After three weeks or so of running Ubuntu on my laptop at home as my primary OS, I reinstalled Windows on it yesterday evening. No doubt this is a move that will meet with howls of derision from everyone who expects me to be an über-geek, and the bearded sandal-wearing idealists who think that Microsoft should be nuked, but the fact is that I just don’t think much of Linux on the desktop. It’s more secure and more stable than Windows, and less prone to spyware and all that, and it has some great geeky features (I just love that 3D Sierpinski screensaver) but it has one big problem: visual aesthetics.
Besides Ubuntu’s depressing brown colour scheme, which makes it look like a plate of mince, the biggest problem is fonts. Ubuntu’s default out of the box fonts are ghastly, dumpy, squat monstrosities, and the rendering engines in both Gnome and KDE are pathetic, giving uneven stroke widths and nasty colour fringing even on the Windows core fonts, no matter what settings I used for the sub-pixel rendering. I think they must be using a similar approach to Apple, in attempting to preserve font shapes over and above on-screen crispness and readability, though Apple does it a lot better. Or maybe I’m just spoilt: once you have seen ClearType in action on Windows, the Linux sub-pixel font rendering seems pretty lame by comparison.
Another thing about Linux is software. I really missed Windows Live Writer, especially having used the new beta 2 version with its much improved WordPress support, and while I guess I could have tried installing it using Wine, I decided in the light of the fonts issue not to bother. There are a couple of equivalents available for Linux, such as Drivel, but they are nowhere near as slick as Windows Live Writer. I also much prefer Corel Draw (and Paint.NET for the simpler stuff) to the Gimp, Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, and of course I was missing out on Visual Studio.
This isn’t to say that I won’t be using Linux at all of course. I have been running Ubuntu servers on VMWare both at work and at home and I will almost certainly continue to do so. I don’t know if I’ll try a desktop installation of Ubuntu on VMWare though: when I’ve done this in the past it tends to get neglected somewhat, though it does occasionally come in useful for things such as testing cross-browser compatibility. However, I don’t think I’ll be making much use of it as a primary OS in the immediate future.