Expanding Your Horizons

When was the last time you learned something new? Fixed your front door, cleaned out the filter on the dishwasher, trimmed your rose bushes (without major injury), etc. Let’s face it, many of us have nothing but time on our hands these days. Why not pick up a new skill? With that in mind, I decided to travel down the road to Ubuntu.

No, it’s not a mythical kingdom in Africa. It’s a Linux-based operating system designed to run on home computers. It’s a nice niche between the bloated Windows and frustrating Mac operating systems. My 2014 Windows laptop had begun to show signs of age. The Instant On feature had turned into, Give me a minute (or ten, maybe even twenty). Tiring of this endless pokey-ness, I decided to give the old girl a kick in the pants. 

Recently, I started playing around with a demo of Ubuntu. I’ll have to admit, it was zippy. Also, since it’s an open-source operating system, it was a free download. It’s maintained by a network of nerds from all over the world. What could possibly go wrong? After backing up all of my data, and triple-checking my totals, I took the leap of faith. I wiped Windows 10 from my laptop (the point of no return) and installed Ubuntu 20.04. Everything was going great, until the reboot.

There were a couple of error messages, followed by this statement: Something has gone seriously wrong. Somebody over at Toshiba has a pretty wicked sense of humor. I took this setback in stride, created a new boot drive (with the most recent version of Ubuntu), and Shazam! I was back in business.

Ubuntu is virtually the same Linux-based software running on Apple computers these days. However, you quickly begin to realize, you’re not in Kansas anymore. As computer users, we’ve become used to having everything done for us. Configuring Wi-Fi, Printers, Internet, you name it. Not so much with Ubuntu. 

Since I’m a semi-retired IT Professional, I can handle this! RIght? What followed were a few days of Yosemite Sam-like cursing. Ubuntu is a graphics display on the surface, but the guts of the OS are run by command-line. Most of these commands are DOS-ish, but not close enough to make any sense. Tech-wise, it’s like hopping into a Delorean and roaring back to the ‘80s.  

At first, I was a little torqued off, but then I started to enjoy it. By the end of the week, I had Wi-Fi, a printer, and backup software all running. Hunting down tech problems and solving them is embedded in my DNA. It was fun putting on my dusty thinking cap and tracking down the bugs. Now, if I can just swap out the battery on this puppy, it should be as good as new. I’ll leave that for next week. For now, I’ll just bask in the glory of a job well done. And, a screaming fast laptop! Woo Hoo!!

So what jobs have you been putting off? Seeding the lawn, installing a new furnace filter, or replacing that burnt out tail light? I’ve found the more you do, the more your confidence level will skyrocket! However, you might also want to keep your emergency room handy, just in case! So, get out there and learn something new! You’ll be glad you did!!

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