Getting My Feet Wet

June 23, 2006

Once I determined to learn about Linux, I naturally went to linux.org which has a wealth of information.  Some of it is actually useful for noobs like me.  However, people fiddling around with Linux tend to be a very nerdy bunch.  I thought *I* was nerdy, but Linux attracts propeller heads of an entirely new level.  My geek-speak is a little rusty, so it was a real chore wading through all the new jargon about command lines, apt-get, distros, kernels and assorted other terms casually tossed about.  Did I really belong here?  And would it really be worth spending my time learning all this stuff?


The jury is still out, but I still waded in.  Otherwise there wouldn't be much to read, would there?


I'm still using dial-up which is quite frugal but not terribly geeky.  This automatically made the downloading of various distributions and programs a challenge.  It would also pose a challenge to actually using Linux down the road.


I wanted the easiest version of Linux that I could get.  Being inexpensive is also a plus.  Most distributions can be downloaded for free, but remember…dial up?  There are tons of choices.  Other than easy and cheap, I wanted something on a live CD.  A live CD allows a person to really try out Linux before committing to it.


So I found www.linuxcd.org and ordered a Simply Mepis CD.  Most all the reviews I read on this distribution were favorable and it seemed like just the thing.  The cost was $1.99 plus $1.95 postage.  So for $3.94, I had my operating system.


I also ordered a set of disks for Mandrake 10.0, which I haven't ever used, mainly because there was no live CD available.  I wish I could tell you why I ordered it.  The only explanation is that once a person starts off into this they somehow begin acquiring several brands and flavors of Linux.  Most forums will include people who try multiple distrros before deciding on one they like.


It took several weeks before I got my Linux CDs.  In the meantime, the computers at work were seriously screwed up.  No one could get on the network to access email or the internet.  Networked computers were totally useless for even doing the paperwork required for making worksheets and tests and other materials for preplanning a new school year.


In the meantime, I began looking at some other alternative and open source programs.  Heard of Firefox?  This is open source and is the same Firefox used for Linux as for Windows.  Thunderbird is the email/RSS manager by Mozilla.  Then there is Open Office.  This was the answer to my Office XP dilemma.  These are all available in Windows as well and Linux.   And all for free.  Having something as powerful as Office for free is a tremendous bonus.


So now I was getting into the world of Open Source and getting a better understanding of the good points of all this.  There are bad points, too, which I'll reveal in time.


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