Apart from sharing my art and process I usually don’t write anything else, but this particular experience is new to me and I felt like I should share it. In 2009 when I bought a Dell laptop for my sister (after much searching and reading reviews I bought one without any OS on it) It had basic Free-DOS pre-installed.
I got the delivery at night, and like any other gadget that I have bought I was excited and started to set it up without any delay. I had already downloaded Ubuntu 9.10 ISO. Without any deep knowledge in Linux, I installed it by reading guides and help forums. My internet connection was really slow and I finished installing the OS till 6 AM. I used it a bit and I liked it, I wondered how can someone give a whole OS for free and that too with all the tools that are needed for daily task without even charging a penny. My sister liked it too. She still uses that laptop with Ubuntu 14.10 on it.
The idea of using libre software and having total control over your system and not having hardware upgrades forced on me was good. But as an Illustrator and designer, I couldn’t justify the switch. My heart was telling me to take a leap of faith but my brain was not accepting the idea because of lack of software for illustration and graphic design on Linux. (I know gimp existed back then but I had no time to adjust to a new workflow and some other workarounds were time-consuming)
I had Windows 7 on my desktop workstation it got upgraded to windows 8, I had Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription and my workflow was near perfect. Then one day I read somewhere on Adobe’s forum that if the Creative cloud subscription ends one couldn’t open their software, which is alright to me no rent no house that’s the analogy used here, but if you can’t even open the software then you can’t open or view thousands of .PSD .FLA .Ai you have created painstakingly. It is actually no rent no house along with your belongings inside. How can I pay rent to get access to my own creations, this idea seemed stupid to me. Some suggested that I should stick to cs6 but that will be outdated soon and I can’t rely on it.
Also, Windows and Photoshop was being updated with new options and features continuously, to run them I needed to upgrade my hardware with more ram more G.P.U at a faster rate.
Then I read a post from a French Illustrator named David Revoy, that post helped me clear my mind. Now my mind and heart were all singing in sync.
I started preparing for the transition. Most of the open source apps that I found suitable for my workflow had windows builds, I downloaded them and tested them on windows. I converted all the files to open format wherever required, I converted my Photoshop brush tip to pngs, converted my colour swatches, shapes and other assets for the switch.
Now some of you might wonder if the open source app had windows packages then why am I making a switch to Linux. the answer is finer control over the hardware and OS itself. I have used my sister's laptop throughout these years for developing some android apps with her and I loved the freedom of choice it gave. It felt like I had the control over it. The OS never came in my way or was in any way hindering my workflow.
So I took a deep breath and installed (dual booted) Ubuntu 14.04 on my main desktop.
Everything went smoothly I installed all the application that I required and I was back in business. One particular application that had a great impact on me was Krita. The application is so good that it feels like it is made keeping my workflow in mind. I read about it on the internet and the more I read the more I got influenced. I joined the forum and joined the IRC. The experience was overwhelming. I have never seen a software developer who actually asks the end user for new features and improvements and listen to them seriously. Their goal is simply making a best free digital painting application. And in my opinion, they have already achieved that goal. The brush engine is the best, there are so many more features and improvements for my workflow that I cannot write it all here.
I suggest you to download it and use it yourself to know how good it is. I also warn you that is not jack of all trades like Photoshop but a master application only meant for painting and creating original artworks.
Ever since I made the switch, I have never encountered a single problem. I share files as .psd (Krita supports PSD) or .tiff or .EPS. I have a Cron job set up for backing up my entire work and home folder. Even if my hard drive crashes I have the backup which also includes all the settings and assets of my software. I just need to install the OS and restore the backup. All my files and favourites brushes, swatches etc are there. I can do whatever I want with my system, My OS works below 1gb of ram without coming in my way, without all those update popups or restarts popups. If I want some software all I have to do is write “sudo apt-get install software name” in terminal and boom! I have it installed it's that flexible. If I don’t like the way Ubuntu is, I have a choice of hundreds of other Linux distributions to try.
I am glad that I made the switch, it’s been wonderful journey so far and I am sure that it will be that way :)