As part of my “Fresh Start” I thought about the way I use my Acer Aspire One netbook and realized that I didn’t have many Windows-specific programs that were critical. I don’t use it for photo editing, so I don’t need Photoshop and all my plugins. For word processing I normally use Open Office Writer and I’m committed to Firefox for browsing, and there’s nothing Windows-specific about them. I don’t use iTunes on the Acer either. I use it almost exclusively for writing and web access.
So, last night I downloaded the latest Ubuntu Linux 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) Netbook Remix image and tried burning it to a DVD so I could install Linux from my portable DVD reader. After trashing two discs it occurred to me to RTFM1, at which point I learned that the IMG file was for “burning” to a memory stick (USB flash drive, thumb drive). I’d never installed “Linux onna stick”2 before and it was almost spooky to watch the fast, silent install with no optical disc drive whirring.
I’ve installed Ubuntu Linux before so there were no surprises. I opted to blow away Windows XP entirely and reformat the entire 160GB hard disk with the Linux EXT3 file system.
The surprise came after I installed the OS and saw the new netbook-specific interface. Wow! Very iPod Touch-like. I elected to stick with it, despite a usual preference for the spare conventional Gnome interface. It caught my fancy.
This morning I downloaded LyX and the accompanying LaTeX packages. I love the easy LyX interface to the complex LaTeX typesetting markup language. It produces beautifully typeset output.
Connecting to my home Laserjet printer via Samba was simple, and all I needed to do to configure my wireless LAN connection was enter the correct passphrase.
One of my secret pleasures is installing operating systems — even Windows in a pinch. Every time I install a recent Linux distribution I marvel at how far Linux has come as a desktop alternative to Windows and MacOS. And free, natch. It feels like a homecoming.
1 Read the F*ing Manual (or Instructions)
2 Thank you to Terry Pratchett for the “onna stick” phrase.