My Linux challenge: Part 3 Death by a thousand cuts

Chris Rosser
2 min readApr 26, 2024

Last month, I set myself the challenge of using Linux for development purposes for a month. Although I’ve used desktop Linux before, I prefer macOS for everyday computing, writing, and development.

The reasons driving the experiment are that I’m using a 2020 Intel Mac that’s beginning to struggle with my workflow, and I’m looking to upgrade. However, Apple’s prices in Australia have made me pause to consider the alternatives.

I’ve experimented with a desktop system with a 12th-generation Intel CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GTX 1050 TI. The system runs Pop OS, a spin of Ubuntu 22.04 made by System 76.

Throughout the experiment, I’ve been impressed with Pop OS and desktop Linux in general. It’s matured significantly since I last used it (circa 2014–2015). Linux is a fantastic platform for web development, and the combined hardware and software setup handled my workflow effortlessly. In addition to coding, I’m pretty confident I could make it work for writing, too, albeit the lack of Scrivener and Ulysses means I’d need to rethink my approach.

However, despite Linux’s benefits and capabilities, the last month has felt like death by a thousand cuts. I’m not as productive on Linux as I am on macOS, and the surprising reason is the differences in keyboard shortcuts.

Having used macOS for more than 20 years, its keyboard shortcuts are burnt deeply into my muscle memory. Since 2020, I’ve used macOS exclusively — even for work — so whatever familiarity with Windows/Linux I was forced to maintain in the corporate world is long gone. So, every misstep on the keyboard is like a paper cut with a cumulative drag on my time, productivity and patience.

Another problem that surprised me was package management. In 2014, package management was fantastic on Linux and woeful on macOS. Fast-forward 10 years, and Linux has become an absolute mess of competing systems like Snap, Flatpak, and App Image — and that’s on top of the traditional package managers like Apt and Yum. Multiple packages for the same app exist in the distro’s default software centre, which is absolutely bonkers.

Meanwhile, the macOS development community has coalesced around Homebrew, a fantastic resource for installing open-source packages. Surprisingly, I found installing different versions of packages like NodeJS in macOS using Brew far easier than in Linux.

Another disappointment is the continued lack of good native applications. While there are plenty of cross-platform Electron apps, they feel even less native on Linux than on macOS.

So, will I continue with Linux, and what are my conclusions?

Probably not.

The experiment has taught me that my time and enjoyment are valuable. Yes, Linux is great and can run on cheap, upgradable hardware. However, adapting to a new operating system and all the cognitive load that entails isn’t worth the money I’d save. Yes, Apple hardware — especially those with the specifications I need — is expensive, but I enjoy using macOS and am more productive using it.



Chris Rosser

Technical writer and occasional author sharing thoughts on creativity, productivity and technology. Works at Canva.