Adventures with *nix OS’s

Since about 1992 I’ve had some brushes with various *nix’s.  My dad had SCO Xenix on his PC at home at some stage around my “senior primary” school days and I remember trying to read bits of the manuals to figure out what the heck was going on.  I was quite used to DOS back then, so this “Xenix thing” was a little odd.

Since then I’ve had to use a number of Linux flavours, FreeBSD, one of the Sun Microsystems OS’s and the OS that Silicon Graphics computers use (the last two being on varsity machines).  When it came to running any form of linux on my personal computer I’ve not had much success. 

Throughout varsity I had problems getting X-Windows to work due to various graphics driver issues, even after varsity any attempts always seemed to fall over when it came to anything graphical.

Just over a year ago my home PC lost its motherboard, and my only backup PC had Windows 98 and wouldn’t connect to my iBurst modem.  So after some searching I found out how to get iBurst connected in Linux, and I installed Ubuntu on my old varsity PC.  I was pretty suprised to find out that it actually worked quite well (even if it was a little slow because of my lack of ram and super old cpu)

At my current job we have a single Mac in the office to test out “cross platform” issues, and seeing the good old terminal window made me wonder about trying out a *nix operating system again.  This desire was probably fueled by listening to some of the Daily Source Code podcasts where Adam was talking about some of the networking stuff he was configuring, about SSH, and other typically *nix stuff.  It just sounded very geeky and thus cool.

Tonight, I cobbled together a PC based on bits from my in-laws and my old varsity PC and I’ve installed Ubuntu.  I had a few false starts (like forgetting to plug inthe hard drive), and had only one issue with the installation (setting the time zone in the install wizard seemed to hang the wizard completely).  But now I seem to have a working machine. 

I do have some hardware issues:

  • Both of the graphics cards that I have seem to be a little flaky
  • My old monitor seems to have issues coming out of “power saving” mode. So currently I cannot use my monitor at all. (I’m typing this on my laptop)

Once I’ve solved the monitor issue I plan to see if I can get all of my common applications installed on it, and to set it up as a “backup” machine.  I’d ideally like to have Firefox, Open Office, some media player, a graphics application (Picassa/GIMP?), a cool mail client, some kind of calendaring application, and a development environment (Mono + Apache + MonoDevelop/SharpDevelop?). 

If things go super well, I’d love to be able to synchronise my Creative MP3 player, connect/synch to my HTC phone, use my Cannon scanner, and print via my HP Laserjet.

But that’s all I have for now… I’m going to go and carry my creation through to the spare room to introduce it to my Windows desktop, and to plug the monitor from the windows PC into the Linux PC so that I can carry on my journey into the world of Ubuntu. (Hopefully my next post will be from the Ubuntu PC)

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