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April 1st, 2015

Linux in the Old Homestead

The temptation to write an April Fools’ Day column was overwhelming. I could have gone cheap and easy by writing about “Why I Use Ubuntu” or “The Campaign for Shuttleworth 2016,” or “Jono Bacon: The Red Hat Diaries,” but I resisted.

Achievement unlocked, and you’re welcome.

But instead, I’d rather talk about Linux in the home and how different distros can peacefully coexist. No, really — no April Fools’ Day prank here.

I live in a house in Felton, California — six miles northeast of Santa Cruz in what’s known as the San Lorenzo Valley (as in San Lorenzo River), but it’s really at the base of a ridge of rather tall hills that separates Silicon Valley from the sea. In this house, Linux essentially rules the roost.

Since starting with Linux in 2006, I’ve mostly used Fedora or Fedora-based distros, with a recent foray for a couple of years into the now-departed Debian-based CrunchBang (though, truth be told, I’ll be test driving a CrunchBang fork called BunsenLabs Linux as soon as it’s ready). Currently, my primary distro is the most recent version of Korora, a Fedora-based distro from Australia, with the Xfce desktop, because that’s how I roll. Korora includes all the bells and whistles (and some other neat stuff, like Pharlap) to make Internet use a breeze compared to stock Fedora.

My darling daughter Mimi, who had installed Debian when she was nine (with her proud father watching over her shoulder), had been an Ubuntu user for years. We’ll get to why that was okay with her dad in a minute. Unity, of course, changed everything: She hated it as much as her father did (and does), and she switched to Linux Mint, which she had been using for the last several years.

Recently, she had issues with the ZaReason Alto 3880 that required her to upgrade the Linux Mint version she was using (she was on Olivia when the most recent version is Rebecca), and when I suggested she make the upgrade to Rebecca, she agreed. Peering over her shoulder, just as I did when she was nine, I made a suggestion as she started and she shushed me. That’s right, she just said, “Shhhhh,” and went along her business of backing up her home directory, wiping the drive and reinstalling Linux Mint.

I guess that girl is all grown up now.

A couple of SCALEs ago, Ubuntero Nathan Haines asked me why I was so anti-Ubuntu when my daughter used it. Putting aside the fact that I am not anti-Ubuntu (though some of those decisions by Shuttleworth . . . sheesh), I told him that Mimi gets to choose whatever she wants to use and, more importantly, what works best for her.

That’s what it boils down to: Using what works for you.

And that’s no April Fools’ Day joke.

One more thing: I’d actually like to draw your attention to my good friend and colleague Ken Starks’ “Blog of Helios” item about picking up the ball on Linux text-to-speech software.

Again, Ken, I’m in. And if you’re a developer looking for a FOSS project, this could be the one for you.

Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

1 comment to Linux in the Old Homestead

  • Eddie G.

    I have had the same kind of experience but ewith the YUM / RPM based distros…I started my Linux life with Fedora back in 2004 and I’ve never looked back. Was it a tough and frustrating ride? HELL YES! But from what it’s taught me, I could never go back to being a Windows user. In regards to Ubuntu and their Unity, I’ve tried it and its actually “work-able” once you get to know the ins and outs of it. I still have the original machine that I installed Fedora on (a Gateway…yeah…remember them!?…T-6231 laptop with 4GB of RAM and a 320G B hard drive!) its still running, I just updated it tothe beta of F-22 and look forward to getting familiar with the new stuff. My son, who’s now 15 and who is in the process of installing his OWN version of Fedora is impressing me more and more as I watch him move about the command line and can’t believe he can install the latest version of LibreOffice using the Terminal……they grow up so fast…LoL!