Linux in lieu of Windows 10

I dub thee “data siphon”.

So Windows 10 has arrived with all the expected ballyhoo of a major Microsoft release. In many ways Windows 10 is honestly the best operating system that Microsoft has released in a dog’s age. It’s slick, performs well, is vastly more intuitive than Windows 8 and also includes a digital personal assistant.

If you read my prior preview deep dives, you may recall my unease about how much information Microsoft requires in order for Cortana to function. The further I looked into the amount of data collection going on, the less I liked what I found.

There are guides out there on how to disable all the snooping features, but it turns out that may not make much of a difference in several instances. It turns out much of that communication isn’t even done over secure channels.

There are a slew of DNS entries you can block at your router which will prevent the phone-home:

… but should you need to disable traffic to destinations in order to use your OS without being subject to snooping of this magnitude? I’ve landed firmly in the “no” column on this one.

I’ve always been a Linux dabbler – I have generally had at least one system running some distro or another at any given time; I was quite a “distro-hopper”. I’ve just completed my first week of dedicated Linux-only for my primary desktop system. So, how has it been going? Let’s take a look.

Which Linux Distro?

I’ll be honest, as a Linux distro-hopper I was torn on what distribution to use, but I’m a sucker for a good Debian-based distro. So I first decided to use Linux Mint 17.2, but ultimately landed on Ubuntu MATE 15.04. I went with MATE because I prefer it to the Unity desktop experience and apart from some issues with my AMD video card (blank screen on boot, resolved relatively easily, thankfully), it’s been a pretty smooth transition.

I installed some basic applications, WINE to enable me to use a few Windows only applications, and Steam to allow me to play a few of the games that I enjoy. Honestly the bulk of my Steam library is not available on Linux, but about 25% of them are available on Linux, including Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, which is my current addiction.

Apart from all that, although I’m relatively comfortable with Linux as a whole, the transition has been markedly… unremarkable.

Am I going to stay with Ubuntu MATE? I haven’t found anything that hasn’t worked the way I want, so I’m pretty happy for the time being. I’ll continue to ride the Ubuntu train for a while and make some further reassessments along the way.

At the very least I don’t have to worry about a deluge of information leaving my computer in a surreptitious manner, though I’m still watching my network traffic to be sure. After all, just because you’re paranoid…


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