I finally made the switch from Windows to Linux. My family's budget eMachine box is woefully underpowered for the Vista it came preloaded with and my Dad hated the OS with a passion. I've also been worried the movement would take away my libertarian decoder ring if they found out I still wasn't taking advantage of the most fleshed out and functional example of real-world anarchism and revolutionary agorist praxis around.

Installing Ubuntu, a popular, user-friendly, Linux distribution, was mostly a breeze. It's still not quite to the point where Grandma can do it no problem but it's getting better. When I tried to install Ubuntu on a computer a few years ago, my computer-savvy friend (who now works for Microsoft) and I had so much trouble with the monitor that we had to give up. I just tried again with the same old desktop and had no trouble at all. I was also impressed with the vast catalog of free software available for the operating system and the intuitiveness and attractiveness of the graphical interface.

If you're a reader or contributor to this blog, you really should consider making the switch. Linux is the product of spontaneous emergent social order. Individuals acting freely, without central direction, harnessing local knowledge and expertise, have created an immense, organic, and eminently functional, system. What's more, intellectual property is everywhere and always a child of the state and completely illegitimate. Why would you support statist corporations and give money to corporatist parasites if you don't have to?

Even if there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with proprietary software, it makes sense, on thickness grounds, to support projects that embody and inculcate values useful for the creation and preservation of free society; values like curiosity, independence, anti-authoritarianism, and creativity--something Linux does with flair. I like the way this software makes me think. Linux lays its guts out for the user and gives her complete control over how it works--even if this means it's possible to really screw things up and the learning curve is steep. When I took a smoke break last night from poring over how-to guides and ham-handedly thrashing about on the command line, I found myself examining a fire hydrant I've always ignored to figure out how its connections work. The broader adoption of free software will definitely have a salutary effect on our politics and culture.

I very highly recommend this nine year old but still awesome essay on operating systems by Neal Stephenson: "In the Beginning was the Command Line"

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Welcome to the wonderful world of *n*x

I would say that Linux is just one of the many results of this digital renaissance of ours. The electronics industry flourished under a lack of regulation and I feel we are reaping the benefits of that.

I enjoy Linux as well. I started using it in '99 (Red Hat) and have been using it for various computing purposes since then. Every OS has its pros and cons though.

do yourself a favor :) sudo

do yourself a favor :)

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

you'll get kubuntu which is ubuntu with kde instead of gnome as a desktop manager. KDE is vastly more powerful than Gnome.

I'm using the xubuntu

I'm using the xubuntu desktop on my old computer right now. I'll take your advice and experiment with kde on my laptop.

Not so fast...

When the full impact of your switch hits you will you realize your mistake or will you say that your hours and hours of time trying (and only possibly succeeding) to configure and update software is well-spent because you learned so much?

Here's some from the other side by a very knowledgeable guy:

Besides, if you insist on going free there are alternatives: BSD and Solaris. Personally, I wouldn't use either for a desktop system because there is no free and effective desktop OS.

N.B. The blogging software has two bugs: 1) it keeps prefixing to anchors and 2) if the anchor tag is not closed off, the entire editing box turns into a link pointing to the anchor href prefixed by the above.

I did spend a lot of time

I did spend a lot of time fiddling with software but that's why I got Linux in the first place, much like some people like to be a car mechanics. It's a hobby.

A common problem is the following. You want to do X. With windows, you quickly find out it's impossible to do X and give up. With Linux, you find out there's a contrive day which might just allow you to do X, but it takes a lot of work. At this point people often underestimate the work needed because they really want to do X... they end up with X but it's just not worth it.

Examples of X?

What is commonly desired but impossible to do with Windows? I find that pretty much whatever I want to do, somebody has written something for Windows that does it. And frankly, I think Irfanview (Windows only) is better than anything I can find for my Mac, and I think that Combined Community Codec Pack, with Classic Media Player (Windows only), is better than anything I can find for my Mac (right now the best player - once I have the right codecs loaded - is MPlayer, but it was and is really hard to find the actually current version - and while VLC is good, especially in the latest release, though I have not checked to see whether the previously-wretched subtitling has been fixed, it sucks up too much CPU), and Ultraedit (Windows only) is better than anything I can find for my Mac (including Textmate). And so on and so forth. And I find the Linux situation to be even more disappointing. The only thing that comes close to Ultraedit in my view is Jedit (Jedit is actually more powerful for my uses) but it's kind of a mess and ultimately I think Ultraedit serves me better. Jedit, at least, is cross platform. And yes, I know that Emacs is God and VI is The Omnipresent, but I have never found the time and do not intend to learn the Divine Language.

If you're talking about command line stuff, the chaining together of Unixy utilities, Mac of course has it, and Windows does have a lot of that available (in two varieties - one open source - cygwin - and one Microsoft-made called Windows resources for Unix or something like that), and you can do pretty much everything of that sort with a little Perl script and Perl does Windows too. But when it comes to personal computing (as opposed to work computing) I find I rarely resort to those things anyway.

(Complex configurations

(Complex configurations using multiple screens with laptops) \in {X_i}

IrfanView => I use gwenview

MPlayer, but it was and is really hard to find the actually current version

apt-get update && apt-get install mplayer
I prefer xine though.

Ultraedit => vi, emacs, kate ? (or... ultraedit? it runs perfectly with wine you know)

I meant Mac

My comparisons of software were between Windows and Mac, not between Windows and a Linux distro. I've had various distros of Linux off and on, but it's been a while so I don't have a fresh memory of the issues that came up. The latest one I tried - Ubuntu, I think - was very nice, and ultimately it was a hardware failure that prompted me to pick up a new machine (which has Vista installed - I hate Vista, but I don't need that particular machine to do much other than be online 24/7 and do a few essential tasks).

I bet

Hah, no I don't
(bet deleted ^^)

All of the software I

All of the software I mentionned run on OS X.


Maybe apt-get works on a Mac but I'm not ready to use it. If the software is available as a regular Mac binary which I can download and install in the regular Mac way, then I'll try it. I've plumbed the depths of and other mac software sites. I think I downloaded more than five distinct comic book readers. Comic book readers! Not a single one of them matches the one and only comic book reader anybody needs on Windows, CDisplay. People might say I'm just used to the Windows software's quirks. I don't think so. There are essential functions. The Mac software has one or another of these essential functions, but none of them have all of them. The best Mac one I found was FFView. I can of course find Mac software that does essentially what Irfanview etc. does, but there's one important thing or another that is sorely missed.

My impression: windows software is an ocean. Lots of crap but so much stuff that the best of it is very, very good. Mac software is a pond.

Big fan of KDE?

You also recommended it earlier to someone else - as kubuntu. I'll try it out (if it's not to hairy). The future-oriented language makes me wonder what's actually available now, but I'll take a look.

I am a big fan of KDE indeed

I am a big fan of KDE indeed ;)

You are right about the future oriented language, kde began a big new cycle with kde 4, which is an entirely new thing.

I'd recommend sticking to kde 3.5.10 as I think the new kde 4 is still a bit immature. However, kde 4 runs without a graphic server on OS X, so that's a big plus, and 4.2 alpha did improve a lot on the kde 4.0.

You can easily try a kubuntu live DVD with kde 3 or kde 4 without changing anything in your system.

One question

Do you happen to know if the KDE and MacPort files generally are segregated from the rest of the Mac system. One thing I don't like is when I install something and it puts crap everywhere, which stays there forever because I can't find it all if I want to remove it (e.g. to replace KDE 3 with KDE 4). Windows registry an example of this.

No I don't, never used it on

No I don't, never used it on a mac. Try a livecd first, it won't touch anything. If you install kde on OSX, don't go with kde 3 anyway.

Why do you hate Vista? I've

Why do you hate Vista? I've been running it for several months now and haven't had a problem.

I use vista at work, it

I use vista at work, it suits me better than XP.

It's annoying

Every time I restart my Vista laptop, I have to re-adjust the mousepad. The settings do not save between startups. My guess? It probably involves Vista's paranoid permissions system. If I were to start up the mousepad software in administrator mode it might actually be able to write the settings changes to the file. But it wasn't obvious to me how to do that, since the mouse software isn't just sitting there in my list of applications. I was thinking about spending an hour or two or four trying to figure out how the damn thing worked so that I wouldn't have to adjust the damn mousepad every damn time I rebooted, but at around the time I was going to do that I bought a Mac.

I have no idea what's happening, all I know is that I can't get effing sabnzbd to work on my Vista machine. It works fine on XP. It works fine on Mac. But for whatever stupid mysterious reason, it works for a few minutes on Vista and then mysteriously just drops the connection to the server, requiring me to restart it, over and over. Eventually it will download.

Okay, I don't have all day. I need to do other things with my day so I'll stop here.

This is "X" :) You just

This is "X" :)

You just quit... on Linux you might have stumbled on someone with a similar problem and spent a long time hacking xorg.conf

Fair Enough

If you approach it as a hobby, then good for you. The problem is that if you're not dual booting with something that you know is stable it is far too easy to get into a problem by means of a "simple" upgrade that you thought would only take a few minutes. When you need your machine right now and it's not working properly Linux tends to lose is lustre. Regardless though, I think that you're taking the right approach for a single user.

I still maintain though that BSD (Free or PC) is a better choice because of its stability, history and development attitude. I found apt-get to be annoying more than helpful especially compared with BSD Ports collection. Plus, just about anything you'd want for Linux can be compiled on BSD without modification if it doesn't already run straight out of the tarball (which it likely does). If you have some time, try dual booting with PCBSD and let us (the readers here) know what you think.


Why is XP not free enough?


Welcome to the club :)

I couldn't go back to an OS without a first-class package management system (and no, Macports doesn't qualify). Mac OS X is a pretty solid OS also, but I have a hard time giving any money to apple.

I do understand why some people don't want to spend the time to experiment with a different OS, but as someone who needed to learn linux for work anyway, using it for my main OS has been a wonderful experience since Ubuntu 7.10


I downloaded the Wubi installer many months ago, and it told me I should back up my files before installing it. So I put it off for later. Then my harddrive crashed. I figured there was nothing to lose and installed it on my nearly-empty new replacement hard disk. After using it for a while I decided Ubuntu sucked and now I only boot in XP.

In my experience, installing

In my experience, installing Linux is a waste of a perfectly good weekend. I've tried it four or five times now with a couple of different distributions (most recently Ubuntu 8.04), and every single time I've had a problem that's prevented the system from even booting up correctly. If I'm lucky enough to get any error message at all, it's cryptic at best. I then have to spend hours searching Internet message boards for the magic string I have to add to some configuration file to make it work.

If and when I finally get it working, I'm underwhelmed. I've never seen that it has any significant advantages over Windows. The evangelists talk about how much more stable it is than Windows, but they seem to be stuck in 1999, because Windows 2000, XP, and Vista are stable—I haven't seen a blue screen (except a couple caused by hardware failures) in eight years. Linux has a superb toolset for batch processing, but those tools are all available on Windows now. Driver support is spotty, and God help you if you want to use a wireless networking card. And forget about games. It's kind of cool that you can reprogram the OS, but not many people are interested in or capable of doing that.

I should note that Ubuntu

I should note that Ubuntu now installs flawlessly on Lenovo Thinkpads and comes pre-installed on a variety of Dell laptops. I'm currently posting from my Ubuntu Thinkpad, and I love it.

Now, I had a hell of a time getting my Ubuntu Desktop running because some of the hardware wasn't as well supported, so YMMV.

Whenever I go back to Windows, I feel like my computer loses a little magic. It's harder to learn Linux, but once you used to it it's easy to get spoiled by all the little ways the OS helps you do what you want to do.