Monday, August 28, 2006

About a year ago, I was introduced to Linux by a technosavvy friend at work. I was, to say the least, a somewhat unwilling participant in the journey into Linuxland. But, I was really forced into it by our friends at Microsoft. Here's what happened to me... it may be a familiar story.

One day, the power supply on my machine decided to send a little jolt of electricity through my system. The result? Burned out power supply, keyboard, scanner motherboard and hard drive. I took my beloved machine to my local repair shop and, for a fairly modest price, rebuilt the computer. Now came the big task... reloading all my software. The machine had come pre-loaded with Windows XP. I didn't have disks, so my repair shop graciously loaded in the OS from their bulk copy. Fine. I started reinstalling software.

Now, I have been meticulous about buying licenced software. However, lots of the programs failed to install because the hidden file on the hard drive from the original installation was no longer there. Many phone calls later, most of the vendors had provided me with a new installation key. But, not Microsoft. My vital workhorse Microsoft Office suite would not activate and the activation hotline was entirely automated. In other words, there was no one to explain the situation to. I simply got a: "This software has already been installed on another machine. Good-bye."

Eventually, after numerous e-mails and phone calls, someone gave me a new activation code with the dire warning that they would not do it again. Okay, okay... I won't do it again. Promise.

I'm also meticulous about updating my system. So, a week or so later, I fired up Windows Update. Of course, my copy of Windows was not registered. I was unable to update my system. A bit of Googling and I found someone's workaround and got my updates. Then, the worst that could happen, happened. My new hard drive was defective and had to be replaced. This time, Microsoft would not give me another activation code. I lost the workaround for Windows Update and could not find it again. So, you get the picture. My perfect life was, essentially, ruined.

Now, my friend at work was a real computer enthusiast. He was a Windows user, but had tried a Linux distro called Xandros. "It's free," he said. And it can do all your office documents with something called, and is fully compatable with Office formats. So, Xandros got installed, wiping out Windows. Everything worked like a charm.

But, ever curious, I started scouting the Web to find out everything I could about Linux. I was intrigued by Linspire and actually bought it and installed it. But, CNR (the program download repository) bugged me. Everything I wanted required a paid membership. Not what I was in the mood for. More Web surfing. Next, I discovered Ubuntu's Web site. When I read the Ubuntu philosophy, I was hooked. For me, using a computer is a holistic thing, and Ubuntu gave me what I wanted... a free operating system AND a religion to go along with it. Amen, Brothers and Sisters. Praise the Lord.

So, that's how my journey started. I'll take a break now and let that settle into your minds. Next: Ubuntu adventures (or How I learned to Install and Reinstall a Linux Distribution Over and Over Again). Don't worry, there is a happy ending.