A reality check on the "Linux requires tinkering" myth from decades of experience

A reality check on the “Linux requires tinkering” myth from decades of experience

07 April, 2023 3 min read
Linux, self-hosting, technology, business acumen

I do wonder though where all this perfunctory “Linux requires tinkering” thing I keep reading comes from.

I’ve been running Debian stable/testing/derivatives on everything, such as

  • a QNAP TS-210 NAS
  • two potato-grade Celeron and Pentium Gold homelab servers
  • a Ryzen 5 3600 with a Radeon RX 6500 XT
  • a Thinkpad W520 (32 GB RAM) with a Quadro 2000M
  • numerous other Thinkpad/Ideapad/Latitude laptops
  • many OrangePi Zero units
  • various Tiny PCs with Core i3/i5 and AMD APUs
  • two ThinkCentre SFF units

I have never needed to tinker to get anything working besides installing from an ISO with firmware included. And maybe an apt-get install for other firmware/microcode. That’s it.

All those run without a hitch, some for years on end. Not only do I not spend “an inordinate amount of time”, I verifiably spend zero time on getting my computers to do what I want them to do.

Hibernate, suspend-to-RAM, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPU all work. It just works.

LibreOffice, VSCodium, Chrome, Firefox, Thunderbird, Inkscape, Signal, Viber, Telegram, Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, Syncthing, what more do I need? Even FreeCAD and LibreCAD to open DXF and STP files when needed.

And not only does it “just work”, but also:

  • XFCE4 is snappy as hell; zero discernible latency in interacting with the UI (quite unlike Windows 10/11).
  • XFCE4’s file manager is still far ahead of Explorer and Finder in terms of speed and flexibility.
  • btrfs, ZFS, bcache
  • I am not locked into a proprietary, ad-ridden ecosystem.
  • My OS doesn’t auto-update/auto-downgrade the UX into some corporate vision of what my computing environment should look like.
  • My OS isn’t eavesdropping on me or syncing my files into some cloud server in the background.
  • In case of a hardware fault, I can pull the drive and continue working from another PC/laptop.

Am I living in a parallel reality? Or do many those of who claim that “Linux requires tinkering” need to apt-get update their experience?

Heck, even 2004’s Slackware Linux 10.0 “just worked” on my then-current Thinkpad A22m (Pentium III, 128 MB RAM).


  • My top-of-the-line Early 2009 iMac had a burnt mobo once and a defective Nvidia GT130 GPU once more, based on known issues Apple only recognized after much outcry.
  • My 2012 MacBook Air was insanely fast when it shipped with Mountain Lion, until I upgraded to the latest Mac OS X supported and it became slower than it was with Windows 7 and Bootcamp dual-booting.
  • My 2012 iPad 4th Gen still works fine, except nothing new can be installed on it, and many apps crash without reason.

It’s clear that Apple Silicon hits a perf/Watt point that nobody else can come close to, and with this comes massive battery longevity.

And it’s also clear that Android tablets are utter garbage, and the iPad is the only tablet I could and did trust.

True. But even when I ignore the out-of-pocket cost of Apple devices, the flexibility I would lose is, for me personally, not worth it.

Your mileage may vary.