Re-Runs: (Blog) The One Where I Discover Ubuntu

(Editor’s note: This article was originally written… I’d say around 2007 or so. I was very frustrated with my gaming PC at the time, particularly Windows, and was looking for a free alternative OS.
-Mike)

Since I discovered the beauty that is computer gaming, I had been a pretty big fan of running around blowing the bejeezus out of my enemies. Whether it was in Unreal Tournament, Quake, or later Counter-Strike Source, I had always enjoyed the feel of a mouse and keyboard while leaving my ho-hum world to go on a fantastical adventure that I would never be able to do in real life.

Along with that I became more of a Windows fanatic. This was because Windows (as I would later find out in a failed experiment with gaming on Ubuntu Linux) is pretty much the only Operating System that will be stable enough to run said games. And though I became more and more frustrated with Windows over the years because of all the tedious scans, virus definitions, tweaks and plugins I had to run to get the game going, as well as more and more failed ventures into trying to build a personal computer (which would lead to multiple trips back and forth between the local Fry’s Electronics during one Spring Break as well as a massive drain on my bank account), I would get tired of having to use the “necessary evil” that was Windows.

The straw that broke the figurative camel’s back would be when the Orange Box (a game I would later go on to beat on multiple consoles) came out and I was ready to install the game on my PC and get to the First-Person Awesomeness that was the epic of Dr. Gordon Freeman, which would be thwarted by the fact that I had zero high speed Internet connection in the small Southern Indiana town where I attended college, and a random breakdown of the “gaming computer” that I had assembled from all those trips to Fry’s.

I had picked up The Orange Box around the time that it came out, wanting to waste no time waiting to dive back into the HEV suit and picking up the trusty crowbar that I had used in the previous Half Life 2 games. So as soon as I was able, I immediately sought out to install and play the shiny new addition to my modest collection of Steam games. But I was hit with yet another roadblock (which didn’t surprise me in the least, as I have horrible luck with turning a simple task into a very long and tiresome chore.

For whatever reason (along with the magical disappearing guitar, and many more unexplained occurrences in my life) my PC wasn’t taking the install. I knew that it was possibly because I was trying to install it on a computer that wasn’t connected to the Internet, or that I may have entered something wrong when I was installing because I was too excited and overlooked something simple.

But it wasn’t as easy as plugging in an ethernet cord, activating the code on Steam and then downloading the content. No no, I had to pack up my entire PC (monitors, cables, keyboard and all) and try and lug it to the campus (which I happened to live about a mile away from) and hope that I can try to “borrow” someone’s connection.

So I talked one of the teachers into letting me use her office, which was easy because she had taken a liking to me during my stint as the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge’s only “friend” in my first college play, A Christmas Carol. She happened to be leaving for the day so her only request was that I lock up when I was done. Simple enough.

So I took everything over there, plugged in (and after a trip or two back home to pick up any little piece that I left because I thought it was insignificant at the time but later proved otherwise), I was ready to install.

While I did I thought about perhaps researching an alternative to the Windows OS, because I figured there had to be some sort of other way to play my favorite games without having to put up with the crap that is XP.

Author’s note: Yes, I was just complaining about XP not working, but that is because I thought I knew what I was doing at the time, but really didn’t. I was just as bad as any other “computer expert” that uses Windows.

So I started looking around the Internet for any sort of alternative to Windows that could possibly get me to finishing the story of Gordon Freeman’s quest to rid the world of the Combine.

So while I waited I started researching this little OS that I had read about in the newspaper earlier: Ubuntu Linux. It seemed like an article that I had found on purpose, like someone was placing it there for me to see because some higher power knew I was frustrated with Windows and perhaps this would be the answer I was looking for.

Nope, not quite.

Though I did spend a very long time researching this new OS I had never heard of before, I was still skeptical to switch over. I wanted to make sure that this would be a good OS and alternative to what I was already putting up with. I wanted something that wasn’t going to make me Bill Gate’s slave, throwing away money to be unhappy with the end result, and not feeling like I was getting my money’s worth.

I liked the price tag for Ubuntu Linux. It was free, which was a great alternative to the Windows XP upgrade I had purchased that I thought was a ridiculous price. I liked that it offered a program called “WINE” which would pretty much emulate Windows, but be something new. I liked that it seemed to be a virus free alternative as well. I was sold, and since Episode 2 would still NOT WORK DESPITE ALL MY NERD RAGE AND EFFORT TO GET IT GOING (this was an install process that sucked up most of my afternoon and evening at this point), it seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the reason why I should get Ubuntu Linux.

Next Time: “The Fresh Install,” or “Wait what’s this line of code going to do when I actually put it in console?”