I Make the Switch (danger, geekiness ahead)

I have this image in my mind. There are the two guys, the cool, young, hip Mac guy and the old, chubby loser PC Geek.

The PC Guy and the Mac Guy

The PC Guy and the Mac Guy

They argue for a while then stand there, hand in hand, then… Have you ever seen Bambi Meets Godzilla? Watch it. I love the chord at the end.

That’s what I see in my mind, the big Godzilla foot crushes the two guys, the Mac guy and the PC guy. But Godzilla’s foot says, “Linux” on it.

PC and Mac guy meet Linux Godzilla

PC and Mac guy meet Linux Godzilla

The first time I ever gave Linux a shot was… I don’t know, a long time ago – an eon ago in computer time. These were the days when you still logged on to the Internet through a dial-up connection to America Online (I miss the tones of the dial connection and modem negotiation, the comforting hiss of the data stream starting, coming out of the tinny little speaker). I found a boxed copy of SUSE Linux at a thrift store in Mesquite, Texas. The box had a stack of 3.5 inch floppy disks and a thick, confusing manual. It was on the miscellaneous shelf between the used dishes and the mismatched shoes. It cost one dollar.

It might have been version 4.2, I don’t remember. That was the first version and should have been version 1.1, but they wanted to give it the number of Life, the Universe, and Everything. That sense of nerd humor is one of the nice things to permeate the Linux community.

That old SUSE distribution never ran very well – I think I installed it on a very crappy old 386SX, or something like that. But it gave me a taste and I thought it was cool enough to stay interested and I could definitely get the feeling for the possibilities to come.

So a few years later, I built a custom box and decided to put Linux on it. After shopping distributions and trying a few different ones out, I settled on Fedora Core 6. I was ecstatic.

My home computing setup was to have two boxes under my desk. One ran Fedora and the other Windows. I could switch between them with a KVM switch, which worked pretty well. I even built a switch box so I could play music on one computer and work on the other.

But as time went by, I pretty much stopped using Windows altogether. One by one, the dominoes fell and the Linux Open Source versions of applications became superior to the Windows Junk (plus they were free) and I only used Window for ITunes (to keep my Touch loaded).

I would upgrade my Fedora, usually every other upgrade, on through Fedora 13. Especially, once the Live CD spins became common, I would play around with other distributions. I found some of the smaller, lighter distros extremely helpful in fixing or rescuing other people’s crapped out Windows stuff. I built a server (now undergoing rebuilding) for music, file backup, and web hosting and put Ubuntu on it because the current Fedora choked on its odd video setup.

Over the years I switched from the desktop setup to a Toshiba Laptop running Fedora and Windows in a dual-boot configuration. Still, I rarely booted to Windows – only for Itunes, Adobe Illustrator (I use The Gimp instead of Photoshop, but still haven’t come around to Inkscape over Illustrator) and Dragon Naturally Speaking. Oh, and streaming Netflix – It drives me nuts I can’t do that on Linux.

The other day I cleaned up the laptop, reinstalled Windows (No matter how careful you are, that piece of crap still will eventually get larded up with malware and have to be redone) and moved up to Fedora 15.

And it crapped out. I tried and tried and could not get the newest bleeding edge Fedora distribution to work on my Toshiba. Up until then it had loaded and run without a hitch, but it kept freezing up at unpredictable times. I played around with video drivers and such, but realized I didn’t have time for this crap.

So I installed Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal. Not a hitch.

So now I’ve switched. I’m still of two minds about Unity, the new Ubuntu desktop, but It’s starting to grow on me.

I’ve never been a great proponent of brand loyalty, but in some ways, by switching Linux distributions, I feel like I’ve abandoned an old friend. Out with the old, in with the new.

Now I’m an Ubuntu freak. Yee-haw.

6 responses to “I Make the Switch (danger, geekiness ahead)

  1. Its actually really nice to now that I’m not the only person who quite likes unity!!! sure a few things still annoy me like global menus on non maxed out windows, and… actually that’s about it although a few more Quicklist features wouldn’t go am miss (live quick lists anybody).
    That was a good read.

  2. This was a good article. I have never tried Linux so I cannot comment on how it works. As a long time Macintosh person (1985), I have grown uup with the GUI and have no particular problem with it. Being a graphic designer, I had to have a compatible machine and so far, things are fine. I can say however, that through the years, universally, I have heard Windows users complain about their OS…for a variety of reasons. many also complained about (or against) non-Windows users. For them, I am glad to read your report about alternatives to Windows that isn’t Apple related. Thanks.

  3. Unity does take a while to get used to but it really just works. I have a dual boot set up but I haven’t used windows in forever! I tryed to boot into it again to do maintenance and gave up because it was taking to long! You might find my blog interesting freedupthoughts.wordpress.com it currently is filled with photography related posts but go back a month or so and plenty of Linux techno bable.

  4. I’ve been doing Ubuntu for several years now. I first saw Unity on the Netbook Remix. WHile it was OK for netbooks, I had my doubts about having it on my main system, but decided to go with the flow. It takes some getting used to, especially with regards to workflow and muscle memory, but it has some advantages. What I like about it is less wasted screen space.

    Like you, I have to keep Windows around (on a separate machine, in my case) for Windows Media Player, Dragon, ScanSnap, and to update my GPS and a couple other bits of electronics.

    • I’ve been mostly happy with Unity. It didn’t take too long to get used to and seems to be an efficient use of desktop space. There are a few bugs – especially with applications that don’t go full screen, and I hope they’ll work that out with the next couple upgrades.

  5. I dropped by just to see who was checking in on my little corner of the web and found some great pictures and commentary. I’ve always heard Dallas was an artsy fartsy place and you made me want to visit. I used to be a real technophile once upon a time before I adopted a simpler approach to life. I’ve been a linux user for years now off and on. Fedora core was my go to in the days when I bothered to keep command lines fresh in my mind, but Ubunto 11.10 has been my caveman solution for a while now.. So art, geekyness and well written opinion. Consider yourself followed good sir, and I don’t just “+ Follow” all willy nilly like =P

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.