A Linux In Winter

It was about six weeks ago that, frustrated by the reams of viruses that my kids unwittingly downloaded onto my home computer, I finally downloaded and installed Ubuntu Linux, after years (literally a decade) of thinking about it.

Reaction six weeks in?

What took me so long?

(Now I hope I haven’t jinxed myself…)

22 thoughts on “A Linux In Winter

  1. Angry Clown may suggest that you enter ‘sudo rm -fr /’ at the command prompt.
    Don’t do it.
    Check out the rosegarden package for music work.

  2. That was my thought when I dove in about 5 months ago. While there are a handful of things I wish worked in Linux, those things are getting easier to handle. It boots faster and after a few weeks I couldn’t imagine going back to XP — or upgrading to Vista. Ubuntu’s great, and enough worked out of the box that I’ve only had to tweak a few little things….and Linux is a haven for people who like to tweak their computer.

    I could go back to 7 when it comes out, and I certainly won’t get snobby around those who do — but if you know your way around a computer just a little, Linux is like taking the training wheels off.

  3. Ubuntu is nice. But with all open source, you take the good with the bad (same with Microsoft?). Been in IT for almost twenty years and the nightmare that is Microsoft’s pricing and licensing structure, open source is slowly but surely making its presence felt in business. We have several linux servers and VMWare boxes with linux inside of them. My company just renewed some of our Microsoft licenses and their pricing structure is definitely pushing us to look more and more at open source. Not sure if it will ever take over Microsoft’s stranglehold on the business desktops, but there’s a lot more options now on the server and infrastructure side than there’s been in a while.

  4. More than half of the servers at work, and all of them at home, are running some version of Linux. I remember installing some Debian 0.9x version on an old Compaq desktop in the mid 90s. The thing I have always liked best about it is the multiple full development stacks easily installable on almost every distribution.

  5. Moral of the story – don’t let your kids use your computer!

    Seriously – the Junior Logician did that to his computer (thankfully) and we waited for a month to get it fixed AND made him pay the $150 to get his hard drive wiped clean and reformatted. The Geeks didn’t do that great of a job so he has been limping along on it for a year now and we are finally getting it cleaned up for good.

    It’s been a pain but he has learned a valuable lesson and has not gone near those kinds of sites since!

  6. Ah, finally taken a step to the dark side…. Now you get to endure comments like this. Enjoy! The mouse-overs in that strip are usually pretty good, as well.

  7. Gee, it took you long enough. If you’ve got half a clue on computers you can do Linux these days, and since I’m a Unix geek from way, way back it’s never been hard for me.

    Strangely enough, though, I’ve had to regress to XP temporarily for most of my work. I built a new PC and found that the integrated AMD/ATI graphics drivers SUCK! When the new Nvidia card arrives, though, off XP goes.

    Seriously, you’ll really like it when Kosmic Koala comes out around the end of the month. It’s a totally clean update and it should take about 10 minutes. And it will really reduce your boot time. But one word of warning: I’d do a reinstall with Kosmic, not an upgrade. Kosmic will make the default file system ext4 and that’s much faster. It should take boot times down to less than 20 seconds on most systems (it does on mine).

    You want a real kick? I had no choice but to install it on a donated computer a poor relation had. They had an 8 GB disk, Celeron, and 256 MB of RAM. XP was running like a dog — 10 minutes to boot on a clean install — but Ubuntu was usable if not fast. It just shows that if you keep running Linux you probably won’t need to update your hardware anywhere near as often, too.

  8. I’ve used all Linux servers since the late 90s – Microsoft only when a vendor required it (specifically MS SQL based applications). I’ve probably built 80 Linux rack mounted servers from scratch, and installed Linux on another 60 servers purchased brand new. Had a few test boxes that went over 600 days without a reboot. Really the only reboots are for security updates that require it, extended power failures, or office moves. I admin a WIN PBX that just about requires a biweekly reboot because the performance degrades so significantly. And if I don’t reboot it in a timely fashion, it will blue screen. Some of that is attributable to the OS, some is due to just a poorly designed application. None of it is hardware related.

    The desktop is hard one to crack. I’m using Linux right now as I post this, but for the majority of my users Windows is required because that is what their business applications are written for.

    My oh my, can Linux extend the useful life of hardware! My Kids’ school district is evaluating a move right now. I can donate to them about 80 Celerons with 512MB of RAM with no OS licenses, and they can deploy them pretty quickly with no other costs than burning the new OS image to a drive. The K12LTSP project would make an even better solution for them, but getting established will be the major task. After that it’s pretty easy to maintain. Might be my summer project for the district.

  9. @Troy – “Kosmic” is more fun. 🙂 While Karmic may be the real name, Kosmic just appeals to me more.

    ext4 is a big improvement and I’m glad they waited 6 months instead of putting it in Jaunty since there were some issues at the time. I’ve been playing with ext4 in the betas and there’s a big improvement, especially when you deal with large files like videos and I do that a lot. I’ve got kids who love to watch movies, but they tend to scratch them up pretty badly, so the first thing I do is rip the movie to a DVD-R and put that in the box and the master on a spindle where it can’t be touched. Works great, and since you can pick up a DVD-R for $0.20 or so it’s far cheaper than buying a new DVD. That, and the new DVD-R doesn’t have menus or previews, meaning I can just put it in the car’s DVD player and it plays without any menu hassles.

    Since I’m rambling off topic, if you’ve got a newish iPod that can handle mp4s, try Handbrake for ripping movies to it. Under Linux you don’t need anything else (other than decss, but you need that for watching movies anyway) while under Windows you need to install something like dvd43. But in either case you can rip a pretty good mp4 so you can take your movies with you. Yeah, it takes a while: my quad-core monster does one in under an hour, but my wimpy old single core Athlon takes 6 or more. Still, my wife loves being able to take a movie along when she’s got to wait in line for something and now each kid can watch their own movie on trips!

  10. I’m the reason Microsoft survives. I want a computer like I want a car – turn the key and drive away. I don’t want to know what’s under the hood as long as it runs.

    Yeah, it stalls every so often so I have to pull over and restart. Happens much less with XP than previously. I can live with it.

    Looking at Dell’s new offerings, they’ve got some dirt cheap machines running on something called FreeDOS. I remember DOS from the two-volume manual on my desk in the 80’s. Is this that same dog? Why would anybody want it?

    Can I run Word or Quickbooks on FreeDOS?


  11. I’m the reason Microsoft survives. I want a computer like I want a car – turn the key and drive away.

    The Richard Feynman school of computing, eh? “The problem with computers is you *play* with them.”

    FreeDOS is one of those FOSS (free/open source software) projects to clone DOS. A buddy used it for an embedded controller and raved about it. He was convinced that anything that runs under DOS will run on it since he was doing some pretty low level porting an embedded MSDOS machine. Don’t expect it to run anything new — we’re talking applications from the 90s like Win3.11.

  12. I’m the reason Microsoft survives. I want a computer like I want a car – turn the key and drive away. I don’t want to know what’s under the hood as long as it runs.

    I’m basically the same, here. I am not averse to tinkering with computers, but it’s not something I enjoy, especially if it’s because I can’t do anything productive (blogging, mainly) on my computer.

    And within that standard, Ubuntu rocks.

    The only, and I do mean only, downside so far? Banshee (an open-source ITunes clone) doesn’t support my son’s very late-model IPod. I haven’t tested it on mine yet.

  13. Banshee’s not bad, but I prefer Amarok because I have a large MP3 library — almost 100 GB. It will also install KDE, but other than that it’s not bad. But then again, k9copy is the way I rip my dvds so it’s not much of an adder.

  14. “You have to tell it you want it to do so.”

    Or, if you’re not ready to man up, you could write San Fran Nan and plead with her to write a law to step in and help you…


  15. So, if wingnuts are PCs, what’s Mitch? He’s using a socialist, cooperatively developed OS while you’re enslaving yourself to a capitalist entity, you elitist dog!

  16. It takes a village to design a package updater that normal people can use without going homicidal.

  17. Yeah, the updater in Ubuntu is nice. All your packages at once with one click of the button.

    The closest you can come with a PC is Secunia PSI and there you still have to click a lot of “update” buttons, but at least it tells you all the at-risk software on your PC.

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