This was our only PC for many years, with a horrible inkjet printer still that was bought when we got it. That was until my Dad went online and spent about €1,800 on a Dell with a Pentium 4 and Windows XP. He went all out on the bells and whistles. He remembered the fun that we had on in a shitty DOS flight shooter games and, as I was excitedly peering over his shoulder, threw in a joystick for flight games. He even threw in a sub-woofer (side note: which is currently connected to my own PC that I’m typing on). Little did he know that as I grew up through my teens that the latter would captivate my interest more than the former.
Fast forward to the mid-00s, which is my first stab at higher education. I opted for a Computer Science course, which, I convinced my parents, I needed a laptop for. My mother was a very reluctant sell on this and so they spent €400 on the cheapest new laptop that Dell would sell them. It ran XP and was slow, even when new, and XP’s notorious “feature” of getting shower overtime didn’t help things. I heard about this thing called Linux from a guy who’s whose parents had more money than sense, as he was using an Alienware laptop with a slot loading drive (in the XP era!!). But He handed me a disk called “Ubuntu”. I tried the live disk mode on an hour break between lectures and decided that I didn’t like the brown (at the time) colour scheme and the toolbar layout was a bit weird to me.
So I handed him back the disk. This had sparked a curious feeling in my head and that maybe there was a “Ubuntu” that had a more Windows layout. There was one that looked promising, one called Kubuntu. It had the toolbar at the bottom and had the menu in the bottom right; it also had a cooler blue colour scheme that wasn’t quite as an affront to my eyes. On their website, they said that they would post a disk to you for free (this was before the USB booting that we have today), well that was very nice of them. I ordered one and forgot about it.
A few weeks later the disk arrived in the mail for me. I don’t know how I got it in under my Mum’s radar (must have told them it was for college). I went the whole hog and did a full install. No dual-booting, nothing. “Ok the mouse works... everything’s calm and blue.... menu is where I like it..... ok how do I access the internet?” It turns out it didn’t detect wireless out of the box and this was a deal breaker for me. I couldn’t ask for a cable at home without looking suspicious and it would be highly inconvenient in college, where WiFi was everywhere. Ok, back to square one and I used a (thankfully supplied with the laptop) Dell recovery disk and reinstalled XP. “Conor, why are you spending hours on that bloody laptop?” “College stuff Mom, you can go back to your TV”. I soon got rid of that “bloody laptop” and was motivated enough to spend a summer working and spending €1200 of my own money on a Core 2 Duo laptop from Acer. This was still running XP mind you, but it was just when vendors were getting ready for their Vista stock, so I got a good deal with it.
The next few years I had an “on again, off again” flirtation with Ubuntu Linux with me testing pretty much every release when I heard a new one had come out. I’d gotten so used to the XP installation that I could do it in my sleep. Mum had less grounds to stand on when for asking why I was on my laptop all the time, as it was bought and paid for with my own money (though she still tried and we argued over it, though I mostly won those.... till she’d threaten to cut off the internet.... which she did .... on several occasions).
I gradually got more used to what Ubuntu Linux was, as I’d be reading forums for solutions to problems I encountered or alternatives to Windows programs that I was used to using. I ended up spending less and less time on Windows. I’ve used Windows 7 extensively but it’ll be the last one that I will have done as 8 was a UI mess and 10 is a privacy mess. I now have my own PC that I’ve built myself and it has never run a fully licensed version of Windows. I’d had 3 laptops (including my very recently acquired, lightly used, Thinkpad T450) since that Acer and every one of them have run Ubuntu (or something derived from it) at least once. I am now 100% Linux and have been for over a year and the only thing I really miss is games that some of my friends play that is are only on Windows or a game that will never see a port and Steam aren’t working on running under wine for. (AOE II HD....... It makes me sad)
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