Sunday, January 21, 2007

the loneliness of the long-running Linux user

I've been a Linux-on-the-desktop user for a while now -- 12 years. Maybe 13 -- I actually can't remember. I usually date it from 1994, but I may have been in as early as the fall of 1993. At any rate, let's just say a *long* time and be done with it. Until recently, I've never been able to wow people on Linux, at least not visually. There's only so much you can do to point to month long uptimes and stability and etc. etc. etc. -- what people often want to see is visual gimcrackery. I was never impressed with early eye-candy window managers like Enlightenment -- it seemed like too much work for too little flash, and anyway, as a righteous Torvalds-fearing tty-addict, I sneered at attempts to turn me on to visual sweetness.

Such is the problem with zealots. And anyway, that was way before OSX. This was in the Gil Amelio Apple years, where only the really really hardcore Apple fan stayed loyal and convinced. And then Steve Jobs came back, and then OSX came along, and Apple people had something to point to again; a UNIX that impressed the hell out of the visually-oriented folks.

Recently though, I've heard some rumblings about Beryl, and last week I read something about how Knoppix, everybody's favorite Live CD, came with Beryl as a desktop option. So I pulled it down, burned it, and booted it in a public lab where we were having a vendor spiel. Man, did I get reactions. It looks seriously awesome -- flipping rotating 3d cubes for a desktop, that thing that Macs do where you can zoom out and look at every application's window, other nifty nifty 3d effects that were actually useful in addition to being pretty. Mac people who happened by were seriously impressed, as was I -- and it was running in RAM! Man. Go Knoppix, go!

Now I'm using it at the reference desk on the usually-Windows reference desk PC, and it's got all my applications that I use upstairs, and my configs are saved to my USB key, and I am one happy clam.

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