Friday, November 25, 2005

Introduction ... better late than never ...

I've been running this blog for a few months now, without proper introduction. So now, I thougth, the time is ripe.
My real name is Kenneth. I've been dragging the kennywest alias around since my first hotmail acount (which was also my first real e-mail address), which is why I used this alias for my blog as well.
I'm a consultant implementing architectures/solutions for B2B and A2A scenario's. For the moment I am using Biztalk to do this. I've also used plain Java, Seebeyond's e*Gate and Crossworlds.
Although I am working with Biztalk and .NET . I am not a, how should I put it, Microsoft supporter. I'm more into Open Source and Linux or UNIX.
I first heard about linux 8 or 9 years ago. At that time we were doing labs on a DOS box telnetting to a Linux server to learn about a database called PostgreSQL. A friend of mine had a 6 CD box containing RedHat, SuSE and Slackware distros. He told me he'd installed it and loved it very much. I decided to take it for a spin. My first impression was rather average. I wasn't impressed about the stability. X crashed from time to time, maybe my hardware was a little flaky, who knows.
About a year later I decided to buy RedHat 5.2 . Yes, at that time you'd still have to buy distros on CD. Internet was just becoming popular and I didn't have any money to spare on a dial-up or broadband connection. So I installed RedHat 5.2 . RedHat was pretty cool. I could do whatever I wanted. I was writing lab reports in StarOffice (which was included) and running Apache web server for browsing my own web site on my own box. Pretty stupid, I know, but at that time it seemed very nice. RedHat used fvwm2 as default window manager, but I didn't like it. It looked too much like Windows 95. I preferred Afterstep. Afterstep was highly configurable and I was messing in a lot of configuration files to make it look just how I wanted it to look.
A few months later I decided to buy SuSE 6.0 . Now that was a total different distro. It was German ;) No, seriously, it was much easier to install and maintain than its RedHat predecessor. SuSE also packaged with 6 CDs containing a load of software. Since I didn't have any connection to the Internet, this was an ideal solution. SuSE used YAST to configure almost everything. YAST also had an option to “save” the list of packages installed on the system. If you used this feature you could reinstall a system quite fast using this saved list. I used SuSE 6.0 a lot. I also acquired an old 486DX4 computer to use it as a server. My main computer was running Windows 95 (or was it NT) and I used the Linux server for backups. You know how thrust worthy Windows was (still is) ;)
A few years later (01/09/2000) I started working and got myself a broadband connection to the Internet. I was still using SuSE 6.0 which was becoming very outdated at that time. Upgrading to new versions of software, on the server, was hard to maintain. I had to download it from the net and compile it. I was also using a very outdated kernel (2.0.x I think) running an ipfwadm firewall to serve my internal network.
Somewhere in 2001 I got fed up with SuSE. I was reading a lot about different distros and a lot of people where talking about Debian. Debian had a superior package manager called APT which made it easier to maintain. Some people claimed, however, it was not for the faint of heart to install. In the years I'd been using SuSE and RedHat I learned a lot and I thought I was not “faint of heart”.
Installing Debian (potato at that time) was a revelation. It wasn't hard to install at all. I was very impressed with the APT tool. The stuff I read about the ease of updating and upgrading was indeed true. I kept the same machine (yes, the 486DX4) running for almost 4 years, updating/dist-upgrading every now and then without ever reinstalling it.
It was love at first sight.
6 months ago I ditched the 486DX4 (he was becoming a bit flaky) and replaced it with a PII 266. I installed Debian on it, keeping the install base as small as possible. My main desktop, however, was still running Windows NT. The reason for this is I was merely using it to burn CDs and surfing the web. I also thought Debian was not suited as a desktop OS (but well suited as a server OS). I had bad experiences burning CDs on Linux, so I wasn't prepared replacing NT.
Then I bought a new PC. The desktop was becoming very old, so I decided to invest in something new. It came preloaded with XP home. I hate XP home. It isn't even capable authenticating against a PDC I was running (Samba + LDAP). I'd had to buy the professional edition to do that.
XP lasted about a week. Then it asked me to install updates/patches ... and that was the last time I saw it.
I still read a lot about different distros. I was looking for something like Debian, but more desktop oriented. Sure, I know about compiling a kernel or other packages. But a desktop has to work out of the box, without a lot of customizing. So I read about Xandros and Libranet. I even used Libranet, but didn't like it. It seemed buggy. Xandros was superior, but it wasn't freely downloadable.
And then I read about Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is the thing I've been waiting for, for a long time. It installed like a breeze on my desktop and recognized almost every piece of hardware in my PC (a HP Pavilion It has everything a nice GUI distro like Mandrake or SuSE should have, but with the APT power of Debian. I'm in love ;)
On forum people tend to argue from time to time about “the best distro” or “the best desktop”. Who cares. No, really. If you like SuSE, fine use it. If you like Ubuntu, then use Ubuntu. I like Ubuntu because it has a lot of Debian in it. And Debian is, from my point of view, far superior than any other distro out there. Sure, it's not as die hard as Gentoo or Slackware but I don't want to spend a week compiling before I get to use my desktop. Slackware is the oldest distro out there, but it doesn't have APT and I am not prepared to give this up.
Anyway, this is my “Linux” story. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Enjoy life, enjoy Linux

1 comment:

zappa said...

Ha, yes. Ubuntu rules. Can't argue. :-)