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Life without a Windows Desktop: Page 2

A Linux user talks about assembling an open source desktop with complete functionality.
Posted February 17, 2014
By

Matt Hartley


(Page 2 of 2)

One work-a-round that I have loosely tested is to use Dropbox with Banshee. By no means is this the best method to sync music to your smart phone, but it does work without any errors. The advantage here is that you're able to sync music wirelessly. The downside to this approach is a messy use of symlinks, which can backfire if used carelessly. Thus far, however, it has worked pretty well for me personally. Your own experience may vary, so proceed cautiously.

Cross platform communication

No matter how hard I've tried, I've been unable to dump Skype for open source alternatives. The problem is that most people use Skype for video calls on their computers, not open source alternatives. Thankfully, Skype has a well-supported Linux client. The only problem with the Linux version of Skype is its limited video call capabilities. On Linux, video conference calls on Skype are limited to one-on-one calls only. Yet Windows users can video chat with more than one person at a time.

In a perfect world, I'd simply have users switch over to Jitsi instead. As JitsiMeet develops, we may finally have a solid open source alternative to multiple person Skype video chat. The issue here is getting non-Linux users to adopt this standard, which sadly isn't going to happen anytime soon. Again, Skype and more recently, Google Hangouts, rule the video chat space for the time being. As a Linux enthusiast, this is quite frustrating.

Video entertainment and games

Last but certainly not least, is my ability to enjoy TV, movies and video games from my Linux desktop. Amazon and Hulu make video content a snap, as both services offer me great video content under Flash. For Netflix, I rely on a Silverlight work-a-round called Pipelight. Across the board, I don't find myself missing out on my favorite video content when watching from either of my Linux desktops.

And of course, we have video games for Linux made easy thanks to Valve's latest efforts with Steam. Not only is Steam a fantastic way to discover new video games for Linux, it also allows me to access them with the greatest of ease. Obviously there are some Steam game titles that aren't yet available for Linux users, but this is quickly changing as Valve's commitment to the Linux desktop has never been stronger, and as a result, game developers are taking notice.

One caveat to consider with both videos and video games is your Linux compatible hardware. In 2014, compatibility really isn't an issue anymore. Yet there is one area that remains a bit of a toss-up and that's with video cards. NVIDIA vs AMD really isn't a question. If you plan on playing video games, and would like to have an enjoyable Netflix experience with Pipelight, I recommend NVIDIA. For any other purposes, Intel and AMD graphics will fit the bill just fine.

The Linux Life

Each morning, I boot into my main PC and do so without ever consciously thinking about the platform I rely on. My daily experience really doesn't differ from anyone else who works from home, using their PC to earn a living. The difference, I suppose, is that I've refined my desktop Linux experience to a level where I expect it to behave the way I need it to. I have a long tail, rarely updated computer for my media needs. Then my daily use box is updated every-single-day without fail so that I'm always using the very latest software as it becomes available.

On the rare occasion I must run Windows in a virtual machine, I immediately find myself missing the functionality I rely on within the Linux space: a drop-down terminal, keyboard application launcher, and speed. It's at that point, I realize that for me, there can only be one desktop experience that I feel truly at home with. Linux on the desktop has made using the computer both fun and productive, and I don't ever see this changing - no matter what the future happens to hold.


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Tags: Linux, Windows, applications, Skype, Google Plus


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