It’s a flavor of Linux, Ubuntu one of the big cat’s in the Linux pride these days with a little mousy desktop called xfce as the front end. It’s not exactly Windows or MAC OS but it’s a bit like both in some ways and different in others.
So why do I care? Well I have this old Thinkpad T42 I have done millions of words on (the A key is etched down into the plastic the S and D are mostly gone and the backspace is a bit finicky these days. The Battery is long gone. It’s run Window’s XP its whole life up till now. But it and Office 03 ran slower and slower and slower as time progressed. Around six months ago I got so fed up that I shut down the WiFi and stripped out all the superflous software anti virus, firewalls etc, etc.
This brought the T42 back up to being a very nice writing tool. But I had to sneaker net it and use my iPad as my web research link. This worked but I found that I was doing less writing since I have a life and getting into the frame of mind to write and keep at it can be a chore. Any (even trivial) bump tends to make it feel less worthwhile which starts a viscous cycle. Any one who has followed this log will have noticed my blogging has decreased over the past half year or so…this is the reason for that tapering off since the T42 is where 90% of my blogging got done (it’s where this is being written.)
I love computers but hate having to fiddle any more than I want to (ego centric I know) so have read about and wondered about converting to Linux for years. So with a machine I love but was about to become a brick, I finally figured I would give it a hack.
Tried Ubuntu straight up but my processor is so old it is no longer compatible with the loader. Saw some suggestions about XUBUNTU and gave it a wack. Worked first time out of the box, even handles my beloved trackpoint mouse knob in the keyboard.
XUBUNTU loads a working computer’s tool set aboard as part of the install (this is actually part of xfce desktop) the choices come from the UBUNTU ‘app’ store. Which also loads. The Software Center looks a lot like the old Windows Software load/remove utility but its remote + local, tracking what is available as well as what you have loaded. Really clean interface and the load of programs are useful full function tools.
In fact I have only loaded a couple of other pieces of software. One was CaligraWords to see if it was better at editing huge Word03 documents than AbiWord (it isn’t as far as I can see.) As well as a mind mapping tool, Feeplane, I want to try out for organizing some of my thoughts and ideas for my novels and posts. But the best things so far is Variety, a live desktop picture system, it pulls photos off free sites on the Web and displays them as the background. You can do all sorts of things, from leaving them as found to making them line drawings, but what I have found is that setting it as ‘oil’ brush stroke provides a remarkably pleasant but non-distracting background. I contributed a bit to the jar on that one (and will be doing the same for xubuntu, AbiWord and others.)
I am not totally sold on Linux yet, but I have to admit that it has been a far simpler quicker and fun process than I had expected so far. I hope it keep up.