My Best Friend is a Computer Programmer

*

And that has changed my life (and wallet). You see, he introduced me to something revolutionary and I’m surprised everyone isn’t using this. Well, I’m not surprised – people in the “first world” love to spend money. He tipped me about Linux. It’s this “open source” operating system. Open source means it is free to use, edit, and share. Being a windows native, I figured that this Linux thing was for the poorest pf the poor. I was sure it was full of viruses and would run on only the oldest computers. WRONG. Linux has many distributions (distros) of its operating system, and depending on the persons computer literacy, one will be preferred over the other. I use Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. Ubuntu is known as “Linux for human beings.” That is comforting because I, unlike my pal, will NEVER be a programmer, able to get into the codes and detailed functions of computers.

He told me about Linux a year ago, and I spent the past two months seriously looking into it. That is when I decided to make the leap. I must admit, in the beginning it was hard. I spent two miserable days trying to figure out how to run it on my new laptop. Unfortunately, my Acer laptop refused to boot from the free live CD. Instead I had to download it technically on Windows through a program called WUBI. Wubi allowed me to download Ubuntu the “light way” I call it, because it is not stored on one of the hard drive partitions. It’s just there without affecting the hardware. Believe it or not that is  a disappointment. I was ready to jump ship and erase Windows 7 from my new laptop entirely and move on with my new more financially stable lifestyle. Oh well, what I do now is okay. I “dual boot,” so I have the option of logging into either the Windows or Linux operating system.

Another hump I had to get over was support. I experienced “restricted drivers” when it came to my wireless router and the AMD processor. Linux has a hard time getting hardware and software support because companies are not keen on open source communities. That means that as a Linux user, I will spend time getting a little frustrated actually learning about computers. Linux has something called the “terminal,” similar to the “command prompt” on Windows. This helps you run things or find information more directly. Problem? I don’t know the codes (“commands”). On Windows, the only time I used the command prompt was when I was calling technical support and some man was directing me from thousands of miles away. Well to figure out any problems I had to register for the Ubuntu community. Then I searched Youtube and Ubuntu forums to get help. I found “Intro to Linux Terminal” on Youtube. That helped ease my fears of the terminal. On forums I tried typing in the commands that were suggested to others with my problem. No luck. I pouted, figuring I’d be stuck with Windows forever, when I got a notification this morning saying that I had those restricted drivers. All I had to do was enable them. The only downside is that if something bad happens, the Ubuntu community will not know how to help me, because the source codes for those drivers have not been released. But I got Ubuntu running! I also had a problem installing flash player. Although there are versions for Linux to download from the website, they were not supported on my AMD64 bit processor. So I had to scour around for more help until I came across a website in which the guy created a command to use in the terminal. Bingo!

So I grow more confident with Ubuntu each step pf the way. There are immediate differences. It moves faster – the cursor, the pages, minimizing, maximizing. There is an abundance of software available for free – education software – awesome! The minimalist look of is calming. And it comes with a free office suite! This is something else my friend told me about – Open Office! It’s by oracle, and it is also open source. It does the same things Microsoft office does – without the triple digit costs! Ubuntu, although it is no picnic, is the best thing ever for a cheapie like me, and it is a learning opportunity, another plus for a nerd like me! The only downside is that I need to say goodbye to Zune Player and iTunes, but I’ll find something open source and comfortable to use. So in my opinion, the trade-offs are WORTH IT.

Thanks K.Rich, I’m SOLD (well not really, it’s FREE!). 😀

*see detailed comment below for clarifications.

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Posted on August 3, 2010, in Grassroots & Open Source, worldschool and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Oh, I completely forgot about it being free, thanks for the refresher, hopefully by the end of the year I will have the knowledge to put it on my computer, will definately be doing some extra research in my spare time (pffft!)

    Thanks again 🙂

  2. It is great to hear good feadback about Ubuntu from new users, It promotes the product and helps others find out about it. You should sign up for an account at ubuntuforums.org so you can get support for problems you encounter. The downside (I don’t find it that way actually) is that the support is entirely community based ( I prefer this to Company technical support) I have been poking around you blog and I like your articles they are well formed and interesting. Keep up the good work. I would like to set you straight on a couple of points though.

    Ubuntu is free but that is not all it is defined as Open-Source ( you mentioned this) but you fail to explain that Open-Source means you can download, redistribute, modify and distribute Ubuntu. This is different than free (free in layman’s terms can define proprietary licensed projects, while the correct term for these are non-free or proprietary) Just so you understand the gigantic statement Ubuntu and other popular open-source projects are making. (note modifyed projects must give credit to the original authors of the project, you can’t just download the source code and compile it with a different name and try to sell it)

    It is not actually that the companies are not keen on producing open source drivers it is that Ubuntu cannot bundle those so called “restricted drivers” preinstalled because the Open-source license in place. They do not bundle what we know better as proprietary software components because they must uphold there open-source status. If they didn’t they would run into licensing costs related to doing so, in many cases where the companies will let the end use download it for free.

    As for the way you installed ubuntu through the wubi installer you didn’t really install it. You have installed the components into windows where the can be side loaded before Windows boots entirely. (actually an idea that I have talked about on my blog before) I real dual boot requires you to partition your computer to make room for Ubuntu. This is actually fairly easy as long as you take the proper precautions, (so you don’t break windows)

    Open Office isn’t actually from oracle but I could see why you would think that. OpenOffice is an open-source project funded by SUN and now Oracle (after they acquired SUN) So it is only fair you don’t give Oracle credit for something they haven’t done anything for but donate money. Not that it isn’t admirable it just isn’t exactly accurate.

    After all my critics I would like to add that your post is still interesting and mostly accurate keep up the good work.

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