Wednesday, April 08, 2009

a day in the life in Linuxville

I fire up my PC and put on my pants like everyone else, the wait is not too bad ( some are soooooo impatient!). PCs are not like light switches, if you want instant on, don't turn them off. The boot process insures your system is "all" working.

I get a brief balloon that says I'm able to connect to the net. I start doing something and in the notification bar an icon tells me I got system updates. I click it and a window opens showing each update, a brief description and a check box for each one, in case I don't want them. I let it run and can move to another desktop if I choose to.

On my MS PC if I want to add software, I have to find/know where it is on the net or have a disk. Then I have to hope and trust they haven't included spam, malware, adware and other stuff. With Linux, most available software is in a secure online repository. You access this repository via an add/remove program called Synaptic. You can search by program type and you get a brief description. Of course if you absolutely don't know what a program is you can "google it".
Also there are ways to install stuff outside of Synaptic if you have too. Because it is a repository (sort of like FTP), you only get the software you ask for, period. And if the software won't run on your type of PC (32 bit, 64 bit), it will tell you. Also if other software is required (dependencies) it will find them and que them for install them for you, but it will tell you what they are. The repository system is very practical because software is written in a basic code then compiled to run on various hardware. You can get the source code to compile it yourself or get the pre-compiled ready to install and run on your machine software.

User logic says, I just do it without thinking, oh wait, there's details, now I'm worried, what are they, should I be concerned, what do I do now? We do this a couple of times, once we see what it is all about we go back to doing without much thinking. This is normal. See, feel, fuss,'s all in the process. Once in a while we get a kink and need to be rebooted! Ha! Ha!

The most used apps, web browsers and email, cause we like probing the far reaches and getting stuff. This is universal. And when I'm not working or blogging I use GIMP and Inkscape to dabble. I was in love with digital dabbling since I saw the first Macintosh and went, ooooooooh!
Mouse mashing and digital dabbling are unofficial open source technical terms you may use without fear of user agreements, DRM, or copyright infringement.

One thing I listen to all the time is Mac and MS Windows users who cross over to Linux bringing their baggage with them. This is normal, you can't help comparing what you are used to with what you are now getting. These users are so intelligent they forget "familiarity breeds contempt". If you've honed your skills on something else, something new is gonna sting. No pain, no gain is true in computing. Some even learn to expand their skill set by dual booting. Well, it is said we only use 10% of our brains, Linux might push that to 11%. And with your added brain power you could consider yourself savvy.

One of my other favorite activities is YouTube videos. Video tutorials, screencast and live music (especially jazz) is the new school. If you want to learn something without college tuition, this is the way. Linux has a number of media players, mine is called VLC.

People who focus on the operating system are prone to complain about it. This is true for any OS. The inventor of Linux said the OS should be invisible, doing its job in the background. Users who realize this are blessed because all you need to do is click the mouse when necessary, type when necessary. Once all the installing and setup is over the OS is the application launcher and resource manager, point and click already. As I have said before users only care about the applications, can they do the job? Linux is reliable and stable. Not many system crashes in my Linux life. And when it does crash or freeze a Ctrl-Alt-Backspace combo closes you down back to the login prompt. Linux is rather self healing and forgiving. I never had to defrag or do major housekeeping to speed it up degrading performance. You can shut it down abruptly with less danger than on MS machines. But let me emphasize, do not rush booting or shutting down if you want your system to stay stable. Just as it checks if the systems are up, it checks if systems are shut down.

And when the day is done I hang up my penguin guise and ease into the alternate universe.

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