Linked by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on Sat 11th Apr 2009 20:55 UTC
Linux Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at Computer World asks himself when he first started using Linux after attending the Linux Foundation Summit where several others were asked the same question. The Linux Foundation has posted a video of some of the answers; boy, do I feel young.
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My First Linux
by fukudasan on Sun 12th Apr 2009 00:35 UTC
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The first time I tried Linux . . . let's see . . . I had been reading about Linux for quite some time when I was working for the UK Ministry of Defence back in 1999, and I had built a little two-machine network that ran Win98SE using Netware. I built it all myself and was very happy with it.

One day I went to the local Staples to get my usual ink cartridges etc. and thought I'd look at the software. There was this box with a penguin on it, called "Mandrake" . . . I couldn't resist temptation, so I bought it (version 7.0, 7.1 had just come out and they were offering it at a reduction).

I took it home and installed it, but ohh dear, I could never get it to work properly and eventually trashed the (2Gb) hard drive. I used it with KDE and I liked what I saw; but I could never get it to work with my dial-up connection, and eventually gave up. Destroying the hard drive didn't really help . . .

Fast forward to 2004 . . . after a not-very-good period teaching English to kids in Taiwan (I loved Taiwan and my kids, but the visa situation sucked), I had moved to a new job doing likewise in Korea, and after my first year, the Boss asked me to stay. So my first move was to build a PC, install XP Pro and get online. I had always wanted to get Linux working and I used to use file-sharing software quite a lot back in Blighty, so I thought: "Hmm, I wonder . . .?" - that was how I came to download the community distro of Mandrake 10.0, partitioned the hard drive using Disk Director (an excellent piece of software, I even paid for it!) and installed Mandrake after cutting it to disk.

I liked what I saw, had more than a few crashes, but slowly became more adept at using it. Now I am happy never touching XP at all, I can do everything in Mandriva (2008.1) and everything looks and feels exactly as I want it.

The only thing that saddens me about Mandriva, after going through 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 2005LE, 2006.0 etc. is the problem of KDE 4.x. As I wrote some time ago at the Mandriva forums, KDE 3.x took at least until 3.4 before it was really usable, and nowadays I have come to consider it somewhat irresponsible to release a DE so early. I would prefer KDE to continue developing 3.5.x to 3.6 or 3.7 or something while 4.x is developing.

But if you ask me why I would want to shift to a distro like Mandrake/Mandriva after using almost every iteration of Windoze since 3.0 (!), I would say:

* Unreliable and prone to crashes - although in the old days it seemed less hassle to reinstall. XP is more stable but still crashes sometimes;

* Wide open - Win98SE was great but it had no native firewall. My eyes were opened when I got out of bed one morning and found a message saying: "Your computer has been hacked, but don't worry . . . please install a firewall." I wonder how many here using Windoze have been less fortunate?

This is especially true here in SK because the place is awash with all kinds of stuff sloshing around, waiting to infect your machine. What better reason to switch to a safe (and untargeted) OS?

* Unnecessarily expensive - scanners like Spyware Doctor, XoftSpy, Trend Micro and others do not seem to cover all bases individually and each costs money. XP Pro was first installed on my system here in 2004 and it's now 2009, and despite numerous patches and SP3, crap still finds its way onto my HD. I paid KRW238,000 for XP back in 2004 and this has been paid again several times over in the cost of AV, anti-malware etc., when all I had to do is change the OS. Yes, I did pay for Mandriva, that's true; I also paid recently for a new copy of SoftMaker's Office suite (which is great, by the way), but all of the other costs are zero.

* Not available in my own language (English) - Mandriva's interface language is easily changed. I could not be 100% sure that XP was secure because I could not understand all the GUI messages. Mandriva fixed that!

Earlier versions of Windoze had no problem with this - you could install any of the language packs that were supported. XP ended that, and I think that's a crime.

* Appearance not customisable enough. And ugly. XP has almost no acceptable choice of GUI colour schemes built in and the interface looks like it was designed for a child of five. If Microsoft want to know how it should have looked they should see the "Plastik" theme that I am using under KDE. I always change to "Classic" look under XP but even there, the choice of colours is dismal.

If there is anything to learn from my Windoze experience - and remember, running Mandriva in the middle of South Korea is like living in a desert - it is that people around me who use computers use just the one OS (guess which one?), complain about the problems but are tied to it because of the apps they use. Even when an alternative comes along (which they can see me using), they can't escape from the monoculture into which they have been thrust. One previous co-worker here couldn't understand that it was not necessary for an OS to have a registry, for example. He had only ever used Windoze . . .

Monocultures are unhealthy; diseases spread quickly. For that reason alone, Windoze is best avoided. Now I have tried Mandrake/Mandriva and I am in a new job, and thinking about buying an Apple (Yes! They have Apple shops here in SK!). It will be more expensive than an equivalent Windoze machine but let's face it, (a) it is pointless to talk about the cost of purchase - people need to think more about use-value and the consequent return on their investment, and (b) who on Earth would want to buy Vista?

Turkeys should only be for Christmas - not for life! ^_^

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