Linux On The Laptop Works So Damn Well That It’s Boring

Which is good! Boring = success

Clive Thompson
6 min readSep 23, 2022


A few days ago I took my Macbook Pro into the shop. It needed a new battery; the current one is five years old and dies after an hour. We’ll be in touch by next Tuesday, the repair shop said.

So in the meantime, I started working on my backup laptop — which runs Linux. It’s an 11-year-old Thinkpad T420, a big ol’ thick brick of computation that I bought used a few years ago for $200.

Things were going fine, as I cranked away at email and some reading for research. Then a few minutes before 1 pm, I remembered I had to join a video call.

The problem? The video call required Microsoft Teams, which … I didn’t have installed on my Linux machine. “Crap, does Microsoft even have a version of Teams for Linux?” I wondered. I also realized this old laptop has a dreadful old webcam (I don’t normally use this machine for video), and I wasn’t sure my sexy high-res external Logictech camera would work with Linux either. Oh crap crap crap.

And of course, being an unprepared idiot, I’d only noticed these issues one minute before the meeting was beginning.

In an anxious flop sweat, I googled for “Linux version of Microsoft Teams” — and found that, hey now, that Microsoft indeed does have one! It took mere seconds to download and half a minute to do a one-click install. I booted up Teams, and realized that Ubuntu had also auto-recognized my Logictech camera.

So I jumped into the meeting and … everything went fine.

I tell this anecdote to make a point that will be obvious to nerds, but may still be news for everyone else:

Linux on a laptop or desktop computer works amazingly well these days.

Honestly, when I use my Linux computer, very little is different from my Mac or Windows machines. It works so well that it’s essentially kind of boring. Which is what you want, right? You don’t want to have to think about your operating system, or worry about it. You just want it to work.

It was not always thus. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, installing Linux on one’s home computer was a rather terrifying…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.