Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Computer Geeking Out....

OK, my computer geek gene hasn't been as active as it should have been the last year or two. It finally kicked in again.

My laptop died back in April and I had to get a new one. I was planning to get one with XP instead of Vista because of all the bad things I've heard, but some of my online computer geek friends convinced me to give it a try.

I got the new laptop with Vista. I used it for about a month and it annoyed me more and more every day. The whole security thing is ridiculous. I turned some off that I could find, but it still kept asking me permission when trying to do normal things. It was frustrating that I could go into my "My Documents" from the start menu, but if I tried to navigate to it from the file explorer, it would tel me I didn't have permission to be in that folder. WTF??? I'm the damned administrator of this machine, what do you mean I don't have permission to this folder?

Between those issues and the blue screen crashes I kept getting (at least a few a week) from simple tasks (like twice while copying files from external USB hard drive), I decided to reinstall XP from my old disc.

Things got complicated.....it took me a while to figure out initially, but it wouldn't read the hard drive on startup with the Windows disc. I found out that it was because the disc was a SATA disc and wasn't being recognized. I had to turn on IDE emulation in the BIOS for Windows to even see the hard drive.

Then I installed XP and pretty much nothing worked. Nearly all hardware was not detected. I realized quickly that I needed drivers, but I didn't have a working nic to get the drivers. I had to make a few runs to work and use my work computer to download various drivers until I got the computer (and nic) working.

After that, I was feeling quite fed up with Microsoft and Windows. It inspired my interest in Linux once again.

Let me give you my Linux history.

~1993 or 1994 =>
I bought a book at Barnes & Nobles about Linux with an installation CD in it. It was one of the early Linux version/distributions. I don't even remember which one.

I was planning to install it as a dual boot back then, but some BIG BOLD text in the book warned me of possible dire consequences if I had a "Diamond" video card.

Well this was a new computer which I got the most kick ass "Diamond" (who was "the" name back then) video card available. It was like $400 for that video card alone.

Suffice it to say, it scared me from installing it.

~2006 =>
Installed Ubuntu on a 2nd computer I got dirt cheap but had no "real" use for. I didn't have network cable plugged in when I installed and it didn't therefore install/configure network. The network wasn't working and I wasn't in the mood to try to figure it out.

I ended up selling the computer in 2007 because I was moving across country and didn't feel like lugging it with me.

Now =>
About a month ago, I downloaded and installed the latest version of Ubuntu Linux (8.04), making sure to have everything plugged in and turned on when I did so it would detect/install/configure them.

It was a good experience. Everything was working flawlessly after the boot and the dual boot was configured perfectly from GRUB (the boot manager).

I bought and read "Ubuntu Linux Bible" to help me get started. I don't recommend the book as it was not well written IMO. The book spent entire chapters on applications that were obvious how to use (like Firefox, Nautalis file explorer), and would brush over complex topics in a few paragraphs. Anyway...it was enough to muddle through to get the important concepts down and give me a good foundation.

I've been enjoying toying with the OS and learning how it works. I've found that MS Windows knowledge doesn't necessarily carry over. However, I did use Unix and Solaris back in college, so I was completely clueless on it to start with.

Now I'm going through a book I got from the library called "Linux Desktop Hacks". This is a great book. Lots of nice little tips and tricks. Many of them use bash scripts, so its been helping me to learn some bash scripting as well. :)

At this point in time, I'm finding that I can do pretty much everything in Linux (without paying one penny) that I could do in Windows (with much purchased software). I may even dump Windows altogether at some point. We'll see.

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