I'm writing this tonight on a circa-1998 IBM Aptiva desktop that I grabbed from my daughter Katie when she got a new desktop for her birthday in March. Normally I use my IBM Thinkpad T40 with Windows XP Professional, but this machine is Linux-based now, in particular it is running MandrakeLinux 10.1 Official. I'm using KDE (the default environment) and the Kate editor. I've used Linux on and off for several years but only from my home office. This particular machine was just barely able to run Windows XP, so I knew Linux was going to be on it once I took it over. Besides, with my laptop and my other other office desktop machine running Windows, some variety is welcome.
My plan for this machine is to turn it into a home music server. I've put several distros on the machine over the last few months. Invariably I would get busy with something else and then not really do anything with the machine or the flavor of Linux I had installed. In the meanwhile, a new release would become available and I'd decide to try that.I like Mandrake because it is easy to install and has had (for me) very good device coverage. That is, it knew what I had on the machine with a minimum of fuss. With 10.1 Official it did a better job with the graphics adapter than the last time I tried to install it. The first application I put on the machine was Firefox and it worked like a charm under KDE. (Note to Mandrake: put it in the distribution.) I then later decided to install Gnome, and Firefox just stopped working. Even the installation had a segmentation fault. After Googling a bit, I discovered I wasn't the first to have this problem. I don't think it is a Firefox and Gnome problem, I think this is Firefox + KDE and then + Gnome problem. Others may or may not have this issue, but my solution was to reinstall Mandrake and forget about Gnome.
To me this is actually one of the cool things about Linux, it is easy to reinstall if things go awry and you can try alternative distros to see if you like them better. For the cost of a few burnable CDs, you can pick two or three flavors and experiment until you get one that works for you. Since things seem to be stable at the moment, I'm going to keep Mandrake on it and start looking into samba and anything else I'll need to serve up my tunes.
My seven year old son William just walked into my office and suggested I do a blog entry about a cartoon, specifically Tom and Jerry. I don't really know what I would do with that (!) but it's good to have extra ideas for days when nothing else comes to mind...