hasenj blog

How I switched to linux

Posted in Uncategorized by hasen on 31/08/2009

I recently switched to linux, the story of how I switched is somewhat similar to how I switched from IE to firefox. At first, I just wanted to see what all this firefox fuss is all about, so I installed it and kept at the side, using it only from time to time to try and experiment with it. There were quite a few problems with it at the time, but it grew up alot since then. Over time I kept using it more and more and using IE less and less, until I made it my default browser.

With linux, I had a previous experiment with it about four or five years ago. At the time it was Fedora 3 or 4 (I forgot), and I had several driver problems. Overall it wasn’t polished enough for me. It was actually a pretty horrible experience and it made me hate linux and hate all those die-hard linux fans and their evangelism.

Recently though, I wanted to try linux once again. This time I chose linux mint. I heared alot about ubuntu but when I tried it in a virtual machine it looked ugly. The default theme is ugly. The default font rendering settings are ugly. The orange-brownish theme is ugly. It’s the opposite of modern: it’s the color of dust and sand for God’s sake!! What’s worse, it lacks essential things like mp3 codecs. It made me feel, dude, see, linux is still as cumbersome to use as ever. Why do they expect some one totally new to linux to be able to figure out on his own to type “sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras” is beyond me. Linux Mint came with better defaults: it had the non-free extras out of the box. It also has a better default theme and color scheme.

So, after playing with it for a while inside a virtual machine, I decided to install it on my hard drive and have a dual boot system. Soon after, my windows install got hit by a virus. I struggled with it but I managed to remove it (to the best of my knowledge). However unfortunately (or fortunately) windows went into “OMG-NOT-GENUINE” mode and refused to do anything useful (restricted mode). I wanted to fix it but after a bit of a struggle, I thought to myself, you know what, screw you M$, I don’t want your OS.
Basically, after that I spent some time to get comfortable with my new Linux OS and familiarize myself with all the various UI aspects, etc. After a while, I finally decided to remove the “C:\Windows” directory, or, /media/disk/Windows, as linux refers to it ;)

And that’s how I moved to linux: windows got hit by a virus that rendered it unusable, and meanwhile I was getting familiar with linux. The virus came in just at the right time to finally force me to make the move.

Now, I can’t live without the genius package system from Debian. Truly one-click installation; nothing can beat that.

To setup a development environment in linux, it only takes a few packages. Suppose you want to develop an application in PyQt4. You need python and pyqt. No problem, look for the corresponding packages, it’s really easy :)
Want to do it in windows? Well, it’s not *that* easy. You have to manually download stuff and go through the installation. While the typical next>next>finish wizard is not that bad, it’s not very convenient having to go to 10 different websites and downloading 10 different installers. Sometimes there are no installers; for instance, setuptools for python 2.6 has no windows installer wizard.

Anyway, linux mint 7’s default setup wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was a decent starting point for me to go from it and customize my system the way I want to. I ended up installing xfce and using it as the default desktop environment. I also did away with the mint menu and the various mint tools. I essentially installed the xubuntu-desktop package. So now I refer to my linux as Xubuntu; not mint.

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