Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Journey of my Tux - Enter Ubuntu

In my previous post about Tux , I wrote about my first attempts at using Linux on my desktop. For a few years I was usually on the move with different projects in my job as a software engineer. My only access to computer though was the office computer where MS Windows was the OS as a rule (unless otherwise dictated by project needs).

A few years later I shifted jobs and returned to my home. My age old PC had been upgraded with spanking new RAM, Processor, Graphics card and so on. I had pretty much forgotten about Linux and with MS Windows XP, I had finally begun to appreciate a stable and usable Windows based OS. Every time I thought about Linux, the thoughts of those late nights trouble shooting the install came back to my mind and I wouldn't bother doing any further research on Linux. In office though I met up with another Linux enthusiast, who mentioned about some new developments in the Linux world such as Ubuntu  and wubi. The pep talk was enough for me to start partitioning my PC hard drive and the next weekend was spent reviving my romance with Linux.

Ubuntu was a Linux like I had never seen before. Per my previous experience with Linux I was ready with the manuals for all the PC hardware, just in case the installer didn't quite recognize some of the new hardware I had bought. As the boot started, I was half expecting the bootable CD to open up a command line interface and ask me to fill in some parameters around the video card or monitor or such. ....
Instead I was shocked (and pleasantly surprised) when the CD instead booted a nice sleek looking UI which would challenge the more established OSes like Windows. It recognized all the hardware and even connected to internet via my Wifi. While the installation continued in background, I could happily check mail, watch videos, or generally browse the internet.... I was simply blown away that Linux had come such a long way from those good old days when doing anything useful involved an internet search for the appropriate set of commands. Not that we are totally free from that internet search to find forum posts on how to get things done, its just that I don't have to do it that often.

The installation itself though took its time but once it was done I had a complete desktop with all necessary software to do anything at home - playing movies, music, managing pictures, editing documents, browsing internet. Ubuntu even had a decent selection of games both free and paid. At this point I was starting to wonder if the perennially virus threatened Windows was even worth keeping as one of the OS in the dual boot system.

It so happened that not everything was great about Ubuntu. While it was a good home PC, it lacked a good selection of games. Plus any serious gaming graphics cards (e.g Nvidia or ATI), weren't supported out of the box and they required installation of separate drivers to utilize their full capabilities.It then occurred to me that all the games that I liked playing weren't really available in Linux. So with some reluctance I let Windows stay on my system. So windows continued to be my default PC OS for games. Of course by now for my gaming needs meant that I had invested in an XBOX (perhaps the only MS product that I actually like and appreciate). Regular readers of my blog would perhaps remember this eulogy to my Xbox.

As I started exploring more of Ubuntu, I realized that it was not just a good home PC OS. I even had a good selection of supported development tools, and servers. The web developer community even has an acronym that begins with the L from Linux called LAMP. Not just PHP (P from LAMP stands for PHP), but even developers using several other platforms such as C, C++, Java,Perl, Python etc had several useful tools available in Linux (and thus Ubuntu). All said and done the geek in me had woken up and Ubuntu had become the operating system of choice for home PC and little software projects at home.