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Journal spellraiser's Journal: Linux 2

I came to Linux relatively late. It is now only around 3 years ago that I decided to give it a try. There are a number of reasons why I didn't do it earlier. I was living with my parents and thus shared a machine with the rest of the family; I was into gaming and thus 'needed' Windows, etc. Well, better late than never I guess.

At this point in my life I had amassed a little bit of money to play with, so I bought a laptop specifically to install Linux on - and this was no easy task. Well, getting a laptop was easy; it was not getting Windows that was damned hard. Supplier after supplier that I talked to absolutely rejected the possibility of selling a 'clean' machine. To me, this is something that should be a simple matter. Why would the customer be denied the right of just buying a complete system without an OS pre-installed? This is one of the annoying little things that show the absolute iron grip that Microsoft has on the entire market. Not just software, but hardware too.

Anyway, this is something that has been discussed to death on Slashdot and is no news to anyone. I finally managed to find a friendly little store that not only sold 'clean' computers, but also allowed you to choose Linux preinstalled too. I decided to get a clean one, as I wanted to try the full experience of installing Linux from scratch. The distro I went for was Ubuntu, as a former co-worker who was heavily into Linux recommended it. The installation went rather smoothly, but there were some issues. The laptop used an Intel Centrino chipset, and getting things to work was a bit of, well, work. Drivers for the wireless card had to be obtained and installed, and I had to get and installed something called 915resolution to patch the BIOS so I could use 1280x800 resolution. It worked out in the end, but it took some time, and I heavily doubt that a person with average computer skills could have done it without assistance.

I liked Ubuntu and used it for a few months. It fulfilled all my needs - web browsing, hobbyist programming, word processing, etc. All that was lacking were high-end games, but luckily I was losing interest in gaming at this point, and when I moved into my own apartment I took only my Linux laptop and was happy with it. Then disaster struck, as tends to happen. The hard drive failed, and I had no backup. No great harm done - I had no really critical data on it. This time around, I had gained some knowledge and inside into the world of Linux, and decided to give Fedora Core a go. Since that distro offered the choice of Gnome or KDE, I chose KDE for comparison. I must say that I was soon absolutely blown away by how much better I liked KDE. This could be just a personal preference, but I consider KDE to be much better than Gnome. However, I'm no fanatic - and it's also good that there's a choice, and that the design of Linux allows you to use whatever windowing system you prefer.

After having used FC for quite a while, I began to run into troubles. I don't know if it was because I had been running it so long, and upgraded twice via yum, but there were ... instabilities. The worst thing was that I could never get any BitTorrent client working properly. Azureus would just stop transferring after a while and had to be restarted. KTorrent would mysteriously leech all bandwidth to itself - not even ping would work when KTorrent was running, but only sometimes. Quite annoying stuff. These quibbles, along with the emergence of Kubuntu, started to tempt me into switching again. The downside was that I (still) didn't have any backup facilities. I decided to change that. I bought an old Dell workstation cheaply, installed CentOS on it (without any problems whatsoever), connected it to my router, and voila, I had a local server. With this, I could backup my data and install Kubuntu. This time around things were at their smoothest yet; everything ran perfectly out of the box, except I still had to use 915resolution. Luckily, I didn't even have to hunt it down this time - it was right there in the package system.

Now I'm a happy pseudo-veteran of Linux using Kubuntu on my personal laptop and CentOS on a server (that still has a lot of unused potential, I guess).

I've come a long way.

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  • I like ubuntu alot (not a big fan of kde, but some people are :-) ) Though technically I don't really care what desktop I use, since 90% of what i do is inside of a terminal anyway.

    BTW, you might take a look at the rsync command for backups between machines (i.e. rsync -lvaz -e ssh -W directory user@otherhost:/backups/go/here ) You can specify for the backups to delete files on the remote host too with --delete option too, so you end up with an exact copy there. I have a removeable tray on my "backup host"

    • Wow - thanks for the rsync tip. That's what I love about Linux - there's always more to learns. Well, I love a lot of other things about it, I guess, but the never-ending learning curve is certainly one of them. It's certainly a lot more hacker-friendly than Windows. On the other hand, Windows is a whole lot more cracker-friendly, so I guess that evens things out a little (hehehe).

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.