My relationship with Linux

I am a windows guy and that will not change, no matter how much Microsoft mess up the UI. I run Windows 8.1 Update 1 as my main operating system.

But I am yielding and learning to use Linux. I’d not really used it before as it didn’t do what I wanted in an operating system:

  • All my programs and games were either more easily available to windows or windows only.
  • I do not like using VLC media player if I can avoid it, and prefer DirectShow enabled players and codecs such as Media Player Classic and the Combined Community Codec Pack. This is mainly because until the 2.x releases of VLC, it didn’t fully support the Matroska specification, so I have a level of distrust towards it, and as VLC is one of the few players for linux that don’t require a huge amount messing around, I’d be a little stuffed in the video department.
  • I simply wasn’t keen on the idea of dropping down to the command line for practically everything.

And when I had decided to experiment with it and learn a bit more i was met with the barrier of any tutorial I found requiring at least some knowledge of how to get around Linux, when I had none. However, I did keep a live CD of Mint 14 knocking around as even then I could admit that gparted was a better disk partition utility than anything I’d seen on windows, as well as allowing me access to the Hard disks without a huge level of fuss.

When I went on placement, the Mantid project was a cross-platform project so I had to be linux-aware in my programming. All was well until a test report came though saying I’d not fixed something I said I had, or rather was producing different behaviour than what was expected. I ran it again on my own machine and it went through fine, so I went over to that developer’s desk and found he ran Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and saw that the code did indeed behave differently. As a result I dual-booted my workstation with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on and set up my development environment on there, with assistance from the more linux-minded developers to help me take my first steps into using linux constructively.

For a while I stuck to that environment as I found it built faster, encouraged me to program more precisely, and more importantly I learnt some of the tricks linux had to offer.
One of the first I took a liking to was ‘grep’ as I’d not known of anything in windows that did as sophisticated an in-file text search. I then sought out AstroGrep for windows and use that regularly on my windows PCs.

I became more comfortable with the command line as before I’d not known many of the commands and shortcuts so thought it more trouble that it was worth, but now I know the shortcuts like using the tab key, it’s become much less of a chore to work with. I’m not at the level where I’m piping the result of one command into another yet, but it’ll come with time.

I’ll probably never use any flavour of Linux as a primary operating system unless it’s usability improves and has more of the software I use available to it, but I am comfortable using it as a development tool, which is just as well as I plan on using a raspberry pi in my Independent Study project. Granted, I’ve only used Debian-based versions so far (Ubuntu, Mint, Raspian) but I’m at least more equipped than I once was.

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