Sadly my experiences with Linux / Unix over the years have been
limited to old BBS sessions and
some command line stuff. I've been following the development of Linux,
but had never installed the new fun GUI Linux on any of my systems
- until now. Now, I can hear all the experts out there groaning "not
another newbie story please!" Yeah, it's another newbie story,
but I think newbie stories are good exposure for Windows users who
have thought about tinkering and for experts who can solve some of
the problems with Linux to make it better.
I downloaded and burned the ISOs for Mandrake
8.2 from LinuxISO. While
I have heard that Linux has gotten just as easy as Windows I was
still skeptical. Installation went much more smoothly than I expected.
I booted from the CD and away it went. I have a spare 20 GB hard
drive that I stopped using because it started getting some bad
sectors, but I figured it would work fine for playing with Linux.
Since I had the extra hard drive I decided not to play around with
partitioning my Windows drive for dual bootification, so I'll just
leave the case open and swap the IDE cable when necessary.
I didn't know which desktop to use so I installed all of them (typical
noob I know). When it was finally done installing and rebooted (once
as opposed to the 15 times for Windows) I logged on to KDE.
Of course the first thing I did was go to BBspot.com using one of
the many browsers (having a choice was refreshing). Then I spent
time surfing around with three browsers just to check out the differences
(Konqueror, Galeon and Mozilla).
It took me some time to figure out how to install the Flash plug-in
for Mozilla (finding the right directories and having to log in as
root), and when I first tried it the sound didn't work, but I didn't
try any other sites. I sent an e-mail to a friend proclaiming my
newly acquired title of Lord of the Geeks.
First annoyance and first item I'll start researching for a fix
is the addictive scroll wheel on my mouse. I functioned fine without
it for years on my computers, but now every time I got to a computer
without one I find my finger straying to the phantom wheel.
Next challenge will be getting the printer to work. Due to the arrangement
of the office the HP LaserJet 5P is connected to my wife's Windows
98 box across the room. I'm guessing it'll take some effort to get
that to function properly.
I also tried Gnome desktop just
to check it out and in my cursory exploration I didn't find any major
differences. Evolution looks
like a really nice package and I sent another e-mail further cementing
my status as Lord of the Geeks.
Now, I haven't tried to install any new programs or adjust any hardware
settings yet so I don't know how easy or difficult that will be,
but installing Linux did give me feelings I had forgotten about (no
not those kind of feelings sicko) The kind of feelings I had when
I was using my Tandy
Color Computer 2 many years ago. The feelings of excitement and
newness and freshness of using a computer. I really did feel a sense
of freedom in shirking off the banality of Windows.
I doubt I'll make the complete switch anytime soon, but my first
experience definitely makes it a consideration. I'll need to make
a list of applications that I use on a daily basis and try to search
out a Linux counterpart. Fortunately that process is a bit easier
for me since I use Mozilla as my browser and OpenOffice.org as
my office suite. I foresee that I'll slowly make the transition.
First, I'll play around with this install to gain some familiarity.
Next I'll set up a dual boot system. As I become more familiar and
the Linux apps improve I'll slowly but surely start spending more
time in Linux than I do in Windows.
I would encourage anyone who has become bored with the Windows life
to take a stab at installing Linux on a spare box you've got laying
around. It might not become your system of choice, but it might rekindle
some long lost excitement and curiosity in your computing experience.
Story to a Friend