My Best Friend, Now on Linux

There's a trope popular amongst Linux users: convert your friends and family to your beloved operating system. But how far do you have to go to actually make that happen?

My Best Friend, Now on Linux

A knock rapped above my head, followed by guttural shouting. I opened my eyes in surprise. What the hell was that? My eyes traveled to the window, where I saw an imposing figure standing over me.

“Sean! Sean! Time to get up, you said you were doing this!”

He was, of course, entirely right. Jake had mentioned for several months that his computer was bogged down with Vista, and he was fed up with the initial user experience. I was surprised by his initial request for me to give him a try with Linux. I had never advocated it or mentioned it. However, he had always known that I had it on all my machines, and I seemed to like it.

I turned over and looked at my clock. Yup, 9 AM sharp. Jake was not only eager to get this done, he was up before noon. That was enough to impress me. I rolled out of my bed, accidentally stepped on some of the Legos my brothers had left out the night before, and hobbled in pain to the door. (Why is it that those things hurt like the dickens most right after waking up?)

Jake was sporting his regular appearance of “FRIGHTENING”. He sported a shaved head, and a shirt that read “Divinity is Giving Up the F*cking Ghost Because Truth is Dead to Me”. A thick large ring hung from his nose, black plugs filled the gauges in his ears. Iron bars poked out of his forearm, and scars ran up and down his other arm in a unique celtic design.

This man had lived a hard life, and he wore all the burdens of visuals that society would never understand fully. He held his rig in his burly arms with the strength of a titan. He slung it over his shoulder, as if the rig were light as a feather. As he walked in, he gently slammed it down on the oak table.

“Okay, put Linux on it.” he said, sounding surprisingly timid.

Distribution choice was really a no-brainer here. Ubuntu-based distributions have always been easy to use in comparison to other distributions, so I helped Jake install Jaunty with an ext4 filesystem.

“I just think it’s great that anyone would spend their time working on releasing a whole operating system for free.” Jake said.

And with that, Jaunty’s installation finished. I was far from finished, however. Just leaving the bare-bones system for a non-technical person was somewhat a bad idea, so I installed and set up the following:

  • Flash for AMD 64 Linux.
  • Nvidia Drivers set up.
  • The “ubuntu-restricted-extras” package so that he could watch all of the archived media he had on his other hard drive at home.
  • libdvdcss2, so that he could watch his favorite DVDs.
  • VisualBoyAdvance, DosBOX, and Wine for his various games.
  • Miro for a fresher alternative to just searching YouTube, with him subrscribed to my various video channels.
  • Amarok 2.1 for music, with the QGTKstyle enabled.
  • Nicotine+, a FOSS alternative to SoulSeek, one of his favorite apps.
  • A plethora of free games.

I set up his accounts in Pidgin, and also made a account for him. This is a common practice I do for anyone that switches to Linux in my circle of friends: I have them support Jabber alongside regular AIM, MSN, and Yahoo protocols. Then, if any of them know each other, I add them on friends lists.

I walked him through everything, explaining what each app does and how to use the computer. I introduced him to the command line for an easy explanation to how to install apps, and I also introduced him to XKCD.

Jake has been using Linux for about a month now, and he loves it. I never was in-your-face-about it, I politely mentioned it once or twice and he enjoys it thoroughly. Now I have several other friends asking for me to switch them over to Ubuntu, so it’s a strong possibility that they too will be supporting FOSS in ways they could never expect.