When I wasn't chasing little white balls around a cow pasture this weekend, I got bored and decided to download the new version of Ubuntu Linux.
Anyone who has visited my home office knows it's a virtual museum of old computers.
Way back in 2002 I bought my own ThinkPad R31, which had a whopping 20GB hard drive and dreadfully slow processor. I had bought it to help make getting through my MBA easier (that plan never really worked out), and it's been collecting dust ever since (it was really that slow).
A couple years ago, I downloaded Ubuntu onto a CD just for grins, to see if it would work. But I had a heckuva time with drivers for key hardware (the wireless card, for example!), and eventually gave up.
You must understand the severity of this situation. I am a marketing guy downloading and attempting to load Ubuntu Linux.
That alone is probably reason enough to send out the CERT response team to make sure I haven't somehow jeopardized our natural cyber security.
Marketing people and Linux, or any version of UNIX, really don't mix.
They're like oil and water, yin and yang, etc. But in this case, opposites don't attract, they repel.
So, I was surprised to see this time around an effortless installation, and also was surprised to see it immediately and automagically pick up on a few of my ancient hardware items on the R31 this time around as well (including my wi-fi card).
Considering the age of the machine and the lethargy of the processor, I found the desktop version of Ubuntu 9.04 to be pretty darn fast. Fast enough to make it a viable productive (and don't forget free) desktop operating system.
I'm intrigued by this possibility and all the talk of computing in the cloud. Can we really unenslave ourselves from our desktop OSes after 20+ years of being entirely dependent upon them?
I guess we'll start to see.
Meanwhile, know this: I don't do command lines in UNIX.
I used to in DOS once upon a time, but am a confirmed GUI creature these days, so one of my fears was what happens when something goes wrong -- will I be able to find my way out of the Linux forest?
Mostly. The GNOME desktop makes it easy to navigate Ubuntu via a GUI interface and navigate the basics of the OS.
Of course, a weekend warrior's use of the new Ubuntu does not an advanced and lethal Linux Navy Seal, so take my experience with a grain of salt.
But if you've got an old ThinkPad or other notebook lying around your own computer museum collecting dust and you want to try something new, download the new Ubuntu and give it a whirl.
However, if you're a fellow marketing person, know that you navigate that Linux command line at your own risk.