I cannot forget this day in my life. I’ve been granted permission by my company to use Ubuntu Linux for my work from today. It was like a dream come true for me. I’ve been using Windows for any serious kind of development work till yesterday. Today I felt extremely happy when I booted into linux at my work place for the first time ever to do development. Hurrah! Ubuntu@Work, finally…!
But it was not a bed of rose for me. I first came across the linux world almost 2 years back, when one of my colleagues passed me a Ubuntu 6.x Live CD. I never bothered about it (to be frank, I was scared to use it :-) ) for quite some time. Then I luckily noticed a information in the Live CD that I can try it without ever installing it on my machine. That sounded great to me. I quickly booted into the Live CD and entered into the wonderful world called linux for the first time ever. It was really a pleasant experience.
Not until the fall of 2007, I had the guts to install Ubuntu in any form. Things started to change when I bought a new Dell notebook. It had plenty of hard disk in it and it was quite new which prompted me to try linux in some kind of installed form. So I quickly searched through the web about setting up a dual boot machine along with the Windows XP that was pre-installed in my new notebook. Though I had initial success in installing Ubuntu, that did not last long. Some issues like improper screen resolution drove me away from Ubuntu for a while.
I played more with “MS Virtual PC” later. It might be my personal view, but I didn’t have a fruitful relationship with Virtual PC, blame it on the bad reputation of Microsoft (atleast with me). I was convinced (in my personal view) that Virtual PC might not be the best thing in the world to try linux. So I started looking for alternatives and came across a wonderful tool called VirtualBox.
That’s really an amazing piece of software and my love grew further when Sun Microsystems acquired VirtualBox. With VirtualBox in my toolbox, I started exploring the linux world. VirtualBox helped me to try Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, PCLinuxOS and OpenSolaris from within my Windows XP. It was so convenient that I started installing/uninstalling full fledged linux distros as though they are some firefox add-ons :-) . Some articles I wrote about VirtualBox went ahead to become the most read articles in my blog.
That was really a fantastic time and I was imbibed in VirtualBox and forgot about a full linux installation completely. Things started to change when I got married and my new notebook was taken over by my sweet heart :-( . After using a system with lots of harddisk and ram space, I was left with my old office notebook with not so great specs. With a system which had 1 GB ram and 60 GB harddisk, VirtualBox was not even an option for me now. That prompted me to write some really boring stuff.
But having tasted the mouth watering linux food for a reasonable amount of time, Windows looked like a rotten banana for me. Imagine yourself driving a bullock cart after driving a nice sedan. I was exactly feeling like that. I was itching my hands to find new ways to try linux even in my old notebook. That was the time when I encountered a wonderful little gem called Wubi.
Wubi was great in the sense that it allowed me to install Ubuntu inside my existing “ntfs” partition. To be precise, Wubi installed Ubuntu in my “C” drive where Windows XP has been the sole monarch for a long long time. I was excited and started using Ubuntu regularly at home.
At the other end, my frustration with Windows was growing bigger and bigger. Though Windows XP is a decent operating system (especially when compared to a monster called Vista) it started showing it’s age. Patches were not going to help it. The “Service Pack 3” for Windows XP made my system to hang and forced me to go back to “Service Pack 2”. But still you need to defragment often and format once in a while to help this old operating system which was released many years back (is it 2001?) keep going. Compare this to the *nix world! You get new releases of Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSolaris, etc for almost every 6 months.In my notebook which ran Windows XP Service Pack 2, Firefox startup took nearly 2 minutes, NetBeans startup took almost the same time and these are the apps I use most frequently.
I had two options infront of me. The first option was to format my entire system and re-install Windows XP to get a marginally better performance. The second option was to install a linux distro like Ubuntu and start using it for work. I have tried the first option for ages and this time obviously, I chose the second option and went for it. But I still have Windows XP quietly sitting with frustration in a corner, only to watch me using Ubuntu Linux more and more. I now see a shivering Windows XP (still occupying a precious amount of space) counting it’s day in my system.