Pandemic is good for Linux

A month or so ago after receiving calls from friends that their Windows machines were having troubles and needed attention I thought this is the perfect time to switch to Linux. Apparently I wasn’t the only person thinking that way. Jason Evangelho who has a regular column at Forbes shared a tweet today that said Ubuntu enjoyed a 599% uptick in users. That’s a very significant number.

With more and more people working from home and a growing segment of the population videoconferencing in education and other sectors of the economy Linux just makes sense. I’ve been doing a lot of videoconferencing lately to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. Besides great open source conference platforms like Jitsi and BigBlueButton there is Linux support for BlueJeans, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts.

You can go purchase a new Linux laptop from System76, Purism, Dell and other vendors but more importantly you can easily refurbish an older system and run Fedora, Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, Linux Mint, ElementaryOS or any other Linux distribution and be reasonably productive at a fraction of the price. I have a number of laptops and only one is not running Linux.

What would you like to learn?

I’ve been involved with Linux and open source software for almost twenty years now. I’m writing this post using a Linux laptop from System76. I’ve been writing a lot of thought pieces lately which come my heart. Linux and open source is also from my heart.

I was introduced to Linux around 1997. I bought a book with a CD in it and tried to install on an older 386 PC. I could only get a command prompt. A year later I bought Red Hat 6.1. I installed it on an HP Vectra that had been upgraded to 233 MMX with a Cyrix chip. I got the GUI and it ran well. A couple of years later I built my first Linux server which was for web filtering using Squid, SquidGuard and later Dansguardian. One thing led to another and soon I built a web server, a network attached storage and began to try it on older laptops that were in sitting in closets where I worked.

I started distro hopping around then too. I moved from Red Hat to Suse to Mandrake and then back to Red Hat and later Fedora. I 2005 while on a trip to meet with K12 LTSP team in Portland, Oregon I got introduced to Ubuntu. We had been invited to the PLUG (Portland Linux User Group) and they were handing out Ubuntu 5.04 CDs. I took it home and installed it on a laptop I had been using. I didn’t like it at first but it did support the wireless card I had in the laptop.

Over the years I’ve run many different Linux distributions. I’ve run Centos, Red Hat, Fedora and Ubuntu on file servers and desktops. In the past six years I’ve been toying with the Raspberry Pi and Raspbian.

There are lots of great open source applications that I use everyday. WordPress is one of them. It’s my favorite blogging platform. I use GnuCash. I used to use a proprietary solution until I made the switch four years ago. I’ve learned Python in the past five years and although I’m just a beginner I’m keen to learn more and share with others.

Are you a Linux user? Would you like to learn? Let me know in the comments.

Running Fedora Linux on my Latitude Thanks to @JWhitehurst

In April I bought a Dell Latitude and since I was writing for I wanted to run Fedora. It’s not required but I thought it would be nice. I tried hard to find ways to run Fedora with the Broadcom wireless card that came installed in the Latitude. Chagrined that I could not find a good driver I decided to go with Ubuntu on the desktop and live with the Unity interface which I didn’t really like. Fast forward a couple of months and I read a blog post on MyLinuxRig where Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said he too had a Dell and solved the wireless issue with an Intel wireless card. That was great news for me. It’s one of those ideas I just hadn’t thought of. I’m grateful to Jim and that he shared his experience. This week I got an Intel Corporation Wireless 3160 card from Amazon and installed it this afternoon. Then I installed Fedora and now I’ll show up in Raleigh for All Things Open in good shape with my new platform. I’m glad to back on Fedora and Gnome whIch I prefer.

Open Source of Course

I have been an advocate for open source software for a number of years. Until I bought a MacBook Pro four years ago I used Ubuntu as my primary platform. Ubuntu and other Linux distributions provide a reasonable alternative desktop. The library I’ve been volunteering in the past couple of months has aging Dell Optiplex 755 desktop computers that struggle a bit to run Windows 7 with 4 gigabytes of ┬áRAM. I know these same units using a Ubuntu desktop would still be quite responsive. I have an older Dell Vostro laptop that came with Windows XP Professional on it four years ago. With the end of support for XP I’m tempted to install Ubuntu on it. I could put more memory in the computer and run Windows 7 on it but that’s going to cost about two-hundred dollars. In addition to that I’m going to have to install sometime of antivirus client. With Ubuntu or some other Linux distribution I need none of that and I get a host of other free software programs to install on this older laptop. Open source operating systems like Fedora or Ubuntu provide reasonable alternatives to Microsoft Windows and the Apple Macintosh platform.