Jan-Lukas Else

Thoughts of an IT expert

The Operating Systems I Use

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I use at least eight different operating systems on a daily basis.

  • Windows 10 on my Microsoft Surface Go
  • Ubuntu Desktop on my latpop (Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1)
  • Fedora Silverblue on my desktop PC
  • Android on my smartphone (Xiaomi Mi A1)
  • Tizen on my smartwatch (Samsung Galaxy Watch)
  • Ubuntu Server on my mail server (Hetzner VPS)
  • RancherOS on my main server (Hetzner VPS)
  • Armbian on my home server (Odroid HC 2)

That sounds like a lot and it’s probably a lot. Even if you don’t count the servers, that are still five.

Here, I want to quickly list my opinions about each one, with it’s advantages and disadvantages I noticed so far. I also linked to blog posts, when I already wrote about those topics. Remember, it’s completely subjective, your opinion and experience might be different.

Windows is great for running proprietary apps, especially those that are only available on Windows. However it sucks when it comes to privacy (with all those hidden telemetry settings) or package management (even though there are some solutions like Chocolatey).

Ubuntu Desktop is a great Linux for the desktop. It runs well on a lot of hardware, has a lot of packages and should work well even for people not that experienced with Linux. However it has snapd by default (I prefer Flatpak for multiple reasons like decentralization, de-duplication, …). And although it uses the Gnome desktop, it has some custom modifications I would like to deactivate (since I started using Fedora Silverblue, I got to love the stock Gnome desktop). (Update: See my post on how to use Vanilla GNOME on Ubuntu)

Fedora Silverblue is awesome, because it’s atomic. If an update breaks your system, just reboot to the previous version. However, the atomic approach also has some disadvantages, like the inability to modify files in some specific folders, which might be necessary to adjust some advanced configurations. You also need to reboot your PC after every package installation. And although I really like Flatpak, the sandboxing also complicates things sometimes, especially with development work. Last but not least, Fedora comes without any proprietary software by default, so you need to manually install media codecs to watch videos or listen to audio.

I don’t really trust my phone with it’s Android version. Although I would like to install a custom ROM like LineageOS or /e/, I can’t yet, because I don’t want to void the warranty or break things required for banking apps (SafetyNet). Because of that I can’t protect myself completely from Google spying on me. The only option left is disabling as many anti-privacy settings as possible and use Google alternatives wherever there are some. iOS is no option for me, Apple devices are too expensive and I want to be able to install (sideload) apps from alternative app stores, like F-Droid.

Tizen on my smartwatch is great. It’s not as data-hungry as Google’s Wear OS. But I wish there would be a few more apps available (I had to switch run tracking apps, to be able to track runs just with my watch).

Ubuntu Server does a solid job. It’s quite stable and I just need it to run my Mailcow instance.

RancherOS is a great system too, when you just run containerized apps. RancherOS is built with Docker in mind. It consists of Docker containers itself. Just one thing annoys me, IPv6 is still difficult.

Armbian brings Ubuntu to Arm-based microcomputers like Raspberry Pis or my Odroid HC 2. I just run containerized apps on it too, but because it’s Ubuntu-based, you can do anything you want. I didn’t notice any disadvantages yet.

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Jan-Lukas Else
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