Here is the 2nd installment of my Linux story. When I left off last time I was up to about the end of 2004. So I’ll continue from there…
At the end of 2004 I was still experimenting with Linux but mainly using Windows XP as my main everyday desktop. Unfortunately at the beginning of December 2004 I became seriously ill and was really unable to do much at all for quite a few months. So we’ll skip over most of 2005. Nuff said 😉
Our story resumes in November 2005 when I finally got the Linux bug again. I hadn’t touched my Mandrake installation for months but it was still there happily waiting for me. I got a copy of Mandriva 2006 and spent most of Xmas eve 2005 playing with it 🙂
I used Mandriva 2006 in conjunction with XP happily for a few months but it never fully did what I wanted. I couldn’t really jump to it permanently, no matter how much I wanted to. I tried out Fedora Core 5 as an alternative and had a nightmare with that. It’s a nice system don’t get me wrong but I found installing things like NTFS drivers, video codecs and pretty much everything else I needed a real pain. I know you can use RPM’s on Fedora and I searched like mad for decent RPM’s without much luck. It just seemed it wasn’t really ready for what I wanted to do.
I was pretty despondent at this point. I thought maybe Linux wasn’t ready to be my full-time desktop. It was nice to play with from a geek point of view but not a real day-to-day option for me.
I carried on like this for a few months then towards the autumn of 2006 I upgraded to Mandiva 2007 which was a nice improvement. I found I was booting it more than Windows and I took the plunge and joined the Mandriva Club. It was a one off £80 payment for a year, which seemed a good idea at the time. Big mistake, I never really got anything from them, there was no decent forum or support structure that I could see. I’m not slagging off the Mandriva Club here, I’m sure they do good work, I just found I didn’t get a lot from them. My subscription is actually still active, I think it runs till August this year.
At this point I thought, this is ok but there must be something better. I’d never really tried Debian and didn’t know much about it but read a lot of good things. I’d never heard of Ubuntu either, I don’t know how I managed to let the Ubuntu phenomenon pass me by, but I did. So in October/November 2006 Ubuntu released version 6.10 Edgy Eft and I decided it was time I sampled life away from Red Hat based distributions. I installed Ubuntu Edgy and I was totally blown away by it, so much so I don’t think I booted Windows for well over a month, I didn’t need to anymore. I found that installing software and managing updates was so simple with apt-get and synaptic. That has to be the real killer thing about Ubuntu/Debian for me. It just works, there is great community support and you can really participate in it. Other distro’s have their forums and chat rooms but for me the Ubuntu community is a massive factor, the community is the basis for the distribution not vice versa as it is in some cases. After a couple of months using Ubuntu Edgy I was so happy with it that I removed my Windows XP partition and just reclaimed the disk space. It’s feels great. It’s been a good few months now and I don’t miss Windows at all.
I have to make a confession here. While I don’t have Windows on my hard disk as such I do have a Windows XP virtual machine I keep just in case. I have booted it 2 or 3 times since dumping my Windows partition to maintain some old .NET projects in Visual Studio. You may think this is a double standard but I disagree. The difference is that I can run it in a window on my Gnome desktop and still listen to my music with Rythmbox at the same time. I am basically just using Visual Studio as an application like I do with Firefox or anything else. In fact it’s not even that in terms of usage, I use Firefox compulsively, I run Visual Studio once or twice a month 😀
I‘m really happy with Ubuntu, I recommend it to everyone I meet these days and probably bore them to death. I feel like I’ve finally seen the light, I took the blue pill and saw how deep the Microsoft rabbit hole really goes. I reckon at least 90% of people using Windows today could do everything they need to with Ubuntu. Let’s face it what do most people really do on their computers? Web surfing, Email, basic office stuff, maybe edit the odd picture, download & listen to music, watch videos. All of this stuff Ubuntu takes in it’s stride with things like Firefox, Evolution, Rhythmbox, Totem, OpenOffice and much much more. What’s more the Ubuntu Forum gives me far more support than I’ve ever had, with Windows or anything else. I love the sharing of knowledge and experience it gives and these days I can mostly answer questions and help others out. It feels good. After 6 months of Ubuntu goodness I can finally say I did it, I migrated to Linux. “I finally did it ma, I’m a contender” 😀
My Edgy desktop as I spin the 3D Cube (Click to enlarge)
FOOTNOTE: I can’t wait to get Feisty Fawn when it comes out in a couple of weeks, I’ve been playing with the alpha and beta versions and it’s gonna be great. If you haven’t tried Ubuntu, you don’t know what you’re missing, get the Live CDs and try it, your PC will thank you. http://www.ubuntu.com/