Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sudo Apt-Get Install....What?!

Still in use
A few years ago, our computer died a slow, horrible, painful death. Painful to me, anyway. It wasn't so much the hardware as it was the software; the Windows operating system choked completely and all was lost. Thus began my interest in Linux and the world of free software. What is Linux you ask? I will let you follow the link to Wikipedia, but in a nutshell, Linux is a free operating system. That's right: free. As in no cost, free to distribute, and free to modify.

We ended up buying a laptop, but I was still determined to salvage what was left of our desktop computer, because gosh darn it it was still useful. I did some research and discovered a flavor of Linux (of which there are many) called Ubuntu, which was designed with the average desktop user in mind. I downloaded the Ubuntu OS and copied the files to a CD, thus creating an installation CD. I inserted the CD into the old computer and voila, it was able to read it. I'd be lying if I said that at the time Linux was just as easy as Windows. I think "easy" is a relative term. IMO, the reason why Windows is easy is because it's familiar. I had to be willing to peruse the geek forums and the Linux magazines to learn about this new operating system. I had to be willing to learn how to run the occasional command line, like

sudo apt-get install nameofprogram

My laptop - a sampling of programs
However, the reality is, I only run a command line when I want to fly my geek flag, and I am by no means a hardcore geek. I'm sure the true Linux aficionados would laugh at me. Thankfully, most everything is done through a pretty picture interface. :-)  Currently I'm dual-booting my laptop (are you impressed?) to run Windows 7 and Linux Mint.  Linux Mint is, for lack of a better description, a different fork of Ubuntu. It truly is easy to use "right out of the box" so to speak. You never have to run a command line if you don't want to. About the only time I use Windows is to watch Netflix movies. Seriously.

The best thing about using a Linux distribution - and perhaps the most overwhelming - is that it comes with a repository of free software. In Linux Mint, the office suite is LibreOffice; the default music player is Banshee; the web browser is Firefox. And you know what? If you don't like those, you can always check the software repository for a replacement. If you don't like Banshee, you could use Rhythmbox. You're not limited to what comes pre-installed. And best of all, it's all free.

So, if you have an old computer that's about ready to give up the ghost, you might try using a Linux distribution to breathe a little life back into it.


  1. But, isn't Linux is for Hippies who hate Capitalism and want us to dance naked in the streets?

  2. Maybe you are. Don't tell me: you're getting in touch with your inner hippie.



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