5 Things I Dislike and Love About GNU/Linux

First off, I recognize that the original content of this article caused a significant debate as can be seen in the comment section at the bottom of the old article at:

5 Reasons Why I Hate GNU/Linux – Do You Hate or Love Linux?

For that reason, I have chosen to NOT use the word hate here which I do not feel entirely comfortable with and have decided to replace it with dislike instead.

Things I Dislike About Linux
5 Things I Dislike About Linux

That said, please keep in mind that the opinions in this article are entirely mine and are based on my personal experience, which may or may not be similar to other people’s.

In addition, I am aware that when these so-called dislikes are considered in the light of experience, they become the actual strengths of Linux. However, these facts often discourage new users as they make the transition.

As before, feel free to comment and expand on these or any other points you see fit to mention.

Dislike #1: A steep learning curve for those coming from Windows

If you have been using Microsoft Windows for the good part of your life, you will need to get used to, and understand, concepts such as repositories, dependencies, packages, and package managers before being able to install new software into your computer.

It won’t be long until you learn that you will seldom be able to install a program just by pointing and clicking an executable file. If you don’t have access to the Internet for some reason, installing a desired tool may then become a burdensome task.

Dislike #2: Some difficulty to learn on your own

Closely related with #1 is the fact that learning Linux on your own may seem at least at first a daunting challenge. While there are thousands of tutorials and great books out there, for a new user it can be confusing to pick on his / her own one to start with.

Additionally, there are countless discussion forums (example: linuxsay.com) where experienced users provide the best help they can offer for free (as a hobby), which sometimes unfortunately is not guaranteed to be totally reliable, or to match the level of experience or knowledge of the new user.

This fact, along with the broad availability of several distribution families and derivatives, makes it necessary to rely on a paid third party to guide you in your first steps in the world of Linux and to learn the differences and similarities between those families.

Dislike #3: Migration from old systems / software to new ones

Once you have taken the decision to start using Linux whether at home or at the office, on a personal or enterprise level you will have to migrate old systems to new ones and use replacement software for programs you’ve known and used for years.

This often leads to conflicts, especially if you’re faced with the decision to choose between several programs of the same type (i.e. text processors, relational database management systems, graphic suites, to name a few examples) and do not have expert guidance and training readily available.

Having too much options to choose from can lead to mistakes in software implementations unless tutored by respectable experienced users or training firms.

Dislike #4: Less driver support from hardware manufacturers

No one can deny the fact that Linux has come a LONG way since it was first made available more than 20 years ago. With more and more device drivers being built into the kernel with each stable release, and more and more companies supporting the research and development of compatible drivers for Linux, you are not likely to run into many devices that cannot function properly in Linux, but it’s still a possibility.

And if your personal computing needs or business require a specific device for which there is no available support for Linux, you will still get stuck with Windows or whatever operating system the drivers of such device were targeted for.

While you can still repeat to yourself, “Closed source software is evil“, it’s a fact that it exists and sometimes unfortunately we are bound mostly by business needs to use it.

Dislike #5: The power of Linux is still mainly on the servers

I could say the main reason I was attracted to Linux a few years ago was the perspective of bringing an old computer back to life and giving it some use. After going through and spending some time dealing with dislikes #1 and #2, I was SO happy after having set up a home file – print – web server using a computer with a 566 MHz Celeron processor, a 10 GB IDE hard drive, and only 256 MB of RAM running Debian Squeeze.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I realized that even under heavy use loads, htop tool showed that barely half of the system resources were being utilized.

You may be well asking yourself, why bring this up if I’m talking about dislikes here? The answer is simple. I still have to see a decent Linux desktop distribution running on a relatively old system. Of course I am not expecting to find one that will run on a machine with the characteristics mentioned above, but I haven’t found a nice looking, customizable desktop on a machine with less than 1 GB and if it works, it will be as slow as a slug.

I would like to emphasize the wording here: when I say “I haven’t found“, I am NOT saying, “IT DOESN’T EXIST“. Maybe someday I will find a decent Linux desktop distribution that I can use on a old laptop that I have in my room gathering dust. If that day comes, I will be the first one to cross out this dislike and replace it with a big thumbs up.


In this article I’ve tried to put into words the areas where Linux can still use some improvement. I am a happy Linux user and am thankful for the outstanding community that surrounds the operating system, its components and features. I repeat what I said at the beginning of this article – these apparent disadvantages may actually become strengths when viewed from the proper perspective or will soon be.

Until then, let’s keep supporting each other as we learn and help Linux grow and spread. Feel free to leave your comments or questions using the form below – we look forward to hearing from you!

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29 thoughts on “5 Things I Dislike and Love About GNU/Linux”

  1. The only thing I dislike about GNU/Linux is lack of a descent image editing software, GIMP, LibreOffice Draw, Calligra suite draw, inkscape all sucks !!!!

    • Wait a moment…. GIMP IS on linux…. On ubuntu’s repository at least, and, i’m pretty sure that as long as you run a linux with APT software system you could download gimp from ubuntu’s archive manually, i’m not sure if other linux’s do this, since i haven’t run anything else than ubuntu in a while.

  2. Most of those are true enough. But it’s really rather “praising with faint damns”–they are small criticisms and most have little to do with the inherent nature of Linux in particular.
    #2–Genuinely learning how to use any operating system is going to present such problems. It’s the nature of learning about complex things while living in a non-totalitarian environment. Of course, most people don’t genuinely learn how to use an OS in any serious way, and with Linux it’s now about as true as for other OSes that you don’t need to learn much in order to handle normal tasks. I myself have forgotten a good deal of what I learned about Linux back in the early 2000s because I don’t need to use it any more as a rule.
    #3–An artifact of not being the same OS as the one a person was using before. Not usually a problem for Windows because people typically didn’t start with something else. But if you do, it’s a problem, and it’s certainly a problem for OS X. A genuine problem, but not about Linux in particular.
    #4–An artifact of not being dominant. Linux driver support is actually surprisingly good considering its desktop market share. Chickens and eggs, as with games and such. Again, not about Linux in particular–any non-dominant OS would have the same problem.
    #5–A real problem no doubt, but pretty much a luxury thing. You can still get a decent Linux desktop on a more minimal computer than its main competitors can handle.
    All real problems, but not problems about Linux in specific really. Inevitable or by-products of its situation or in the case of #5, not being enough better than other OSes.
    Problem #1 doesn’t seem to me to be real, though. Just use the software centre in the flippin’ menu. Most modern distros have something like that. You do a quick search for what you want or browse the category or whatever, click “install”, it installs, and if it’s already installed to get rid of it you just click “uninstall” and it will remove everything with no muss or weird leftover crap. If you’re not trying to fight the system by bypassing the ways it easily installs software, it’s really simple. And transition from Windows is pretty damn easy if you use a distro that has Cinnamon or Mate; they’re just like (pre-8) Windows except nicer and, if you feel like it, more configurable.
    If you’re having this kind of problem maybe you should try Linux Mint.

    • @ShadowDeamon,
      Please do not take my comment out of context. I said I am expecting to find (I specifically stated I haven’t found it yet, not that it doesn’t exist) a decent Linux desktop distro that runs on a machine with 1 GB of RAM, not on my old desktop with 256 MB / 566 MHz Celeron processor.

  3. Hey Gabriel,

    I would not say that there are no problems using Linux. The worst one of course is your fourth issue, the bad driver/hardware support in this world ruled by the famous Redmond company. But that’s it, all other problems you mentioned are not really problems. Want to install programms by clicking on a file? Use *.deb Files. It works fine within the “ubuntu/debian-univers”. And don’t forget one thing. Linux offers you free access to a whole Software-Universe. With excellent programs, such as gimp, Kodi, LibreOffice. Finding Software for windows is not that easy and often you have to pay a lot for it. Migration? Even between LTS-versions no problem. Point 2 is similar to the Windows-world, because beside the MS-Site (which is often absoluty insufficient) you find countless forums… Needless to mention that it is not a feature of Linux or windows, it is simply a feature of the modern world, especially inside the web. Looking for distros for old hardware?You find plenty of them. Try Q4. Or antiX. Or simply run any distro you like, but forget the well-known desktop environments like KDE or Gnome. Try it without. Just take a simple window-manager (there are countless of them). You will not even need 1 GB RAM.

    • @dr. j,
      Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough and informative comment. It will be of great value to anyone reading this article.
      As I stated in the article, I don’t find these “dislikes” to be a problem anymore – but new users may do. In my opinion and having had years of experience with Linux now, these items have become strengths instead of flaws.

  4. Most of the reasons Gabriel Canepa gives for disliking Linux are non-sensical and capricious. For example, in dislike #1, he intimate that the learning curve for those coming from Windows is “too steep”. Windows is substantially more simple and less sophisticated than Linux and that will understandably require more general technical knowhow in basic computer science topics like shell scripting, various computer languages, file systems and databases, except for generl desktop use.

    A perfect analogy is expecting the mechanical fine tuning of a Formula One engine to be simple and “not steep” as tuning a VW Beetle used for local Club Racing in Connecticut.

    Dislike #2 is directly related to dislike#1.
    Dislikes #3 and #4 are adequately answered “to some degree” by dislike#5, which should not be a dislike but just stating a fact that is positive. Most Linux deployments are on servers and certain configurations of Android and ChromeOS Mobile and desktop devices, which is proof positive that Linux for end-users is and can be just as viable as for Data Centers.

    Power, robustness and good security cannot be “dumbed down” to the lowest common dennominator of basic desktop use prevalent in Microsoft Windows. There are however, several reputable and excellent Linux distributions that have proven more than adequate for migrating Windows users, even in internal studies by 3 or 4 of the largest Financial Services Firms in USA, who concluded that it might take a “competent” Windows XP/Windows 7/8 user about 2 -3 hours to become proficient and comfortable with latest Linuxmint or Zorin distributions, both designed to make Windows converts more at home.

    . As a Linux user – for desktop, server and networking – for more than 18 years, and independant consultant in Linux, BSD UNIX-like, Apple OS X and Windows in productivity and business related services through professional affiliations with several large and small entities, including SuseGMBH, Germany, an International Petroleum Trading Corporation, IBM Developer Connection, local USA and International technology companies and non-governmental organizations, I have experienced great success in assisting dozens, possibly hundreds of individuals, businesses and organizations in making a satisfactory move to Linux, including an 81 years of age former Airline pilot with very limited PC experience.

    I did not review article beyong those 5 Linux dislikes, since I do not feel the writer has sufficent professional competence, experience or perspective in judgement of technology adoption on user level.

    • @W. Anderson,
      Good for you! But you are taking my insights a little out of context here. I specifically said in the article that these items were -what in my own experience- what took me a little to get used to when I first moved from Windows to Linux. I understand other people’s experience may be different and I have great respect for that – which you seem to lack towards me as stated in the last paragraph of your comment.
      In addition, the purpose of this comment form is to enrich other people in the community by providing your insights (take a minute to compare your comment to the others in this article) – not thrash authors and underestimate their experience by comparing it to yours.

  5. #1: try gnome-shell (fedora, ubuntu-gnome, kororaa), it takes only 5 minutes to teach how it works. Or show Elementary OS again 5-10 minutes.
    How about new users who try windows for the first time, can they install it; can they work with the explorer, etc… most windows users have “Desktop shortcuts” which they just double click to work. Someone had to set the windows software and environment for the windows users to work.

    #2: You forgot Youtube has a lot of tutorials to learn, everything needs learning, including windows, mac os, linux. So that’s not at all related to Linux.

    #3: One has to choose what one wants, If one can’t take informed decision, then how come the one chose windows in the first place?

    #4: seriously? Can windows 10 use the hardware which was made for windows 98 or windows xp? You’ll find hundreds of devices which can’t be used by Windows 10 that could work with windows xp… If the hardware manufacturer doesn’t want to make the drivers available, why complain? Ask the vendor to provide drivers. Linux on the other hand still supports ancient hardware.

    #5: Old hardware needs old software example redhat 7.3 http://www.linuxlookup.com/review/redhat_linux_7_3_review, and there are some lightweight distros, like http://tinycorelinux.net/welcome.html

    But why stuck in the ancient times, when one can buy good hardware, are you emotionally attached to that old hardware?

    All you dislikes are just complains about how hardware and software evolves and work in real life. It applies to all operating systems. Why blame Linux???

  6. Ok so I’ve read the comments and the article. I would like to posit my personal opinions on this topic. I have been using Linux since 2004, and I will not make statements claiming it’s better than Windows, but I WILL make statements based off of my OWN experiences with it. I stopped using Windows in 2004 because I had had enough of the blue screens of death. And then it happened, I got an error message that was “unrecoverable”. (And bear in mind this was before I could rescue anything from the drive.) and even after I loaded rescue CD’s it showed that there was nothing, just nothing there. I made a promise to myself that day, to 1 – NEVER use Windows flaky, bug-ridden, glitchy, bloated operating system EVER again! and 2 – To find something else. Not necessarily better, but something that was more reliable than Windows. I searched and only came upon two other alternatives: Apple’s OS, and Linux/Unix. At first I dismissed Linux because I had always had the belief that it was nothing more than a bunch of terminal Windows with millions of lines of un-readable code. But when I finally checked out Apple’s PRICES for their hardware? I automatically KNEW it wasn’t going to be the one I chose. Which left just Linux. And at first all I did was go online (via someone else’s computer since mines was dead!) and read. I read…..and read….and read….and read some more. And when I couldn’t read anymore?…I READ some more, just gathering information and trying to understand the lingo and the lay of the Linux landscape. After about 2 months of straight reading, I finally made the move and downloaded the iso for Fedora 12, and installed it to my laptop which had a new hard drive in it. I had to do the install SEVEN TIMES as I kept messing it up, not knowing which options to take. (Didn’t read up enough about grub, so of course my Windows-logic mind kept thinking there was a VIRUS on the CD!….(word association folks….word association…grub=bug / bug=virus…etc..) After the seventh time I got it installed and my journey with Linux officially began. I have since then installed a lot of distros, (a LOT of distros!!) and I’ve come to learn the similarities with them, their differences etc. Did I need to read and learn? yes. Was it tiring and sometimes burdensome? yes. Would I do it all again if I had to do it over again? Undoubtedly. There’s no greater feeling of installing and configuring an operating system of YOUR choosing. Not what some company analyst choses for me. I have tried time and time again since then to go “back” to Windows thinking my foray into the world of F.O.S.S. would be temporary. But even with new interfaces,….prettier backgrounds…nicer apps, and revamped software I just can’t go back to the MS way of doing things. I now have skills that while not employment-level grade, they ARE tools that I can use to better my usage of a PC. And with the things I’ve learned wth HDD and the ext4 file system….and the Btrfs…along with htop….top….ls…makefile..and a slew of other commands…I feel I am at a level unheard of with a PC. Add to this my PC hardware repair/replacement background and I think I’m ahead of my peers in PC usage.

    Now…I’ve said all that to point this out. Had I just gone out and replaced the HDD and re-installed Windows? I don’t think I would have learned anything new….just the same old “Point & Click” that it seems Microsoft wants you to do. Are there power users of Windows out there? Yes. And do they know how to fine tune a Windows System? Yes. But I can run rings around them speed wise with Terminal commands that will complete a job quicker than they can bring up their Powershell.

    But in response to a lot of replies and statements here. You cannot really compare Windows to Linux (nor Apple for that matter!) they’re all three designed to do the same things differently. Apple is for those who can afford it, plain and simple. We’ll just leave that alone. Windows is for the folks who prefer a “Polaroid” computing experience. (remember “point & click”!?) and finally Linux is for those who “Want To Know”. They want to know what makes their systems run like they do, they want to know how ot make their systems run at peak optimization. They want to know how to fix things when they go wrong. And THAT’S the real draw of Linux, the fact that just about every application or software package is free, or so inexpensive that its negligible is just added value. When you throw in the fact that it’s like a modern day version of “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” in that it has a “Server” platform, and a “Desktop” platform that just makes it more appealing.

    In regards to there being too much choice regarding distros? Well now this one just doesn’t make sense to me. If the only two flavors you ever had to choose from were just Strawberry and Vanilla the world would be SUCH a boring and horrible place! But you have Chocolate, mint chocolate chip, banana-berry, butter pecan, rocky-road etc. The same applies to OS’es…..heck the same applies to EVERYTHING in this world. If we all had to buy and drive in Citroen’s or Toyotas?…a lot of people would just walk. I’m GLAD there are over 200+ flavors of Linux out there….I hope those numbers go UP and not down. Nothing could ever be GAINED by limiting choice.

    The driver issue might have been a problem back in the days, but today the driver support for Linux is overwhelming, and its only getting better not worse. Eventually? there won’t be a list of laptops/desktops that are dated a year or two back as being the only machines that will work with Linux. Sooner or later it will be on par with the rest of the world and you’ll be able to buy the latest hardware /gaming machine / tablet with the latest in hardware and pop Linux on it without a worry. When that happens there will be a major shift to open source…

    And finally the server / desktop argument is also not something that should or would concern the average user. The only people interested in server OS’es are people who either work in that field, or are studying to enter that field. The guy who installs an OS just to have a PC to store and watch his movies doesn’t care that there’s also a server version. The grandmother who’s laptop allows her to Skype with her grand kids doesn’t pay attention to it’s domain controller abilities.

    The bottom line is this. Windows works for those who need to use it. (Thank God I don’t fall into that category…..anymore!)

    Apple works for people who need to use it. (Generally it’s a bit expensive for the masses, but a lot of people find themselves drawn into it for it’s ease of use and exclusivity.

    And Linux works for those who are brave enough, curious enough, and foolhardy enough to venture into it’s woods. Its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and it has its drawbacks but the ones mentioned here?…don’t seem to be valid anymore. I’m sure there ARE valid points or reasons that some people will say are holding Linux back, but most users of Linux didn’t find these to be sticking points, instead they choose to look beyond those and dig into the feature rich set of tolls and utilities that it has to offer.

    Ok…I think I’ve said enough…

    • @Eddie G.,
      I can’t thank you enough for such a well-written comment. I wish I could upvote -so to speak- so that it would appear at the top of all other comments. By the way, some of the feedback I’ve received as response to this article has been helpful, and some of it not so much, and your contribution falls into the first category.
      That said, my expectation while writing this article was to invite feedback like yours – I tried to express some of the concerns a new Linux user today (or a person trying to make the move from another OS to Linux) may have. You have done a pretty good job (more than I could have done in a single article) in expanding what I said in this article, “Some of these dislikes actually become strengths when viewed in the light of experience”.
      Thank you again. And please keep in touch by commenting in other articles authored by me. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them.

  7. Hi, linux runs amazing well on low end laptops ( 1gb ram and below ). Try out the MATE version of linux mint or ubuntu. They are really extreme lightweight. Ofcourse, if you are going to open 50tabs on chrome, ur ram’s gonna run out. But other than that, it suffices very well for all tasks. For me, it takes around 250mb in idle mode and 500mb in browsing,watching videos, some applications etc. Definitely worth a try. And cheers for the article.


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