24×7 *nix

It was in 1997 that I bought my first computer. It was a Gateway 2000 with a Pentium 166 MMX with 32MB of ram, a 3.2 GB hard drive and 17″ monitor. It seemed like a great machine at the time but like so many other things, progress got the best of it. Eventually I upgraded to Windows 98 and later added another 32MB of ram. It served me well for many years.

While in college I took some computer programming courses programming C++ and later C. All of the programming was done on a Tru64 UNIX system and after getting past the shock of using a command line centric operating system I really grew to appreciate what could be done. Through these same classes I heard about an operating system called Linux that would allow me to install a similar development environment right on the computer I had. I knew I had to give it a shot and amazingly you could walk right into a local music and computer software retailer buy a boxed Linux distribution. The place has since gone out of business but that boxed set of Red Hat Linux 5.1 is still sitting on a shelf in my office.

Installing Red Hat was a daunting task at first. Unlike today, the only installer option was ncurses (text) based and it didn’t provide any options for resizing partitions. You had to do that yourself prior to setup. The install documentation talked about something called a root file system, swap and other partitions. My first installs did not go smoothly at all and I think at one point I even lost my entire Windows installation. In end however, I got a working “development workstation” and I was able to do many assignments right on my own computer.

As I continued with my classes in college more and more of the work I did was on Linux systems. Linux became an operating system I used everyday and not just something I did my homework on. Eventually I even used it exclusively on my personal systems for all the usual desktop activities, though it really didn’t last long. Eventually I grew tired of dealing with the work it required to keep operating correctly for desktop use. Graphics drivers, wireless issues, lack of proper video editing tools and general dislike with the direction some projects were going (I’m looking at you GNOME2) and my Linux systems became nothing more than server systems stuff in a closet.

By this time service pack 2 had been released for Windows XP and I can say without a doubt that it was at that point that Windows became my primary operating system of choice. I’d use it for chat, web browsing, email and video editing. Later I’d use it for storing and organization photos but I also always had putty installed so I could easily access my Linux systems in order to work on web sites.

So anyway, I now find myself again making the transition away from Windows and I proudly proclaim this house is now a Windows free zone. Over the last couple of weeks my Windows laptop has been giving me more and more problems. First it seemed like the wireless card was on its way out and then later I found that the hard drive was on its way out as well. The battery has been shot for months giving no more than about five minutes of life before the laptop enters standby. The Windows replacement this time around is Mac OS X.

I’ve been playing with OS X for a little over a year now on my Mac mini and I’ve really grown to like it. I now use it daily at work and the combination of a fantastic GUI with all the command line power I’m used to from Linux has really won me over. So today, I’ve backed up and signed off of my Windows system for the last time and this house is now 100% *nix.

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