Over the past few years I've been dipping in and out of Ubuntu every so often because I believe in the idea. However, there have always been factors that have made me give up and return to either Windows or OS X, intending to come back when Ubuntu has had a bit more time to 'bake'.

Anecdotally, if you have had similar experiences, why did you go back?

If we can address these sorts of issues, maybe Ubuntu can get over this hump. I mean 'chasm'.

  • 5
    This question actually is okay...
    – badp
    Oct 11, 2010 at 11:12
  • 5
    Open ended and subjective questions (like this one) are traditionally better served as a community wiki.
    – Oli
    Oct 11, 2010 at 11:29
  • Community wiki! Oct 11, 2010 at 14:06

24 Answers 24


I stumbled a couple of times but mainly because I think I started on Ubuntu for the wrong reason. I've always been a geek and that has drawn me to Linux in general over the past 10 years with some quick stints on Mandriva and then Fedora, none of them lasting longer than a week on my computer.

Each time I'd load up the latest and greatest, see that everything was cool, have a fight with Amarok, play a game of Klondike and finally when I needed to get something done, I'd drop back to Windows.

I think it's very important you recognise that you perform tasks with your computer and if you don't plan ahead and see what you're going to be using (or find the workaround to see if/how you can keep using what you are now) you quickly find out that though it may look nice or have a nice feature, you haven't got a clue how to get your work done.

And then I became a professional ASP.NET developer. This halted my switchover for a couple of years. Mono was a wink in the milkman's eye and I really loved Visual Studio .NET 2002 (and 2003 and still love them today - they were great applications)... After I left that company, I found myself slowly spreading out over other technologies.

As a web developer (now freelance) I still had to deploy websites but I had the choice over what systems to use. I started a Dreamhost account for hosting various things (mostly media for my main ASP.NET written blog) but this gave me some exposure to the console. It wasn't long before I was writing fairly complicated bash scripts to automate things for me.

But just over three years ago, in the middle of all this and despite the Linux exposure, I declared myself "a Windows enthusiast". I had a workflow that worked and I just didn't care to switch to something that delivered pretty poor driver support (as it still was back then, especially with the dodgy support for ATI graphics cards) and none of the applications I needed on a daily basis.

I was still developing in ASP.NET but I did keep wanting to switch. I'd boot a LiveCD and test it out for a few hours but while I was still using ASP.NET and a FakeRAID chip that didn't work under Linux, I still couldn't justify moving over completely. Eventually my PHP had improved enough to use it for developing sites so most of my new work was through that. This was also about the time that VirtualBox started up and VMWare's desktop virtualisation was also getting quite usable...

And some bits of Vista were wearing me down and by autumn 2007, I changed my graphics to Nvidia and I was back at square one on my migration to Linux: Compiz blew my socks off. It was another silly "oh noes thaz too pretteh" migration that would have been doomed if it weren't for the pieces that had been put in place over the year:

  • My workflow was now nearing platform independence
  • I could run 3D things on my computer because I'd ripped out my ATI x800XT
  • My mass-storage was still an issue. If I wanted anything from it, I had to boot to windows, copy it onto a non-RAID drive and boot back into Linux...
  • I found one application that I realised I kept coming back for: Amarok. It was miles ahead of anything available for Windows

I still missed Windows. Not just the applications but how some things like how the Vista start menu worked, the simplicity of Explorer and the robustness of XP's Solitaire...

But for the things I missed I learned either to fix it (I moved my RAID to mdadm, moved Windows applications to VirtualBox and Wine), put up with it (the gnome menu is still as poor but I only use it now when gnome-do doesn't find something) or go without (there are dozens of games I own but can't play and more that I can play but don't work as well as a native install).

There is still an element of sacrifice if you really use your computer to get things done. Having documented half the pain of migrating over the years, if I could send it all back to myself in mid-2007, I couldn't guarantee I wouldn't just run away.


As a design professional I can say why I keep getting back to Mac OS for some of my work. Although Ubuntu has some great and powerful graphic design tools (primarily GIMP and Inkscape, which can practically replace Photoshop and Illustrator, and also Blender for 3D work), there are some areas that are still lacking somewhat:

  • Video editing and post-production. There are some good software packages around (kdenlive, pitivi), but they're nowhere near in terms of capabilities to apps like AfterEffects or Final Cut pro. Multi-comp editing, 3D environment, general operations on objects and cameras, plug-in availability, only to name a few.

  • Animation. Simply nothing interesting and capable out there (hope someone can prove me wrong!). Blender is great for advanced 3D stuff, but if I need to put together a simple stop motion or line-art animation, I have to go back to Flash, AfterEffects or other tools.

  • Compatibility. Whether we like it or not, Adobe packages are the industry standard. When collaborating with other designers, there's often no alternative to using AI's, PSD's, etc.

Wondering if other designers working with Ubuntu have similar experience.

  • try cinelerra for video editing,synfig for animation and AFAIK gimp 2.6 handles multi-layered psds quite well.
    – Lincity
    Jan 18, 2011 at 14:45
  • I use PowerPoint for my animations - of course I have to use Windows for that. Even today, 5 years later there is quite simply nothing that matches industry standard tools. It's a real shame.
    – Tim
    May 3, 2016 at 11:12

2006: I went back to Windows for my home PC after a stint with Ubuntu because I was mainly using Ubuntu as a media centre, but my specialised wireless mouse (with play/pause/rewind buttons on it) didn't work (without my figuring out how to compile, hack C, and install drivers)


I've always had trouble with my ATi graphics cards when using Ubuntu, I find that the performance I get is substandard for my hardware, because of this I return to Windows to get the most out of my machine. I've recently upgraded to a NVidia card, so I will try Ubuntu again.


I have been trying to use Ubuntu on a very recent MacBook Pro. Apple does good hardware, especially if you compare screen size to weight (that is a 17"). Every now and then I update Ubuntu with the hope that things work better and when some do, others break.

In general I guess the reason it is because is not so well tested on those machines (which also, because of the price, are not the most popular), so I guess it comes to individuals, me included, testing it, often, on their machines and report bugs.

So also here, like all the chasm story, is a bit chicken->egg, if the platform is not stable for some users, those won't switch to it. Mac users tend also to be pretty spoiled (if you spend different $Ks on a computer, chances are you don't want to put so much effort to make it work).


I moved to Ubuntu in my teenage years. Only a few times have I ever gone back to Windows;

  1. To test out a super-nasty bit of malware that mainly used psychological tricks for class.

  2. To play STEAM (bought a load of games through there)

  3. My old bank (now updated FINALLY) wanted IE...6 (I know, it's shameful) for internet banking.

  4. To play ORBITER; a finer flight/space simulator I haven't found (and which, despite being freeware, does not seem to move to Linux anytime soon)

I do still have another laptop with XP and STEAM on it. I use it whenver I'm utterly bored. Right now it's gathering dust under my bed. Shows you how much I like Ubuntu :P


A dial-up internet connection (with a WinModem) and an incompatible Lexmark printer were my obstacles. Switching to broadband and an HP printer fixed my troubles.


I first heard about Linux in 1998, I dual booted RedHat 5 and Windows 98. But ran into problems with Linux, while it was a interesting OS, I couldn't get much done because of modem issues. This was before broadband and getting the modem to work was not like just connecting ethernet to the computer. After a few times of installing, I finally gave up and stuck with Windows.

A few years later I got broadband and gave Linux another go, I think I used Mandrake 3, which was much more usable and was able to access the Interent. I did some researching, checked on IRC channels, but other than that, I really liked to play games and with only one computer, made it difficult. After destroying a few dual boot setups, including loosing all of my data, I decided aganist dual booting. :)

Since then, I have used Linux for some slower computers at home, but it wasn't until my last job where I really found Linux important. I was given a budget of no money and asked to create a method to block users from accessing youtube. The network engineer tried to block it by creating rules in the firewall appliance but needless to say, youtube has many many ip addresses. After searching possible Windows based solutions, I found a tutorial about setting up Squid.

It was in a few hours that I had a complete proxy server running, complete with reports and blocking youtube completely. It really brought up how important FOSS is and how people offering their time writing tutorials and support can make such a difference. At that point, I became much more interested not only in Linux but also Open Source software in general. Being a Windows admin for years it was hard to really understand how something that is Open Source can work as well as a closed source version but cost thousands of dollars less.

Now at home, I'm running Linux on my main laptop, and planning to switch over my second laptop, then my main workstation. The second laptop hasn't switched over because it's plays Netflix to my tv, and the workstation is using for gaming, and Adobe LightRoom.

I guess my point here is when you switch from one OS to another, you should understand what to expect. Some people think of Linux as a complete system that will work just like Windows and offer the same applications. It's close but there's a learning curve as with any new OS, and you will need to understand that your favorite apps might not be available, but a close version will be. Keeping that in mind, has made my current install of 10.04 much more enjoyable. There are times when I'm missing a function in Gimp and want to switch over to Photoshop but I get around the hurdle and surprise myself with a new tool or trick.


I just tried Ubuntu 10.10 for about 3 weeks and finally gave up and went back to Windows 7 Pro. The reasons:

  1. The remote desktop performance was terrible compared to Microsoft RDP.
  2. Sharing a folder using Nautilus was not easy enough to figure out and had a bug preventing the share once I did figure it out.
  3. The performance of Nautilus was just slow enough to drive me nuts. I am spoiled by Windows Exploder.
  4. Firestarter could be a tiny bit easier to use IMHO.
  5. Always having to use sudo or gksudo. Windows saves me time but not having to do that stuff.
  6. Always had to enter admin password to mount WIFI device after boot. Windows never requires me to do that.

Things I liked: 1. Samsung WIFI Printer was easier to setup than on windows.... but just barely. 2. The app menu but Windows 7 is easily keeping up in this area. 3. The implementation in Gnome3 of the "Stardock Fences" type of feature. Nice.


I've been using Windows as a super user since around 1988...! I love WinXP more than any other OS ever made. I worked for MS for 5 years. And yet, today my long-term goal is to raise my kids on Linux.

But ... when switching one computer to Linux, any problems cause friction in my family: typical discussion points are Why do I have to be different; what's the point; but it worked just fine before.

Bottom line: The most important aspect is (lack of) seamless integration into a Windows-based home environment. That's what sent me back to Windows every time.

During the past decade I've had several attempts at switching to Linux. My first attempt was Red Hat and it was just ridiculous; I felt like a stone age man in a spaceship. It's fine that distros have advanced uses, but those just aren't for novices.

With my more recent attempts, with Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS, there were two major problems that always sent me back to my beloved WinXP: hardware support (Nvidia and audio); and poor integration into a Windows-based home network (file shares). I am aware that I can't expect exactly the same software; only other software for the same purpose. I think many people don't really understand that small difference, and they become disappointed.

On every computer ever used, I never got the Nvidia card to work with my monitor. I only found out this week(!) that the problem wasn't Nvidia itself but rather that my monitor didn't send proper EDID signals back to the computer. Once I learned to define the monitor's specs in xorg.conf, the issue was solved. Oddly, I never had that problem on Windows (with the same monitor) so I had no clue that it was the culprit.
Well, it's a lesson learned, but it cost an unreasonable amount of forum posts, failed attempts, frustration, and unhappiness. I think it's significant to observe that my install only succeeded after the launch of askubuntu.com...

This is still an outstanding issue - my desktop computer is in a pure Windows environment, and it's the printing host for the family. It's essential that all the home's computers can browse each other's (Windows) file shares, and that they can print. If I can't make file&print sharing work, I am forced back to Windows - again. So this attempt at Ubuntu has not fully won me over yet.
Setting up a share in Ubuntu that a Windows computer can read&write is very complicated to figure out for a Windows user. Also, getting access to Windows shares from Ubuntu is just as complicated. I always run into problems with missing user accounts and access permissions.

Ideally, everything will end up working so well that I would one day be able to convince my wife to switch to Linux too, but that day is still very far off.

I would also like to switch my media center pc to Linux, but it's not just a player, it also has TV tuners and I have never ever been able to get them to work with any distro - but Windows just works. Digital, analog, EPG, everything; using only a for-dummies onscreen setup wizard. I need that kind of quality on Linux before the media center will move from Windows, and I just don't see that coming.

Ubuntu has made a tremendous difference for novices in the Linux world. Before Ubuntu, there was nothing that was seriously approachable for novices. With the last 2-3 years' releases of Ubuntu, things have become so fantastic that reasonably experienced pc users can have a go at Ubuntu and not crash&burn as I did with Red Hat. That's remarkable! While it's not actually mainstream just yet, the past few years indicate that "mainstream" is a realistic goal not many years away. Just look at how awesome the Software Center is: search for anything and you'll find not one but several choices, each of which is free and installs in seconds, no reboot needed. Wow!


2010: I was working on Etherpad using Ubuntu. I gave up because Eclipse didn't work properly. When moving from Windows to Mac OS, the fact that Eclipse worked on a Mac made the transition far less scary as I knew at least I'd have something familiar to get work done with while I learned everything else.

  • Why not combine this into your first answer?
    – Roger Pate
    Oct 11, 2010 at 11:34
  • So that voting can be used if anybody else had the same experience. I'm trying to find trends. Oct 11, 2010 at 14:43
  • If you are trying to track, you should probably try to break out proper catagories; i.e. etherpad & specialty mouse should be filed under <hardware limitations; peripherals>. Similarly, you might want to try to nail down other catagories <hardware limitations; internals>, <software; multimedia, video>, etc.
    – mfg
    Oct 11, 2010 at 15:06
  • 2
    Voting is not "I had the same experience," it's "this is useful." It would really be better to include this in your other answer and delete this.
    – Roger Pate
    Oct 11, 2010 at 22:41

I used to switch back-and-forth to Windows because of needing TeamSpeak (the TeamSpeak 2 port was lousy), but that issue has since been solved. TeamSpeak 3 had a native client.

  • Try mumble (mumble.sourceforge.net). It's a voice chat application with a very low latency, working great for gaming and other activity that require group collaboration. Nov 8, 2010 at 13:34
  • That wasn't an option given that the group I communicated with was well over 100 people, I could hardly try switching all of them over just because the port was lousy for me. Jan 18, 2011 at 13:25

One of the main reasons I don't use Ubuntu on all of my computers is that Ubuntu does not have a rolling release branch.

  • Could you clarify? It might help to explain what you mean by 'rolling release branch.'
    – mfg
    Oct 11, 2010 at 15:08
  • 1
    See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_release. Honestly I don't see the problem - software updates are regular and a new OS version appears every 6 months and installs just like a rolling release. Oct 11, 2010 at 20:57
  • PPAs are a good way to effectively get rolling releases for the stuff you need updated. I find this works well, because that way I don't have to worry about conflicts or bugs with the stuff I don't need to have at a cutting-edge version.
    – intuited
    Jan 18, 2011 at 10:57
  • 4
    neither does windows.
    – Lincity
    Jan 18, 2011 at 14:49
  • 1
    @Alaukik He never said anything about Windows; I think he probably went to something like Arch or Gentoo.
    – mathepic
    Feb 19, 2011 at 21:45

keyboard/mouse/screen freeze regularly only cured by hard reboot in V. 10.04 & 10.10. Using Dell dimension desktop Celeron processor. I have been single booting Ubuntu on this computer since V. 5. I find dozens of similar complaints but no fixes when I surf for answers. Went back to 9.10 with no problems after several hours.


I had been flirting with a few distros of Linux over the past decade, and always came back to the same thing, network and modem support. Until recently, I had nothing but issues with connecting my home equipment to the net.

To clarify, I do not see this as a failing to anything but my own technical competence on Linux. However, as a new, and willing, user, it was always the show stopper.

A few years ago I attempted Ubuntu, and even had some success with an ndiswrapper for a wireless usb receiver, however in the end gave up.

Fortunately, Ubuntu has got to the stage where I can get online with all my equipment as a novice user, and I can now start learning and improving my Linux skills.

Apart from the fact I am a .NET developer, and need to operate Windows for my bread and butter, I now live a totally Ubuntu existence.

As for Mac, I used it a lot when I was an audio engineer, however now find it annoyingly patronizing. Why, I am not sure, it just irritates me :)


I'm not switching back to Windows. I can do most of my work in Ubuntu, but there are several things I can't (yet) do with it, so here I go with my personal (but surely shared with many others) list:

  1. CAD software (specifically AutoCAD): there's no software yet that (imho) can become a real alternative for this. It's also true that a lot of personalisation during years (menus, toolbars, Lisp and VBA apps and routines) makes it harder for me to change to other software, but I'd give it a try if there was a good quality application, with dwg support (and this is a major drawback, as at least in my area, dwg has become a de facto standard)
  2. Structural Engineering and construction budgeting software. Same as above, afaik.
  3. Minor annoyances: some organizations (specifically my professional assocition) still force me to use IE, because their web interface won't work with another one.

Maybe I'll update my list later on.... but these are the reasons that force me to use W7 still. What I'm doing right now is virtualizing it in my desktop and dual booting in my laptop (as it has no hardware virtualization support, so VM's won't work smoothly enough)


I now have been using Ubuntu full time for 2.5 yrs. Previous to that I had installed and un-installed linux twice. Both the times it was due to lack of drivers. First time it was Modem drivers (in 2003-2004) and second time it was WiFi (in 2006). Both the time this lack of drivers meant I had to switch to Windows to use internet which made it difficult for me to find out how to install the drivers. Coz it was too much work to start Windows, find the drivers/method, start Linux and find that the given method is not working and then again start windows and so on.

So first thing, other than the basic system, that needs to be working in fresh Linux install is internet because without internet there is no help. So ethernet/wifi/dongle/modem drivers are most important :)


I rarely use my computer for games, but when the itch strikes I'm thankful for my old winxp license.

More frequently I'm tempted back to Slackware, or right now, tempted to try ArchLinux. I love Ubuntu for the ease of install and the package system. Updating gnome is ridiculously easy compared to my attempt several years ago on Slackware when I ran into dependency hell in the midst of ./configure && make && make install.

My frustration with Ubuntu is that it's increasingly difficult to manage my system with the command line. Slackware encouraged understanding and tweaking configuration files. Ubuntu's goal is to be good enough that the user doesn't need to know those files exist. It's an admirable goal, but it leads to situations where my custom console-keymap file is overwritten every. single. update.

Or the pulseaudio situation. I haven't found a nice looking functional gui volume control. I haven't found any cli volume control. Alsamixer of course has basic controls, but it isn't aware of per application volume levels. It's hard to get consistent volume levels.

Or that Ubuntu is so dependent on Gnome for gui utilities. I hate using Gnome. It looks beautiful, compiz impresses me more than win7, and I would definitely recommend it to the casual user. But me, I prefer Blackbox, or Wmfs. Which means it's extremely difficult to access wired and wireless network configurators among other utilities. My favourite (fixed now) was a few releases ago, launching Nautilus launched the entire Gnome desktop.

Or that Ubuntu updates are slowly filling up my 16gB netbook.

I could go on. Some of my annoyances will probably become questions here. I like Ubuntu a lot. I can't overstate how much I love having huge repositories of gpl software that I can install with a couple clicks or a simple command. But Ubuntu as a whole isn't perfect, and the package system might not be enough to keep me in the Ubuntu flavour of linux.


At the moment I use a mixture of Ubuntu and Linux Mint however initially I had difficulty making the transition to Ubuntu and linux in general because I was worried about what would happen to my working machine. Also at the time April 2009 most of the flavours of linux I tried at the time were just to unstable at the time mainly because of graphics problems.

However that was until the Karmic Koala changed everything I have never gone back since then, finding that I will work harder for freedom of choice than for the money to pay for no choice... and you can quote me on that.


It is too bloated. I don't want all that software it comes with nor do I want graphical UIs for everything. Then again, I'm not really part of Ubuntu's target audience.

I also dislike how they go about development. They don't always get their patches back upstream (whereas other distros try a lot harder to make sure everything is committed upstream). If I recall they also propose to remove Synaptic from the default install (which is actually a good thing in my opinion but for the target audience, no).

Package building is a horrible process (Both RPM and Ebuilds are so much more friendly to create).

My largest problem came when everything started becoming Ubuntu branded - first the Software Center (why not send upstream patches to Debian's synaptic?), then Ubuntu One (why can't all of the unix flavors use something like this?).

Note: I head back to Gentoo/Fedora (Gentoo for desktop, Fedora for laptop due to longer compile times).


Ubuntu is soo much more powerful in so many ways. Like being able to run it off an external drive. I carry one around with ubuntu on it and can use it on any computer with a usb port. However, while I primarily use Ubuntu on my personal laptop I also dual boot so I can use Netflix, DVD fab, Autodesk software and to log into my companies MS accounting software.

I've been dabbling with linux off and on since the late 90's and used to run a web server with it on a 486 machine because it would. Now that the GUI has grown so much the need for the command line, recompiling the kernal and all the other tedious duties that used to come along with linux are almost completely gone which makes it much more user friendly.

Support for ubuntu is second to none because of groups like this. Thank you to all of you!


Well, the times I went back to windows is when Ubuntu was into version 7.04 and through 9.04. It was just hard for me to use. And I wasn't a Linux person. I have never heard of it. I used it so I could use something other than Windows XP. After I found out I had to type in commands to install some things I got mad and put Windows XP back on my computer. I went back and forth when they made new versions. Finally when Ubuntu 10.04 came out I was really pleased. I have been using ever since. A couple of times I went back to Windows because of school things but then I finally went back and I am happy!


I went back from Ubuntu 11.10 to Linux Mint 9 because of stability and responsiveness. Linux Mint 9 is 30-60% faster in absolutely all tasks, including virtualboxs...

Well, I just made a second partition, and I use more the Ubuntu 11.10 than the Mint 9, but I can't really realize why... hmm kind of lol.


Sound. I never got it to work satisfactorily on Linux. I can't live without music...


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