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Last post Author Topic: Switching to Linux for a week  (Read 12977 times)

40hz

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Switching to Linux for a week
« on: January 13, 2009, 09:40:42 AM »
There is an excellent article recently posted on the zmogo website. In a series of seven posts, Linux newcomer Ash Pringle shares his experiences with Linux:

Quote
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.

It's a great read that provides one of the most balanced and candid articles I have ever read about the whole Linux Experience. Well worth the fifteen or so minutes it takes to read all seven installments.

 8)

Quote
My impressions of the Linux operating system are coloured by memories of the first time my computer-whiz friend unveiled his sort-of-new copy of Redhat Linux to me. “Check this out!” he said. “This OS doesn’t suck like everything Microsoft makes!” It came in an over-sized jewel case with 4 CDs, handed down second-hand from another computer-whiz friend who recommended we try it.

Upon installing it we were greeted with an unceremonious command console that might as well have been written in the ancient tongue of the long-dead tribe of Gnitth Shhta Star-God worshippers. We had no idea what to do, and it was exciting. Linux had that combination of sparseness, functionality and seriousness that gave it the feel of being a real operating system, unlike that flighty Windows 95. In short, Linux seemed cool.

But that was my first and last encounter with Linux. In the ten or fifteen years since that first Linux install other operating systems have shown up, like XP and OSX, that have mostly pulled my attention away from Linux. Now my impression of Linux is bundled up with old memories of screwing around with the config.sys file on my DOS computer in order to allocate enough virtual memory to get Ultima running. In short, Linux to me has always been synonymous with “command console,” and although command consoles may work well, they definitely aren’t easy to use.

All these year later, now that those newer and simpler operating systems are available, I find myself wondering: why use Linux at all? Why go through all the trouble of installing an operating system that’s difficult to use, when almost everyone has a perfectly fine operating system already installed on their PC? I’ve never seen the reason to make the switch.

But I’ve also heard all the reports about how Linux is different nowadays. “It’s easy to use!” they say. “It’s even easy to install, and it’s way more stable than Windows!” they insist. “It’s not like the old days; Linux has changed, man! Just give a try, all the cool and smart and handsome people are using it!” Linux still has that indie cred that I experienced all those years ago that makes it seem just a little bit more elite than its competitors, and power-nerds everywhere seem to be cajoling me into trying it.

Lucky for them I have an incredibly weak will. So I’ve decided to give in to peer pressure, light me up some Linux, and trip my way through the alternative operating system carnival in the sky.

Link:  http://www.zmogo.com...to-linux-for-a-week/


cranioscopical

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2009, 10:05:11 AM »
Thanks for the link 40hz

Like many others I dip into Linux every now and again.

I *have* to use Windows for a few things and so cannot find the motivation to run a second OS.
What I have satisfies what I need and I can't make a complete break.
My days of tinkering just for the heck of it are more or less over (been there, done that).

That said, I'll be interested to read the article.  Thanks again for the post :)

Darwin

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2009, 11:39:03 AM »
Excellent! Thanks for that, 40hz  :Thmbsup:

I'm *just* coming out of my tinkering for the halibut stage. Until about two weeks ago, I had an iBook running Tiger, a notebook running Win2k, a notebook running Ubuntu 8.04, a notebook running XP Pro and a notebook running Vista 64 Ultimate all networked together and crowding my (physical) desktop. I also had, and still have, the Vista machine running a WfW 3.11 client and Win2k client. I've since added Win7 as a client on that machine. Crowded. Very crowded. I've pared down to the XP and Vista notebooks on my physical desktop and find that I don't have much time or inclination to faff about with the client OS on my Vista machine. All in all, it SERIOUSLY cuts into my "productivity". I"m toying with the idea of removing XP Pro machine from my desktop and the client OSes from the Vista computer and actually using my notebook for its intended purpose: being productive. What a novel idea!

Still, like Chris, I'll read the article with interest, even if I'm cringing a bit resisting the temptation to follow the author's lead!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2009, 01:59:39 PM »
I"m toying with the idea of removing XP Pro machine from my desktop and the client OSes from the Vista computer and actually using my notebook for its intended purpose: being productive. What a novel idea!

I hear you. Despite all the machines, appliance boxes, and servers I ditz around with, I still keep one little laptop (an antique Compaq Armada M300 no less) loaded with CrunchBang Linux or WinXP (I just swap the drives) for when I actually need to get some real work done.

And I spend almost half my time on it too! ;D

Quote
Still, like Chris, I'll read the article with interest, even if I'm cringing a bit resisting the temptation to follow the author's lead!

Well... you could always just read it and live vicariously.

Kidding aside, I really liked the article because it was written by somebody who went into it with absolutely no agenda other than to see what Linux was about.

Furthermore this wasn't somebody pretending to be a "clueless noob" (ala all those WSJ and NYT articles) nor a techno-wonker. It's just the observations and impressions of one reasonably intelligent and technically savvy individual who decided he wanted to see at first hand what the deal was. I think Ash Pringle is more representative of the people who get into Linux than the stereotyped dummies or geeks most news articles portray them as being.

And it reads like a breath of fresh air. No FOSS political rants, Microsoft propaganda, or endless hairsplitting over file systems and kernal optimizations like you run into in so many "tell all" articles.

What can I say? I did a "copy & paste" of all 7 installments and saved it. 8)



« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 02:03:40 PM by 40hz »

housetier

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2009, 04:31:57 PM »
hmm I can't open that page, I get error messages from wordpress.

Darwin

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2009, 04:41:50 PM »
hmm I can't open that page, I get error messages from wordpress.

Strange, so do I, now. It was fine an hour ago.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

zridling

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2009, 05:42:13 PM »
Nice to see she was finally won over, but Day One was a disaster of her own making. I read that and thought, "Oh hell girl, you're just trying to frick it up, c'mon!" Install an OS to an external drive?!

Also, I wish she had tried something/anything other than Ubuntu. It's nice, but for all Windows users, please don't think that Linux = Ubuntu. It doesn't. Mepis, PCLinuxOS, sidux, and openSUSE all would have saved her from her Day One meltdown.

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2009, 08:01:41 PM »
Website seems to be working now. If anybody wants to read it and can't get the page I can send you a PDF copy (325kb). Send me a PM if you want it. :Thmbsup:

Also, I wish she had tried something/anything other than Ubuntu.

I personally prefer Xubuntu if you're going to go with Mr. Shuttleworth's product line.

But yeah, PCLinuxOS, Mandriva or Mephis would have been better choices for a first time tryout.

But you still have to admire somebody who tried Linux way back when it was a bigger challenge than it is today, and offered the following comment about the experience:

We had no idea what to do, and it was exciting.

Full points for heart right there! ;D

 8)
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 08:04:49 PM by 40hz »

Darwin

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 12:35:42 AM »
I finally got around to reading it in its entirety and loved it  :Thmbsup: Very funny and very informative. Thanks again for pointing the way to it, 40hz  :)
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

urlwolf

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2009, 04:53:38 AM »
I still think trying linux for a week is bound to fail. You need long-term commitment for that to work out well. In a week you will not learn enough to see the advantages, and you sure as hell will see the downside.

Paul Keith

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2009, 06:43:34 AM »
urlwolf, ironically I actually found it to be the reverse. Within a week's time I was in OS heaven. No antiviruses. Fast PC. Lots of distroes to try out. In and out, in and out constant shuffling of distroes. If you get into trouble LiveCD. Synaptic Package Manager. Wine. Printer drivers already in CUPS. Auto-detection of everything. Pre-loaded apps and then after that it was hell...

Found out you have to have a separate user folder or you're a sitting duck and indeed that time came when Linux failed to boot. Multiple errors possibly being due to multiple causes with endless reading of forum threads. No one to call on the phone for Linux help. (not actual tech support, acquaintances) Linux people in-fighting and even some people's elitism feeling like the anti-DonationCoder when you start to ask for help. Wine feeling more and more like a ticking time bomb than an end be all solution. Unstable abandoned open source apps suddenly becoming the only other alternative to Windows software emulation. CUPS sometimes eating memory. Flash eating memory. Newer and newer Windows apps becoming more and more like a constant productivity waste as you need to boot back to Windows only to try those apps...horrible horrible times.

Already I see the Linux Fear Patrol rearing it's head in the comments section of that article.

Their motto: Sure Linux was supposed to represent freedom of choice but we'd rather use our freedom of speech to keep you from making YOUR choices

Quote
Most users will not try to install to an external drive. I think that “installing Ubuntu was hell” is your fault. My mom (computer illiterate) is using Ubuntu with no prior instructions and doing fine.

Quote
You’re taking a Mac-user mentality and applying it to Linux, which is a recipe for failure before you even start.

If you’re going to approach this half-cocked and not do a proper install, you need to make a bootable USB drive with Linux on it (made mind-numbingly easy as of Ubuntu 8.10) and set your BIOS to boot from that. There is no reason to try and do an install of ANY operating system in the way you have just described. Installing to an external drive and expecting the boot loader contained on ANOTHER drive to boot to it without being overwritten is just daft.

This is why people think Linux is so “hard to use” - because unless there’s an iApplication to take care of everything, they don’t know what they’re doing. Please engage brain before fingers.

Quote
Install windows to an external drive without instructions or issues or STFU about Ubuntu sux. Also insted of using your roommates pc boot Ubuntu from cd on yours no roommate needed and a good way to diagnose and repair your only pc.

Quote
The problem is that there is no operating system that will do what you are asking. Of course you’ll run into problems if you try to do this REGARDLESS of the operating system you are trying to install. If you had run a normal installation it would have probably worked right. I understand that you are just trying to insert the CD and get the system running but it’s not a magical operating system either because what you are trying to do is not a normal scenario.

Quote
#

I’d like to see you try to install windows anything to that USB drive without destroying your bootloader. Or OSX. In fact, I’d like to see you try to install windows to your main drive without destroying your current bootloader. The ‘average’ user uses the operating system that came with their computer, so while you declare yourself to be an average user, you are /trying to change out your operating system, making you not an average user/.

You also specifically stated that your goal was to ignore documentation.

Say what?

There’s about a billion hits for ‘install ubuntu on usb drive’. It’s well documented. This reads very much like “Linux is hard, m’kay”.

FWIW, I do not currently run any linux machines.

Tsk. Tsk. I would quote further but someone already wrote a decent rebuttal:

Quote
“is you fault” - Post 1.

“which is a recipe for failure before you even start.” - Post 2.

“like Microsoft Office 2007 in Linux without any terminal hacking” - Post 3.

“to see if it actually works ?!?!?” - Post 4.

“I wouldn’t recommend most anybody to install Ubuntu” - Post 5.

“Another install option would be to use wubi” - Post 6.

You’ve *got* to be kidding me!!! Seems as if his approach and his goals were perfectly valid. Install Linux on an external hard drive and try it out for a week. This is the kind of fanboy flak he gets?

That’s rich.

Sure, it can do a million things. Sure, it’s highly configurable….he only wanted it to do 3 things. Install, work and not screw up his already working OS. You know….the one you all hate?

Turns out that after 2 tries, it didn’t do either one of the 3.

And it’s his fault?

You bash him?

That’s rich. Can you guys stop looking down on Windows users long enough to realize that most people want an OS that works, out of the box, and doesn’t mess up your already perfectly working setup without performing rocket surgery?

Is that a bit beyond your comprehension?

When Linux gets there, give me a call. Yes, I’ve installed it. Yes, this was a trip down memory lane, though. But, I’ve got a flash for the author. EVERY app you install is this way. And, the fanboys will blame you for not knowing what they know and doing it right to begin with.

Enjoy. I’ll check back in on your progress. Good Luck.

I stop reading the comments eventually. This whole "average users don't install an OS" crap makes me want to vomit. If this were true why would Ubuntu have become the pioneer of spreading Linux to the desktop?

Quote from: zridling
Also, I wish she had tried something/anything other than Ubuntu. It's nice, but for all Windows users, please don't think that Linux = Ubuntu. It doesn't. Mepis, PCLinuxOS, sidux, and openSUSE all would have saved her from her Day One meltdown.

See? The problem here is that it isn't the Windows users spreading this lies. It's mostly the Linux community.

Go to your regular Linux blog asking for recommendations on which Linux distro to use and a swarm of Ubuntu-nites will consume the thread in a hailstorm of words that the only other distro you will often hear have enough recommendation is OpenSuse. (which I hate more than Ubuntu for aesthetic reasons)

« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 06:56:59 AM by Paul Keith »

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2009, 07:39:11 AM »
I stop reading the comments eventually. This whole "average users don't install an OS" crap makes me want to vomit.

To vomit? Ye Gods, Paul! ;D

I've made it a point to never (ok, seldom actually) look at the comments section anywhere on the web. The ratio of information to verbiage is just too low to be worth investing the time to read it.

I also immediately bail out of any article or a post that contains kid-speak (i.e. WTF noob?. 733T, STFU!!!, LiNuXHaX0r, etc.) since I don't have the patience to deal with someone who's channeling their raging adolescent libido into their web presence. The bedroom is the place for that, not the web.

Unfortunately, if you're looking for (generally   ;);D) rational conversation, and a modicum of good manners, then I'm afraid you're stuck with DonationCoder. This is just about the only place that avoids most of the nonsense that goes on out there.

----------------

DoCo Forever! 8)

Paul Keith

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2009, 10:16:04 AM »
Haha, you hit the nail right on the head.  ;D

Unfortunately it's the bane that comes with ignorance, sometimes I need to tolerate these threads to become informed. Sometimes it's because of the links suggested by others and sometimes it's because they provide me with new search terms or extremist opinions to get a fuller picture of the issues.

Edvard

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2009, 11:46:14 AM »
I personally found this article funny but perhaps a tad disturbing. Maybe a little too tongue-in-cheek to be taken seriously I suppose, but the author's attitude reminds me (just a mite painfully) of the two times in my life where I found myself involved with a female who was smart, funny, attractive, and mad about me... for about three weeks.

We traded life secrets, took road trips together, ate at restaurants whose menus I couldn't pronounce, for a while it was like dangling your feet off the edge of the clouds across from the gates of heaven...
Then, like a portable USB drive, she unplugged me and bid me adieu with a kiss on the cheek and a flirty giggle saying "You were so much fun, I hope we get together again sometime..." and drove off in her Miata back to her ex while telling her friends what a nice boyfriend/husband I would make for them. 
:o
Ah, Linux. I know you better. I've grown to love you like a good cup of coffee, an acquired taste where the bitterness only adds flavor to the warmth and aroma. I've gone out of my way to give you the latest updates and the newest software packages because I want you to know I care. I was there for you when they found your SSL vulnerability and faithfully patched it before you were compromised. I held your hand when I removed NetworkManager because (I know it hurt, Darling, but only a little...) it was leaking memory and I know your IP address isn't changing anytime soon.
Windows? She's just that busybody at the office who wears too much make-up and perfume. Says she'll run anything if I want her to, the hussy. Her contract says her heart belongs to Redmond but I see her everywhere... tramp. And she's such a hypochondriac, she'll drop everything for a date with that quack Dr. Norton. Says she's being checked for 'viruses'. Yeah, sure. Right in the middle of getting me that report I needed. Whatever.
When I come home Linux, it's you I run to. It's your kernel I yearn for. Let me see you in that new desktop I compiled for you. CAT for me your most hidden .conf files. SUDO tell me your.. I mean... umm... 
 *ahem* :-[

Anyways. One week? Not long enough, I say. Show some commitment, man.

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2009, 12:10:17 PM »
We traded life secrets, took road trips together, ate at restaurants whose menus I couldn't pronounce, for a while it was like dangling your feet off the edge of the clouds across from the gates of heaven...
Then, like a portable USB drive, she unplugged me and bid me adieu with a kiss on the cheek and a flirty giggle saying "You were so much fun, I hope we get together again sometime..." and drove off in her Miata back to her ex while telling her friends what a nice boyfriend/husband I would make for them.

Ouch!

I've found the best way to deal with a situation like that is to adopt the philosophy of the 90-year old multi-millionaire who had an unfaithful, but stunningly beautiful and intelligent 25-year old mistress. When asked why he tolerated her 'infidelities', he replied:

"Because I've come to realize that 10% of a good thing is a far better alternative than 100% of nothing."

Well...at least she didn't charge you tuition...and she did provide you with good references for "grad school" with her friends...

(BTW: I assume you did wind up in the graduate heartbreak program since you mentioned this happened to you twice, correct?) ;)

Edvard

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2009, 12:40:39 PM »
Yes, it happened twice but somewhat different circumstances in each, for different amounts of time.
No, I never hooked up with any of her friends (in both cases).
Eventually, I moved to another city in another state and met my soulmate at art school.

I like to think it wasn't so much 'grad school' but kind of like those 'satellite classroom' programs from the Community College in the next county that you learn a lot at, but don't get any fancy paper to show for it, so you have to work your way up to the position you took the school for.

A happy ending nonetheless...

Darwin

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2009, 01:07:15 PM »
Edvard - the writer intends to continue using and exploring Linux and hopes to post about his experiences weekly. Seems like committment enough to me!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Edvard

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2009, 01:40:33 PM »
Yes, I read that part and I wish him all the best, really. But as Zaine found with Linux and f0dder found with Vista, total immersion is the best classroom.
I can understand having two computers if one is a Mac, but Linux on a third computer would be akin to having a third arm installed. Useful, but more likely to get in the way until you commit to learning to use it properly.

The parallel I described with the girlfriend analogy went about the same way as the article in one case at least.
The female in question was part of the circle of friends I was part of and so I saw her quite often. It was never awkward, and we still talked and did little things together, but it was never the same as that blissful time before, and there's always that question of 'what could have been' if only her attitude toward the relationship had been a little different.

Imagine a Ubuntu-installed portable hard drive at a friend's apartment after a little too much defragmenting...
"Dude, I tried to tell her, you know, open a few man pages, maybe just take a peek at the xorg.conf. Would she? Naw, she just goes crying to the forums taking stupid advice from strangers telling her she'd be better off with another distro. Would she apt-get? Maybe even a little modprobe now and then to set the drivers straight? No dude, she thinks I should read her mind and stuff like that guy from Redmond she'd been seeing since Junior High. One time she even said I was difficult. Imagine that. Me. Difficult. You know who's difficult? You got that right Bro, not numero uno. No way."

C'est la vie, non? ;D

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2009, 03:13:52 PM »

Imagine a Ubuntu-installed portable hard drive at a friend's apartment after a little too much defragmenting...
"Dude, I tried to tell her, you know, open a few man pages, maybe just take a peek at the xorg.conf. Would she? Naw, she just goes crying to the forums taking stupid advice from strangers telling her she'd be better off with another distro. Would she apt-get? Maybe even a little modprobe now and then to set the drivers straight? No dude, she thinks I should read her mind and stuff like that guy from Redmond she'd been seeing since Junior High. One time she even said I was difficult. Imagine that. Me. Difficult. You know who's difficult? You got that right Bro, not numero uno. No way."

C'est la vie, non? ;D

LMAO. Obviously you've spent some time thinking about this haven't you? ;D


cranioscopical

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2009, 05:55:59 PM »
you have to work your way up to the position you took the school for.

A happy ending nonetheless...

Please!  This is a family site  :)

zridling

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2009, 01:08:59 AM »
Quote
[urlwolf]: I still think trying linux for a week is bound to fail. You need long-term commitment for that to work out well. In a week you will not learn enough to see the advantages, and you sure as hell will see the downside.

I think that within a mere week, you're still sorting through the differences. It took me a good month to really begin to change habits from Windows to Linux. And the most difficult habit to break? I kept wanting to reboot after installations and updates. I couldn't believe that Linux didn't need that.

@Paul:
It's still Linux, whether it's within the Ubuntu family or every other distro. I don't consider Ubuntu "the pioneer of spreading Linux to the desktop," but that's just me. Canonical has done a fine job of marketing "Ubuntu," and to a lesser extent, Linux. I just don't recommend it as a diving board for jumping into Linux. There are friendlier distros out there that give you the same OS under the hood, and a smoother ride than Ashley experienced in these posts.

Paul Keith

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2009, 01:22:29 AM »
@Paul:
It's still Linux, whether it's within the Ubuntu family or every other distro. I don't consider Ubuntu "the pioneer of spreading Linux to the desktop," but that's just me. Canonical has done a fine job of marketing "Ubuntu," and to a lesser extent, Linux. I just don't recommend it as a diving board for jumping into Linux. There are friendlier distros out there that give you the same OS under the hood, and a smoother ride than Ashley experienced in these posts.

Yeah that's what I meant. Before Ubuntu, marketing on Linux was based around pushing Linux. After Ubuntu, marketing on Linux finally! was about casual user familiarity and lower barrier of entry.

The problem with saying that there are friendlier distros out there is that for anyone not knowing any better, they hear the majority of Linux community cry Ubuntu. You could even recommend Linux Mint and explain to them that it's a much user friendlier version of Ubuntu and most newbies will still go for Ubuntu because that's what most in the Linux community claim as the smoothest ride.

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2009, 07:57:26 AM »

The problem with saying that there are friendlier distros out there is that for anyone not knowing any better, they hear the majority of Linux community cry Ubuntu. You could even recommend Linux Mint and explain to them that it's a much user friendlier version of Ubuntu and most newbies will still go for Ubuntu because that's what most in the Linux community claim as the smoothest ride.

Much like why so many people go for a certain other operating system? ;D





Paul Keith

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2009, 10:55:37 AM »
Hey, don't look at me. I'm not a Mac fan either.  :P

40hz

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Re: Switching to Linux for a week
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2009, 01:38:56 PM »
Hey, don't look at me. I'm not a Mac fan either.  :P

Actually, I wasn't thinking about OSX just then. I was thinking about the other other OS. ;D

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BTW: I'm currently switched over to Windows 7 for a week. Please don't tell TUX!
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 01:44:31 PM by 40hz »