I Escape From The Borg: A True Story

Yes, I know I said I’d be back Monday, but I did imclude a caveat with that. I said, if there were no disasters. Unfortunately, there was a disaster yesterday of my own making. I tinkered a bit too much with my computer and it crashed.

You see, I’m one of those people who cannot leave well enough alone. I love to tinker with my computer, not in the geek sense, but in the sense of getting it to do what I want it do and, at the same time, trying to keep it aesthetically pleasing and fun to use. That’s also the case with my web site. I used to drive a former colleague absolutely batty with all my playing aeound on my web site back when I was doing marketing.

Anyway, I need to backtrack a little and fill you in on what has been going on since last Friday night.

A few weeks ago, I was having a little phone chat with my friend Matt Tourtillot, who owns Marketrends Productions. That’s my web hosting company [link is in the left sidebar under “Recommended Sites”]. I’ve known Matt for a long time now and he is my go-to-guy when it comes to technical stuff. I trust his advice and opinion.

I was bemoaning my state as a member of the Borg of Redmond. Matt does not use Microsoft operating systems on his servers nor his computers at home. Nor does he use Mac. He uses Unix on his servers and Linux, an offshoot of Unix, on his computers. He told me about the Linux distribution he uses called Ubuntu [link also in the same area as Marketrends]. Matt knows that I am technologically challenged, but he said installing and configuring Ubuntu was very straightfoward as long as I followed the directions, which are very clear and easy to follow.

I had Ubuntu up and running in no time – the core stuff. Linux distributions are very different from the distributions from the Borg. windows piles on so much shit and then the manufacturer piles on ev en more. I don’t know about you, but I usually end up deleting about half the crap my computers come with our of the box on the first day. Andthat does not count what I get rid off and replace with something better or something as good that is free forever, rather than free for 30 days or some such nonsense. More on this later. But first….

what Linus does is provide the core modules – just enough to get you goimg, Then they give – as in free – access to downloadable software packages, where you can pick and choose what you want and need. That’s what I did on Saturday and into Sunday. And that’s where I got into trouble.

You see, Linux allows you to select not only desktop themes, but complete desktop environments. The two most popular are GNOME and KDE [Yep, you got it – the Recommended Sites]. These two are not distributions, bur desktop environments that, I believe, are available with any Linux distribution. I have both installed on my computer – I’ll explain this some other time – but use GNOME as my default desktop manager. Each has its own set of core programs, some of which are duplicates of sorts of the other’s programs, but some are unique. If you have both installed, you can use packages from either of them.

I had so much stuff installed by Sunday night, a lot of which were duplicates of sorts, that I decided to delete some of the GNOME stuff because I esanted to use the KDE equivalent. Also, I was planning to switch desktop managers from GNOME to KDE, which is easy in some of the more technically challenging versions of Linux.

The problem is that the Ubuntu distribution is built on the GNOME desktop and uses GNOME as its default desktop manager, Changing to KDE is supposedly possible but I managed to mess things up pretty good. So I had to reinstall Ubuntu and that’s where it got really hairy.

We have three computers, well, four actually, but that one is not in use because it is older and has an older version of Windows that does not support a lot of the programs I had on my big computer – the one I gave to my kids to use for their RPG stuff. Also, the system crashed from too much use and the recover5y disk had been chewed up and was no longer available from Sony. But I am planning on getting it out of storage and trying to install Ubuntu on it. If it works, I will give it to my wife to use for browsing and recipes and that kind of stuff.

Anyway, with than many computers in the house, we bought the necessary hardware to set up a wireless local area network )LAN) in the house. A wireless LAN eliminates the need for miles of wire from the router to each of the computers. The wireless adaptor for this computer comes with its own CD that has the necessary drivers on it. When I installed the Ubuntu core the first time – took about half an hour, Ubuntu picked up the wireless adaptor no problem. But, when it crashed and I reinstalled it, no such luck this time.

U tried everything I could think of, including several more installations of Ubuntu, but I could not make the machine recognize the device. Finally, it dawned on me to try doing the Windows recovery and using the software from the manufacturer to reinstall the adaptor. That took almost two hours. But when I reinstalled Ubuntu over the Windows recovery, there was the adaptor all set to go. By then, it was 2 AM, so I went to bed.

I have been working all day reinstalling the additional packages, downloading the stuff my old Windows “My Documents” folder, and babysitting my two boys – which includes homeschooling one of them.

I hope your weekend was more entertaining than mine! LOL I’m back now and I pronise no more messing with the computer. I’m VERYm/strong> happy with it the way it is. Tomorrow I’ll tell you why.

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