Friday, February 8, 2013

Free at Last with Linux

Katherine Noyes, aka
Linux Girl
I have been using and writing about Linux for roughly six years now, but it wasn't until just recently that I could appreciate its advantages to their fullest.


Because for most of the ensuing time I was dual-booting between Ubuntu Linux and Windows 7, and so—at least on one side of my PC—I was still subject to all the vulnerabilities and restrictions that afflict Windows users.

Then, at the end of last month, I finally gave Windows the boot once and for all on my desktop PC and installed Fuduntu as my primary operating system. I've felt light as a feather ever since, and now can't imagine what took me so long.

Fuduntu 2013.1 Logo
Are you hesitating on a similar move? You shouldn't. Here's how my experience went.

2007: What Is This 'Linux' of Which You Speak?

I began writing for ECT News Network in early 2007, and soon afterwards discovered an affinity for the stories published by LinuxInsider, one of the company's multiple tech publications.

I had always had geeky inclinations, but had never used or written about Linux before.

Not long afterwards, LinuxInsider invited me to launch the Linux Blog Safari column, and I became Linux Girl.

2009: Windows Who? Oh Right, Still There.

Over time, the more I wrote about Linux and open source software, the more intrigued I became. I began to use examples like OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird and GIMP, and soon I couldn't resist checking out Linux as well.

I've never been a fan of big corporations, and was strongly attracted to the small, community focus of projects like these. I started with Ubuntu but tried out Mint and Fedora as well.

All the time, though, I kept that Windows partition, partly (I'll admit) out of laziness, but also partly out of a vague feeling that I might need it again sometime. I use a VPN for some of my writing, for example, and wasn't sure how that would work on the Linux side.

2013: See Ya, Windows

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, and I finally realized it was time to pull the plug. I hadn't actually needed Windows for years by this time, but had only kept it lingering on my PC out of sheer inertia.

Encouraged by +Dietrich Schmitz and others, I wiped my Windows 7 partition and installed Fuduntu using the whole drive. It was a liberating feeling.

Wireless was effortless; printing took just a few minutes to configure.

Next, however, I had to get connected again with respect to my employers. Setting up email was easy, and with Chrome I could import all my old preferences. I had all my old data on a thumb drive.

The big, remaining question was getting my Cisco VPN connection up and running. The employer in question told me it didn't support Linux desktop clients, so I had a few tense moments initially.

Then, however, I saw that Fuduntu had numerous VPN options, including Cisco AnyConnect Compatible VPN (openconnect); Cisco compatible VPN (VPNC); IPsec/IKEv2 (strongswan); OpenVPN; and PPTP.

The second on that list worked like a charm. Credentials in hand, I got it up and running on the first try, and it's been flawless ever since.

Plays Nicely with Others

All of which goes to say, Linux plays pretty nicely with the business world these days.

Never have I experienced such a feeling of freedom in my computing environment—to do online banking, even!and it's all because so much work has been done to make Linux compatible with the (often inferior) proprietary technologies businesses so often use.

If you're considering pulling your computing plug in a similar way, I'd encourage you to do it sooner than I did. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. 
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  1. Absolutely. I've been living on it since 2007, "using" it heavily since 2001, and "introduced" to it in 1998. This has been a great ride. It's absolutely changed my career. I'll jump on opportunities to return to the Linux community whenever possible and have been *stoked* to help out with things like the occasional Ubuntu QA Jam.

  2. I had an abrupt intro to Linux thanks to Windows :-D January-ish 2010 my Windows XP machine caught a nasty virus. I was a budding Android addict and needed a computer for learning more about Android's guts. My computer 100% died and I was stuck. A friend at work asked if I installed Linux to fix it. "What is Linux anyway?" I remember asking him. He said I should check out Ubuntu. I read up a bit and settled on Kubuntu. I booted it up and learned I could add widgits to my desktop just like I could on my phone, my mind was blown and I haven't looked back at Windows since. GLORY! Now I use Arch Linux for my daily use and am going to try to make a home server with Arch as well.

  3. Ouch... What took you so long ? I started on GNU/Linux on 2003 and in 2005 I migrated full time and gave winblow$ the boot.
    Better late than never.

  4. A big Amen!

    Welcome to GNU/Linux desktops. For your next challenge and to truly escape the bonds propagated by M$, check out using a good PC for databasery and servery. For example, it is trivial to cache all your documents and webpages visited in a database accessed by your browser. Then you have a single tool to do everything better. Do try a search engine on your PC, too. If you are going to use a desktop PC you might as well get it to do all it can faster, cheaper and better. M$ sells server licences at a huge markup and many users don't realize that a computer is a computer whether it is a client or a server and GNU/Linux can be both at once.

    For databases, I recommend MySQL or PostgreSQL. For a search engine, locate from the CLI works if you use descriptive file-names, but you can have full-text search with Swish-e (a bit old-fashioned) or strigi, solr or xapian. Learn to use your package-manager's search function. GNU/Linux repositories of goodies.

  5. Pssst. You name link to Dietrich Schmitz on google plus

  6. Corrected. Thanks for the catch! :)