Linux isn't fun any more (or, my journey from Linux bro to reluctant Linux user)


Recently, I've been getting more and more dissatisfied with linux as a platform. I've found myself running into so many complications, difficulties and inconsistencies which have lead me to revert from my past of having complex custom WM setups to a rather conservative xfce configuration with a few added keyboard shortcuts which I am now enjoying far more. This move away from exploring strange environments to settling on probably the most conventional (for now) has made me think more again about my journey within the Linux world.

I think I probably first started being interested in desktop linux as a kid, after seeing my dad having set up a laptop with the then-new compiz and looking at the wobbly windows and desktop cube and thinking that linux looked pretty, and I liked that it was free.

At some point (it's fuzzy, because human memory sucks) I discovered more about free software ideas, windows spying, etc, and entered the embarrassing "smug linux user who's better than you" phase of my life. In this time I hopped between distros ridiculously quickly, never settling on any one DE or WM that I decided to stick with, going through phases of believing that every single piece of software was either a gift from goddess herself or the devil incarnate. I got into r/unixporn and (to a lesser extent) communities adjacent to /g/ and 8chan, started watching Luke Smith, and became a btw-er. How cool I was on reddit, with my i3-gaps and vim rice!

Looking back, I'm pretty sure at that point almost everything I ever used was unstable or impractical in some way. I've no idea how I dealt with the work of maintaining such a setup. The fact that it was completely impossible to understand to other people and a UX nightmare was a point of pride for me - I don't even need to lock my screen because my setup is SO MUCH BETTER than other people's computers, they can't even comprehend it! DE users and especially *windows users* were all idiots and I was an enlightened linux user with my "minimal" and "efficient" software. I think I coasted in this phase for a long while. I did get less of an asshole about it over time, but I was still probably what you'd consider a FOSSbro.

Things started to change in my life after that. I don't want to talk about my entire life story, but things started getting better in my life overall and I started to gain more of an understanding of myself and of other people and the world. My views on basically everything shifted, and with them my views on computing. Linux stopped being a hobby, my one interest, the thing I cared most about in the world and I started to see what I had been doing as what it was - being kinda an asshole. I started to realise that my setup was totally whack and that doing things from a terminal that could be done far better in a GUI didn't make sense. I started to see my linux system for what it was - a tangle of software, with all the problems, bugs, and issues of any other software.

I also started to notice just how messy the linux software ecosystem was to navigate - especially in the audio space - and no longer had the patience to deal with it. Every silver-bullet solution to solve the complex nature of linux - systemd, pipewire, wayland... All of them trying to solve linux's mess and problems, all of them just adding to that mess with their own compatibility issues.

To me now, what I want is a system that works so that I can get on with my life, not one that I tweak constantly. I want to use software that is understandable and simple, and not a towering mess of tools, daemons, and other people's bash scripts I stole from github. Sometimes, this urge makes me want to move to BSD, or to plan 9, or to something even more obscure, but none of those make sense for what I actually use a computer for. So I guess I'm just using Linux because it's what almost works well enough, and "almost works well enough" is the best we'll get. At least until uxn and varvara take over the world.