I've used a variety of operating systems in the past -- Mac OS, Windows, NeXT, Amiga, and so on. I'm also big fan of the Open Source movement.

On Monday. I came into work to be greeted by the sight of a dead computer. Nothing -- Fire it up, the fans would run, but nothing would appear on the screen. Everything was connected. Reset the CMOS. Nothing. It was storming all weekend, so the only assumption was that my mobo was fried. Ugh. A week that I expected would be relatively quiet, where I could get a lot of writing-intensive work finished, was pretty much shot. I ordered a new mobo, CPU and memory, and dug up one of the spare computers we had floating around -- a 350 MHz PII box, running Windows 98.

I wasn't going to be happy running an unstable OS, especially one that was used by a former employee that downloaded every screensaver and "enhancement" she could get her hands on. Nope. I decided to wipe the system clean, and start from scratch. I decided to put Linux to the test, in a working environment in a planning agency. Armed with a CD of Mandrake Linux 8.2, I booted, reformatted, and installed the alternative OS. I needed Internet access, basic word processing, something aside from paper and pencil.

The install went off without too much of a hitch. In the past, when I experimented with Linux, there was always something in my system that was incompatible with the OS -- a video card, sound card, or peripheral that wasn't supported. The installation was a bit more detailed than a typical Windows install, but it went off without a hitch -- apparently, the old PII box didn't offer any challenged to Mandrake Linux.

Well, not quite. I rebooted, got into the KDE Window Manager, and all looked well. Except ... no sound. The card was recognized at install, but for some reason, a "sound server" kept getting terminated. My temporary PC would be silent.

After a few days of the Penguin, what did I think? Ehh.

"Ehh? My God, Dan, you sacreligous anti-geek! I bet you worship at the alter of Bill Gates, don't you?" Well, not really. There were a lot of little things about Linux that I found frustrating. For a geek like me, those little things would translate into a slew of major issues for a typical desktop user. What peeved me?

1) Fonts. There was no way to easily install fonts, and even if you could get something installed, different programs implemented them in different ways. There's several different font folders. Helvetica 10 point would look completely different in one program than in another. Some programs would display anti-aliased screen fonts, while others wouldn't. Some programs wouldn't even recognize any fonts that I did manage to get installed.

2) Compiling programs. I'd come across a decent utility or program online, and find that you couldn't just uncompress it and run it. Nope, you also had to compile it, which meant reading a readme.txt file, typing in a set of arcane commands like "make -x -f -G makefile", and then waiting for the error messages to come across claiming I didn't have libgtk 8.4, and that that compiling would stop. Huh?

More later. Much more later. I'm tired.