Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Regarding Operating Systems

I spend some percentage of my time trying new things in technology. For example right now I am spending some time with the Cingular 8125 Windows Mobile Device. It is always hard to overcome the bias you get from being wedded to a way of doing things. I really like how Symbian works and have to figure out how to not let that bias color my impression of Windows mobile.

Although most of my experimentation has been around mobile devices and related web based technologies, my recent purchase of a Mac Mini for home has given me a recent renewed interest in operating systems. As a bought in Windows user for the last 10+ years, it never occurred to me to spend any time looking at operating systems as new versions rolled out.

My previous experiment with operating systems goes back to around 1994. I had an earlier computer phase back in high school and early college and then took a long break from computers until around 94. In 1994 I decided that I was going to build a computer and try out some different operating systems such as Slackware. My initial impression of Slackware was that it was interesting but I hit some pretty nasty problems trying to configure PPP so I ultimately punted on the experiment.

This time around, the breathtaking look and usability of OS X piqued my interest to see what else is out there. I had installed Windows Vista on my old broken down laptop and it has performed well. It really is a nice improvement from XP but it feels more incremental than an overhaul. I am guessing that when you use it day to day that it might feel a little different but right now it is hard to say.

On my Mac Mini I installed Parallels to run Windows XP in a virtual machine and I have to say that I have only fired it up a couple of times. I have found that most of the things that I do are net related and haven't required invoking my windowness to get things done.

With all the niceness and coolness coming from my Mac, I asked around the office about how far Linux has come. Ben showed me the Linux GUI XGL which, simply put, is insane. Seriously insane. I tried to make a run at using it on my old home computer (1999 Gateway Pentium 3) to no avail. I then tried a plain vanilla install of Ubuntu and also Open SUSE using a wireless network card. Wireless isn't all it's cracked up to be on Linux.

Today I finally gave up and dragged the old beast over to an Ethernet connection. Once there I got Ubuntu up and running and plan on giving it the rounds here and there in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more.

No comments: