Saturday, March 1, 2008

Freedom of free software

One of the things which made me love free (free as in freedom) software was the choice of options open to you. What? You don't like this feature of this software? Look for another. Sometimes you change just because you can. In the beginning I distro hopped quite a bit. I enjoyed learning how each distro did things. Each unique and beautiful. I loved learning how to tweak every aspect of the system. It took me two weeks to get just the right display driver for X, but it was a great learning experience. Loved every agonizing ugly screen day of it. And then it came...

I tried out Ubuntu. OMG!!! What??? It has set up everything to work properly out of the box? I don't have to do anything? Even the brown colour looks kinda nice. Oh man... This is so cool. And the days passed. I usually develop using php. On personal projects I like to use python. So I don't really need to do much of the technical stuff so Ubuntu gave me a good platform to just start working. I don't actually need to compile anything. The last time I had to compile anything for my laptop was when I was running Slackware. Oh.. that was sweet hacker heaven. You HAD to tweak everything. And since I didn't know much about using packages under slackware then, once I had ./configure, make, make install, the programs never ever leave. I just didn't know which file to delete. If it have make uninstall option I might use that but not all had that.

And one of the distros that I had used in my distro hopping days was Arch linux. It was one of the more memorable ones. Actually used it for almost a year. Loved the pacman -Syu to keep my system updated. But of course you still had to tweak quite a lot. But I remembered there was wiki and forum for everything you need.

One of the sad things about having things made easy is that you tend to like it being easy. And in Ubuntu almost everything was already configurable using some graphical tool. There wasn't even any need of iwlist wlan0 scan to see what wireless network was available. It was just displayed there. Soon I got a bit rusty with the good old CLI. And I said to myself, enough is enough. I'm going back. Hmmm... Arch was pretty good. So this morning I decided to install good old archlinux. But guess what? I was pretty scared. I WAS SCARED!!! I thought what if I had to take the whole day configuring it? What if some of the drivers I can't figure out again how to install it? I had FEAR!! I had UNCERTAINTY!! I had DOUBT!! Everything you need to launch a full scale FUD attack. Ubuntu made me forget that is how most people felt about Linux and free software in general. Ubuntu did a great job. If ever you wanted proof that Linux is ready for the desktop prime time, that was it. You could just install it without worrying about anything. And actually, personally I think installing Ubuntu is even easier than installing windows because there was no need to hunt for drivers. So I said this is ridiculous. I went ahead and installed arch...

Now I'm posting this from epiphany because I haven't finished installing all the software I need yet. Not even firefox. My display is stretched because I haven't install 915resolution yet and in general everything looks pretty retro 90's kinda style. Sweeeet... :)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yup I agree Ubuntu does make things a little too easy. In today's world, the easier to get things going, the more successful it is. I believe that is the primary reason for Windows' success.

By profession I am systems/network engineer. I need to solve problems fast for my clients and not muck around too long just to get WiFi working.

Windows for me is not an option when it comes to serious work.

Eric

Abdullah Zainul Abidin said...

Yup. It has already been over 12 hours and I still can't get the WiFi working. Seems bcm43xx driver has changed somewhat since 2.6.24. Very frustrating... Making me feel like looking for my Ubuntu CD again. But going to give it some more time first.

Abdullah Zainul Abidin said...

Alhamdullillah. After another night of googling I finally found the solution to the kernel problem with ndiswrapper here.
Finally... :)

Anonymous said...

Great....it always feels good when you finally tamed the beast.

For me, it's either Ubuntu, Fedora OpenSUSE when it comes to work Linux distros....the communities around these distros are just amazing....easier to get support and docs.

Eric

Haiya ala Solah