7 Nov 2013

Confessions of a 40 year old virgin

Until a couple of week s ago I was a virgin.

A frustrated, 40 year old virgin. There, I've said it. 

Well actually, to be more specific, I was a LINUX virgin who didn't know the difference between Ubunto (yes, in that spelling!) and Mint. And DarkDuck helped me to 'pop my cherry'. Now I think that I should stop with the lame sexual analogies before this gets downright weird.

Why did I choose LINUX? Well, we had an old laptop running Windows XP (32-bit) that was dying a slow death. To say that it was S_L_O_W would be a bit of an understatement. In the time it took to boot up you could boil a kettle, make a cup of tea, and drink it too. Over the years we added a couple of iPads and other iDevices (hardcore LINUX fans can now throw salt over their left shoulder and invoke incantations to ward off the evil spirit of Steve Jobs if they like) to the family collection. And this meant that the laptop got used less and less.

However, there are still some things that it is best to have a laptop for. So I started looking at buying a replacement. There must be some Scottish ancestry in my past though, because I just couldn't bring myself to shell out without checking whether there was some way to revive the old one. After some quick Googling, I came to the conclusion that LINUX was worth a try. But I didn't want to sit there waiting ages to download the software onto my steam-driven laptop only to find out that it had corrupted or was missing a key file. So that's how I found Buy Linux CDs site that posted me a copy of Ubuntu.Why choose Ubuntu?

DarkDuck, the owner of the above mentioned site, suggested that it was probably worth waiting for the latest version and I took his advice, opting for the 64-bit version. The disk arrived a couple of days after the release date for 13.10, and the installation was fast and painless. I found a few tips on the web about configuring the Firewall and so on and now the laptop is working again.
My oldest son is 8 and uses it for his maths homework – and when he thinks we're not watching to play less educational 'Zombie Tower' games. My wife sometimes uses it when she leaves her laptop at work, and I normally use it when the kids have trashed the batteries on the iPad. When I ask for their opinions about Ubuntu I am met with blank stares and eventually after some probing they venture the view that "it looks and works pretty much the same as Windows used to a few years ago." Damning with faint praise indeed!

The LibreOffice Suite seems to work well, with what look like cut-down versions of MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Actually I quite like the simplicity of these applications, which seem less cluttered. They are even handily colour-coded in blue, green and red just like their Microsoft cousins. I also prefer the System Settings and Search functions in Ubuntu. There are a few little things for which you need to open a Terminal window (CTRL+ALT+T) to enter command line inputs but it seems easy enough to follow the hints that are freely available on various LINUX blogs. I suppose in time we may notice more differences but for now we've saved a few hundred quid and the performance is massively improved, stable and good enough for our limited needs.

My next task is to install 'Wine' which allows you to run Windows-based applications on top of LINUX. There are plenty of good reasons to do this, but I'm also looking forward to the chance to make some more bad puns when my wife arrives home after a long day at work:
"Nice day at work dear? I've got Wine for you."
"Thanks" <PAUSE> "I can't find it in the fridge ... Where is it?"
"It's on the laptop ... BOOM BOOM!"

My son is already asking for his own laptop and I guess that in a few years time we'll give in and buy him one. Will it be running LINUX? Probably!

Andrew Burrell is a new Linux convert and father who enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience.


  1. I hope you did warn him to not venue too far too early. That he could suffer data loss if he plays too much not knowing what he are doing. Wine might be complicated so CrossOver could be a better fit at this moment.

    A funny remark is maybe that Ubuntu which is considered as one of the slowest distros was blazing fast for him. ;)

    1. Daniel, everything's better in comparison. Ubuntu may be not the fastest among the Linux distros, but it is faster for Andrew than the bloaded Windows installation

  2. DarkDuck,

    I agree, ubuntu is not the fastest linux distro out there, but it perfectly fits for any newcomer. However, I think xubuntu may be a better choice, just because of the menu structure that replicates more of windows start menu.

    Anyway, good to see that many new comers and novices are jumping into the Linux pool.


  3. I am a big fan of these types of article. How people got into Linux and what they are using it for. Keep them coming

  4. If you like the using Ubumtu versions, any windows convert should try Mint+Cinnamon... it is the closest relation to Windows and keeps them away from Mark Shuttleworth. They don't need another Blamer to follow.