Saturday, March 7, 2009

My "apt-get install" Experience

There was hardly any confusion in my mind regarding what I should write in my first ever blog post. It will come without surprise ,to most people I know, that this post is about how things changed after I "apt-get install"ed; or in other words, I switched to Linux from the "other operating-system!"

Back in school I had heard of this OS as one in which the mouse pointer on screen points downwards. :D Only a year ago I actually got a chance to "get my hands dirty" with Linux. It was the all new Ubuntu Hardy release. The moment I looked at the clean and clear Gnome UI, I realized what love at first sight is! It was time to bid adieu to Windoze. (Actually the first Linux UI I had seen was KDE, the K-series in Linux Kubuntu; I didn't like it much.)

Installing Ubuntu was a breeze. I was pleasantly surprised by the spectrum of softwares already available after installing the OS. For word-processing, spreadsheets and presentations, there was OpenOffice - I was comfortable using it from day one. For web-browsing there was the latest version of Mozilla, which I was using on Windoze too. I was surprised it even came with a P2P client (Transmission), a multi-account IM agent (Pidgin) and an easy to use powerful image editor, Gimp, which I like to call "Photoshop for the artistically impaired." It had all those typical Windoze games like Solitaire plus some new and interesting ones like Othello. Getting connected to the internet was one thing I was worried about - "Will my present ADSL router work? Will I need some different drivers?" Ubuntu answered - "Just open Firefox and start browsing you fool!" That's plug-and-play for you.

Soon I yearned for more functionality and more sofwares, like my favorite VLC player to play Prison Break episodes, a good music player (maybe like Winamp), and a circuit simulator to do some of my lab experiments. Was I being too exacting of this new OS? Then I opened the all-powerful "Pandora's Box" of Linux - the terminal. And I typed in this short line on the command prompt:

atul@atul-desktop:~$ sudo apt-get install vlc rhythmbox geda

Following this, the terminal spewed some abstruse messages in quick succesion. After a few minutes, the terminal sat quietly waiting for the next command. My wish had been fulfilled, albeit without any pomp and show! (For an instant I was like - "Hey wait a minute, when did I click all those Next buttons? and what about the Finish button?)

There is one reason why I still respect Microsoft - for they made Age of Empires. In its 50 odd years, they managed to make atleast one good thing, let's give them credit for it. Question - How am I supposed to run AoE in Linux? I searched for some open source strategy games but none of them really clicked. (I am still trying to figure out how to play FreeCiv.) That was when I found WINE. It should stand for WINdoze Emulator, but thanks to the FOSS people's obsession with recursive acronyms, WINE actually stands for WINE Is Not an Emulator. Why not try a shot of wine, I wondered. Back on the reverent terminal, I typed:

atul@atul-desktop:~$ sudo apt-get install wine

Yet again, without any sort of magnificent display, wine was installed and ready to use. And guess what, I can not only run AoE but also my Windoze version of Matlab 7 right here, from inside Ubuntu! Splendid!

I can just go on and on about all the new things I've been learning about Linux. It's like being a five year old again, and learning to use the computer with that curiosity, and then enjoying the satisfaction of learning something new everyday. And at the end of each day I realize what I've learnt is just a drop in the ocean. So, the next day I'm ready to dive in with even more enthusiasm! Hats off to Linus Torvalds, hats off to the people at Ubuntu.


  1. Nice to see a new blog, and as you said the topic was a no-brainer. More importantly, I can't wait to get my own notebook and start working with Ubuntu.

  2. hey atul its a good one.
    this wil surely encourage people to use linux.

  3. Now I am getting that itchy feeling of chucking my Windows and switching.. like you did.. but unfortunately I am not too confident I would be able to pull it off without screwing up! :P