Early steps with Linux

During the last week I’ve been playing a little with Linux. Now, this isn’t my first outing with it because I had a Ubuntu desktop for about six months some three or four years back but it was a secondary machine sat next to my main Windows XP box. This time I’ve gone a little deeper into the rabbit hole, spending six or seven hours last weekend setting up an old Viglen 520S as a commandline Debian box to act as DHCP server to our LAN because the battle weary wireless access point doing the job previously was really starting to struggle with the load placed on it. That was followed by another install of Debian a few days ago onto the Acer TravelMate 2350 I’m currently typing this blog entry with. Neither machine is particularly powerful (the Viglen is the bigger of the two with 1.7GHz of CPU power and half a gig of RAM) but they do the job more than adequately now they’re running.

But the result of getting them to that working state is that I now harbour a sort of love/hate relationship with Linux in the sense that, whilst I love the idea of Linux and getting away from Microsoft operating systems, as a n00b I’m surprised by how fiddly it can be to get things working. This is, I suspect, why Linux hasn’t made the massive inroads into the desktop market that supporters felt it should a few years back; if you’ve got some knowledge of computing and don’t mind rooting around (excuse the “pun”) then using most flavours will probably be okay if a little time consuming to begin with, but for the average user who has enough problems keeping a Windows box going, anything more complicated than word processing or perhaps web browsing will be a bloody nightmare!

I’m fairly sure that some of the issues are down to me making a rod for my own back by choosing Debian rather than going for one of the distros that try to make Linux more Windows-like such as the more commonplace Ubuntu or Mint but, with so many options around, that average user I mentioned earlier is probably going to struggle finding one that works for them. And in my case I wanted to install Debian if I ever get around to upgrading my servers so it seemed sensible to get stuck in rather than pussyfooting around with the simplified options. Generally speaking I’m sort of glad I did because, although there’s still a significant distance to go before I feel comfortable with the idea of having a primary work box running Debian and this laptop doesn’t even have sound working right now, I do at least feel smug happy that most of what I’ve attempted so far has worked.

One final and slightly unrelated thing I noticed, when typing this post into Open Office it didn’t flag the word “n00b” as incorrect – I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not…?

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