June 6, 2024

Last week I installed Xubuntu 22.04 on a Dell XPS 13 (9305). It was flawless. Everything just works out of the box. 🤯

This is completely amazing for me because I have been installing GNU/Linux on computers since some time in the 1990s when Pentium was a thing. I remember staying up all night tweaking xfree86 modeline configs just to try and get a terminal window to appear without looking squashed or destroyed by scanlines, worried about the warnings that I could permanently damage my parents' monitor. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time, often at 2am, tearing my hair out in a tumultuous relationship with Linux over the years. Lets not even get into WiFi drivers or printers. 😅 So when I get to run my favourite operating system without the tradeoff of having to put up with the difficult parts, it feels like magic.

Last week was the first time I can remember that I have installed Linux and not had to edit a config or run a script to get something working. Everything just works, first time, no issues. It's wonderful, and I feel incredibly grateful for the millions of volunteer person-hours put into making this operating system and software stack. ❤️ You people are amazing!

I'm going to celebrate by showing you a screencast of how fast various applications start up under Xfce on Xubuntu on this 3 year old second hand Dell XPS 13. I see posts these days about the dire situation on Mac and Windows where startup times have got really bad and people are lamenting the good old days when apps were snappy. Well guess what? You can have those good old days. You just have to run lean software (yes with all the tradeoffs and caveats that entails, but you might be surprised by what you can run under Linux these days).

In this screencast I'm launching a bunch of different applications. The keys I am pressing show up at the bottom of the screen. First I use a key combination (alt-tilde) to launch the Xfce terminal but it's so fast that you can't actually see the time between when I press the keys and when the terminal shows up, so they appear to happen simultaneously.

Then I use Application Finder to launch various applications by name. The time between hitting Enter and the window showing up is what to look out for. For the record the slowest application on my system is Thunderbird email client which takes 3 seconds to launch. Enjoy the show!