[nSLUG] Re: General Linux Question

bulia byak bulia at dr.com
Sun Mar 23 17:27:21 AST 2003

> So, I have another question for you all. How were your first
> experiences with Linux?

I started with Mandrake 8.2 a year ago. The first month was a nightmare! I did expect that many things will be new and unfamiliar, and I was prepared to learn. But the things that put me down the most were: 1) ugly fonts and general appearance, 2) an intimidating number of apps that do the same thing, 3) lack of apps analogous to those I used on Windows, and 4) bugs bugs bugs. Well, Windows has its bugs too, but here they were all in unexpected places and seemed to be much more numerous. At times I was almost ready to surrender and return to Windows. But I knew there was a reward in the end for those who are patient, and I was right :)

Now my desktop is pretty nice, I managed to do some things (e.g. borderless windows) which I dreamt of before but could not do in Windows. The fonts are now definitely better than in Windows, with total antialiasing (Xft). The general system layout is much more familiar now, and even if I don't know what some service does I know I can try to switch it off or on without fear of freezing the system (which is common on Windows). I'm planning to install a Gentoo when I have time to become more familiar with the system internals and "what does what". As for missing packages, I have either discovered some acceptable substitutes, or figured out how to do without. The worst issue is still bugs. Some of them were fixed by authors responding to my reports, some I fixed myself, some I managed to work around, but most are still there and I can live with them only because I know where they are and how to avoid them.

Moreover, I found many very good programs whose analogs I never used on Windows. Take music for example. On Windows, you either pay up big bucks for professional soft (which I won't do because I'm not a professional, I just like to play with toys), or you have to delve in the dirty pile of "shareware" with its pushy marketing attitude, flashy but unusable GUI, loads of spyware, and a good chance that a new app will freeze the system or break something else. Now on linux, I found tons of nifty little apps, all free, with straightforward unobtrusive interface (often controllable from command line) and a clean idea of what they do and what they don't do. They are small but solid bricks (software synths, effect processors, sequencers etc.) from which I can build my own buildings for hours of fun. It's really very rewarding, and I've learned more about computer music in a year of Linux than in a lifetime on Windows. I guess this is applicable not only to musical software but to other fields as well. 
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