The Relentless March of technology – Linux is now partying like it’s 1999

Written by James McDonald

November 27, 2007

I sit here writing a blog entry on a Ubuntu 7.10 box. I have a 3GHz CPU 200+ GB of Hard disk space and a 19″ monitor. I haven’t used computers all through my life. I started in earnest in 1999 (I was 26) finally deciding that I should use the Grey Matter I was given and spend less time in large Tin sheds, getting bruised knuckles, while working on all manner of mining & industrial machinery.

So I developed an interest in computers. I went to England for 12 months, and while there my Brother asked me to pick up a copy of Caldera 2.4. I brought it home for him and he installed it on an old Pentium. I wasn’t really into Linux at that point (I did recall him gesticulating wildly and saying “see you don’t even need to reboot once you have installed it”).

It was only after I came back to Australia that I developed an interest in knowing what was under the hood of the different networking technologies I had learn’t about while doing my MCSE (would you like fries with that MCSE?).

When working with a company’s specific technologies you tend to learn Brand Identification and their features and not so much the bedrock technologies that go into them. Microsoft’s packaged and wizarded software does not give one much of an idea of what is _really_ going on. So I turned to Linux (or GNU/Linux if you want to appease Richard Stalman and have a desire for factually correct language). Being able to tweak, hack, play with, coerce an operating system and all it’s installed packages gives you the ultimate ability to find out what is happening under the hood so to speak.

All the technologies we know only as acronyms become understandable when you delve into a Linux environment. For example SMB, LDAP, HTTP, HTTPS, SSL the “Linux Way” gives you a lower level understanding of what they do, and how they work, then clicking Next, Next, OK on a Wizard. Although it’s nice to know how things work. When you start doing I.T. for a living you simply can’t become an expert at everything, unless of course you are an undiagnosed Idiot Savant.

So the future of Linux is now heading towards wizards and best guess configuration with a nod to those who still would like to do it using vi and the command line . This is good because it makes it accessible to anyone with a Windows background. Although I’m sure the greybeards will rile against it.

Anyway, I haven’t had to install Windows on my home computers for a long time because I simply don’t need to. Anytime I need to connect back to work I have pptp-client, openvpn, rdesktop, tsclient and others which enable me to do all my Windows tasks while logged into Linux. In fact I now have a preference of using open source applications while at work. Dia for network diagrams. GIMP for photo editing and Openoffice to export direct to PDF instead of the Word ==> PDF995 loop.

So from 1999 till now Linux and it’s plethora of supporting applications has become a very real alternative to you know whom. Viva la progress.


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