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Geoff Papilion has made a living running infrastructure for the past 15 years. He is currently employeed at Wikia.com, scaling the infrastructure to 1.5 billion request per day. Geoffrey is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 26 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

A Personal Linux History (Or, the Linux Laptop Comes of Age)

01.06.2013
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Back in 1997 I installed my first copy of FreeBSD. I had to do some major research to get X Windows up and running, and the next computer I bought I very carefully selected a video card to make things easier. I was happy, I was able to use gcc, but getting online via 56k modem could be a bit of a chore.

So long little devil…

In early 1998 I started using RedHat Linux. I could play mp3s, and easily run things like RealPlayer and Mathematica. My copy of Netscape Navigator was just every bit as good as my Windows copy. However, I was too young to aperciate LaTeX, and needed a word processor to write papers. I tried to use every word processor I could find, but allas they all sucked. So, I had to dual boot linux and windows.

The Sun Also Rises

In 1999, I had a Sun Sparc 5 Workstation. I used it for a few years, with little difficulty. At the time I used mutt for email, netscape when I needed a browser. Cut and paste was still questionable, and viewing a Word or an Excel doc took more work than I cared to admit. But the world was starting to change.

The Sun Also Sets

I was getting HTML email, constantly. I got more and more attachments, and my boss was asking for better calendaring. I would go to websites, and get a plesant Javascript pop up saying, I needed IE.

By 2001, I was using Windows full time. I needed Outlook, Word, and Excel. I wasn’t wild about it, but I could get things done.

And, we have a new Contender

In spring of 2001 I bought my first Mac. It was a beuatiful Titanium Macbook G4 running OS 9. I could run my productivity apps, connect to my windows shares, and still ssh to any unix system that needed my attention.

For the next 11 years I used Macs for a personal computer, and I used windows PCs for work. In 2008 I got my first work Mac and I found my happy place. I described it as having a linux computer without the hassle of trying to run linux on a laptop.

In 2010 and 2011, I still used a Mac and told my co-workers who install Ubuntu they were wasting there time. They suffered with wireless problems, things like bluetooth never worked, and battery life suffered. I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to use OS X.

Nothing is forever

Two days ago I got my Dell XPS 13 as part of a Dell beta progam called project Sputnik. I got a special version of Ubuntu, with some kernel patches, and some patched packages for sleep and hibernation. After an hour of struggling with making a bootable USB drive from my Mac for my Dell(turns out it was an issue with the USB drive), I had a working computer. By 8pm I had my development enviroment setup, I had chef up and running, and even my VPN was working. I was amazed.

So, far its been good; most apps I use are web apps. I spend 70% of my time in a terminal, and 30% of my time in a web browser. Honestly its the perfect computer for me right now. So, I’m waving goodbye to the ecosystem Mr. Jobs built, and moving to the world of linux full time.

Published at DZone with permission of Geoffrey Papilion, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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