As most of us old-timers agree, Windows has been heading in the wrong direction since Windows 7 (maybe not in terms of support for the latest technologies, but in terms of user interface, user control, user privacy, and quality assurance). Windows 11 looks set to continue down that wrong path.

My “new” (2¼-year-old) laptop is now probably old enough to be well supported by later Linux kernels, but I still have a number of concerns. Most important are battery and thermal management. Most laptop manufacturers provide brand-specific utilities for managing battery life … for Windows but NOT for Linux. (Call me a cynic — aka, a student of antitrust history — but I have to wonder whether the worse the support computer manufacturers offer for Linux, the better the break they get on OEM Windows licenses.)

When Windows 8 came out, I began switching to cross-platform apps in Windows 7 (at least to the extent it was practical), and when Windows 10 came out, I was glad I had: most of the programs I use most in Windows either have native Linux versions (LibreOffice, Pale Moon, Brave, LibreWolf, Handbrake, Shotcut, Audacity, VLC, FreeFileSync, calibre, TeamViewer), or run well in Wine (IrfanView, Notepad++), or run passably well in Mono (Subtitle Edit). But there are some programs I will *definitely* miss when I switch to Linux:

* voidtools’ “Everything” search utility. Everything’s speed and power has spoiled me ROTTEN. It leaves Catfish, Drill, and Recoll in the *dust*. There is an Everything-inspired Linux search utility called fsearch, but I’ve read that it’s still not as good as Everything. Still, though, fsearch is probably what I will have to settle for.

* Macrium Reflect. To my knowledge, there is no utility that allows you to clone or image a Linux system drive *while the system is mounted and running*. (I believe Macrium relies on Windows’ Volume Shadow Copy Service to permit that. I gather than using Btrfs snapshots might obviate the need for imaging, but the edge-case horror stories I’ve read about Btrfs make me cautious about using it.) Anyway, I’m sure a lot of users are fine with a few (or several) hours of forced downtime while their system is being imaged. I’m not one of them.

* NirSoft Utilities and Sysinternals Suite. So many useful utilities, all in one place! (Okay, in *two* places!) Is there a Linux utility that allows me to search my browsing history in *all* of my browsers in a single operation? I don’t know! I’d have to *research* it. Now multiply that effort by each and every non-Windows-specific, non-Office-specific NirSoft and Sysinternals utility you regularly use…

* AutoHotkey. There is at least one AutoHotkey-inspired scripting utility for Linux, but the consensus seems to be that (as with fsearch versus Everything) it’s just not (remotely?) as good.

* Guitar Pro. Okay, so it’s payware and it doesn’t *ever* seem to get fully debugged and optimized from version to version and update to update, but it’s still a lot more sophisticated and fun than TuxGuitar. In Linux, Guitar Pro would have to be run in a Windows virtual machine.

* Virtoo by LG. This a utility that allows people on LG-brand computers to “remote-control” at least some aspects of their Android or iOS smartphones via Bluetooth. You can also use it to transfer media files and documents back and forth, but what I like it best for is the mirroring of phone notifications on my computer desktop and, especially, the ability to respond to text messages on a real keyboard. (I just realized why George RR Martin is taking so long to finish “The Winds of Winter”: he’s probably typing it on a smartphone! 😉 Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, there is no “Virtoo by LG” for the Linux desktop.

*Various other LG utilities. It’s nice to have a small collection of hardware-specific utilities that can check, update, or manage your BIOS, firmware, display, power, and the like. I’ll probably find ways to do without these dedicated utilities, but I strongly suspect it won’t be nearly as convenient and easy.

* Garmin Express. Garmin stopped supporting browser-mediated updates to its GPSes many years ago. Garmin Express is now the only game in town, and Garmin doesn’t release a version of it for Linux (which feels kind of cheeky, given that the GPS itself runs Linux). I’ve come across a three-year-old tutorial for installing Garmin Express in Wine, but I don’t yet know if it still works, and if it does, how well. This could end up being another program relegated to a Windows virtual machine. Or, I could just stop using my Garmin GPS entirely and use my phone for navigation instead.

* My UPS management utility? Not necessarily. My UPS manufacturer has released a command-line utility for various Linux releases that are only slightly out of date; maybe it will work with the latest releases, as well. Otherwise, the Windows version of the utility is going into my Windows virtual machine (so I can turn off that damn “no mains power” alarm if it ever decides to turn itself back on!).

* MediaMonkey 5. I use this primarily for bulk-tagging MP4s. I haven’t researched alternatives for maybe three years, but last I did, I was unable to find any. I’ve read reports from people who claim to have successfully installed MediaMonkey 5 in Wine, but I’m not counting on it working for me. This may be yet another app that gets relegated to a Windows virtual machine.

* ShutUp10. I’m kidding! (Or maybe not. It’s *definitely* going into my Windows virtual machine.)

* Windows Privacy Dashboard [WPD]. Kidding again! (Except that this, too, is definitely going into my Windows virtual machine.)

* Sordum’s Windows Update Blocker. Boy, I just can’t stop kidding, can I? (Ditto.)

Apart from that, well, maybe setting up a LAN is a bit more work in Linux because you have to manually assign static IP addresses to all member devices. (On the other hand, Microsoft didn’t do Windows any favors by getting rid of the quick-and-easy Homegroup Wizard, or whatever it was called.) And maybe setting up and administering a firewall is a bit more work in Linux, too, or at least presents a new learning curve.

Apart from that, if you choose a desktop environment that suits you — for me, coming from Windows, it’s KDE Plasma or Cinnamon — and if you give yourself time to get used to a few new “alternative” apps, running Linux is not that different from running Windows, day to day, except that the OS doesn’t keep trying to spy on you and you remain in control of what happens to your system. It’s entirely doable for more Windows users than you might expect, though maybe only worth the new learning curve for people who are especially concerned about privacy and controlling what happens to their system. If you’re fine playing cat-and-mouse with Microsoft where your personal information is concerned, and you’ve done well with Microsoft’s non-beta-tested, “blob roll-up,” “drive-by” updates so far, it’s a lot easier to just stick with Windows.