Droplets of Pure Joy

In my few years of distro-hopping, I’ve developed a sense for “the little things” that pop up every once in a while that shoot through the noise and just make life better. These things are situational. They don’t appear to everyone, just the person that needs it at that particular time. Here are some of mine:

Knoppix: I had to transition from proprietary DOS based CNC controllers to something that would run on contemporary architecture. The ability to run a live knoppix install gave me the ability to test and transition to linux based software. My first (and no way last) major lesson in dealing with salesman pitching a $200,00 solution to a $100 problem.

Gnome2: I’m still in awe of the category based menu system. In my early years, while I was discovering apps, this made navigating a linux desktop easy for a windows user.

Wubi: I probably wouldn’t be here were it not for wubi allowing me to install Ubuntu on my windows installation. Around this time I started my journey with Gimp, Blender, Inkscape, Scribus, and Open Office.

Mint: While I will always owe a debt of gratitude to Canonical, Mint/Mate came along at a time when I was still an occasional Linux user and definitely not interested in experimenting with a new UI.

There are more, but these are the early formative experiences where Linux made a difference in my work.

Needless to say, BDLL continues to shower me with droplets of pure joy.

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CUPS: ~2008. I had a deadline at 7 in the morning. Printer showed as “offline”. This is win 7 and an HP inkjet. I went out and bought a new printer. This worked through the test page and I breathed a sigh of relief until I mashed the print button for my work. Again. Offline. Support calls to MS and HP were basically some variation of “Huh”.

Then, around 3 in the morning, I went into Ubuntu and voilà!!! She started printing before I could yelp with relief.

I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed the return call from HP support as much as I did when she asked me, “Is the USB cable plugged in”? I said, “Sure is. It prints from Linux no problem”.

I since discovered that this was (is?) common for HP drivers and/or Windows. Deleting the printer and reinstalling provides the requisite handshake. A solution I found not from either gabillion dollar company, but from user forums.

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It is amazing to think back at the ground we’ve covered in Linux and how far we’ve come. I’m not thinking of anything specific other than the moments of frustration I felt years ago when facing barriers that kept me from enjoying Linux in the way that I can now. There were compromises that I had to make then that just don’t exist anymore. I’m glad I have the experience of having done those things but am ever so grateful that I don’t struggle with them today. Linux is an entirely joyful experience now.

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