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Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Switch To Linux, FINALLY.

I've finally done it. I didn't just install Linux, but I was finally able to install software successfully as well.

I've wanted to switch to Linux fully for a very long time. Ever since I tried Ubuntu for the first time (5.10) I knew that someday it was going to be big. With 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon, it finally is.

Let's make a little performance comparison before I get into my installation and configuration journey.

With Vista, 1GB of my system's memory was used by all of the Windows eye-candy. With Ubuntu, and the much-more-badass-than-Aero Compiz, I was using only 230MB of memory. I also have noticed that my laptop doesn't run as hot with Ubuntu as it did with Vista. Now that you're interested, let's get on to the story.

My Dell E1505 came with Vista. The "Wow" started right as I cracked open the box from the Dell Outlet, to the moment I pressed Windows+Tab. Then, that was it. The "Wow" quickly faded into:

"This is dual-core computing? Why does it take thirty seconds to open Notepad?"

"I shelled out extra for this?"

"I'm gonna go get a snack."

After the delicious crackers, my computer experience reverted back into the old XP rut I was looking to escape.

After a few months, I started looking at Linux a lot more seriously. I installed Ubuntu 7.04 on my old HP desktop, just to try it out. I was impressed, and soon installed it on my laptop, much to my regret.

Most things worked perfectly, except on of the most important features I can think of on my laptop, the wireless. I tried for days trying to get the thing to work, but it just never happened. In my travels of forum after forum, I found out that Suse 10.3 was compatible with my wireless card, an Intel 4965 AGN. I promptly downloaded Suse and installed it. All was well. The wireless worked, I got VMware to work, and everything was hunky-dory, until I got the bright idea to actually install something.

I had a simple request. I wanted a video editor for the near nonexistent times whenever I actually edit video. I proceeded to attempt to install pitivi, with disastrous results. Don't ask me what I did, but when I did it, absolutely nothing worked. The wireless was dead, the ethernet was dead, none of my music would play, and I was furious. After a little bit of clueless fiddling, I decided that it was time to switch, yet again, back to Ubuntu.

By this time, Gutsy Gibbon had been released to rave reviews, so I was feeling pretty good about this go around. I installed it, and like magic, everything worked like a charm. I was installing programs, configuring wired and wireless networks, and syncing my iPod with ease. Now I was truly happy.

But the real "Wow" started once I enabled the built-in desktop effects and installed the Compiz settings manager. Once I pressed Control-Alt-Left click, my jaw dropped to the floor. Right there, before my very eyes, I had done in five minutes what I had tried weeks to do in different distros. At that point, my search, and switch, was over.

About a week after taking the plunge successfully, I am proud to say that I am satisfied with Linux, and I will be using it for hopefully a very long time. I'm even going to scrape off the Windows Vista sticker today.

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