Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Free at last, free at last ...


Ah ... long day. Long year-and-a-half, as a matter of fact, and long story.

Short version: I am now running a 100% Linux box and happier than ever with the decision to abandon Micro$haft.

Long version: About a year-and-a-half ago, my Windows 98 machine caught a nasty boot sector virus (despite the fact that I was running an anti-virus utility and updating the definitions regularly), which I was unable to get rid of (although I used several reputable tools in the attempt). Every time I started up, the thing started eating files. This happened late one afternoon ... and I had to be online and able to get Rational Review News Digest out overnight.

Fortunately, a friend had sent me the install disks for Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux 9.0. In a matter of about four hours, I had installed Mandrake on a new partition and was up, running and ready to go. It was the first friendly Linux experience I'd had (I'd tried Red Hat 7.xx awhile back and found it an unuseable pain). As a matter of fact, it was easier and more painless than an install of, say, Windows 95 or 98.

I resolved at some unspecified point in the not-too-distant future, to erase my virus-eaten Windows partition and go all the way with Linux. I only had a few gigs off of my 20Gb hard drive in the Mandrake installation -- that old Windows partition was sitting there hogging better than 60% of my disk space. But I put it off, and put it off, and had problems (probably not Mandrake's fault, but new RPMs didn't want to install -- I was using Mozilla 1.1 instead of Firefox and such for lack of ability to update), and put it off some more.

Anyway, Brad Spangler to the rescue with a CARE package in the mail. My enjoyable Linux experience just got even more enjoyable. Yesterday afternoon, I wiped the whole drive and installed VectorLinux SOHO 5. The install wasn't quite as easy as Mandrake, but it was eminently doable -- if you're a novice, don't let that stop you from going Linux. The bad old days of 800-page manuals just to get up and running are in the past. And it runs like a striped-ass ape, especially now that I've switched to the IceWM GUI instead of KDE (a fine GUI, but I'm running 128Mb of RAM, and apparently it uses about 120Mb ... no wonder my resources were strained!).

Very, very nice to finally have my whole hard drive back, a modern browser (I'll probably install Opera for additional coolness), and a lot of new tools and updated versions of old tools that have been released since Mandrake 9.0. I'm not really a command prompt guy anymore (as a matter of fact, I really haven't been since, say, TRS-DOS), these days you don't have to be to get good performance out of Linux.

Thanks, Brad. And Bill? G'bye. You are the weakest link.

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