Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Linux Journey

My Linux Journey

My linux journey started in my engineering days when i got 3 cds of redhat 9.0. I did not have internet connection and only source was friends and computer magazines. I was very much impressed with it first i installed it but then i did not have anything to do with it i had Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver and Frontpage in windows and Age Of Empires too!!. I installed software called System Commander which was sort of protector for my system. At that time i did not have any guts to play with GRUB. And no live CDs for recovery. It is boot loader and system software. One time i had 6-7 different OS on my system - Windows 98/NT (don't exactly remember but i am proud of the fact i had worked on all version of windows - 3.1,95,98,ME,NT4,XP,2000,2003 and now VISTA, funny thing is that all of them have crashed on my system - blue screen of death. Most delicate was ME and NT,2003 were rock solid XP being most practical), Windows XP, Red hat 9, Damn small linux, Minix, some linux distro that used to fit on floppy i had installed it on my harddisk thanks to System Commander. I used test new versions and flavor of linux Just for fun.

By the way Just For Fun is autobiography of Linux Torvalds - very funny book if you are geek/programmer you will definitely like it. i did.

But then after lot of crashes, partition formatting/reformatting,i settled on Windows XP which worked without any hassles. Occasionally i used to boot into linux again just for fun.

After i got my first salary i started upgrading my pc. I bought new 80GB harddisk so that i could have more space to store data for windows. I reserved 20 GB for linux and tried a new (for me till that time i was familiar with only redhat linux) and hot distro of that time - UBUNTU. I liked it so much that i replaced my fedora with ubuntu moving all my data to it. But i still thought XP is better than ubuntu.

For last 6 months my brother's laptop has been sort of laboratory for me. My old (infact very old) PIII 800Mhz box can not take it any more. I was very much excited to idea of virtualization. Till 6 months before i was not confident enough on linux desktop so i was using Windows XP and with virtualization i could run ubuntu right within windows - best of two worlds. I tried ubuntu 7.04, 7.10 8.04, Kububtu 7.10, gOs2 beta, Oracle Linux, and Fedora.

I have been successful in attempts to convert my borther in to a linux follower - thanks to the buggy and resource hungry Windows Vista. Who want that eye candy when you get similar( though not that good though) graphics effects on linux without any performance loss.

After lauch of Ubuntu 8.0 beta i thought i will give it a try for desktop linux. I used ubuntu for over a week without booting linux on my old box PIII 800Mhz 256MB RAM. Whenver i required any application i went to Add/Remove did a simple search and i could find and use ( without any crash - earlier also i had used linux but most of the time something used to crash) equivalent linux application. Only reason i had to boot into windows being to check my office applications - Site works only on Internet Explorer. I never tried Wine yet now i
need it.

Most suprising thing is that Ubuntu 8.0 worked out of the box on Sony VIAO CR12GH/B laptop. Ubuntu 7.10 has some difficulty recognising intel x3100 graphics accelerator hence screen resolution was limited to 800x600 ( i tweaked Xorg conf and it worked with resolution 1200x800 on ubuntu 7.10 as well).

Earlier whenever i worked on linux i knew something would go wrong and i accepted it now i dont have that feeling - Ubuntu ROCKS.

Till that moment i used to think linux is just not ready for desktop for normal user( i am half normal and half geek - i am passionate about linux but have grown in comforts of windows) ( there are plenty reasons for it - h/w is one major reason i feel). But last 2 years i have seen great growth in linux distros mainly Fedora, Suse and Ubuntu.

If you have good standard hardware on your box linux is READY for you and certainly is for Me and it will beat windows vista in user experience. Major reason for this fact is buggy and bulky VISTA. i get rating of only 3.0 out of 5.0 with very strong hardware for laptop. What the heck what do you want exactly VISTA? 5 GHz processor. 2 GB graphics card????

Here is my list:

Window Media Player/Winamp - Windows media player takes around 50% CPU when playing high beat rate (more than 150 Kbps) mp3 Winamp and rythmbox take less cpu.

Movie player I love VLC. Its best player avaialable. Windows Media player really sucks here. I just cannot run any movie in my p3 box with version 10 onwards. VLC is much better both on windows and linux. Whats better than having your favoiurite application avaialable on both systems. Again windows application sucks here.

Microtorrent is very good but so is azureus and Transmission. No problems here too.

Firefox 3.0 rocks and blazingly fast on sony vaio laptop. I can not get same performance on Vista/IE or Vista/Firefox combination. Most developers say Firefox 3.0 is the FASTEST browser to date. I did not get any improvment on my p3 box (windows xp). But i could feel firefox more responsive on linux on both systems - XP(PIII) as well as Vista(Core 2 Duo T7100). Why is so?. I really dont know neither i don't believe in benchmark numbers ( i have done performance testing/benchmarking i know how misleading sometime they could be). As performance engineer i used to give importance on fact how end-users are experincing it. Did they find any improvement or felt good. With firefox 3.0 on linux i felt. On other note IE7 is not that bad too. But i am firefox convert. long time ago.

Editplus beats any lightweight editor in linux. I have not tried anything other that GEdit. Gedit is little bit heavy ( on P3). But i could find editor called Geany i liked it very much. I used Ecliplse for most of my Java programming and was disappointed a bit on linux. On thing about IDE i care is how it uses screen effectively to pack useful stuff. On linux SWT occupies much more space than on windows.

Nothing to say. OpenOffice is really behind MS Office. but i have different opinion here. Dominance of MS Office is just because of numbers. What would you do if you have to write some document and mail it to somebody. I could find one alternative in OpenOffice, Convert that document to PDF and mail it. I just hate rebooting again to windows and edit that doc.

For other applications you can refer to this interesting links :
And last thing i want to say about VISTA is that its fooling people around. It takes seconds to load dekstop and pretend ready for action but reality is
different. It take much more time to get all networking started and then i can start my browser. With linux it takes time to login but i know when its
now ready - ready for anything file explorer, browser and mp3. In and all if you don't have any reason to stick to windows like you IDE works only in
windows then go and install ubuntu (or any linux) give it a try. Vista is just not ready for countries like india where latest hardware comes to
mainstream atleast 6-8 months after. Concepts like open source, linux, ubuntu, free document formats (openoffice), OLAP (one laptop per child) are very much suitable in developing countries. This will make sure that user gets what it need and hes not forced to buy first windows then Microsoft office and
then anti-virus then internet protection software to protect windows. its chain that's not needed and can certainly be avoided.

More or less computing is for fun as said by Linus Torvalds in his thoughts on life... so enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed it with linux.

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