I tried to get Linux working on a Virtual PC VM the other day, and I found it hard. In fact, I haven’t got it working yet.
I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not up to the job. There are two camps in the tech world – those who understand, and those who use. Obviously you can be in both, if you understand some things and only use others, but taking any one subject you’ll find yourself in one group or the other.
So in terms of Linux (specifically Ubuntu and gOS) I’m definitely a user. I don’t understand how to install it. Because it’s open source there’s almost too much information. This is all because (certainly to me) Linux is a tamed animal. It’s essentially Unix taken out of the wild, and caged and beaten until it’s safe enough to sit in your home office. However only those who are skilled in the arts of taming can make it do what they want. If you know how to wield the metaphorical dining chair and whip you can make it do what you want. If you’re merely an audience member who dares to enter the ring, you could be torn to pieces.
Well, that’s taking it a bit far, but best case is that you can’t get it to do what you want, and wish it was more like what you’re used to.
Which, love it or hate it, is probably Windows. The difference with Windows is that Microsoft took the concept of an operating system, and domesticated it.
Admittedly they cheated and shortened the process to only a few generations, but essentially the result is safe to let your children play with. It’s why almost anyone can use it, and those with the understanding that a CD goes in the CD drive can even install it. I guess Apple did the same with the Mac (in fact, didn’t BASIC run one of the early Macs?) hence the philosophy “It just works”.
So I want to be an Understander, one who can use Linux and be a true geek, rather than a pretender to the court, but the truth is I am not worthy, and fail the grade as even a user. I think I finally realised that there’s an “Install” icon on the desktop when you boot Ubuntu from a live CD, but I couldn’t see the wood for the trees on my first go. I saw the “Start or install Ubuntu” option, and when I chose it, it started it, and I couldn’t see how to install it. What I really wanted was two separate options – “Start Ubuntu” and “Install Ubuntu”.
Now I understand I may have been very dim here. I’m sure one day someone will go through my archives and leave a smartass comment to the effect that I should’ve done X, Y and Z, but you gotta see this story from a born-and-bred Windows user and developer. I had a quick go on Unix once, but that was parrot-fashion from an instruction sheet on a big ol’ Sun machine, so it doesn’t count.
I’ll have another go, and maybe I’ll try it on a real machine to remove any VM-related complications (like the mouse not working), but we’ll just have to see. Maybe Linux needs a few more generations and exposure to the mere mortals to force it forward into domestication. Maybe that’s not what ‘nixer’s want? You tell me…