/ Goodbye Windows, hello Linux!

TuxSome of you may have already known that for the longest time my home PC was running on Windows ’98. Yep that’s right, Windows ’98, an eight year old operating system as of this writing. It was slow, it was buggy, it was unstable and man was it just a painful experience to work with. So why was I using it, and why did I ditch it now after eight years of enduring the pain?

I was using it because I bought Windows 3.1 when it was the state-of-the-art, then I upgraded it to Windows ’95 and then to ’98. You can probably tell that I don’t believe in software piracy. Anyway, so after I baught ’98, I just couldn’t afford to upgrade anymore. I mean, Windows is really expensive, especially at full price–they wouldn’t let me upgrade form ’98 to XP. So, I trudged along with ’98 for a few years until a very kind member of the family gave us the gift of a digital camera. Of course, the software it came with wouldn’t work with my OS (it went back to Windows ’98 SE, which stands for ‘Second Edition’, I have the first edition!).

I desperately wanted to dump the photos on the camera onto my computer, but wasn’t about to shell out hundreds of dollars on an OS upgrade. Especially because it wouldn’t end there, my PC is a Pentium II 300Mhz, hardly a powerful machine by today’s standards. So I looked into Linux. A friend and coworker of mine recently installed Ubuntu (a Linux distribution) on his workstation at work and told me how great it was. So that’s where I started. I went and downloaded the CD image from their site and after two failed attempts to burn the thing I finally got it right (thanks to a guy on #ubuntu!).

A breath of fresh air

I’ve got to tell you, Linux just rocks. It’s faster, more stable and I dare say “smarter” than Windows and I’ve only been using it for a day and a half! It’s as advanced as Windows XP (and from what I hear even Vista) and it works just fine on my “old” machine. Granted, I’ve got about 512MB of RAM, but hey it’s still a PII 300. I mean, I plugged my camera in and bam! no drivers or anything, it just showed me my pictures and asked me if I wanted to download them. And get this, you don’t have to reboot every time you install something! The one CD install of Ubuntu came not only with the OS (duh!), but with Open Office, and GIMP (an open source Photoshop equivalent). Two apps whose Windows counterparts would have knocked my wallet back into the stone age. Not to mention all of the open source software that’s available to download. And get this, I was able to run the OS from the CD before installing it in order to try it out! And if you can’t download and burn the CD yourself, they’ll ship it to you for free!

So as you can tell, I’m a little extatic about this whole transition. Yeah, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s well worth it now that my PC’s had new life breathed into it.


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