My preference is not my team

I don't consider myself a member of any particular team

Nobody should care what operating system you install on your computer, and most normal people don't1. But once you start to move away from 'normal' users and into the so-called 'alternative OS' people, then weird things start happening.

I'd say that most people, if they ever make a leap to a non-Microsoft or non-Apple operating system, are going to make the jump to some distribution of Linux2. Let's say that they do some amount of research and pick a distribution that they think looks like what they want, and let's further assume that they have enough stick-to-it-iveness to actually get it installed and working reasonably well. Then they go to some forum or social media site or make a video about it. Inevitably the same kinds of comments start appearing:

  • Why did you pick that distro? Obviously you should have picked my pet distro
  • Why did you pick that desktop environment? You should have picked this other one!
    • Or: You should have picked this tiling window manager instead!
  • Why did you pick Linux at all? You should have picked my favorite BSD!
  • What text editor do you use? My favorite or something stupid?
  • You're using the wrong web browser!
  • AMD graphics? You should have chosen Nvidia!
    • Nvidia graphics? You should have chosen AMD!
  • And on and on, ad nauseum

And the thing is, I kind of get it. For some reason3 we like to think that we're smart and rational (and we might even be right!) and that whatever choices we make in life are the best ones. We tried others, and this choice is objectively the best one (it usually isn't), and since it's the best one (again, it usually isn't), I'm going to evangelize my preference as being the only real correct choice. I mean, I know you said what your requirements are, but my solution will work better for you if you just change the way you do everything and learn a bunch of stuff, then you'll see that my way is the best!

Meanwhile the person who is completely new to the Linux world is freaking out. They don't want to make the 'wrong' choices, so they listen to what these 'experts' tell them, even if it's contradictory or isn't even really applicable to their situation because they're the experts! They know more than I do, so I should take their advice! Or, more likely, they'll see all these different recommendations of software that they 'should' be running, some with very steep learning curves, get completely overwhelmed, run back to what they were using before and often never come back. That doesn't do anyone any good.

That's one of the reasons that I don't say that anything is 'the best'. There is no universal 'best'. The most I can do is to say why I like something and provide evidence of the things that that thing can do. It's going to be up to you to make those decisions, and you have to come to them on your own. If I'm really pressed, and I can get some requirements out of someone and I have a decent knowledge of their technical chops and their willingness to learn, then I can make a personalized recommendation... maybe.

But I'm not going to evangelize my choice of operating system, text editor, desktop environment, cron daemon, video card manufacturer, CPU vendor, game platform, beverage, snack food company, automobile model, tanning bed vendor, or anything else.

Because I am not my preferences. My preferences are not my identity. If I like something and you don't? Okay! If you like something I don't? Good for you!

And, to be honest, I have better things to do than get wrapped up in recommendation wars on the internet.


  1. 'Normal people' refers to the 99% of people who use Windows, MacOS, or iOS on their main computing device. I might posit that that shouldn't be normal, but that's for another article.
  2. Assuming that they don't just look at the sheer number of Linux distributions, get analysis paralysis and then run away screaming
  3. That reason is basically Brand Tribalism or some form of it, which is way too big of a topic to get into here.

Read more articles ยท Go back to the homepage