What I Learned using Linux over the last 10 years

I started using Linux as my primary desktop and operating system in 1998. After brief flirtations with FVWM 95 and Enlightenment, I settle on Gnome (with it’s various WMs over the years ) and Redhat/Fedora (until switching to Ubuntu last fall ).

  1. My computer is mine. I didn’t license or borrow it from an OS vendor. I don’t want to ask permission to install or uninstall software on it, including the operating system. If I upgrade or swap out parts, I don’t have to justify it to anyone ( except maybe the Mrs. if it’s a bit pricey ).
  2. I don’t want to feel guilty about using software that works. I understand that software authors need to feed their families, but there is a better choice then stealing it or doing without it when I don’t have the cash. Many open source authors are happy that I use and like their software, thrilled when I feedback useful bug reports when something is broken or could be better, and ecstatic when I offer a reasonable, well formated and documented patch. BTW – where is your WinZip license?
  3. WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) is great – WYGIWYG ( what-you-get-is-what-you-get ) sucks! I don’t expect software authors to anticipate every possible use I have for their application, but if they won’t change it meet my needs, at least let me! Every time I work on an MS box and run into a shortfall with a piece of software, I feel helpless – I very likely can’t fix it even if I have the knowledge and the tools. I don’t like felling helpless.
  4. The command line won’t kill you. Don’t get me wrong, I like point-n-click and next-next-finish as much as the next guy, but opening a text editor, loading a file and scrolling to the last line just to see how many lines are in the file is silly compared to “wc -l file.txt” from the command line prompt. The amount of time it takes to get familiar with the command line, man pages, and basic GNU tool chain commands can’t be close to the time I see wasted on searching for and installing single use, GUI tools like image and audio converters or text search-and-replace editors.
  5. No, it doesn’t work like {insert favorite OS here}. After 10 years of Gnome, I sit down at an XP or Vista box and want to chuck the keyboard across the room in about 10 minutes. I understand that it’s hard to change from what is familiar to what is different and strange, but don’t point at what you know and say everything has to work like that or it’s broken. I have been a Gnome user for a long time, but I keep KDE installed on my desktop, and use it off and on. I don’t bag on Windows because it’s user interfaces make different choices ( Now, the fact that is loses my data under BSOD’s or gets infected by viruses/malware /trojans every time I surf the net is a different issue. )
  6. You don’t have to be a genius, but you have to be able to learn. I have had people “ooh” and “aah” over my use of Linux and command of the environment. Don’t get me wrong, I like adoration as much as the next guy, but I didn’t get here by using my photographic memory on the “Linux in 24 Days” book. I learned what I needed to know, a little bit at a time, for the problem in front of me at the time. I reused what I learned, a little bit at a time, putting it with other little bits here and there to meet other needs or wants. I had to admit very early on, that I don’t know everything there is to know about Linux and likely never would – But it’s been fun trying to get there! In fact, it always bugs me when someone has been using a computer/OS for a few years and still tries to shut it off with the monitor power button and thinks the browser IS the internet.
  7. No, I’m not a fanboy. Just because I found something that works for me doesn’t make me deviant, eccentric, a fanatic, or antisocial. If you hear me advocating for open source or Linux, or if I point out some of the pros and cons of your choices verses my choices, it is most likely because I have noticed that what your doing isn’t really working for you! I don’t enjoy watching other people want to throw their keyboards across the room any more than I enjoy the feeling myself. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being trapped, of just settling for mediocre, of expecting poor quality to be the norm and I don’t wish that on anyone else.
  8. Penguins are cute. OK, this was the hardest lesson. Since few people understood Linux when I started, but they understood the Linux mascot, Tux the Penguin, many of my friends and family have gotten me ( and continue to get me ) penguins for Christmas, birthdays, just-because-I-saw-it-and-knew-you-would-like-it gifts. Just look at my desk at work:

    My Desk

25. January 2008 by Chris
Categories: Learning | 18 comments

Comments (18)

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  7. Your thoughts pretty much mirror my own exactly, only I’m primarily a Gentoo/Fluxbox user (though I admit that I’m an Ubuntu fan as well — I use Ubuntu/Gnome on my Eee PC.)

    Great post!

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  9. It’s a pretty good article, but you’ve done one of my biggest pet peeves, repeatedly–used the word “it’s”–which means “it is” (as in “it’s fun using Linux”) instead of “its”–which means “belonging to it” (as in “with its various WMs over the years” or “I don’t bag on Windows because its user interfaces…”).

    I know, I know, I’m easily irritated! What can I say? But two different words with two different meanings cannot be used interchangeably, and it bugs me!

  10. Sorry, I don’t blame you. It’s a bad habit, I know. In my defense, I am from Maine where we speak English as a second language ;-)

    Maine – where we do what we want with our “R”s –
    Take them from car and yard ( “cah” and “yahd” ) and put the on words like pizza and idea (“peetzer” and “idear”).

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  17. First of all great article second so that’s where my accent is from lol I do the same thing with my Rs, although I’ve lived in New York all my life, I think I went to Maine once when I was like 10………

  18. woot the dell optiplex i see in your office runs linux superbly ( happy arch user here on optiplex GX620)

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