June 7, 2011

The Newest Member Of the Family

Any suggestions for a clever nickname?
At the risk of sounding excessively geeky, for the past month, I have been basking in the glory of a minor accomplishment.

I have always been an advocate for open source software solutions, using it for e-mail, browsing, podcasting, and media playing. However, I always felt that if I were to really practice what I preached...I needed to take the next step and actually use an open source operating system.

About eight months ago - while I was gainfully employed - I had purchased a used Panasonic CF-29 Toughbook via eBay. Although I ordered it knowing it had no battery or CD/DVD drive, I had no idea that the hard drive had been wiped....and therefore, had no operating system.

A month ago, deciding that I had the time (and more importantly, having failed to revive a 7 year old desktop), I decided to download Ubuntu and install via USB. This had great potential for disaster, dear reader - my dad used to attempt household fix-it projects with no workable handyman skills. My non-techie approach to revive a dead laptop may have had similar risks.

Only 25% of 40 GB used - go me!
For a few weeks, after installing the software onto USB, I found myself able to boot an initial menu, but with hours of blank screen. Thankfully, a few quick Google searches led be to Unetbootin, software which allowed me to create a USB drive that could boot Ubuntu. Once I had done that, I was able to install the software in about 30 minutes. (And that may be a slight exaggeration - I doubt it really took that long).

I've written on my non-profit blog, Metroshrink, about how it appeals to my sense of community-mindedness...but in terms of overall use. It's actually very easy (in fact, I'm writing this blog post on my Toughbook as we speak, my Hewlett Packard laptop taking a nice rest). Ubuntu has a built-in software download center (making it really easy), and although there is a slight learning curve for changing wallpapers, etc, it is quite cool. (Although I will still need to get a battery and CD/DVD drive once I have the cash...)

I initially changed the desktop to a Winston Churchill motivational poster, but decided to go for something a little more personal - and generic. So after Ubuntu boots, here's the sight that (very quickly) greets me:

Thankfully Ubuntu also has wi-fi, torrenting, etc - it's a pretty good all-in-one package. But the coolest thing for me has been, in the midst of a job search where there's often little return, there's a huge ego boost in turning a large, electronic paperweight into a working computer.

At some point, I will need to buy the latest Windows laptop - if I'm planning to consult, having some proprietary software would be beneficial. But as a guy who is both community-minded and - more importantly - cheap, using Ubuntu, a very user friendly operating system, is probably one of the best moves I've ever made.

So now, I only have two things to decide: what kind of clever nickname can I give the Toughbook; and more importantly - should I bring it to tonight's Net Tuesday meeting on open stewardship?


rogerogreen said...

You should name it Popeye. It's strong to the finish.

GordonDym said...

That sounds very apt....let's see who else answers. And if they do, how clever will they be?