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Editor’s Note: Is This The Fun Part? Are We Having Fun Yet?

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

I miss Caldera.

There, I said it. Curse me for all time, if you must. But I must
speak my piece: in these days of mega-support contracted,
commercialized Linuxes, I find myself nostalgic for the days gone
by and wonder where all the fun has gone.

My affection for Caldera is really more for the OpenLinux 2.2
product with which I first learned Linux, not the Utah company that
has decided to make a living sueing people.

OpenLinux was my first real exposure to this open source
operating system, and I still remember the sense of wonder I felt
even while I was installing it on a friend’s machine.

And you know what did it? What really demonstrated to me that
this operating system was head and shoulders above any Windows I
had ever seen? It was that Tetris game that used to load and run
while OpenLinux was installing.

I mean, c’mon, with Windows, every last erg of processing power
is slaved to the atomic reconfiguration of a hard drive to
something that makes Microsoft happy and its users not. Even back
then it was true. But here… here was an operating system that
alloted memory and processing so well that even while all those
files were being loaded, it had the wherewithall to set up a game
to while the time away.

And that, my friends, is when I knew this Linux thing was really
cool.

Lately, it seems, the magic has gone out of Linux for me. As my
daily toolset, it is something that works and works well for me. I
just don’t think about it anymore. I get the updates when they come
out, install them, and get on with it.

There are the occasional glitches, particularly when I upgrade
Firefox, because it always loses track of my Java virtual machine
until I reconnect it. (Hint, hint, Firefox team.) But really,
everything else is as smooth as glass.

Has Linux, while achieving its stability and usability, lost
that which has made it fun? Are there no new frontiers to
conquer?

We shall see. I have decided to stop working and start playing.
(Note to boss: in moderation, of course.) One of the reasons I
don’t play around with Linux software more is that this machine I
use is my main work PC and therefore is not really something I want
to break. I have the Yellow Dog iBook, of course, but that’s only a
backup.

So I have decided to shrink the partition down to make some
space for an experimental Linux partition. In doing so, I hope to
do two things: get some reviews together and, more importantly, see
what kind of fun I can find out in the still rapidly expanding
world of Linux distros.

The first candidate, I can tell you, has to be Ubuntu. I have
always shied away from Debian-based distros, ever since Michael
Hall convinced me to try out installing Debian a few years ago. He
meant well, I am sure, but the installation was a disaster and
after several hours of head-banging and long distance calls to
Michael, I chucked it and went cowering back to SuSE Linux 7.

Thus, you see, me and this Debian thing don’t get along so well.
I try to keep this from fellow Hoosier Ian Murdock, by the way,
since I know he will mock me if he finds out. Shhh…

Ubuntu, I have read, promises to be something different. It has
a better install, and all the cool features of Debian. I hope to
find out for myself and share with the rest of you.

After Ubuntu, who knows? But I know from talking with many of
you, there is fun still to be had out there. It’s time I started
looking for it.