Being a lifelong geek, I’m usually an early adopter of various technologies, and Linux has been no exception for me. I started using Linux sometime in 1997 after hearing about it on IRC. I first installed RedHat on a 486 without XFree86 to play with it and force myself to learn *nix by command line and vi. After using Linux for a year or two I got pretty decent with it and ended-up ditching it for FreeBSD because of “dependency hell”. Anyone who’s maintained a Linux system is probably familiar with what I’m talking about, which mostly has to do with the way glibc is implemented. On a side note, if you’re a Linux user, here are some differences between FreeBSD and Linux and which might persuade you to give FreeBSD a try. To this day I still use FreeBSD for my server(s) and I don’t really see a reason for me to switch anytime soon other than I think Java is better supported on Linux. I continued playing around with Linux from time to time just to try and keep up with it’s changes, and even got certified in Linux Configuration and Installation in 2001. I’ve also admined and setup numerous Linux and FreeBSD boxes for core services like DNS, HTTP, SMTP, etc, including helping out with the mailservers at NetIdentity a few times (now owned by Tucows).
Off and on over the years I’ve tried to switch to Linux as a workstation but found it very buggy or lacking in functionality and couldn’t ever bring myself to switching. Some of the versions/distributions I tried include RedHat 5 & 6, Mandrake, Corel, SuSe, Debian, Slackware, and now Ubuntu.
I gave the Ubuntu Live CD a spin on my laptop a couple of months ago and was pretty impressed. Ubuntu has been getting plenty of coverage lately, and after seeing a demonstration of XGL on YouTube, it was the straw that broke the camels’ back; I decided it was time to give Ubuntu a try on my workstation. I decided to leave it as dual-boot into XP Professional in case something didn’t work-out or I wanted to play Half-Life 2, so I used these instructions. I did the installation this past weekend while working on homework, and it really didn’t take long at all nor much custom bit twiddling to get “normal” things to work.
Everytime I install Linux I’m very impressed how far the installation process has came. This time not only did it pick-up every piece of my hardware correctly, it even installed GRUB correctly to dual-boot with Ubuntu and Windows XP without messing-up anything. If you ever tried doing this back in the day manually with LILO, you’ll have an idea how much easier it is to do dual-booting now.
Since getting Ubuntu installed, I haven’t had a reason to boot back into Windows other than to make sure it was still working okay. Ubuntu really is a solid package. Given the terrible reviews of Windows Vista as well as all of the DRM built into it, I think I’m pretty much sold on not purchasing a Microsoft OS again.
I’ll try to post some more information about the Linux software I find useful in the days and weeks to come, and I’m sure at some point I’ll find many things to be critical about with Ubuntu as well.