Saturday, March 31, 2012

      I have been using Linux for the past 11 years now and I have not looked back. My first experience was when I was working for this large medical company as a PC tech in their IT department. At the time I was fairly new in the tech world. Windows 2000 was the new thing so you can imagine how many Windows NT and 98 all over the place. It was not too long after the Win 2K malarkey, which I knew was hog wash. I was amazed at all the companies were hiring these consultants thinking that they could fix the problems. I loved it when on the next day nothing catastrophic happened. Tech dept's were buying up new hardware and upgrading like crazy spending mega bucks in the process. But I have to say that the Y2K scare was good for business. A lot of people made a lot of money.

      What the heck does that have to do with Linux. At that time the company I worked for hired some temporary techs to help with the work load. Our work space was out in a trailer at the time. I had came inside the trailer and noticed that the temp guy was always typing a bunch of stuff on the PC he was working on. One day it hit me that there isn't that much typing to be do in Windows because most of what you need to do uses a mouse, like point, click, click and you're done. So what the heck could he be typing. When I approached him and asked what he was doing he simply said that he was installing Linux. You could imagine what was going on in my head. Yeah, a bunch of ?????. Naturally I asked. "What is Linux". As you can guess I had no idea what he was talking about. The more he explained the more curious I got. I sat there for quite awhile watching with question after question and to my amazement he would answer without the attitude. He was willing to give me the information. That in itself shocked me because my introduction into the PC world was not easy. The so called techs I was suppose to learn from didn't seem to want to share what they knew with me. As if there knowledge was gold and top secret. I thought is was quite selfish. But that's another story. I found out as time went on I found that freely sharing information is how the Linux community works. 

      In the end he gave me 5 cd's of Debian 2.0 if I remember correctly. Whichever one came out in 1999. Anyway, He told me how to get started. Let me tell you, that was the hardest thing I had ever done. In Debian at the time you had to configure everything manually. No point and click at all. You had to configure everything, and I mean everything. The monitor, mouse, HDD, graphics card, network card. It was no easy task. This is stuff I should have learned in that school for profit I attended. It took weeks to get things somewhat usable. Trying to compile a kernel with modules and then hoping it worked was a hair pulling experience. At that time the internet was nothing like it is today where the most common phrase now is Google it. Back then it was books. Yeah, those things with paper pages in them. 

      But I have to say that if it wasn't for that version of Debian, I would not be able to appreciate what is available today. It taught me the in's and out's of a computer. When I finally got a working system I was very excited. I had accomplished something big, in my head that is. My favorite window manager was Window Maker. Gnome sucked majorly at the time. I did not like it at all. It was just not functional to me. Then as time went on and I learned more it got a little easier. I have tried many of the Distro's out there from their humble beginnings, like Redhat and Mandrake, now Mandriva. Then I moved on to Suse. I had tried Ubuntu when it had it's first version out but I found it too simple. It was like Lindows, if you can remember that one. After using Debian the simple versions Linux were just that, simple. I need something that I could work with. If it was too easy and didn't challenge me then I would get bored with it and delete it and move on to something else. After Redhat and Mandrake started dropping user support and wanted money I went on to Suse for awhile. Fedora Core started but it didn't work for me. Sound, and an internet connection was a major thing for me to have working and if I couldn't get them all to work then I had to find the one that did. This was before mp3 players were everywhere. I wouldn't give up until I figured it out though. Wireless started to become a normal nightmare. But due to a better Internet world just searching for a fix got easier and it would just be a matter of time to find the fix I needed. Once I got the Distro working then I would move on to another to play with. With all Linux Disto's the is always something that doesn't quite work right of the box so I'm able to still get my little challenge fix.
    
      After doing all that configuring and fixing for sometime I eventually just wanted a system that just worked . I gave Ubuntu another try after they were getting more one attention. I just couldn't shake my first experience with them. But I decided to give them another shot. I installed it and pretty much everything worked but not without some issues. I think it was ver 9.04. I would go back and forth with Ubuntu and Suse until I finally stayed with Ubuntu, until they changed it to Unity. That sucked. It was okay, and I do love change, don't get me wrong. What was bad about it to me was that they took away my ability to setup the system the way I wanted. If I wanted something that I couldn't change then I might as well stick with boring Windows. I was glad Gnome 2 was still there, then 3 came out. I just used those, which had there own set of changes and learning curves as well but far better than Unity. But with anything new there will be some changes that we either like of we don't like. 

      Today I find the newest Distro that I find appealing and install them to see how one is compared to the other. In the old days it was clumsy installing Linux on laptop but those day's are pretty much gone. I have been using a Toshiba NB255 for almost two years which has been my test machine. I just replaced the motherboard in the Toshiba about a week ago. Why would I do that you wonder? It was several hundred dollars cheaper than buying a new laptop and getting a new Netbook didn't make since if I could find the part for a fraction of the cost. Plus Toshiba stopped selling their Netbook. I don't like carrying a huge laptop in my backpack. It all happened after installing Windows 8 Customer Review. Hmm. Makes me wonder.  I had an eeePC but I fried it. I took the 2gigs of ram out and put in the Toshiba and used the hard drive to test other Distro's on. That way I don't screw up my Windows 7 partition which is also Dual booted with Ubuntu 11.10. I keep that intact until I know the version of Linux that I am using is stable. Backing up all my Windows files does help. I had to replace the HDD because 160gigs filled up pretty quick when it't divided between Linux and Windows. So the end cost of this Netbook comes up to the price of a regular Laptop. But all this was over time and not at once. Replacement parts are more manageable over time. Some may complain about the size of a 10" screen and smaller keyboard but it is perfect for me. Not too big and not to small. Thee eeePC had a really tiny keyboard though. It was a bit too small but this on is perfect for me. 
Replacing the Motherboard on my Netbook

      Well, in my upcoming Blogs I will give my reviews on the latest versions of Linux. I am currently using Linuxmint 12, Redhat 16, Ubuntu 11.04 and 12.04 Beta. These include Gnome 3, KDE, and Cinnamon, and even Unity. I know you can find this info all over the net and on youtube, but I will be doing it the old fashion way, by typing it.

      Linux has come a long way from it's early days. It is being used in places that weren't though of at the time. It may not be a mainstream desktop for the masses but it has it's place. For the average PC or office user it would serve all their basic needs. It may or may not happen, but now with cloud services becoming the normal then it may not matter what platform you are using. As long as it works and you get the desired results.

        Thanks to all the Developers out there who do all this hard work so we can have something to play with. I don't know programming or scripting because it's time consuming to me and I don't have a need. But if I need to learn it I know where to find it. Thanks guys.

      Should you find this floating around on the net please feel free to add your thoughts.