So I haven’t run Linux in a few years and I’ve heard that Ubuntu was the latest in Linux hotness for the desktop so I thought I’d give it a try. It wasn’t too hard, I went over and downloaded VirtualBox and grabbed the Lucid Lynx VirtualBox image of Ubuntu and fired it up.
It worked. The whole process took about 30 minutes.
I first installed Linux in the fall of 1996. Apparently when I had a lot more time on my hands than I do now. There was a local discount computer outlet in my ‘seen better days’ mall near the family home that had the “InfoMagic Linux Developer’s Resource 6 CD set”.I remember thinking: “Wow! are there really 6 CD’s in there?”, and only $22. Now the internet thing was around in 1996, and I had a dial-up account through the university, but downloading a Linux distro of even moderate size on a 14.4 K Baud modem was not really going to happen (especially since our connections had a max connection time of 1 hour).
Installing Linux meant selecting a distribution, there was Red Ht 3.0.3, Slackware 3.1, and Debian 1.1.4. I chose Slackware because it used the ‘new’ 2.0 kernel. Installing meant pouring through pages of “how To” guides on partitioning hard drives (especially enabling support for my ‘large’ 750 MB hard drive), getting a loader setup to dual-boot Windows 95, and being scared to death of screwing up and erasing Windows. Slackware was partitioned into 1.44 MB (floppy) sized chunks labeled A, B, C.. and what seemed like thousands of options during the install process (do you want Klingon fonts with that?) and in the end I got a scary looking command line, which sent me back to the store to buy the first edition of Running Linux. This is how I got my first exposure to Unix like systems and learned the basics of system administration.
It took many late nights getting X Windows setup and running. You had to use utilities to figure out compatible dot timings for your video card and monitor and edit the XF86 config files, and hope you were lucky enough that there was a driver for your exact model of video card. It was great fun.
I’ve installed and played with Linux off and on over the years and even used it on a project at work for a year or so. These days, I don’t really have much of a compelling reason to touch it, any UNIX utilities I want or need are either available, or can easily be compiled using Cygwin.
Now Linux just works. It’s easy. So I’m going to move on.