Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ubuntu Linux, The Freedom To Do What You Want

Sometime ago I discovered the community of Free and Open Source Software(FOSS) by way of a good friend and my life changed. Up until several years ago, I was a typical daily end user simply checking my email, browsing the net, and occasionally updating my Windows system along with a virus scan. Ubuntu Linux in the Spring of 2012 changed that....forever. My eight year old Windows computer imploded and I was completely stuck without anyway to recover it.

It was time to start over. I bought a new desktop computer and on a dare I installed Ubuntu 12.04LTS, completely overwriting Windows 8. There was no going back.

Ubuntu was good to me. Ubuntu is based on Debian, one of the oldest and largest GNU/Linux operating systems(OS) around. Ubuntu is also sponsored by Canonical and since it is also a very popular Linux OS has a large community. Corporate sponsorship and the large well organized user/contributor community made for an easy and almost pain free introduction into the world of Linux. I spent all of 2012 learning the basics of how to control and modify a Linux OS. This was made immeasurably easier by the copious amount of Ubuntu documentation and forums. I even found the Debian documentation helpful. 2013 was a fun year! I spent the majority of 2013 learning to work from the terminal( sometimes referred to as the command line) more and more and relying less and less on graphical user interfaces(GUIs).

Eventually by the Spring of 2014, when Ubuntu released it's next long term supported(LTS) version-known as 14.04 Trusty Tahr-I was feeling more comfortable with Ubuntu Linux. Now Ubuntu uses by default a graphical shell called Unity--Unity has created much ruffled feathers in the Linux world. Personally, I really like Unity and once I familiarized myself with it found it easy, useful and highly production for my everyday end user needs. Some folks hate Unity and some like it--I really like it in part because I could see where Canonical was going with Unity and how it would change everything.
I installed Trusty, used it, and found it to be one of the best operating systems I'd ever used. It is very easy to learn and once learned it is an extremely productive work environment.  But as many Linux enthusiast do, I caught the "learn more/do more" bug. I decided to spread my wings....a bit, just a bit.

I looked around and tried out various other Linux distros, mostly sticking with user friendly communities. I also tried out various other desktop environments(DEs) and finally settled on KDE.  KDE is one of the oldest DEs around and has a very feature and package rich environment.  After much trial and error I decided upon Netrunner as my KDE distro of choice. Netrunner offers two operating systems one based off Arch Linux/Manjaro Linux and another based off Kubuntu. Both are, of course, Linux operating systems and both are KDE based. Why KDE? Well, quite simply KDE offers a vast and almost infinite ability to tweak and modify your work environment.  Why Netrunner? Netrunner, of all the KDE based distros I tested, is the most aesthetically pleasing and integrated system I tried. It's a young community with good sponsorship that is committed to contributing to the KDE community.

  I worked hard to find something about Netrunner that I didn't like....I came away empty handed.  It's a wonderful operating system on par with anything out there and I'm confident it would easily beat out Windows or OS X.

FOSS is a rich and wonderful community offering open and free software that allows it's users to simply install and use it or dig deep and modify it almost endlessly. The beauty is that you control your computer and you decide the how much and the if and the when. I think Linux has matured enough that it is ready for the everyday end user, the mom and pop, and the grandma that just wants to video call her granddaughter from far away. It offers freedom in more ways than you expect.