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Don't be afraid of Linux

Why I switched from Windows to Linux as a photographer

This essay will probably be a little longer than usual, so I've broken it up into sections for you. Therefore, you can skip forward to the topics that are relevant to you.

I had never had anything to do with Linux, I had been using Windows and Mac systems my whole life until a few weeks ago. Here I tell you what happened.

Irish developed Linux Distribution called Zorin OS based on Ubuntu.

Why get rid of Windows?

There are now a thousand good reasons for this. On the one hand, Windows only annoys me with the constant request to set up a Microsoft account, I don't want to set up a Microsoft account. I know, there is a way to set up Windows without a Microsoft Account - that's what I did and I don't use cloud services like OneDrive for good reasons. The annoying Windows Edge browser is constantly begging, programs are crashing and we don't even need to talk about data protection anymore. Windows has evolved into pure spyware.

Espionage by Microsoft?

By far the most important reason for the change is Microsoft itself. Point one is the merciless spying on my very personal data. In the past, Microsoft created a true spy tool with Windows 10. Never before has more data been sent to Microsoft than with this operating system. There is no question that Windows 11 has not improved.

It starts with small, inconspicuous programs such as: CompatTelRunner.exe, a tool that sends all installations and downloads to Microsoft, every downloaded YouTube video is transmitted. Microsoft claims this program is for better user experience to collect data for making Windows better in the future.

This is by far not everything. Of course, you can limit the data appetite slightly by using applications like "Anti Spy for Windows" to turn off some of the features and by using more advanced settings in the data protection settings, group policies, host file, and registry but not every user is an IT expert. However, with the new Microsoft Service Agreement and using of Office 365 and Outlook your privacy is gone.

I'm not just talking about the built-in analysis tools that logs and evaluates every activity, such as how quickly emails are answered, how long you work on a document, who is chatting with whom or how long it takes you to write an email, but it goes even worse.

With the new service agreement from 30. September 2023 Microsoft takes control of all your data. (Link to Mircosoft contract here). I'm sure nearly nobody is reading Microsoft Service Agreement and Privacy Statement with joy, but you should. Microsoft (MS) writes very clearly that all data that comes from MS services, that is stored in the cloud, your emails, your games, pictures, music... is watched by MS. (...all data we collect from you and your devices,... how we use your Data,... to process your Data... which is your communications with others, postings..., files, photos, documents, audio, digital works, livestreams and videos you upload, store, broadcast, create, generate or share... ).

The Privacy Statement describes what happens with "Your Content".

Everything that happens on your computer can be controlled by Microsoft, everything. If you take the trouble to read the privacy statement, you'll see, not much privacy remains. Under the sensible pretext of taking action against phishing emails and spam, Mircosoft obtains the right to search through all "Content" on the computer, in the cloud and by using the services, to search for content that violates Microsoft's guidelines. The plain text here clearly states that both automatic systems and humans review your personal content.

Microsoft controls what you can read, write, save and share

Welcome to North Korea

But that's not all: With the new service contract, mentioned above, Microsoft is officially putting the crown on espionage. And at this point at the latest, the red line was crossed for me and a switch to Linux was unavoidable.

According to the user contract, which you must accept, we have learned that Microsoft reserves the right to check all data on the systems. Which means that Microsoft can now determine what each of us can or cannot do on the computer. So if you don't adhere to Microsoft's vaguely worded code of conduct, your account can be blocked. You also lose access to all paid or free services and the data stored there. Microsoft is turning itself into a controlling authority and wants to determine what content we are allowed to read, save or share.

So if I visit a Russian website that Microsoft believes contains propaganda and I share this "inappropriate content" or "other material" (that could be everything what Microsoft determines) they can block all services for me, because Microsoft decides what inappropriate content is.

For me as a photographer who also takes boudoir photos for clients, it looks particularly dangerous. Because Microsoft clearly states that no naked photos are allowed to be uploaded and saved. In this case, the software or a Microsoft employee who searches my data would immediately block the account. You think that will not happen to you?

In Germany, a user's account was blocked because his sister took photos of her children playing on the beach with his smartphone and these photos were automatically uploaded to the cloud. Microsoft then blocked the account without giving any reasons. But that wasn't enough, the man also received a summons from the criminal police for distributing child pornography. (Link to German IT magazine Heise, here) Another blog post about Microsoft blocking acoounts, here in English. Better to avoid Microsoft and never use OneDrive!

I don't want to go too deep into the topic here, but it should be clear to everyone what it means to continue working with Microsoft products. Everyone has to make this decision for themselves.

But finally, the note that Microsoft lists in its rules of conduct that you should not engage in activity to violate the privacy of others is just ridiculous. How well Microsoft itself sticks to it!

Stay away from Outlook

As the German website (english version linked) recently reported, a recording of the outgoing data showed that the new Outlook also transmits login information to Microsoft Server. The transmission is TLS encrypted, but the tunnel contains the user name and password in clear text. But that is not enough. Not only can the IMAP and SMTP access data of the email account be transferred, but also all emails in the inbox, as well as contact and calendar data, can be copied to Microsoft Server, even if the mailbox is with a completely different provider, when connected with outlook. So if your private and business emails are important to you: stay away from Outlook. As an alternative, Thunderbird, for example, can be set up quickly.

Can I switch completely to Linux?

Yes and No, in German we have an own word for that called JEIN, a mixture of JA and NEIN = JEIN.

That depends entirely on the user themselves. In my case as photographer and designer it will be a bit difficult to leave Windows completely because many programs are not offered under Linux. In particular, Adobe InDesign doesn't run on Linux and I won't have any luck with QuarkXPress either.

All Adobe Cloud Software could be a bit tricky. So a compromise has to be made. I need to combine both systems on one computer. I would like to completely uninstall Windows but that is not possible yet.

Can I use Photohop on Linux?

One of the most important questions for me was whether Photoshop and all other Adobe applications run on Linux. I didn't want to get involved in any alternative programs because I've been working with Adobe products for twenty years and, for example, the free program "Gimp" wasn't an alternative for me.

Of course you can install a so-called Virtual Machine under Linux, i.e. a kind of box in which you can then install a Windows system in the Linux operating system. Then Windows runs in this box on the Linux system and all programs that were used under Windows can now be installed again in this Virtual Machine. But it would be great if everything worked without any disadvantages.

Basically you can say that the computer loses performance, so if there isn't enough performance then you won't have any fun using certain programs in the Virtual Machine. Graphics programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom and InDesign in particular require a lot of performance.

I have currently solved it so that I use both systems side by side. So I only start Windows for Photoshop, Lightroom and InDesign, everything else runs under Linux Zorin OS. At the beginning I would recommend running both operating systems side by side and slowly getting used to Linux.

It's a bit annoying to shut down the computer every time to change the operating system, but at the moment it's the only solution. I'm not giving up hope that Adobe will soon realize that there will be more and more users who will switch to Linux and that at some point they will inevitably have to adapt to this target group and also port their programs for Linux.

What is Linux?

For someone like me who had never dealt with Linux before, this was all very new. Linux is an operating system like Mac OS or Windows. However, with the crucial difference that it is freely available and open source. It is also significantly more secure than all other operating systems and is not spying on you like Windows for example.

I actually like the user interface of the Zorin OS better than Windows. The design is well thought out and intuitively understandable. In principle, almost all windows and functions are similar to Windows, you can find your way around very quickly.

Why doesn't everyone use Linux if it's free?

Well, actually, Linux is the most widely used operating system in the world. The fastest computers in the world work with Linux, various cameras, toys, a Raspherry Pi and autonomous vehicles use Linux. Even Android is based on Linux. Not to forget the countless server systems in the world that work with Linux software.

The system has only not yet become established in the private sector, where Microsoft is the undisputed market leader. But why? Even though Linux is the better operating system, available free of charge and significantly more secure and stable than Windows, only a small number of it has made its way onto the home PC.

One reason is certainly the power of habit. You don't want to change to something new that you don't know. As a German saying goes: "What the farmer doesn't know he won't eat." That applied to me. Furthermore, I didn't know exactly what Linux was, what it looked like and what it could do. I was happy with Windows so why install something new.

When I finally got to grips with Linux, other reasons inevitably came up not to install this free operating system. Firstly, the amount of work required to install a new operating system, then the endless number of different Linux distributions, i.e. the thousand different versions, which for me represented a forest full of trees where I had to find the right one. And last but not least, I read that not all software programs work under Linux. So I not only had to get used to a new operating system, but also to new programs. No, that was too complicated for me and I didn't want to leave my comfort zone. As is well known, humans are naturally lazy. Until everything changed a few weeks ago. As mentioned above, Windows is no longer acceptable. So let's get to the topic.

Which Linux Distribution?

I spent a whole week reading through various forums and watching YouTube videos to ultimately find the best Linux distribution for me. That doesn't have to mean that this version is the best for you. The advantage of Linux is that there is a suitable distribution for almost all areas of application. However, this advantage is also a big disadvantage, because a layperson hardly has the opportunity to find his way around in this jungle. Luckily, there is help here in the form of the Distribution Chooser at (Website in English and German)

You answer a few questions about your preferences and at the end different distributions are suggested. That helped me significantly to decide.

Linux, Zorin OS

After checking Linux distributions with the "distrochhoser" I have decided for the Irish company Zorin in Dublin, Installing Zorin OS on my Windows computer was pretty easy. It is also explained in detail on the Zorin website. After I booted my Linux Zorin OS from the USB stick, the further installation was no problem and a little later everything was set up.

My first steps in the new Linux operating system were to replace all possible programs in Windows with the programs in Linux.

Instead of Windows Live Mail / Outlook, I set up the preinstalled Evolution mail program. Shortly afterwards, all of my emails were automatically available in the new program.

Instead of Windows Office, i.e. Word, Excel etc., I discovered the pre-installed Libre Office. To be honest, I don't see any difference to the Windows versions, everything looks almost the same. I chose the preinstalled Firefox as the browser. Up to this point there were hardly any differences to the previous Windows. I just replaced Adobe Illustrater with Inkscape and I have to say that I'm actually happy with it. It takes a bit of getting used to at the beginning but then it's quite simple and logical.


Switching to Linux is very easy. For an average user who doesn't use high-end programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign or a user of special software like AutoCad if you don't want to change to alternatives like Gimp for Photoshop or FreeCad instead of AutoCad, switching to Linux is highly recommended.

Anyone who only browse the Internet, writes texts here and there, makes spreadsheets with Excel and uses email programs can easily switch to Linux and leave Windows entirely. For people like me who rely on Adobe CC products, installing Linux is only possible alongside Windows in order to work effectively. My Windows now only runs Adobe CC and I have been able to switch all other applications to Linux included DaVinci Resolve or Zoom which are available for Linux.

If you want to switch to the Linux system you can also buy a new laptop where Linux is already installed. A company called Clevo from the Netherlands offering preinstalled laptops and mini computers with Linux operating system, which you can find here.



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