Thoughts on computers and OS

Ubuntu Screenshot

And now for something completely different.  The image above is a screenshot from the desktop of laptop running Ubuntu, which is itself a flavor of Linux.  I say flavor because that’s probably the most accurate way to describe the various Linux options (Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Mint, etc).

I’ve been playing with Ubuntu for a couple of years now, off and on.  I converted my crappy netbook, then one of my office computers, then setup a desktop for Paul.  And in the past week I purchased an inexpensive laptop and (gleefully) replaced its stock Windows 8 OS with Ubuntu 14.

For anyone unfamiliar with Ubuntu, it’s a Canonical product, it’s an open-source OS, and it’s free.  That’s right, a full-fledged OS for free.  And it’s very friendly.  Most people, I think, hear mention of Linux and immediately think that it’s the text-based OS for super nerds.  And as far as basic Linux goes, there’s some truth to that.

Ubuntu is a flavor of Linux for people who want a familiar desktop environment, a graphical user interface (GUI), and the sort of features and performance that they are used to with either Windows or Apple OS.

And in fact, the best way to think of Ubuntu may be as a sort of hybrid between Windows and Apple.  If you’ve used both operating systems, then you’ll recognize pieces of each in Ubuntu.

At any rate, it’s robust, it’s generally safe, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s the sort of OS where, if you are the nerdy sort, you can still do a lot of nerdy things with it.

In my case, I’m working on learning the Linux command line so that I can do all sorts of nerdy things, with the end goal of (hopefully!) getting my Linux certification.

One of the major perks of Ubuntu and the other Linux flavors is that they are a great way to get additional life out of older computers.  Got an old XP or Vista computer sitting around?  Convert it to Ubuntu and chances are that it will have equal, if not better, performance.  It can give an older laptop a second life.

And that’s how I’ve used it so far – all my Linux computers are outdated Windows machines converted to Ubuntu.  Which has been really useful, but has also given me an occasional challenge to overcome with things like hardware incompatibility.

Because all the hardware has been old, I haven’t been able to play with any of the photo applications in any meaningful way.  It doesn’t matter what OS you’re running, photo editing doesn’t play well with only 2GB of RAM.

So one of my goals with the dedicated Linux computer is to use it as a test bed for photo editing.  Which will entail using programs like GIMP for starters, and some testing of others, such as Darktable, to find a suitable ACR replacement.

I haven’t hidden my contempt for the current editing infrastructure on my past blog posts, and to quickly reiterate, I think that Adobe’s switch to the software-lease model was an outright money grab, and one that I refuse to participate in.  Creative Cloud can kiss my ass.  When CS6 is no longer supported by the latest Windows OS, I’m done with Adobe.

Or maybe sooner…  Because without Photoshop, I have no particular reason to remain with Windows, either.  Microsoft annoys me on several levels (and I won’t touch Windows 8) but the bottom line is that Photoshop is the only software I use that requires Windows – everything else either works on Ubuntu, or has a Linux-based replacement.

And so this Linux machine may spell the end of my Windows association as well.  I’ll need a couple of months really evaluate the Ubuntu environment and applications for photo editing and management, to find the best replacements for ACR, Bridge, and Photoshop – but I’m pretty sure that day is coming.  Within the next three years, I doubt I’ll still be operating within the Windows/Adobe architecture.

And I’m just fine with that.

Of course this is all subject to change based on real-world testing, which will follow.  And I’ll be sure to post updates here as I move through the evaluation process.  I find this entire concept intriguing and am very interested to see how it plays out.  More to come…

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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1 Comment

  1. You do know that what you did voids your Microsoft warranty? There is now a file on you in Redmond Washington.

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