time around actually came directly from the M1 Mac. Of course I got one, and yeah, it is fast — when you are running an ARM-native application and not much else. But man it so deadly crippled with only 16GB of RAM. I got so sick of running out of RAM every day, and rebooting that little fuckpiece over and over — and yet, when it was running fast (that is, before running out of memory) it was so much faster I couldn't bear going back to my 10-core Intel Xeon iMac Pro, even though that machine has plenty of RAM.

So I built paid a builder to assemble this Linux box for me. And it is good.

The OS is the idiotically-named but otherwise pretty awesome Pop!_OS and that is the distro I would recommend for people switching from Mac (although it's just Ubuttnu with like 5 curated features added on, though, so you could just use Ubuttnu if you felt like staying maximally mainstream).

Switching your daily driver OS is always a pain in the ass, but the TL;DR here is that Linux is just as good as macOS or Windows on a modern desktop computer built from mainstream parts, and while there is a bunch of little shit to get used to and adjustments to make... oh shit Pop!_OS is faster than macOS at almost every little thing you do in the UI, with way fewer shitty and useless animations, and that is really really nice. ๐Ÿ™‚

KEYWORDS: Linux, Mac, 8K at 31.5 inches at 200% scaling is the One True and Holy Resolution, fuck 6K, Pro Display XDR is some ripoff bullshit, Pop!_OS is a cool distro but a really dumb name, pop OS, popOS, popcorn, Soda Popinski, if you happen to know any self-centered morons who won't get the vaccine it's OK to punch them in the face until they do get it