Open Source: Open Mind

Welcome to The Fearless Penguin!

For a wee bit of background, please check the link to the ‘About’ page above.

The reason I created this blog (thanks to WordPress) is to share my love (some may say ‘obsession’) with Linux Operating Systems and the amazing world of Free and Open Source Software. On the other blog that I made about two and a half years ago (DragonflyDreaming), I often reported on my experiences with Linux, among other interests and facets of life. My main reason for starting DragonflyDreaming was to get some practice with creative writing. But my blog posts that related to the Linux world were the ones that always got a lot of attention and still consistently get a steady amount of daily viewings. So I’ve decided that since I can’t stop exploring the ever-changing state of Linux/Open Source Software, and since there’s definitely a growing interest in this subject, I would make this separate blog to share in the Great Open Source Adventure!

I still remember the feeling a few years ago when I discovered this ‘thing’ called Linux. I had owned Macintosh computers up till that time, only dabbling with Windows a little bit. I loved the Mac and could not really understand why people chose to use computers with an Operating System that was continually prone to virus and malware attacks. Though Apple computers certainly cost a bit more; they were well-made and worked beautifully, for the most part.

Then I kept hearing on the internet about ‘Linux’ and ‘Gnome’ and ‘KDE’; different ‘Desktop Environments’ that were free to use and looked and worked a bit differently than OSX or WindowsXP. I soon became acquainted with Open Source computer applications like the free image-editing program GIMP, which did pretty much what Adobe Photoshop did, but could be downloaded and used on Macs, Windows and Linux without shelling our hundreds of dollars. And there was OpenOffice; the free version of Microsoft Word. And Macs had NeoOffice, too, at that time. Those and many other Open Source applications could be run any any computer platform, and they cost nothing! This was a revelation to me!

So after a while, I seriously began checking out what this ‘Linux’ stuff was all about. And I discovered Ubuntu 8.04: the ‘Hardy Heron’ was about to be released. At this time a friend who worked with computers at a school offered to help me build a computer with hardware that was no longer in use; and before I knew it I had a ‘new to me’ computer with a wiped hard drive awaiting an OS. I downloaded the Live CD ISO image that contained an entire, fully-functional Hardy Heron Operating System (hitherto referred to as a ‘Distro’), burned the ISO to a CD and booted my new generic desktop machine into Ubuntu. And my life, as they say, was changed forever!!

In the three years since, a lot has changed with Ubuntu and Linux on the desktop. With Ubuntu and the numerous distros based on Ubuntu, there’s a new release every six months; so the pace of new features and development is much quicker than with those other two major Operating Systems. Many distros have improved, some have faded, new ones are always popping up to fill a specific niche or to make things easier for the ‘average’ computer user. And today there are many more great distros available than just the ‘Buntus’. With Linux there are numerous distros for every level of user ability and need, from geeks to grandmas! The possibilities for customization and user control are endless.

That may be the greatest disadvantage when it comes to Linux; there’s no single brand or look with distros, though Ubuntu is the most visible one at the moment. There are hundreds of major Linux distributions and a growing number of different desktop environments/window managers, and the choices could be daunting for new users. When people have been used to only two different Operating Systems, the Linux universe might seem overwhelming! But it can actually be rather fun! I sometimes change distros on our different computers every few months. But choice is what Open Source is all about. And finding what works best for you.

I’d better stop for now. But I hope my explorations of the world of Linux can be informative or useful to someone out there. Please check back for links and information and news to guide your own exploration of the Open Source Frontier!