Windows XP is now back where it was. The Ubuntu Live and Install CD’s will be passed to people I know will try them out, and the Wireless card is winging it’s way back to Ohio. I did anticipate a learning curve and I was prepared for setbacks. I know it’s only been a couple of days and that someone would say that had I stuck at it things might have improved, but in the same way you can taste something and know you’ll never like it, such is how I feel about Ubuntu Linux.
If you have read the few posts I made, you might have guessed this. Subtle I was not. I apologise if what I said offended you but I do not apologise for saying what I thought in the manner I did. It’s how I write.
I know that there could be responses about the flavour of Linux, how I’m still in the evil grip of the Microsoft empire, how I should have taken longer, how I should do x y and z but I’m happy where I am now – with a machine that I am not fighting and bouncing my head off the walls trying to understand. Below are some observations of mine, some based on what I’d heard as a Windows user. They are not gospel, they are not an absolute truth – they are just what I think and will serve as a reminder to myself should I again decide to choose to play with Linux.
Why did I do this ?
For something to do. To discover some more about the much-vaunted Linux. Because I’d not had a way to use Linux on my wireless machine before. Probably other small reasons too.
Linux is more secure
A tool is only as good as the person wielding it. So where security is concerned, no matter what your OS if you choose a stupidly simple password then your security has gone. I also subscribe to the belief that I don’t have to make my site and communications rocket-proof – I just have to make them more secure than others. And I also believe that while encrypting some communication might be useful, the Govt and other ‘powers that be’ are perfectly able to detail my life should they choose. So in the matter of security, it’s down to me. If you want to try and access anything on this or any other of my sites, go ahead. While I’m sure I am crackable the fact that my passwords are very long random strings protects me more than your average site. And I’m also fully backed up so any attacks really would be a minor inconvenience. And I found ‘su’ irritating. Yes I can see why it’s there on a shared system – but a home network ? The 4 of us all have admin status and ‘su’ just became a PITA.
Is your partner dog-ugly but cooks really well, does the chores great and is fantastic between the sheets ? Or have you compromised on the deeds by going for something easier on the eye ? Did you figure that although the experience may be the same some factors make things more pleasurable ? Get my drift ?
A criticism I often see thrown at Windows concerns the registry and the concealing of information elsewhere. I installed gFTP. I bookmarked two of my domains. It then crashed a couple of times (things crash in Linux ? Yes, they do) so I used the Package Manager and opted for complete removal. The next day I tried again after being reassured that gFTP was one of the good GUI programs – and it retrieved that bookmarked information. The fact it did so is of little concern – but the behaviour I saw was one that Windows gets criticised for. There may be no registry, but gFTP information was still in my system even after I had told the system to completely remove it. The same was true of other apps. And in the same way that where things are stored is out there to be found, so is the Microsoft stuff. It’s all as bad as each other.
It amused me when, on starting the machine, it said “Click here for Updates” (isn’t that a Window’s exclusive ? you’d think so from what I’ve read over time). So I clicked and let it do what it wanted. This was pretty much the same as I do in XP, though I do read and check that no DRM nonsense is trying to get in and suchlike. But I understand neither. The fact that Linux is OSS and I can choose to view the change log, see what’s what and decide which bytes can be changed just is not going to happen – in the same way it won’t matter if I could choose with Windows code. It’s like telling me that WordPress is OSS and that if I don’t like version 2.0 I can fork it. I don’t know enough – and my guess is that the vast majority of users of both systems do not either. We just want it to work. Painlessly.
Was easy enough – and once I’d been told to upgrade the ‘kernel’ the machine worked better. That’s a criticism.
The only thing I know was faster was The GIMP. Less than 4 seconds from click to working. Neat. Nothing else was notably faster. There may be all manner of tweaks that can be made to get things moving faster – but that applies to Windows as well. You think I just installed XP again and sat back ? hell no – it takes a while to remove services, remove the clutter, get start-up and shut-down working quicker and generally get the system working as I want – and that’s similar to Linux. Any system is as fast as you want it to be. My XP is quick.
But it’s Open Source ! It’s Free !
So ? My OS is an invisible cost, and given the march of the OSS movement it’ll be an ever smaller cost of a new machine. The fact that it is Free and I can do what I want makes not a jot of difference if I do not possess the knowledge to manipulate the data. It’s like me saying that there are trees and clay and water so build a house because then it’ll be free. No it won’t – and would the effort be worth the reward ? It’s like saying WordPress is free, or phpMyAdmin is free. In the OSS sense, they are, but unless you can afford the cost of a computer, and internet connection and some webspace then it’s not free is it ? I am beholden to whoever codes the OS – and whether that is a group of people in Redmond VA or a group of people spread over the world it matters not. Yes there are philosophical issues and OSS could be described as an ideology but when it actually comes down to it there is but one issue for many people, myself included – it costs nothing. (This is changing the subject…) If you were to start charging for a currently free to download OSS product, it’s usage would drop wouldn’t it ? Because there are free competitors – and people do not want to pay if possible. There is also the issue of mechanisms of actually paying. Whatever – this is a separate issue. The point I’m trying to make is that the ‘Free / OSS’ bit is wasted on me. It just does not matter because no matter how you look at it, I don’t code.
Grub Error 17 – that was nice. Uninstall Ubuntu and it takes the Master Boot record with it. Google ‘Error 17’ and nearly every occurrence is Linux related. If you haven’t seen this little wonder, here’s what happens: press power switch on machine, 3 words appear; ‘Grub Error 17’. The machine goes no further than that. Error 17 = reformat for most of us, me included. Nice. It was when this happened that I remembered something – Ubuntu did this to me before. I had installed it fully hoping that the full version + a wired connection would help me get drivers for the FD7010 card I have. It didn’t, so I restored the machine – and got the same grub error. That’s twice I have uninstalled Ubuntu and twice my HD has been rendered unbootable. There will not be a third time. So if you are pondering this, go get a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD so that the MBR can be repaired. Don’t wait for the uninstall – just get it now :)
I must thank Skippy for the card and the ongoing support. I feel guilty that in some way I have let you down Skippy because of you both lending me the card and encouraging me. And I must thank tinster and godzirra again from #wordpress, Justin for his support and others who have made positive noises in my direction. I did try !
What I use my computer for
I don’t use it to make money. It does not ’employ’ me in the traditional manner. I use it to escape. This machine is a means for me to lose myself in other things, other places. It’s primary purpose is to make my life better. Easier. It does this by not frustrating me. That makes my life infinitely more intolerable – I have to have a direction to look in that does not stress me. XP does not stress me. Windows never frustrated me as much as these last few days. I do want something to learn, but not at such a high cost. I do not mind a challenge – I crave distractions – I do mind reading the hype and experiencing something very different. Example: gFTP crashed on me several times. It’s meant to be the best of the somewhat limited bunch of GUI ftp programs. A google for ‘gftp crash’ produces more than a few results. A search for ‘Filezilla crash’ produces less than one-third of that number. Make learning this code part of a job that you will give me and I will learn it.
Lessons to be learned…..
Do not believe the hype.
Passwords and where they apply needs to be better documented.
Keypairs is something I will look into.
Arrange to be offline – tell people you are going away. On a cruise. Around both Poles.
Will I try Linux again ?
Never say never. I suppose I am better prepared now to do so. I know that I must do better homework in many ways if I do. Do I regret it ? No. I have learned from this, and learning is always a good thing.
Should you listen to me ?
Good grief no. This is neither a pulpit nor a lecture theatre.
It’s my website and I’ll say it as I felt it. I might not be right but just like you, I’m not wrong either :)