The Steady Advance of Linux

The Steady Advance of Linux

I don’t remember the year, but I’m thinking it was 1992 when I downloaded 18 floppy disks’ worth of the tamu-0.99 version of Linux and put it on my home 386. It was one tar image, and I recall disk #15 having a bad sector so I had to re-download it. I believe the modem was about 14.4Kbaud, so we’re talking about serious time spent downloading. I was too cheap to buy Debian, which I believe was just out.

Amazingly, I was able to put this to work at my job with Conoco! I had been using SCO Xenix on a machine that was my Ingres database server and development machine, but the ethernet package that came with Xenix (for an extra fee) didn’t work very well. I put the tamu distro on that machine on another disk and rebooted it, and the networking was good! With a little tinkering, Ingres worked on the old tamu distribution and I was back running again, but this time on an unsupported O/S that ran better than Xenix.

Fast forward to last week, when I downloaded CentOS 6.5 ISO image and burned a CD. I put it on an old AMD “CoreDuo” retired from home use. Now it is 64 bit, came with X-windows, automatically connected to time servers so my clock is always in sync, has a default browser, office suite, email client, and development tools. It automatically detects when upgrades are needed to packages. With Cat 5e cables in the house it talks internally at 100Mbit (because I’m still cheap and won’t buy a gigabit switch), and connects to the outside world at over 2Mbits/second. Granted, a few years have elapsed, but I’m still amazed that I could hook up this much power to the internet in about two hours, including my download time for the boot disk image.

Is my family ready for Linux? Perhaps. That was not the case in 1992 when I was told to quit messing up the family computer, but now the question I get is “If you put that in the kitchen can I get to my email?” with an implied green light as long as I can provide the basic functionality. Is my business ready for Linux? Definitely. I need to keep overhead low, and providing services in the HPC and software world means that I need to have Linux available anyway… so why shouldn’t it run my office applications as well? What about Microsoft? They have a dominant place, and still run the O/S at my house for video editing, calendaring, TurboTax, etc. We also use the Office 2010 suite. But what is significant is that we have a choice. My Google calendar syncs with Outlook (from Microsoft), and my LibreOffice allows me to modify my Office 2010 documents into “.pdf’s” with incredible ease. If I want to work on the Linux machine I can create, edit, and print a document that is compatible with the Vista-hosted Microsoft Word program.

Life is good. Linux has come of age.

Pasted from HPC in Oil & Gas, Tuesday, March 31, 2015