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Goodbye Freespire...

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Back in August, I got caught by the Ubuntu/X Window update bug. Because I was in a hurry and didn't yet understand the nature of the bug that bit me, I grabbed the most available distro available to me at the time: a copy of Freespire 1.0 that I'd picked up at LinuxWorld.

Regular LT readers, may recall that my experiences with Freespire were less than stellar. Well, after a couple of months putting up with the various idiosyncrasies of Freespire and its generically named application set, I have decided to move on.

The timing of this migration has been dictated by the single most overarching event in my life right now: my family and I are about to relocate to another city in early November. My "play"/backup computer is already packed and in that city now, which is part of what necessitated my emergency jump to Freespire in the first place. That was the beginning of Freespire's intersection with my personal timeline--the end is precipitated by the fact I will not want to handle a migration in a new physical location where even more of my stuff may be boxed away for an indeterminate amount of time.

Thus, the migration needs to happen now, while I have the time and the ability to install and learn a new distro.

At first, I was thinking I could grab the other distro I'd picked up at LinuxWorld: Fedora Core 5. But then openSUSE 10.1 was rereleased this week, supposedly with many of its earlier bugs fixed. At least, that's what my friend Steven Vaughan-Nichols says. Don't worry, Steve, I won't hold too big of a grudge if you're wrong.

I have a bit of nostalgia for the SUSE product line. I was exclusively using SuSE Linux back in the 7.0, back when geeks were geeks and could handle a lowercase "u" in the middle of an all-capped word. It was the third distro I'd ever used, after (get this) Caldera OpenLinux and Corel Linux Boy, that takes you back. I stuck with the product up until 7.3, when I heard the siren call of Red Hat Linux. Curiously, the earlier SuSE line is one of the few distros I have to keep in mind as a disclaimer. Then SuSE Linux Inc. liked one of my reviews so much they put a blurb from my review on their retail box. That was surreal.

So, I decided to return home and see what was what. I was able to bittorrent the ISO files down last night, letting my trusty Ubuntu laptop handle the download and burn while I watched Heroes, looking for more KDE screens (didn't see any). And, as an aside, it was ridiculously nice to be able to pop in a blank CD and have the right tool come up automatically. Mark this functionality off the list of things Windows can supposedly do over Linux.

If you're wondering why I don't just pop Ubuntu back in... let's just say I'm still in the mood to try new things.

To get a migration accomplished, I have to make sure I save a few files first. All my e-mails, plus a few configuration files that I'll need to reset my tools. I have made this a lot easier by putting a copy of /home out on a separate partition. Part of me keeps wishing there was a utility out there that would let you pull such things across when migrating from one distribution to another, but then I check myself and remember that normal people don't hop distros like I tend to.

That part is accomplished, and now I will start the installation process. By the next entry, I should be reporting from a fresh "remastered" openSUSE 10.1 machine.


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