I switched to Linux and it has been fun. But like all good things, how I adopted new tech, new skills and a new direction begins with a story.
In August of 2017 I retired my Windows 10 Mobile phone that I held on to with the hopes of a revival of the Windows 10 on Mobile initiative. Sadly, it was DOA and I was a fool for thinking otherwise. However, I ended up picking up a Galaxy S8+. It wouldn’t be until January or February 2018 that I would begin to wonder what if I moved all of my services from Microsoft to Google. This would include Office 365 and OneDrive. After all, the services are quite comparable on a 1-1 basis. The migration from Microsoft to Google would be the catalyst of how I switched to Linux.
As I was making this change from one cloud platform to another, I started to think about all of the necessary steps I needed to make the switch. Including, 500GB/1TB of storage, 3.5GB of emails and several well established work-flows I had developed over the years. This made me anxious. I thought about data loss and changing my work-flows and what kind of effect this would have on my life. After the anxiousness, I got angry. I thought, how could I have let these companies acquire so much control over me that it would affect my life? Thankfully, I am a well-rounded techie and was well aware of Linux. Additionally, I had been using the Windows Subsystem for Linux at work managing servers and had become pretty accustomed to Ubuntu. Furthermore, Microsoft’s push of the .NET Core to the command line made me fall-in-love with the command line. What follows is the story about my accidental change from the dark to the light side where I highlight how I switched to Linux and what new direction is taking shape in my career and digital life.
How I Switched to Linux
After being frustrated with the notion of Google and Microsoft owning my digital life, in February of this year I researched Linux Laptops and found the Dell XPS 13 9370 was being released in a month. I ordered the laptop and started my journey into Linux. Doing this took me back to the early days of learning computers. This is when I would sit in my dorm room alone and tinker for hours trying new things and learning new skills. Ultimately, I settled on Fedora because of it’s developer focus. In addition, Fedora comes with Gnome and isn’t trying to be the next Windows or Mac like Ubuntu. It just seemed like a great fit.
I also discovered that Gnome integrated well with Online Services. Albeit, these services included Microsoft and Google but it also included NextCloud. If you haven’t heard of NextCloud, I highly encourage you to check it out at https://www.nextcloud.com. NextCloud is a privacy focused, self-hosted cloud platform. NextCloud gave me the opportunity to host my own cloud. The services included are Calendar, Mail, Files, Notes and many more.
This presents an excellent opportunity for consumer’s and business, alike. If you look at the economics of these cloud services like GSuite and Office 365. They are making a killing off of you. For example, 1TB of cloud storage is about $10.00 a month which is $120.00 a year. If you purchase this for 5 years, this is $600.00. Now, knowing that I realized I could save some money by hosting my own cloud where I access and manage my own files, calendar, notes, etc. What’s really great about this is that NextCloud doesn’t require a lot of processing power; this could be hosted on a Raspberry Pi. In addition, using NextCloud box requires you to deploy using their Snap package. Which is quite literally, easy to manage and update. So, I purchased a Raspberry Pi and the NexCloud Box which includes the connector, case, a 1TB Hard Drive and a 16GB mciroSD. The total cost of this hardware was about $110.00 plus shipping. This means I am saving $10.00 during the first year and $120.00 every year thereafter. That is a tremendous amount of savings coupled with the Gnome NextCloud integration makes my switch a 1-to-1 switch in-comparison to a vanilla Windows OS.
But few things are missing. Most importantly, my comfortable development environment and work-flows. I realized at this time when tackling the development environment issue that I hated developing in Windows. The only way it was made better was because of Visual Studio. However, using Visual Studio hides the complexities of doing actual development. The marketing teams at Microsoft will call this productivity but what they are doing is making lazy developers. You see Visual Studio includes a full on development environment and everything required to develop using the specified languages. But say you want to develop with Ruby or Python, etc. You would have to go an install something else and configure your path. Doing this usually involved a double install. What they should have done with Visual Studio is installed the languages and command line tools separate from Visual Studio. They could be going in that direction now but too little, too late. I discovered package management in Linux. In addition, I discovered that using Vim/NeoVim enabled me to develop at the speed of thought and with as few mouse clicks as possible. So, what all changed when I switched to Linux and what direction has been taking shape the last few months?
A New Direction
This brings me to the conclusion. In this post, I wanted to tell my story of how I switched to Linux, what new work-flows were taking shape and what new skills I am discovering. I believe this story is complete. I started with identifying what new hardware I am using, my reasoning behind moving away from using Microsoft and Google services and my replacement for these services. Lastly, I provided an overview of my new development environment and work-flows. My new direction is to go into detail about these areas. I will be focusing on NextCloud and how it can be used for productivity and how it is an identical service compared to iCloud, Gsuite and Office 365 but without the spying and monitoring of your data. Furthermore, I will be blogging about my experiences using NeoVim and developing at the speed of thought. So far, this year has given me the opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone and keep on learning. This is how we improve, we must eradicate our comfort zones and push forward. Happy developing and, most importantly, keep learning.