Now assuming you're able to put together your own package or find a PPA that works, there is no guarantee you won't run into dependency issues. Yes, even today, if you roam outside of the prescribed version of your repository software, you run a chance of hitting this roadblock.
Before we go further, I want to be crystal clear. You will not, ever, run into a dependency issue if you stick to the vanilla repositories found with distributions like Ubuntu. It's when you are looking to upgrade your software beyond what's released for your distro version that you'll run into hassles.
The obvious work-a-round for more advanced users is to do what I do – run a rolling release distro along side my fixed release distribution. This gives me two great options and promises that I'll have zero downtime if I do something stupid.
From a practical standpoint however, this isn't going to fly with most people. And most people don't have the knowledge or the interest in maintaining a rolling distribution that sees multiple package updates daily. This isn't my opinion, this is based on my experiences with people I've switched over to Linux and what they prefer. This means that they're going to be stuck with those older software packages. Good for me as it minimizes my support calls, bad for them if they are chomping at the bit for a new feature.
Solution: The software packaging landscape is always changing. Ubuntu, for example, is rattling the cage is this space. But for now, the only way around this is to opt for a rolling release distribution. Fine for some, not so much for others. I guess it comes down to each user's perspective as to what they value the most.
Linux hardware support blows Windows and OS X out of the water. This isn't a debate, it's a simple matter of reality thanks to the Linux kernel. Legacy hardware is the secret, since Linux does such a great job at supporting both current technologies in addition to the older stuff. While other platforms usually give you about a five year shelf life, if even that.
The flip side to this is that when you purchase a brand new laptop, one that was released a month or two ago, your distribution might not be compatible. For Arch users and other bleeding edge distro users, this is less of an issue. This means when you buy a brand new computer, you need to be absolutely sure it's not "too new," otherwise you may be waiting for the next kernel update.
Solution: This one is pretty obvious – research and wait a little bit before buying. Speaking for myself, I've never purchased a new computer where compatibility was an issue. But with some of the latest laptops and video cards, there is always that risk.
With the exception of ChromeOS, nothing is completely foolproof. Any operating system can have issues. The issues I've listed here aren't the usual drive-by complaints you might read about elsewhere. These are real, ongoing challenges that we can either choose to accept as they are or deny them in their entirety.
Despite its challenges, I think the latest batch of Linux distributions offer a fantastic user experience. Linux distributions can offer us oodles of free software and complete control over the operating system down to the metal. And, best of all, a fantastic community to share our issues and success with.
What say you? I'd love to hear about some of your Linux related issues and how you've overcome them. Did you find it to be a learning experience or instead, did it send you back to those other operating systems? Hit the Comments, share your experiences.
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