A little while ago, I wrote about how I’d chucked my Grand Idea of starting my own business doing PC support, and I’m ever more convinced that I made the right decision.
At the moment, I’ve got a Windows XP / Linux Mint dual-boot set-up. By default my PC starts up under Linux Mint, and it’s pretty good. It does the basics well; I surf the web, I organise my e-mail and I write.
But there are certain things I still can’t do under Mint:
- Online, some web applications refuse to work. The one Facebook game I play, Bejewelled Blitz, stutters while it’s running, which is no end of frustrating.
- We have a Brother printer connected directly to our network. Mint can’t see it by default and the last time I tried to set it up under my previous flavour of Linux, Ubuntu, the end result was an error message whenever I tried to do a software update.
- While there are applications that will work with my iPod, like Rhythmbox, I still feel as though getting them to do what iTunes does by default, especially with regard to podcasts and playlists, takes too much fiddling.
- As far as I can see there’s no Linux-based software that I can use to back-up or synchronise my Motorola RAZR mobile phone with some kind of centralised address book.
- The games I own and enjoy playing, not to mention the ones that my friends play, are Windows games; the digital game store Steam may have bridged the Windows-Mac divide but I’ve not caught wind of any plans for a Linux client yet.
While I’d go back to Windows XP, I have some issues there as well. The biggest is a recurring bug that has defeated all attempts, including several from-scratch rebuilds of the hard drive over the last couple of years, to erase it. No matter which browser I use, something happens intermittently when I attempt to get to any web site; the browser will either load a single graphic from the page and nothing else, load the site’s base HTML code instead of the site proper or even tell me it couldn’t reach a website other than the one I was trying to get to.
Dovetailing with this is the dawning realisation that I’m getting annoyed with being tethered to a desktop. I like the idea of being able to sit down and fiddle with my computer whenever I want to, without having to make a point of coming out to the front room (which, in summer, is the hottest room in the house) to write.
I’ve realised that it’s not just a matter of having as few excuses for procrastination as possible, but also of actually having some positive reinforcement; if I like to play with a gadget, then I’m more likely to have it around (and know how to use it) when I have a practical need for it.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing refinancing our loan with a gent from a bank. If we can get a low enough rate, we’re thinking of getting some more renovation work done, but I’m also starting to think about how we can rectify our computing situation. The screen on Vickie’s laptop died a while ago, and I’m debating whether to take it in for repairs or get something new for her; either way, given Vickie’s ongoing frustrations with running Vista on her machine and the grief XP has given me over the past few, I’m thinking Windows 7 isn’t a bad move for either of us.
Now, I’m willing to consider my options. There’s a big community of Linux users out there who are willing to help out, one that I’ve not dabbled in all that often; a couple of my good mates are also keen Linux users (one of them actually hipped me to Mint). So I think I’ll check in with them before I splash out.
Even so, I’m not interested in a lot of fiddling or configuration or becoming a Linux Power User or any such. I’m now more keen on having something that Just Works Out Of The Box. I want the end result of all of this to be a computer that I enjoy using and that simply does what I want it to without dual-boots or emulation or any real technical complexity. I’m over the idea of being on the cutting edge or getting into the guts of computing; I want a computer that just works.