I Just Can’t Stay Away From Linux

person Billy Brawnerfolder_openOpinionsaccess_time May 21, 2016

Just over a year ago, I downloaded and installed Linux onto my computer for the first time. I wanted to learn to program and I had read that programming on Windows was pretty tough, particularly for newbies, and that Linux would be much easier to get going with, especially considering I didn’t have the money for a Mac at the time. I didn’t want to completely remove Windows, because I wasn’t sure that I would even like Linux, so I opted for the dual boot setup. I had no idea what I was doing, and I really got lucky because I could have easily wiped my Windows partition on accident and ended up with just Linux.

My distribution of choice to get started was Ubuntu. I had done some research on the various distributions and the general consensus seemed to be that Ubuntu was the most popular because it is easy for newbies and has the widest selection of available software. Once I was set up, I found it quite easy to switch back and forth between Windows and Ubuntu. At first, I only really used Ubuntu for development. When I had time to study and practice, then I would switch over to Ubuntu but otherwise I stayed on Windows. Things started to change a little once I started to get involved with the community. I have spent many days browsing the Ubuntu Forums as well as the dedicated StackOverflow community called Ask Ubuntu, either looking for answers to my questions or looking to help out other fellow Linux users. The community was (and still is) easily my favorite aspect of Linux.

After a few months of learning to code on Linux, I landed my first job as a web developer. I had begun to study Python, HTML, CSS, and a little JavaScript towards the end of March that year, which is exactly the same time I got started on Linux, and by August I was employed as a PHP developer. In that company, everyone used Apple products. iPhones, iPads, iMacs, you name it. I even saw a couple of people with the iWatch. By this time, I had saved up a little and decided to get myself a used MacBook Pro. I was pretty happy with it at first, but as time went on, I found myself missing Linux. I think I used OSX for about two to three months before I found myself back on Linux. This time, however, I decided to give some other distros a try. In the following months, I found myself primarily back and forth between Ubuntu and Xubuntu. I used openSUSE and elementaryOS for about a month each, and tested out Fedora, Solus, Chromixium (which now goes by the name of Cub Linux), and Debian in a virtual machine. I even put together a (somewhat) functional Arch Linux installation, that I used for a couple of months. All are fantastic operating systems, each with their strengths and weaknesses, that I was able to enjoy for a time.

A little over a month ago, I found myself curious about Windows 10. I’m particularly interested in AI, so having Cortana was very appealing to me. I also grew up on Windows, so a part of me did miss the old programs and games that I used to use. On a flight from the US to Mexico, I was working on some code and accidentally ran a fatal command:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /

(the / and the . are right right next to each other on the US keyboard layout). This essentially ruined my installation of Ubuntu. I didn’t lose any of my data, because I keep good backups and was able to use a live USB to recover the little that wasn’t backed up already, but I was so annoyed with myself and with that mistake that I decided to give Windows a try. I have a different laptop now, with only a 128GB drive, so dual booting was not an option. I went all out and re-installed Windows on my machine, replacing Linux. Development on Windows is OK. There are plenty of GUI tools available to help you get the job done, and Cygwin is a decent bash terminal for Windows. I personally found development to be rather stiff and difficult, because I am very much a fan of using the terminal for many tasks, including quick text editing, file management, even downloading some files. I found all of these tasks rather difficult in Windows, and I ran into trouble performing simple actions such as customizing the PowerShell colors. I tried to find a forum and something similar to an IRC channel for Windows users, but such things don’t exist, not in the way I was searching for them. I eventually decided that Windows is not for me. I would like to set up a desktop for some casual gaming where I would have Windows installed, but beyond that, I am a Linux user. I just can’t stay away from it.

I now find myself using Debian Jessie, because I wanted to get some more stability. Ubuntu is nice because you can find almost anything you need for it, but it can be quite annoying when you have software that crashes or doesn’t install correctly, etc. I need some more stability, since I rely on my computer for work. Besides, I have pretty much everything I can think of that I would like to have on my Debian installation right now, and everything I have is something that I used to have on Ubuntu as well. Not only that, but I prefer Debian’s community-led development model over Ubuntu’s Canonical-backed development. Sure, being corporately backed guarantees them a steady development cycle and firm decisions, as well as other goodies like an Ubuntu tablet and phones, but Linux is a community-built operating system, and I want to use a community-built and community-led distribution of it. I’m not sure if I will stay on Debian forever, considering that I’ve only been around Linux for a year now and I’m sure that there are many more distributions I might be interested in, but I am changing my philosophy slightly. I no longer feel the need to try out all sorts of different distributions; I’ve tried several and know what I like and what I don’t. I’m sticking with Debian until I have a solid reason not to.

I’m also going to start contributing. Linux has changed my life for the better, by enabling me to learn and providing a community of fans that are willing and able to help newbies like myself. It’s time I give back and do my part to improve the community. So be on the look out for more posts from me, as I’ll be sure to show off my work just a little bit 🙂

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