25 Apr 2013

Linux saved my life

Around 2005 I decided to educate myself in computers as an extension of my trade: radio-technician. Cheap imports meant that our trade was just about obsolete. Studying commercial software from one of the two IT giants though did not satisfy my curiosity of wanting to know what  happens behind the screen.

A couple of years into my IT studies and I came across Ubuntu 6, tried it and immediately got hooked. I tried many flavours of Linux and at some stage sported over 10 partitions on my laptop but finally settled back to Ubuntu Linux.

I had been divorced a few years earlier, had a lot of time on my own and Linux came as a heaven-sent to take my mind off the blues I still had.

Dark thoughts had been on my mind but Linux saved my life!

Here was a field of important technology that I could immerse myself in. Here I could see the workings of a computer without the restrictions of patents and secrecy. There are many Tux lovers who helped me via forums to overcome bugs and other problems and now I'm able to help others. I feel that by using one of the Linux distros I'm privileged to be a member of a very important brother/sister-hood.

I have only a ten year old laptop. With the demand of today's software, example: firefox takes a third of my RAM, it has become very frustrating. In spite of many challenges I march on and keep on tweaking.

Now I use Ubuntu 12.04 run like Lucid by using gnome-fallback and even using some Lucid packages.

The top gnome-panel acts like a monitor for cpu%, temperature, net-speed, keyboard switch, time, date and more while Cairo-Dock makes the most used programs available at the Mac-like bar at the bottom.

Conky, the life desktop background integrated monitor shows me important activity and usages and even the weather forecast.

A tweaked clock to suit the dark theme and calendar screenlet add a sense of time to the desktop which I otherwise loose and get dates mixed up.

Compiz looks after using a gentle and impressive way to open and shut windows; no sudden pop-ups to stir up my quiet and peaceful existence. Emerald, yes it still exists and gets maintained, allows me to tweak the window frames to my likings and to suit the current theme.

I love Linux and I use the other, commercial OS only occasionally as I can do just about everything on Linux.

This is a guest post by Rolf Sommerhalder, which won a prize in the joint contest of Linux notes from DarkDuck and Zinio.


  1. It's great to hear stories of Linux being used to bring old hardware back to life. However, for that purpose, Xubuntu, or even Lubuntu, may be a better bet. For someone who had no particular loyalty to Ubuntu, Debian XFCE/LXDE or something like antiX may suit their needs better.

  2. Try some slackware and its derivatives like porteus, slax, wolvix, ec

  3. Nice story Rolf. I myself started using Linux almost one year ago, Xubuntu to be exact. We do differ somewhat, while you use another closed source OS from time to time -- I bit the bullet and switched 100%. Threw all my Retail M$ disks in the trash.

    Took about three days of 'withdrawal', just like Cigarettes. But beforehand I found complete replacements for all my Games and Software. And most all the M$ Games I had worked perfectly in Wine. I was all set.

    In fact, if you put me on a Windows computer today, I would not be able to use it. I have conditioned myself to Linux too much to go back, ever.

    1. Mike, I agree 110%.
      I've been retired for some 10 years and while working, was required to use "M$"; admittedly, I knew nothing of Linux. One day, about 6 years ago, my home computer, a Gateway, became infected and crashed. When retired, you're on a fixed income and must be judicious before 'wasting' money on a 'NEW' computer. "There must be something else..." I thought.
      I found Ubuntu Linux and, as you say, "quit M$"; essentially, cold-turkey.
      Oh yes, there is a 'learning curve' but it's very slight. If a 65 year old 'old fart' like me could figure it out, any one can. My sister-in-law 'upgraded' to a new computer and gave me her 'old' laptop. Now I use Linux Mint 12.10 and Ubuntu 12.10 on her old 2004 Dell Inspiron and my wife uses Linux Mint 12.04 on that original Gateway desktop.
      Neither my wife nor I have experienced ANY problem.
      The rest of my family, like the majority of people, are too M$ ingrained to attempt something NEW. Maybe, they are just too scared of the M$ FUD.

    2. I have used Linux for the last 10 yrs. I have Compaq Q50 that is 3yrs. old. Put Linux Mint 12.10 on it and runs like brand new. Everything works out of the box. Wireless, Video,sound, etc. I haven't had to tweak anything in awhile. My wife got new laptop with Win8 and she hates it.
      I tell her to switch but Win is what she uses at work. I also can't work on Win box. Forgot all those error messages! Yaaa!

  4. I started using PCLOS around 2007 or so, dual booting with Win2k. PCLOS was for anything on the internet, and Win2k was for WoW, Diablo II, UO, and Dungeon Siege. Then Blizzard dropped support for Win2k. I'd learned enough by then about Wine to investigate further, and I found that Mint 6 was (at the time) the best distro for running WoW under Wine. Blam, Windows was gone, and Mint was in, followed by a bunch of Ubuntu-based distros, with the occasional exploration of openSUSE, SalixOS, and the like.

    A couple years ago, my wife bought me a dell lappy with Win7 on it. I'd chosen to go into health care, and (unfortunately) health IT in the US is ruled by the Microsoft ecosystem. I still had Lubuntu on it before I could stand to finish upgrading Win7 and installing all the software I needed. I retain Win7 because I don't see how I can escape it.

    BTW, Utah Burger, if you can't get your wife to try dual booting (with Mint 13 KDE, for example), then introduce her to Classic Shell. It allows Vista, Win7, and Win8 all to emulate WinXP.