How do you do work differently with linux?

I’m curious how people do work differently with linux than with other os’s they’ve used, meaning “work” in a broad sense of productive activity, whether or not it’s your official job.

A lot of my work consists of academic writing, and the way I do that has changed radically for the better since I started using linux. Instead of dealing with big unwieldy Words docs like I used to, I now break articles and books down into markdown files written in neovim that I can easily rearrange, bulk edit, do version control on, etc. Since most of the journals in my field still want things submitted in Word for some godforsaken reason, I use pandoc to tie everything together into a single doc when I’m ready to submit something (for my next book, though, I hope to be able to just submit LaTeX files). My whole research workflow is different now too. I use tmsu to tag thousands of pdfs and images that I might use for various writing projects. And I find that using a tiling wm (herbstluftwm, as of the last few months) lets me divvy up my attention in ways that help me be a lot more productive. I use many of the same tools to organize my teaching materials too, especially now with classes all online.

At this point I honestly don’t know how I ever managed to get stuff done on Windoze.


I’d like to offer some perspective from both sides of the curtain, - having used Windows in the past. (With respect I’m not going to denigrate other OS’s with cheap nameshots like “Windoze”, I think we can rise above and be better than that :slight_smile: ).

I’m visually impaired. Prior to Windows 8, I had the ability in Windows to customise the UI and theming in a way that allowed me to work well, be flexible enough to adjust to what I needed. Low vision isn’t a binary situation, it can change based on the time of year, month, even day, or the medications you use, or the level of seasonal natural light. Windows 7 was wonderful for that.

And then came Steven Sinofsky, who, in his own words, stated with Windows 8, there were “no compromises”. Except they were for those of us with visual impairment. Obfuscating key components of the UI, and making every aspect of customisation harder, left me unable to work. Windows 8 had compromised on every aspect of support for those who weren’t able to fully operate according to his new paradigm. I raised concerns with direct communication for months. All of it was ignored. I walked away right there.

KDE Plasma has been my home for a long while now. I can create custom themes with large borders and high contrast UIs when needed, depending on my level of vision. Some days are better than others. But it’s there when I need it, - with absolute control over the UI, I have activities in place for personal and work-related content, and then internal to those, multiple desktops assigned to specific applications. It’s much faster for me to action a keystroke to get to a desktop with an app full screen, then try and locate and focus on a mouse cursor. The keyboard wins every time. A great deal of my workstreams are automated with bash scripts, which keep me from the drudgery of repetitive “work”.

My applications are a mix of command line and open source UI-based apps. I use Joe for all text-editing in CLI, it’s by far my favourite application for working with text without distraction. I’ll import content into LibreOffice and then export into pdf for work, ensuring there’s no loss of formatting on files sent out.

Instead of Windows 7 Backup, I have timeshift, which copies my entire home directory to an external drive. Alongside that, I have Synology drive sync to my server, and from there, hyperbackup to an encrypted cloud backup. Everything’s seamless and I haven’t got to worry about it. I know as I get older, my vision will deteriorate further, but it’s just not something I worry about any more. There’s enough flex in Plasma to know that I can adjust as needed. And for that I can’t thank Nate and the team enough.


I just swear less and wait less time before the software strats up.
Other issues that I have with windows is mostly caused by our company’s (not-only) IT policy. I don’t think windows is an inferior OS (well it’s definitely not better either :sweat_smile:). Maybe in a few decades they will “invent” tilling for windows like they invented multiple desktops not long ago. :rofl:

What I miss most is bash’s scripting functionality on my work computer. But I am slowly getting used to python as a replacement (alhough it can be quite cumbersome especially for simple tasks).


The first part is honestly my “work” on Windows as well. I’m constantly confused as to how to do things, confused to IF I can do things, and cussing because things don’t work the way I expect them to.
They don’t pay me enough to touch Macs. So no idea on that. I still haven’t touched a Mac since the old Mac OS 9.something, and have no intention of changing that.

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That seems a little odd to me. Batch files are still accessible, but more to the point there is Powershell available now. Also you can use bash directly in the Linux ‘subsystem’ also available now. Will none of these do the job for you?

Just wondering - not making any suggestions for change!

Well, this has never happened to me whilst using Linux:

NSFW, contains crude language


But on a more serious note, like I said in another thread: it’s not that I love Linux (I actually don’t even like it, it’s okay-ish, at best), I really, really hate Windoze and Crapple1.

It’s not that there is anything that I do on Linux that I couldn’t do just as well on Windoze, it’s just that I want to be the owner of my computer. I don’t want a treasonous OS doing things behind my back, without me having a say in it. At least Linux does not do that to me, and is just as comfortable to use as the alternative, once you unlearn things.

1 The reason I am intentionally misspelling these is not to denigrate other OSs (they do that well enough on their own), but because I don’t want search results for these terms to include this post. For the same reason I always write 'Buntu.

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It’s not available in our company. And as it looks like it will never be allowed.

Powershell has a very alien syntax and commands up to the point that I don’t consider time for learning it well spent. Maybe the only problem is between chair and the keyboard. :grin:

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@vlkon, try cygwin. It’s what keeps me alive at work on those days I have to use Windoze.

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For me there are some similarities… I use KDE and my setup isn’t unlike Windows.

However, I use zoom to teach online, every morning I run yay and I know I’m up to date, with windows I might have to load the program to know I need to upgrade… so making sure my applications are up to date is hugely simplified.

Beyond that I find settings are complete hell to deal with on windows, whereas in KDE it makes sense.

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Cygwin doesn’t look like a bad option but the main problem here is that I am not administrator of my work computer. And the policy in my company is that they would rather pay 100€ license fee for a old clunky GUI video converter (that can’t even do a batch processing) rather than allowing me to install ffmpeg.
Last few years I see a trend that they are moving core IT responsibility to India and to some 3rd party companies. It takes a long time to do anything. Naturaly our local IT departmet rather pay the license of already “approved” software rather than creating a new ticket for a new software.

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I work differently by discovering new apps that replace the old Windows apps. I really enjoy this discovery of new software and new Desktop Environments. It’s the new replacing the old sort of thing that has made me think differently on the way I work using Linux.


LibreOffice documents, spreadsheets don’t open well and render well in MS Office vice versa. LO is running after Office trying to catch up, and never catching up. There are enough Markdown editors for Office. Markdown can be used in Word too. For certain specialised apps, Autocad, Archicad, etc Windows is a necessity. (Wine is useless on them.)

Today, I use Office online, free for anyone. Google Docs too don’t open and render Office documents and pdfs well. Most of the work is done online. Except for GIMP.

It is the apps we use, not the OS that matter anymore. The OS has to stay out of the way. Linux distros do that, Windows does that, staying out of the way. Windows is sometimes annoying with its notifications, asking you to buy this or that, install this or that. Linux distros has a problem of development for the sake of development. (I’ve been using Linux since 2005, Windows since the beginning.)

Work can be done on any distro/OS platform. My friends tell me “they can’t imagine how they could keep on doing what they do everyday with Windows, if the change to Linux.” Just like you. :slight_smile:

@chdsl I would use office online if only it did columns. I use a lot of documents with columns and word online does not support them…

Well, you can’t have everything for free… :slight_smile:

That’s a really interesting point… :rofl: I don’t know if you can block web crawlers from indexing at forum level, maybe it’s time for an emoji instead of the name…! :slight_smile:

I’d have left off the last line of my initial post if I’d realized it would turn this into another linux vs windows thread. I’m not trying to attack anyone who uses windows; I’m just curious how people do their work differently in linux.

I disagree with your statement above mainly for security and privacy reasons (another topic that’s been well discussed elsewhere), but also because the ability to script things, chain apps together, batch-process files, etc has been revelatory for me. It’s probably possible to do all that stuff in powershell or something, but I was never routinely exposed to those tools the way I have been using linux.

Maybe a lot of people just try to replicate the way they work in windows/apple in linux. But in my experience, being open to new possibilities in linux and letting them change the way I work has helped me work better and been a lot of fun.


Yes, exactly! This has been a big part of the process for me. At first I looked for things that closely replicated the windows apps I’d been using, but then I discovered the wonderful world of TUI apps and never looked back.

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Powershell is, for want of a better word, incredibly powerful when dealing with Azure cloud infrastructure coupled with more classic active directory domains client-side, if anyone has the time, I’d strongly recommend reading Jeffrey Snover’s blog. Scripting in Windows has come a long way and I would put Powershell as being at the forefront of that change.

Personally, I feel there’s a convergence of workflows happening for the server side, that negates the platform upon which you work. WSL is a clear indication of that, and I’d fully expect it to continue. Client-side, aspects of personal choice, convenience and technical ability will always dicate what platform we use, - privacy and security are sadly the last things the average consumer would consider. But whichever side of the fence you stand on, recognise that fence is getting lower each year, awareness of privacy and security is rising, but for better or worse, more often than not, convenience wins over.

Speaking about my use case - I work for a big company. The policy of the company is to enforce windows. I think it is mostly because there is better external support for windows and you can just throw money at the problem untill it goes away. But that is not relevant here.

The difference is that linux (and gnu tools especially) focuses on a policy 1 software does 1 job but does it extremly well. My focus is then on combining those tools together to do the work.
And I am always trying to find a way how to automate my work (I am lazy).

On the other side windows has a tendency to pack many tools in one bundle (office, teams, etc.). This slows down’t the sofware and creates unrelated problems. For example I want to just call someone in teams but I can’t even lauch it because onenote have a problem with some network file (why should I care?). Most of the GUI heavy programs don’t allow scripting and therefore automation for a repeated tasks is non-existent.
A small consolidation is that it is expected from the workers to work inefficiently (not everyone is a tech guru).