For the past couple of years I have run a dedicated server for a few sites that I manage. Accordingly, I have learned a great deal in regards to server management, but more importantly, I have learned to work with Linux.
When I first started, my server being remote, I had to learn how to work with Linux through the CLI (Command Line Interface). And did I hate it! This is like going backwards and working with DOS again! LOL! Well, I’m glad that I stuck with it. Once you learn the ins and outs of the Linux CLI, you will be amazed at the power of the OS. I’m still a Linux noob and learn something new each and every day that still amazes me.
My server runs RedHat Express Linux (RHEL), which is a paid OS that I didn’t want to buy (the license for the copy I am using comes with the “lease” of the server, but cannot be used outside of the server) — but I wanted to learn more about Linux and how to manage my server… without “playing” and “testing” on my live server. So, I bought the Linux Bible and started reading.
It wasn’t long before the book made note of the various Linux distros that were included on the accompanying CD — Knoppix, Debian, SUSE, Yellow Dog, Gentoo, Slackware, Linspire and probably a few more I’m forgetting. I now had a Linux distro that I could install and play with (and even better, an OS that is FREE, built on the foundations of OpenSource Software). Let the install begin!
I grabbed an old P1 machine that I had sitting around, cleaned it off and started looking at which distro I was going to install. A few minutes on Google had me looking at Debian… Debian seemed to be quite popular, so Debian it is. The install was quick and painless — and I had a working command prompt in a very short period of time. Every command that I was leary about running on my live server, I was now able to play with and understand on my new test box. Wow! This is great!
So, I was happy with my new Debian install and worked with it for a couple of months — reading, Googling and learning. It helped a ton by giving me the understanding of how things worked, plus it gave me the ability to test things out without breaking a live server. If I screwed something up here, I could simply start again.
So, I’ll skip forward a bit… to the section of the Linux Bible on Desktop Environments. What? Linux has “windows”? I don’t need to work with the CLI? I can point and click? You betcha! I point apt-get (an application for retrieving and installing software packages under Linux) to the Gnome Desktop and let it install. To my amazement, I had a working desktop in no time at all… and guess what? It looked very much like the “Windows” environment I was used to. Gotta like it.
Finding the desktop environment made me more interested in the Linux OS than ever. I found myself using my new Linux box more than any of my Windows machines… but it was slow. More due to the machine it was on than anything. So, on to the topic of this post (finally, eh?)…. Ubuntu: Linux for human beings.
I belong to a couple of websites for programmers (read as: geeks), so I started asking more and more questions about Linux and what the difference was between the various OpenSource Linux distros. This is when one of the guys pointed me to the Ubuntu website. I waded through pages of features and documentation and decided I liked what I was reading. I grabbed a copy of the latest build (6.10) and started looking at which machine I was going to dump Windows from as I needed something more than the old P1 that I had Debian on. In the interest of shortening this story up, I ended up choosing a P3 800MHz machine with 512K of Ram and a 30Gig HD. Nothing fancy, but it should run a whole lot faster than the P1 I was testing.
So, last night I dove in head first and installed Ubuntu. One feature I liked was when I first put in the install CD, Ubuntu actually loaded up and was usable. Cool! And, unlike the Debian install, the desktop environment was loaded automatically… even better! Once Ubuntu was up and running (as I have said), it gives you the option of simply playing with the OS right from the CD — OR, you can click the “install” icon right on the desktop to start the installation. I clicked install, answered a few questions and the install began. Again, the install was quick and painless.
Anyway, I’m rambling on more than I expected to for the topic of this post — I am using my new Ubuntu install to browse this morning and to make this post. So far, I really like what I see, but as I have stated above, I’m still a Linux noob. I’m sure there are alot of things that I am going to have to learn before I completely unplug the Windows machines. And I’ll probably have to look for some new software packages that are compatible with Linux (for example, I run QuickBooks as my invoicing software… don’t know yet if they offer a Linux version, or if I’ll end up moving away from any piece of software that is specifically written for Windows). Office is another package that I use quie frequently… but that has been replaced with a FREE version, OpenOffice, that comes preloaded with Ubuntu.
I’ve got to go to work, so I’ll end my post here. I’ll make some update posts to fill in some of the holes I have probably left… and once I get used to Ubuntu a little more.
Vista? Microsoft? Microsoft who? Bill, you get no more of my hard earned cash! 😉