youngoat (youngoat) wrote,

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I started using linux when I was... Well, actually I can't remember. Maybe 12? I don't know, but it was my first PC operating system (I had a C64 and an Amiga before getting a PC). At first I didn't know how to do anything, but I had a lot of time and I didn't mind getting my hands dirty... So I learned how to configure everything, how to get all my hardware working, install new kernels, download and compile software... I ran a web server, samba, smtp, even DNS... I learned C programming, sockets, and threads. I set up NAT so all the computers in the house could share our dial-up internet connection. I learned svgalib and wrote silly graphics demos... I learned sound programming and wrote a binaural beat generator... I learned tons and had a lot of fun.

Then at some point I was exposed to Windows, and at first it sucked, but I remember Windows 2000 came out and it was pretty solid and worked remarkably well... I remember noticing how a lot of stuff "Just worked." Whereas with linux I occasionally spent hours, sometimes days, solving a sound driver issue or getting X11 configured correctly for my graphics card, with Windows these things just worked. Installing software was as easy as running an installer. Instead of reading man pages and tweaking configuration files, I could just open up a configuration dialog. Instead of programming with vim and a shell, I could use Visual Studio and get intellisense, designer support, and rich integrated debugging. Where I had once valued the "journey" of getting things working and configured exactly to my taste, at some point I realized that it sure was nice when things just worked without extra effort. Sure I couldn't tweak as much, and I had less control... but I was willing to pay that price.

And so for the past 8 years or so, I haven't used linux as a desktop operating system. It was just too painful. I've consistently run a linux server with samba, apache, etc. But I've more-or-less become a "Windows Guy." Heck, I even work for Microsoft now.

But every once in a while, I get curious and install linux and see what's changed and if I can actually get it going without spending 3 days fussing with hardware support and getting X and gnome configured right. Every time so far I've hit a major deal-breaker issue almost immediately. I spend a day or two with it, but by default things are too broken and I don't want to figure out how to make everything work, so I say, "Well, that was fun. Now back to software that actually works."

But a couple days ago i installed Ubuntu 8.04 and I must say I'm quite pleasantly surprised. On my (admittedly old) laptop, everything "just worked" (even the wireless card which has been troublesome in the past). The install was smooth, better than Windows, even. And I've been quite pleasantly surprised by the user-friendliness. My favorite thing so far is that when I type a command that doesn't exist, it tells me what package I need to install and how to do that. :-) And a lot of things look and feel pretty Windows-like, so I feel pretty at home (for instance I just noticed that alt-space,n works to minimize the current application, just like in Windows).

I was also quite pleased to find a terminal server client installed by default that's just about as good as the Windows one (I was worried it'd be slow, but it's not). And I've installed a number of applications (which has been easy) and each one has worked just fine right out of the box. The only crash I've seen was in the firefox 3 beta, which is forgivable.

I do have some complaints. For instance I can't quite figure out how to access samba file shares... and I get a really poor frame rate when I try to watch youtube videos full-screen... but for the first time ever, I've actually been able to *use* linux without having to muck with kernel modules or google around for solutions to weird issues... All of my core scenarios just worked right out of the box...

So while I probably won't be switching all my PC's to linux any time soon (work ones especially. :-) ), I'm going to leave my laptop booting into linux and see how it goes. I'm hopeful.

(written from ubuntu, using Drivel which doesn't seem to suck)

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