Life without Windows or OS X

GNU/Linux is quite possibly the most important free software achievement since the original Space War, or, more recently, Emacs. It has developed into an operating system for business, education, and personal productivity. GNU/Linux is no longer only for UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of a glowing console. Are you thinking about switching to Linux and want to learn how to use it? Have you been using GNU/Linux for some time and want to learn even more? This is the place for you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

200th post

I did it. I made it to my 200th post. Yes it did take a long time but I made it. A lot has changed in that time. Back in 2005 the Linux kernel I was using was 2.6.10. In the last 3 years, Microsoft has encountered more competition from Linux on the desktop than probably all of the other years combined. While its presence is felt to most of the world's data centers and large corporate networks it is also beginning to show up on desktop computers in major corporations, and large banks. Close to half of Google’s 20,000 employees use a slightly modified version of Ubuntu. Dell started to sell PCs and desktops with the software in 2007, and I.B.M. more recently began making Ubuntu the basis of a software package that competes against Windows.

This is not at hate blog. I don't hate open or closed source. I don't hate WinXP nor OSX. I just tend to live in a world without Vista & Leopard. Gnu & Linux are big time grass root movements. My idea was to put the thought into the minds of people ever were that, Gnu/Linux shouldn’t necessarily try to be the other the OSes and people new to it should come to it with open minds. You come to this grassroots os because you believe it to be better, but is disappointed. It is impossible for any thing to be better than something if its completely identical to it. A perfect copy can be equal, but can never surpass the first. So when you gave Gnu/Linux a try in hopes that it would be better, you were inevitably hoping that it would be different. In deed it has a way to go in terms of education, mind share and credibility because of the lack of pop apps. In 2009 there is such wealth and depth of applications that as a power user I seldom miss anything. It is all so still true that occasionally you may encounter a certain Windows application for which no Linux equivalent exists, and that you simply can't live without. In those cases a software program called Cross over Linux available through codeweaver did sometimes help. It's a layer that lets you run native Windows software in Gnu. It doesn't work for many applications, but the list of supported programs is growing all the time.

Back in 2003 I found that I did like a lot of what I saw in the Gnu/Linux ego system. I preferred it over xp in many ways because I did not need to worry about the quality of my GPU or how much RAM my computer had. It just worked with what I had, which was not much at the time. Linux Mint is what we should want for any operating system: less attention on the operating system and more attention on higher-level features. While it shares a lot with Ubuntu, it has its own unique ways, which gets my nomination for one the easiest desktop Gnu/Linux distro candidate. Once installed the system works fine with as low as 256MB RAM. Also a Gnu/Linux download & upgrade gave me the newest drivers available for my machine, whereas in Windows I would have to surf to multiple sites and download all the upgrades individually. It's a very different process, and I found that to be very, well user friendly.

What brought me to Gnu/Linux was Linspire Inc Lindows 3.0. Linspire Inc. was founded in 2001 by creator Michael Robertson. The company and its desktop Linux OS were originally dubbed “Lindows,” leading to a legal challenge by Microsoft over the latter’s “Windows” trademark. The squabble was eventually settled out of court; Microsoft reportedly paid $20 million to Lindows, and Lindows changed its company and OS name to Linspire. Then Linspire Five-O hit the street and it emerged as my favorite distro because of its Click-N-Run (CNR) software platform. Linspire 5-0 could handle many office and media file types including QuickTime, Windows Media, Flash, Java, Real, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .mp3, .pdf, .mpg, out of the box. Linspire called their product the world’s easiest desktop Linux. And it was. As for my experience, it took me a grand total of 15 minutes to boot my Pentium 4 , put in the Linspire CD, reboot, install 5-0, reboot again, adjust the time, date and sound level, and then start the desktop. At the time I could not wait for Linspire 6.0 to hit. It's after installation of the new Linspire 6 I was like, what happened to the world’s easiest desktop Linux? Linspire's previous major release, Linspire 5.0, was a show-stopper of a distro The new Linspire 6.0 could not even mount the FAT32 and NTFS Windows partitions on my computer.

Sad to say the Linspire is no more. On July 2, 2008, Xandros, Inc. took them over. The web site says

“Xandros and Linspire are the only Linux vendors with digital distribution warehouses that let users download and install both free and commercial applications with a single mouse click. Together, the companies will offer the best digital software distribution warehouse for a variety of Linux platforms, including Freespire, which will continue to be maintained as an open source project.

Linspire helped bring much needed commercial attention to Linux when companies were looking for an alternative to Windows 98 or even Windows 2000. It will be missed.

Gnu/Linux has grown up a lot in the past five years. There are distros that almost anybody can install, even distros that live on CDs and detect all your hardware for you without any intervention. There are many misconceptions surrounding Linux with “command line”. In GNU I rarely go to the command line any more, because the gui’s are everywhere and varied enough to do just about anything one would want to do to solve just about any problem you might have. I have sat with people that have never used any computer and found GNOME or KDE to be equally qualified desktops for doing simple things like web browsing, text-editing, and so on,without issue.

Its been a long 3 years of coming up with things to write about. I intend on keeping this site more up to date than I have in the past.


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