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Status report: wholesale migration from Windows to Linux is not functionally possible

As at mid-May2019, it was clear that the path to migration from Windows to Linux was obstructed by a lack of apps that are fit-for-purpose being available in the Linux environment.

Since May2019, there has been no change to the apps/functionalities then listed in the section, "Path to migration is obstructed by apps which are incompatible or otherwise unusable."  Developments in the interim have merely confirmed that the apps available for the Linux environment are not fit-for-purpose, and are unlikely to be fit-for-purpose for the foreseeable future.

So, it's time for a change of tack.  The time is right to deploy Occam's Razor.

In short, the Linux Mint offers a perfect solution to the jaded Windows user.  The only problem with Linux Mint is not of Linux Mint's making.  The problem is a lack of apps that are fit-for-purpose in the Linux environment.  By fit-for-purpose, I mean apps that meet the hygiene requirements of office-based, corporate lackeys who use software every single day for their working lives, and who rightfully expect the same relative degree of fluency for their home computing, too.  There are too few apps available within the Linux environment that meet the basic hygiene factors of the ordinary office-lackey user.  Virtually none meet the requirements of an enterprise-, or a power-, user (especially keyboard users, which frankly stuns me, given how much more important the command line is in the Linux environment than in the Windows environment).

It is a tragedy.  Linux Mint has gone to so much effort to make Mint useful for the ordinary user, yet Mint's peers are not interested in such ambition.  The peers' software meets only the needs of the developer's preferences, with zero apparent regard for the objective functionality, pain-free ergonomics and underlying reliability required in a time-starved home environment or resource-rationed enterprise (small-medium business) environment.  Worse, of the developers in the Linux environment, the software they produce all point to a distinct, and willing, lack of understanding why Windows apps are generally better-designed functionally and ergonomically than Linux apps.

So, I guess I now understand why users of the Linux Mint fora regularly refer to the use of Linux Mint as a host operating system to a virtual machine running an instance of Windows as a guest operating system.

It seems a very complicated way to be a Windows user.  Might just as well dump the Linux bit and stick with Windows.

Other non-solutions are even more complicated, namely running a translation layer for Windows apps (Wine) or for the .NET framework (Mono).  These are mid-air positions, at best.  The most they can offer is partial operability of existing Windows software, but, as a user, you can predict neither which bits are going to work nor how much of your valuable time is going to be pissed down the drain finding out that the one bit you need to work won't work.  At worst, they are simply the promise of a lie.

There are quite a few details to explore, and trivial stories to tell, but there really is no point.  For me, the project is over in the short-term.  There is no viable migration plan from Windows to Linux, because the apps ain't fit-for-purpose.

Linux Mint remains fantastic.  As and when fit-for-purpose apps appear for the Linux environment, Linux Mint will be my choice of distro for use.  If Linux Mint's team can cajole other Linux software developers do a Kingsoft and reverse-engineer Windows software, and ensure that every app is wholly keyboard-usable, then the world will become a very better place.

Message for all Linux development teams?  Here's the challenge:

  • test all of your software manually on a old workstation with no mouse physically attached to it.  This will find your sloppy design errors, and reduce the risk that your software becomes the object of a discrimination lawsuit of a disabled employee against their besieged employer.
  • manually re-test your Linux software, using the keyboard only, with the nearest equivalents in the Windows environment.  Don't try to be clever and re-invent the wheel: enterprises use Microsoft software for a reason, so replicating exactly the same result with the same methods (including the keystrokes!) is the only viable way forward.
  • batch processing of serial operations.  XN View and XN Convert are one of the very few apps that are well-designed and work well in both Linux and Windows environments.  The apps perform as described and are designed to process data in batches, which is precisely what "productivity" really means.  Other developers could learn a lot from the design of these apps.
I'll keep an eye on the Linux sector periodically, but I doubt that software makers will make any serious attempt to deliver the basic set of enterprise-ready apps to work exactly as they do in Windows at work at any moment in the future.  It will probably take the power of Microsoft to run with its normal strategy of "embrace, extent, extinguish" before Linux software development bods realise why their lunch is suddenly disappearing.  So be it.


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