Thursday, April 14, 2005

Plunge Taken...

Bandwagon firmly landed on with both feet...

Windows decided to play up. I thought to myself "I can fix this". Then I thought, "Why bother? This is my work machine and it should ALWAYS be up". Then I installed Linux. I now have Linux as my primary desktop.

Things I will miss:

- Games (but may well invest in a cheap XP machine for those)
- My plethora of "essential" programs (no more Zonealarm icon flashing away reassuringly, no more need for specialist programs like NAT32, virus scanners, spyware detectors etc.) which have become obsolete or unnecessary.

Things I won't miss:
- Bugs
- Blue screens
- Viruses (Only ever had one, personally, from a respected PC Games magazine CD)
- Spyware (Never had any but always kept checking)
- Endless drivers

I've moved onto a Slackware 10.1 system running KDE and it's working just fine. I plan to use it for work mainly, and to provide a fault-free stable system for the next few years. Already browsing the web, rss, irc & emailling (having Opera be multiplatform is a lifesaver and greatly helped the transfer), icq, msn, yim and aim (thanks to Kopete, the linux equivalent of Trillian without the ludicrous upgrades and skins), printing (via CUPS and the lovely people at for the PPD), access to all my parititions, a firewall, a version of PuTTY (yes, I know it's just an SSH frontend but I liked it on Windows and I'm used to it now).

Considering it's running on a plain VESA driver for now, it's actually faster than even my finely-tuned 98. Have still to set up my CD-RW and DVD-ROM but don't see them being a problem, using k3b and mplayer. My scanner is linux-incompatible but I have two others sitting under the desk that are 100% compatible, so just have to re-cable that. My "weird" hardware like my cheapy-RAID card, cheapy USB stick, USB IrDA, Intel QX3 are already supported and auto-detected without me having to touch anything. Will have a look see how hard it is to connect to my Nokia via IrDA and use my card-reader at some point but that's hardly a priority.

Collateral damage is minimal so far, just a lilo change to boot Linux by default. All my flaky FAT drives are still there and accessible. I am considering investing in Crossover Office to run my Word 2000 and Excel 97 combo and possibly even things like Dreamweaver but for the moment, KOffice is holding the fort.

Considering that 90% of my use of the computer is Web, Email and IM, the impact has not been too bad, it took minutes to get up and running with the exact same version of Opera that I was running on Windows and import all my stuff over. Scroll wheel on my mouse and the occasional segfault due to not having any swap were very quickly cured and I haven't managed to crash it since.

I need to switch on APM/ACPI but I haven't tried that yet. Normally a "modprobe apm" does all that for me but it appears to be missing so I will try and track that down. When it didn't work, I was too busy trying out all the silly card games to care. :-) Worst case scenario is that I recompile the stock kernel that Slackware provides to something a little more relevant. The only difference that that gives me to my old Windows 98 is that now I don't have a pretty screen up when I have to turn it off saying "Windows is shutting down..." :-)

I've decided to allocate one month of time to it, to see how I get on with it. I've resigned myself to the fact that it will not run my games but I may well be able to find emulators for my favourite older systems (Spectrum etc.), use things like DOSBox to run some of my older titles, and anything DirectX/OpenGL I can use on some other computer. That should be enough to distract me and I can use an XP machine as a games-console only.

The programs I have yet to find a suitable replacement for are Paint Shop Pro 7 (nice, simplified interface around a powerful image manipulation program), Dreamweaver (nothing quite like it), and a few tiny utilities I like to use.

I'll see how it goes and see whether I can hold of a nice games machine for myself. My ideal aim is to have a Linux desktop for work, browsing, email etc. and only power up a Windows XP machine for games, literally using it as a games console. Even then, what I want to do is make CD images of all my games and mount them over a Samba share via Daemon Tools on the windows side so that I don't have to track down every CD for every single game every time I want to play it. The samba share would be held on either the main Linux machine or on a small Linux storage server with a mini-RAID on it.

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