When it comes to computing, I’ve become lazy. I call myself lazy because, like many of you, I do many things unrelated to computing, I have a family, and I am not interested in having to wrestle my OS or programs to the ground every time I want to do something with my computer. Of course if I were totally lazy, I’d simply use Windows or OS X and be done with it.
The reason I keep returning to Linux is that I sympathize with the goals and philosophy of open-source software. I’m also impressed by the talented programmers and writers the world over who have given so much of their time and talent to creating and documenting open-source projects.
Furthermore, I’ve always liked Unix. My first computer experience was with a dialup shared account on the University of Toronto’s Zoology Dept DEC PDP-11. Sitting at a 110 BAUD dumb terminal, I learned ed, nroff, and a handful of command-line utilities to manage files and directories. It was a heady experience I’ve never forgotten.
I’m an ex-IT professional, now retired. During my 20+ years working in IT I worked in all kinds of environments including CP/M, TRS-80, AppleDOS, early Mac OS, MS-DOS, Windows, OS/2, VAX VMS, AOS/VS, a tiny bit of MVS, and a number of Unix or Unix-like systems, including Solaris, SCO Unix, AT&T Unix, BSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, plus too many flavours of Linux to remember. My early favourites in Linux were Slackware, Red Hat, and Debian. I now use Ubuntu Linux.
I mention this mainly as background to remind myself that over the years I’ve done a lot of technical work and support, including programming, system administration, database design, user support, Internet infrastructure building, and even a bit of computerized typesetting. I don’t want to do these things any more. Instead I prefer to read fiction, take photographs with the cameras in my collection, enjoy my family, cook, go for walks, and do some writing. I don’t have time to hack at systems to make things work. I’ve become that dreaded thing: a User.
So this time around I freed up some space on my Windows XP workstation so I could install Ubuntu Linux and dual book my system. I tried Ubuntu once before and liked the ease of use it was acquiring. I hit it really lucky by installing right after the Gutsy Gibbon release (Ubuntu Linux 7.10). From what I’ve seen so far, this is a fine release for the lazy. Most things work correctly after installation without a lot of tweaking and reading. Exactly what I was looking for.
My Linux server in the basement, which I use mainly as an Internet server test bed for when I’m not feeling totally lazy, is a Debian system and I’m a fan of Debian-style packages. To me, Ubuntu is a slicked-up version of Debian for the masses.
Despite enjoying Linux, I’m not a zealot. In fact I’m pretty agnostic about operating systems and when I need Windows, I’ll be there. I use Windows extensively for digital photography and although I can accomplish some of what I do with photography in Linux, there’s nothing there that matches Photoshop CS2, Downloader Pro, or Irfanview.
Nonetheless, I’ll use The GIMP fairly regularly for casual work. It’s come a long way and I rather like it.
So, once again I step into the Linux world.