Thursday, January 27, 2005

On GNU/Linux, my resistance and Freedom

on GNU/Linux, my resistance and Freedom
by vishal sah
Posted on August 13, 2004 17:27 PM EST
Accessed 157 Times
Hot List Score: 65

Have been thinking about the macro trends in the software industrry for a while and especially the keenly debated question - 'Is linux ready for desktops?'

Some observations -

I have figured out that other way of looking at this is by asking - 'Are you ready for Linux?' I had been reading a lot about GNU. opensource and Linux since last 3-4 years, but in hindsight it seems that it was a very passive mode of getting to know about the GNU/Linux world. Being a part of Indian software industry I would inveriably find myself in hot debates amongst colleagues regarding merits of O/S, which applications were good and why Apache should command such a huge market share etc etc. Though I had seen some of my friends working on the Linux platform, I could not make the mental switch to try it on my own system.

So a year back, I finally installed RedHat 9 on my office desk-top ( dual boot ofcourse ;o) ) Ok so I was able to configure almost everything, except for accessing Printers and allowing the Windows machine on Lans to access my shared folders. The ease of transition was such a moral booster that I partioned my Toshiba lap-top and got Redhat to sit along side Win XP. Then I got slightly more adventuorous and installed Vmware on RedHat and installed XP inside it. After effects - my Vware trial period expired, and my Windows XP partitio got corrupted. So all I was left was with Linux installed on half the hard-disk. I decided to check if I could stay without Windows in the normal corporate world or would I be forced to come to the Windows world. Just to mention that at this time I was working in a Financial BPO as a Process Manager, and my main Task was donig technology evaluations for deployments, creating presentations for clients, making progress reports etc etc. Ok I survived and I proved that Linux was not only ready for desktops it is ready for Laptops too ;o) btw - HP has recently come out with Linux loaded Laptops as an experiment.
About 2 month back bought a AMD based PC at home and installed RedHat on it. Had some issues with Drivers .. so swithced over to SuSE 9.1 personal edition. This one blew me away - Installation with YAST is so easy and the desktops etc can be given different look and feel - For example the Redmond theme mimicks the behaviour of WinXP Am pretty happy witht he system so far.

At work ( btw I switched job to another Financial BPO in chennai, and am working as a Finacnial Analyst covering some European sectors ) I have to use Windows - no alternative to that. So have configured my system so that I am using GNU/open-source tools. Apart from the O/S I am forced to use Windows Explorer. Havent been able to find any good substitute for it so far. Any SUGGESTIONS on this ?

So now I have Mozilla, opera ( note - its closed source) and Firefox on machine. Had previously been using Netscape Communicator so Mozilla mail client was a natural shift. Have installed Gaim - which integrates my yahoo, icq and msn chat Ids. Have installed the GNU RSS reader, have got OpenOffice1.1 for my Financial Modeling work. Overall a workable solution.

I have been thinking why is this so important for me - why this resistance to use proprietary softwares, what do I get for all this seemingly unnecessary activity. I am usually at a loss to explain it to my project mates (one day a colleagure of mine sat on my computer and was deeply perplexed- Why ? because he could not find IE icon ;o)

I guess the answer is that I am sitting before a computer at least 80% of my waking hours, so I need complete control over it - I must have the Freedom ...and GNU/Linux soultion at the moment seem to be the Liberators


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