Why does Debian smell like freedom?

I bought my first desktop computer in 1999 and Windows ’98 came with it. I thought it was pricey, but I didn’t have a choice. Since then, I’ve bought two more desktops and three more laptops for home use at regular intervals and each one of them came with an XP or Vista license. In the couple of decades that went by, learning Windows was a necessity. Windows ’95 didn’t exist when I was in college and was never taught to me. At that point in time, I didn’t mind coughing up the money for personal licences, to cope with the corporate hunger for Windows.

Now when I ask myself if I would like to pay for the newest Windows, I come up with a big no. This is not the first version of Windows and it certainly wont be the last. Clearly, the more I invest in Windows today, the more I will re-invest in the future. And the money usually buys me features that dont really matter to me. Even if one ends up buying Windows, he’d soon have had to pay for an MS-Office licence, if it weren’t for the open source folks who gave the world atelast a possibility of opening a spreadsheet before opening your wallet..

I re-built my PC recently. Instead of dual booting with OpenSuSE, I now dual boot with Debian 5.

When I get back from work and power up my PC and watch GRUB ticking, I am faced with a hard choice every day. Should I boot into Debian by default and use the less known programs like Iceweasel, Pidgin and Transmission or should I boot into Windows so that I can update my virus definitions, install windows updates and use the programs with nice names?

I’ve learnt by practice that when I boot into Debian, my heart feels free and light. With every boot, the conviction grows stronger. I dont have to worry about buying software. Its sure is not the easiest way to do things. But atleast a programmer wont make me open my wallet again because he couldn’t write the best program in the first go.

I believe that the real solutions for the world today should be simple, transperant,  driven by collective intelligence and  accessible to the masses. If it weren’t for piracy, most commercial software would be lot less popular today. Things were different when people were not computer savvy and depended on other companies to get their software. But as people begin to know more and more about about computers, they are not waiting for companies to step in to solve their problems. They write their own solutions and strive to make it better.

If we can understand that human beings are natural problem solvers who strive to improve the quality of life, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve learnt to solve the coding problem. The companies that made hay while the sun shone were the lucky ones. Clearly, open source  has come of age and it will only get better as the average user learns more.

Debian smells like freedom because it reflects my own growth into a mature user who can understand and evalute choices.

Apple, XP, Linux

Let me break the news.

I’m on Mac OS X and Windows XP simultaneously – a possibility which I didn’t believe existed I till set this up all myself :).

Firefox has already replaced Safari on my Mac. Scribefire works all the same. Yahoo messenger works just the same on a Mac.

This week I plan to try out Debian on VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop.

XP running on Mac certainly seems to be missing a few “power things” that a native Windows PC can do. But Mac’s Leopard is an excellent learning platform available today.

I’m still figuring things. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed by all the new features I have in front of me to learn.

Moved to Debian

After downloading 3 DVD isos totalling 13 GB, after a week of 9 hour per day scheduled power cuts, after sitting up all  night, after drinking precisely 11 cups of tea with sour milk, after the first few install attempts crashed due to NVIDIA, after GNOME, after KDE, though I’m still on Iceweasel – I movedto Debian.

Good bye Mandriva 2008, You gave me the confidence that Linux can be truly fun.

Good bye Vista, You suck.

Living with Linux

Now here is a story that is a living proof of people’s laziness to move out of Windows:


For the last two weeks now, I’ve been playing around with computers and operating systems. I’ve finally settled on Mandriva 2008. Its been a week now. I haven’t booted once into Vista though it is installed on my PC – some austerity is required, if I were to ever learn Linux.

Just so that I don’t forget it, I need to document my steps every now and then.

Installation (12th Nov 07):

I re-installed from the Mandriva 2008 Powerpack DVD iso which I downloaded. My earlier installation did not include GNOME so I added it on. Install process was simple. I allocated only 15 GB space to the root ext3 partition, which seems to be big mistake now though. The remanining 65 gigs of this hard disk and the other 320 GB hard disk are all in NTFS. This is limiting my ability to handle data.

I could not boot any version of Linux with my NVIDIA geforce 5200
plugged in. So I simply pulled it out and am presently on i915G

Configuration of installation sources and update (13 Nov 07)

After repeated complaints about the installation media not being readable, I used to Mandriva control centre to change the media source for installation and updates to be from internet and excluded the installation media. No complaints since then.

Added compiz effects (16 Nov 07)

Now the 3D graphics rocks :). Shame shame Windows Vista.

Viewing .rar files (17 Nov 07)

Added capability to view .rar files on Mandriva by running this rpm


Now set to learn Linux

For the last two weeks now, I’ve been playing around with computers and operating systems.

One thing comes out clearly. Open source software has come a long way.

In the last two weeks I tried SuSE 9.1,  openSUSE 10.2, openSUSE 10.3, ubuntu 7.10, kubuntu 7.10, Mandriva 2008 power pack. I loved what Linux did to my PC.

I could never resolve the conflict between my nvidia geforce fx 5200 and the onboard i915G that kept preventing Linux from booting. I finally yanked the nvidia card out and settled for the onboard graphics.

Vista runs on my PC with an experience index of 1.0 and the Aero interface disabled. Mandriva rocks my PC.

Haven’t used Vista or XP in weeks. I dont think I need these anymore. I need to learn Linux to survive.

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