Overwhelmed with switch from MacBook to Ubuntu: Seeking Advice and Resources

Yeehaw y’all :cowboy_hat_face:

About a week ago, I swapped my MacBook for an Ubuntu laptop. Having used a Pixel with GrapheneOS for over two years, I was happy to have completely switched to open-source for both desktop and mobile. However, the transition to Ubuntu has been a mess.

Tasks that once were straightforward now involve diving deep into terminal commands and navigating through an array of software installation sources like Snap packages, DEB packages, APT, and AppImages. The pre-installed Ubuntu Snap Store occasionally falls short with its outdated apps, requiring me to add third-party repositories via sudo.

I even had to manually change my kernel version and update the firmware for my Wi-Fi driver by downloading .bin files and placing them in /lib/firmware/, based on unofficial internet guides—which just seems so risky.

I thought about going back to macOS, but now instead, I’m on the lookout for resources. What books, websites, or other materials would you recommend for a Linux novice like me to grasp the essentials of its security and then go deeper? I’m eager to learn and adapt, ensuring I don’t compromise on privacy or security while enjoying the benefits of Ubuntu.

Your insights, experiences, and recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

If you dislike the outdated apps and snap stuff, maybe consider trying out another distro than Ubuntu, like Fedora for example.

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Fedora was actually the distro I wanted to use, since it’s A) recommended by PrivacyGuides and B) also officially supported by Framework - I have a Framework laptop.

But since Signal for Linux only has an official Debian/Ubuntu client, I had to go with Ubuntu, unfortunately.

That’s unfortunate. Are you using the LTS by any chance? The newest release 23.10 (which isn’t LTS) would probably have newer apps.

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Take a look at Linux Mint Cinnamon, it is basically the better Ubuntu with objectionable things like Snap removed.

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I found this on flathub, might this be what you are looking for? Install Signal Desktop on Linux | Flathub

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For people wondering why even privacy oriented individuals are slow to move to linux, this experience right here is why.

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@Prince congrats on switch :slight_smile: just my question:

Whats your level of expertise with Linux (esp. console/Terminal)? Ubuntu is great for starters as its very clickable distro. All major console commands you can type, or you can click>click in respective UI

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Well, thats beauty of Linux; you are not vendor-locked… as of Ubuntu and its outdated packages: its mythical. Want brand-new packages? Go with Arch.

I thought about going back to macOS, but now instead, I’m on the lookout for resources. What books, websites, or other materials would you recommend for a Linux novice like me to grasp the essentials of its security and then go deeper? I’m eager to learn and adapt, ensuring I don’t compromise on privacy or security while enjoying the benefits of Ubuntu.

For semi-formal, semi-structured learning, there is a website called linuxjourney.com which has a wealth of information about the fundamentals of the operating system. Its definitely more of the ‘teach a man to fish’ approach, not a ‘quick start guide’

But if one of OP’s complaints is software that is up to date, Linux Mint will at best be on par with Ubuntu LTS (Ubuntu’s more conservative/slower update cycle), and in some cases will be behind it (because no snaps)

I personally do not consider Mint to be “the better Ubuntu” despite it being my first favorite distro many years ago, to me it is a mildly inferior choice (with respect to security and privacy, as that is not a focus for Mint, and often takes a back seat to other things). Secure Boot support has only recently been added (Ubuntu and many other distros have had this for 10 years) and Wayland support is still not present (though they have finally begun to work on this).

Also, people have (subjective) reasons they may dislike snap, but I don’t think security/privacy are among them).

Personally, I don’t believe there are any Ubuntu derivatives that offer better security + privacy than Ubuntu does out of the box (at some point in the future Pop!_OS might, but it doesn’t currently). If one wants better security than Ubuntu provides ootb, I think it makes more sense to look outside of the Debian family (OpenSUSE, Fedora), but for a beginner I think there is a lot of value in staying within the Debian family to start.

edit: the entirety of this comment is made in the context of Desktop distros.

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Please add AlmaLinux to this list. Its rock solid, with great security OOTB. Pretty user-friendly distro.

Running AlmaLinux on multiple (physical) servers, so quite high expectations (24/7 powered on, load around 50-60% all the time); all good, system running without issues.
I suppose desktop versions are the same quality

I should clarify, I was speaking specifically about Desktop distros. I have personally never used RHEL/RHEL Clones (Rocky/Alma/etc) as a desktop distro or strongly considered them. Like you I have used Alma on a server, and had an overall good experience in that context.

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I’ve used the Signal Flatpak in the past and it works fine on Fedora. However I feel it is important to mention that there is a signal rpm repository for Opensuse and Fedora.

If general package availability is a concern Ubuntu/Debian will probably have the most available packages. However Distros like Fedora and Arch will have newer packages.

On a personal note, when I first got into Linux I found it very beneficial that I had already gotten fairly comfortable with the various opens source application s that are common defaults on the Linux desktop

Relevant links
Github issues with lots of information about Sgnal availability as an RPM
https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/introduction-to-linux/

I am using openSUSE, but I am thinking about going back to Ubuntu 24.04 when it’s released. The reason for this is the reliance on PackMan for VA-API video hardware acceleration (sudo opi codecs here). I am not sure whether PackMan is a reputable source. But the most annoying thing for me is that the PackMan and openSUSE repos sometimes conflict with each other, which would make the update in GNOME Software fail.

Other than that, I would get top-notch security and compatibility by using Ubuntu when I use Snap apps. It seems like a good deal to me.


Compared to unofficial Flatpak apps, unofficial snap apps are usually more outdated. For me, I use both Snap and Flatpak, and also AppImage, to get the best out of everything. Ubuntu APT packages/apps will be outdated shortly after its release, as they are updated along the distro.

In which, you might have to disable the secure boot, right? If yes, I would recommend you to try a rolling release like openSUSE instead. But this also would depend on your workflow. If you want to use Docker Desktop, for example, you are likely to stay away from openSUSE. If this is the case, Fedora, or Arch might be your best bet.

Ubuntu is the best when it comes to certified devices, or it’s pass the point where its kernel is new enough to support your hardware.

You might want to enable firewall on Ubuntu, as it’s not enabled by default. There’s a GUI for this: Gufw Firewall • Marcos Costales.

I mostly use Gemini or ChatGPT for this. It works most of the time, but with some caveats. You will need to use it in conjunction with your preferred search engine (as a re-check). It’s faster than reading a book. YouTube is another place to look whether there’s something you want.

The Arch Wiki is always a great resource even if you dont use Arch Linux. Its often the first place i check for general linux information.

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And if you are a duckduckgo user, searching the Arch Wiki is as simple as adding !aw to your search term (for example) there are many Linux specific !bangs you can use with duckduckgo, a useful Ubuntu specific one is !asku (or the longer but easier to remember !askubuntu this will (obviously) search Ask Ubuntu which is a good resource.

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Yes, I’m on Ubuntu 22.04. LTS. I thought about installing 23.10, but since the Framework team recommends going with LTS, I went with that.

I don’t understand though, why Ubuntu Software (Snap Store) can’t get newer apps, independent from the installed Ubuntu version.

I will take a look at the Wiki, thank you!

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The next LTS release comes out in a couple months, so you can upgrade to that pretty soon. Also you can enable HWE for more up to date kernel and select other software.

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Do you know, why that is the case?

And no, luckily I didn’t have to.

Ah, I didn’t know that, thanks!

I use ChatGPT-4 a lot for advice and commands/scripts regarding Linux, but I don’t trust it, since it’s prone to making mistakes, although it has been a great help. And it makes me uncomfortable to rely so much on a service, that is horrible for privacy to achieve more privacy in my life.

Maybe I really should use YouTube more for this kind of stuff.

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Ah okay, good to know, thanks! But I think until then, I will stick with my current kernel, since it’s the one Framework suggests.

Do I understand you correctly, that a newer kernel would give me access more up to date software in the Snap Store?