Ramblings of a Professional Computer Geek

February 13, 2006

Why Linux? (Part 3 – Conclusion)

Filed under: Linux — Padma @ 9:53 pm

Eventually, I upgraded to Windows Me. For some reason, I didn’t have the troubles so many others were claiming. It ran fast, and clean for me. At least as stable as Win98. But it meant yet another minor tweak in the human interface “standard”. Meanwhile, I installed Mandrake 6 as a dual-boot system. The GUI looked interesting, but compared to Windows, seemed unfinished. Still the command line was useful. Better than DOS.

About 2001, I rebuilt three machines (mine, my wife’s and my daughter’s). My then son-in-law provided a copy of Windows 2000 Pro, and Office 2000, which I installed on all three machines. This was a solid, stable release. It gave me less trouble than any other version of Windows I had used. But also at this time, I switched from dial-up to a broadband internet connection, and I began to be concerned about viruses and spyware. I was still sold on Windows, but the cost of regular system upgrades, and the headaches of securing the systems were beginning to take a toll on me.

I tried cygwin as a command window alternative, and was pleased with the more powerful shell, compared to DOS. I downloaded Mandrake 9.1 and installed it as dual-boot. Much better, but still not enough to make me switch. I started reading more about Microsoft’s marketing tactics, and decided to look more seriously at alternatives. I still used Win2K, and Outlook for my mail, but I tried Opera as a web browser, and ended up purchasing a full license for it. I upgraded my Mandrake to version 9.2, and kept switching back to Windows to get anything important done.

I also had settled into a regular routine. Every six months, I would completely reformat and reinstall the Windows partitions on the systems in my house. It was the only way to keep them fully functional. Meanwhile, I started frequenting Linux sites, and read the infamous Halloween Memos out of Microsoft. When Windows XP was released, with its built in spyware (e.g., “phoning home” to tattle if you change your hardware), I resolved I would not spend my money to upgrade to it.

I downloaded Mandrake 10.0, and thought, “this might be it.” KDE 3 seemed about as good as Windows. The application suite was there. I used it strictly for two weeks. It felt good. But … Windows was still my comfort zone. If nothing else, I could only play Civilization III in Windows. Firaxis didn’t make a Linux version. And every time I booted to Windows, I seemed to stay there longer.

Then, in April 2004, My Windows installation was starting to act up. It was due for another reformat and reinstall. So I saved everything off, inserted my Win2K CD, and rebooted. The install chugged along, and I clicked all the usual buttons, and finally it told me to remove the CD and reboot. And I was left with a screen that said “NO SYSTEM”. I was in shock. I re-did the installation, with the same result. I had now been without my computer for nearly two days. I thought “this is ridiculous!” I knew that Mandrake could install a complete system, including apps, in about half an hour. So I left my “Windows” partition alone, and did a reinstall of Mandrake 10.0. I decided if I ever figured out what the problem was, I could reinstall Windows at a later date. But right now, I just wanted to get online, to check my email, and help moderate the CFC forums.

After a month or so, using Opera-Linux and Konqueror to browse the web, Kontact/KMail to read my email, and OpenOffice to handle my office needs, I realized: I don’t need Windows! KDE 3.2 was every bit as good as, even better than, the Windows desktop. I had access to all the things that the OS did, but in a *safe* fashion: “su”. I had no virus worries. I had no spyware worries. Computing was fun again!

Since then, I have downloaded Cedega from Transgaming.com, which enables me to play Civ3 on my Linux box. I have upgraded my system to Mandrake 10.2, and then Mandriva 2005 Limited Edition (Mandrake 10.2), and now Mandriva 2006.0. I have deleted the Windows partition from my system, as I never expect to dual-boot again. I haven’t found anything I can’t do in Linux that I used to do in Windows. I am once again a happy camper with my computer.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3



  1. “Phoning home”….. I haven’t heard about that one. Probably don’t want to.

    What about Civ4? Can it run on Linux (yet)?

    Comment by WildWeazel — February 14, 2006 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  2. Actually, they toned down the “phone home” code before release. They wanted to have it tell them every time you changed any hardware (or software, I think). But they realized they couldn’t get away with that much invasion of privacy (yet). But you still have to activate your system if you change your hardware very much.

    Civ4 didn’t run on Linux at last check (January). But it is in high demand, so I expect Transgaming will have it working within a few more months.

    Comment by Kevin (aka Padma) — February 14, 2006 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

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