unix, then and now

19 11 2008

since i left grad school nearly 3 years ago, i’ve had very little time to indulge in a once-favorite pastime – installing the latest and greatest version of whatever was my current linux distribution of choice on all of my machines :). recently, though, i’ve been working on a project that doesn’t really require a connection to my work intranet, and i’ve also been working from home quite a bit, so i thought i’d see if i could install linux on my work laptop, so i could get work done without bogging down routing all internet traffic through the vpn. since ubuntu’s all the rage these days, i really like the origin of its name, and they just released a new version, my distribution choice was obvious. popping the CD in while running windows gave me a wondrous new option i’d not seen on earlier versions: installing Ubuntu as a dual boot OS via a windows file!! this sounded like the perfect idea, since i’d avoid partitioning the disk, which might have made our support guys go bonkers.

installation was a breeze, and i’m amazed how far linux (and other free unix distributions such as FreeBSD) has come in the last ten years. practically everything worked right out of the box, including wireless networking, sound, the 1600×1200 display with acceleration, even my wireless optical mouse! this is a far cry from 1998, when i first tried to install FreeBSD on a desktop. at the time, getting X to work was considered a major success, and sound was just a pipe dream!! it’s incredible what a community of dedicated folks working in concert can achieve.