This weekend I did something I never thought I would do: I moved away from Windows.
I ran Windows 7 on a Traverse laptop since I came to work here almost 18 months ago, and personally since I was a kid, starting with Win 3.1x.
After all that time and experience I can't take it anymore. I have jumped ship and I am not coming back. This weekend I wiped my Windows install and loaded Ubuntu 12.04 LTS onto my primary drive. Physically, installing the new OS was easy; only after installing the OS did I realize there was a psychological effect I had not really counted on.
My Microsoft History
I have been a Windows user for over 20 years, and have run some sort of Microsoft operating system for *about* 25+ years.
Before Windows I used DOS, and way before that I ran a Commodore 64 that hooked up to our TV as the display. I shared the the A/B switch with a VCR my dad bought for $500. Hey, this was the mid-80's! But I digress.
I don't personally identify with my technology. Does anyone really identify themselves as a "Windows" guy? (Anyone reading this in 98052 is not allowed to respond.)
I certainly did not.
But, in the moment after I started the install process, I realized I had let go of my known computing world. However inelegant, with whatever faults and cumbersome processes, I understood Windows.
This mental state is perhaps equivalent to staying in a bad relationship, you may be aware there are better options out there, but you cannot visualize yourself in any of them.
Now, I have packed my bags and moved out. Time to start over.
The New Frontier
How did I decide on Linux as my next landing place? I thought I left Windows to make my life easier?
First, everyone has a first place you live after you move out of your parent's house. Maybe you stayed, likely you didn't. I am not here to proclaim Ubuntu as the answer to my OS prayers. We will see how things go from here.
Second, my Traverse laptop is awesome, and performs even better under Ubuntu. The footprint on my primary SSD cut in half and the memory management in Linux is fantastic. I am really impressed with how well my laptop is performing.
Third, an increasing part of our business involves open source operating systems and software. Our new Peak Cluster and Peak Stacker have been well received by our Linux fans. I want to develop skills in Linux and understand the challenges our customers face. Heck, I am even planning heading out to LinuxFest Northwest this year.
I will admit, it helps having a mad scientist two office doors away. The average Linux user probably doesn't have ready access to a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry, with 20+ years of history in HPC.
It is a perk of the job.
My Simple Set-up
I had been using a Wubi install of Ubuntu for a few months before this, and I would recommend this as a first step to anyone else wanting to check out Linux.
I have installed some Unity tweaks, PyRoom, XChat, Blogilo, Iced Tea, Evernote (via Wine), Netflix Desktop (critical) and a number of lenses. Most other tools I use are browser based, installation consisted of entering a user name and password. Pretty painless.
If you have any tips for a first time user of Ubuntu (running Unity desktop) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you!