There was a time, not so very long ago that I was truly a diehard fan of Windows.
I have been using it since before it was an operating system in it’s own right, and was merely a graphical user interface for DOS.
If I remember correctly (and I am pretty sure I do) the first DOS/Windows machine I had the privilege of working with was a 286 running Windows 3.1 on top of DOS 5 or perhaps 6. I know that by the time we upgraded to a 486 in ’94 we were running Windows 3.11 over DOS 6.22.
Lets just say that I have spent a bit of time tinkering with my operating system, back when you still could. It was fun and yet kinda frustrating at the same time. Like playing with a logic puzzle until finally everything just “clicks”.
How in the world does my having geeked out at an ancient operating system have anything to do with what I am doing now?
Today I took the first step into a larger world.
Quite a while ago a friend of mine came to me with a problem. A laptop computer that was quite simply toasted. It had failed so badly that it would no longer even power up, much less do anything.
Thus began a long process of finally getting it to power up and find most of it’s parts. There were numerous issues, each dealt with in turn. The only problem still remaining was (and still is) a failed hard drive.
Well, it turns out that the data on that hard drive is all my friend actually cares about. It kinda figures, the one thing I cannot fix is the one thing she really needs. (The data is truly irreplaceable.)
She has already replaced the computer, and decided she does not want the carcass back. She just wants the hard drive to save towards the day that she can afford high end data recovery. (none of the things I can do worked, it won’t even spin up.)
So I find myself in possession of the laptop I have dubbed Scarecrow. So named because without a hard disk it’s story starts with it walking down the yellow brick road sitting on my desk needing a brain. I figured as long as I have it I might as well try to fix it up. It would be nice to have a separate system to do my writing on.
Borrowing a power supply cord from my daughter, who just happens to also own an Acer, I was able to get it to charge up. That was a good start.
Then came the realization that there were no recovery disks made.
I could not simply pop in a DVD and walk away for an hour while Windows firmly embeds itself into the very atoms the computer is made of. I can almost hear the Windows disks as they are inserted telling the poor computers “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”
I started making calls to the manufacturer, looking for a way to get a set of install disks. They would be more than willing to help me, for a price.
That conversation went something like this. “You want how much for a set of recovery disks? Are you mad? Are they made of powdered unicorn horn? Hand delivered by Santa Claus?” Apparently the customer service specialist did not find this amusing. At any rate, I did not send them in a pile of money for a set of disks.
I decided to do something else. Something I have not done in years.
I decided I wanted to get under the hood and see if I could make something work.
Something not tied to the big ticket companies, something I could still tinker with.
Two weeks later I got something in the mail.
A disk labeled Kubuntu 9.1.
Today is the day I started using Linux.
That computer is back from the dead now, only awaiting the purchase of a hard drive for a full install.
I feel like Dr. Frankenstein, only completely different.