Testimonial: Paradise

by Patrick Lowe (MountainMan)

Greetings from the Pocono Mountains.

What a long strange trip it's been. When I began working in photofinishing, the computers controlling high speed printers interfaced with a teletype, a punched paper tape device was used for loading the program and making backups. Commands were three letters and my two finger typing style was well suited. I still use those 2 fingers. (Mountain girl sometimes gets impatient with it and pushes me aside to type at 70 wpm, which makes me sick to watch). My interest was aroused, so I took a computer course at the local university. Using punched cards, my tiny program filled an entire size 10 shoebox. I think that there must have been a lot of trees sacrificed to computers back then. When 8 inch floppy discs came out, the teletype was replaced with a monitor and keyboard. Then there was a modem. By cradling the phone handset in 2 cups, sounds were sent through the speaker and mike, and it would communicate with a computer in another state! (wee bit slower than my current 15 Meg cable service, a perk of mountain girl's job).


Life happened. Fast forward to 1999 and the Internet seemed to be as essential as indoor plumbing. I bought a PC to get on the web. (Duh, I couldn't do it with the refrigerator right?). Several years of MS, and the boredom and disappointment was more than I could bear. Building a faster computer didn't satisfy me, so I searched the net and found Linux. You know which one. The kids would say the name and laugh — how can you take that seriously Dad? It became a love/hate thing — loved the freedom to change things, and hated that I had to. Kept trying so many "new releases" of distros, and then spending so much time trying to update them and make things work the way I wanted. At some point in my explorations, I used an abandoned KDE 3.5 that was much to my liking. So I went about testing KDE distros and, sadly, they were early version 4.x. Most of them gave me the feeling of wanting to fist my keyboard after 20 minutes.

PCLinuxOS caught my attention through a review. With the usual promise of nirvana, and the usual expectation of letdown, I tried it. A little bumpy at first go on my test box with Intel graphics, but it was workable, so I installed. I then installed on my main box, and it was like entering the twilight zone. It was paradise. Everything I wanted worked. KDE, and most everything else, was up-to-date. No bouncing cursor pets, no pop up messages in a foreign language, and it was fast. I felt my quest was at an end. In this paradise, I have thought a couple of times that I want something different. Then, I either find it on the forum, in Synaptic, or it just appears in an update, almost as if Tex is my personal genie.

I am a casual user. By that, I mean I really don't have time or knowledge to dig into things. For two months now, things have been great. The other shoe didn't fall. No big problems that I couldn't solve by searching through the forum. I began learning things here that were useful, because the questions had been asked, and knowledgeable people took the time to give a meaningful answer. I had read it before. This is the best forum (and that is no bull). Whenever I get on line, I take some time to sniff around the forum or read the magazine. I installed Enlightenment on a partition, and WOW, I just kept opening and closing Firefox and a few other things and giggling. (Eat your heart out, Puppy). When mountain girl saw the wood theme by Agust she said, "That's nice. I like that." (I want the Grunge theme — hello? genie?). Her comment is meaningful because in the 3 years of using Linux, the only thing I have heard from her is "Why do you spend so much time messing with the computers? Can't we just use Windows? The walls need to be painted." She uses Windows every day. But she also uses my computer at the same time for Pandora and all that social stuff.

The Windows fans here so far are very impressed. No problem riding without a panel or dock. Everything I want is within a click on the desktop. It is often said that if Linux looks like Windows, those fans will use it. I think when it is fast, beautiful, functional, easy to learn, and better, then you have their interest. PCLinuxOS Enlightenment is all that. I'm on the edge of my seat for the final release. Maybe nirvana doesn't exist. I will settle for Enlightenment. There is one really strange thing on the menu "Run Everything" — HOLY MACKEREL — really? Shouldn't there be a footnote, something like "in the event of invasion?"

I'm beginning to think that my KDE partition is going to be collecting dust just like the Windows one is. Before PCLinuxOS, I would not be comfortable recommending Linux to friends. (Well, if I had friends). It's pretty much a geeky thing to people that aren't quite sure what tabbed browsing means. Also, I have never registered for a forum nor made a donation. PCLinuxOS inspired both. This testimonial has gotten pretty long, and at this point there would be some saying, "Gosh, I wish he had just sent the money." I'm not sure it gets said enough, but I wanted to say thanks to Tex for creating this paradise, and thanks for a great community.