Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Are you fed up of your old Windooze operating system ??

For the past 20 years the desktop machine at my home has been running on Gnu / Linux OS. Initially it was a 486 machine at 66 MHz, then a Pentium 4 at 256 Mhz clock speed. For the past 4 years, my laptop at home, an HP 430, an Intel Core i3 machine has been working on Ubuntu Linux.

I wish to elaborate on the following three main points, why did I move to Gnu / Linux, what are its advantages and how is it helpful for me as a Business School Professor ? (click here for another post on Linux and Richard stallman in IIT and GEC)

1. Why did I move to Gnu / Linux ?

That's quite an interesting and long story. When I went to IIT Bombay for higher studies in the late 90s, I was a total Microsoft Windows user. Never did anyone tell me of any alternate OS and software, other than AT&T's Unix, nor  could I listen to any talk in the area of more effective Operating Systems and software.

While accessing email at IIT, we worked on a program called PINE, (Program for Internet News and Email), a great piece of software working on AT&T's Unix.  I already had enough exposure on Unix while doing PG at Govt College of Engineering, Farmagudi, Ponda, Goa which had a NELCO Mini computer working on Unix, first one in an educational institution in western India after VJTI and IIT Bombay ! Days and nights endless in the computer centre, experimeneting with Unix and C !! Though my first steps to computing was through FORTRAN from the IBM mainframe computer at Govt College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET) from 1981-86, the foray into C programming language was made at Goa Engineering College.

While I was getting ready to present my very first seminar report in Dec '98 at IIT Bombay, it was a real tough time, composing it in Windows, spell checking, aligning and copying it on to floppies to be take printouts, realigning the output for proper printouts etc  etc. It was a very troubling and painful exercise.

I found that some of my other colleagues were efficiently working on a different operating system on the terminals in the computer centre at IIT Bombay. I was curious to know what were they working on and how were things happening in a different operating system called Solaris (Unix based) in the Computer Centre.

I also wanted to know how my PG classmates were handling document preparation through a software package called LaTeX, getting their docs converted to PDF (portable document format) .. Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present and exchange documents reliably, independent of software, hardware, or operating system.

What started as inquisitiveness, turned to admiration, appreciation, then veneration and finally adulation !! It was among the best "extra" learnings I have had from IIT Bombay - exposure to Solaris Operating System on IITB mini computer working out of the centralised Computer centre. There was no looking back then.

I went onto learn and apply LaTex, Linux / Solaris OS applications like Octave, SPSS etc.. I could also take four to five workshops in IIT Bombay for PG and doctoral students on how to program / prepare their documents in LaTeX, use xfig etc on behalf of the Research Scholars Forum (RSF) .

At the Goa Engg College too I gave many classes, weekend sesions on Linux, installation, Latex to the students and in neighbouring colleges, Linux workshops and the FOSS National Expo / Workshop at Palace Grounds Bangalore in November 2005 on MOODLE, the elearning package which I had already successfully deployed in Goa Engineering College for almost 6 months.

I can also should proudly say that Goa Engineering College was the first educational institution in Western and Southern India to install MOODLE, the e-learning package by summer of 2004. We also got final year Mechanical Engineering students to login and work thru MOODLE for my 2 subjects to start with. Two months after our installation in GEC, IIT Bombay rolled out it's MOODLE installation and after a year or two maybe, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

While at IIT Bombay, we also had the good fortune to bring Richard Mathew Stallman, the founder of the GNU/Linux movement from MIT to IIT Bombay and Goa Engineering College in 2002 and 2003 respectively with generous help from my friends at the Goa Linux Users Group, especially Frederick Noronha.
Richard Mathew Stallman, MIT, founder of
Free Software Foundation .

2. What are the benefits / advantages of Gnu / Linux  ?

Basically the reason to move to Linux was avoiding the prick of the conscience at using a pirated proprietary operating system without paying any money. The second one was the great excitment Linux gave me while trying out different versions of Linux like Mandrake, Fedora, RedHat, Knoppix, Ubuntu,  and umpteen different lesser known versions of Linux.

3. How is it helpful to me ? Some of the simplest pleasures were that I could check out many different software performing picture editing, document preparation, spreadsheet modeling, MySQL and PostGreSQL RDBMS training (click here for my 2005 PostgreSQL tutorial) and execution, R statistical package, Libre Office, Google hard drive and  exciting Google apps, what not ?  Document preparation, document handling, document transmission, document storage, retrieval etc is very easy on Linux. The possibilities were endless and ever exciting.

I was always looking for change and wanted to move away from monotony, Linux offered me that change and I got rid of the pain of Windooze.

I am on the Gnu / Linux highway and there is no stopping me now !! Click here to know more about Ubuntu OS ..


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