Finally. A girl who got it. A girl who did everything exactly right and even made exactly the right mistakes. Read Becca’s first-hand experience report about trying out and … and slowly switching to Linux.
A very well-written article, much better than ESLer Orca could ever do. But with some edits/additional remarks by yours truly. Becca hasn’t joined the editorial staff (yet) and as you can see it’s not really necessary, although easier in the long run.
Sweet Summer Linux Girl
I have been a long time reader of Orca’s blog but usually skipped over what I considered to be “the boring Linux posts” (ed: they really are, aren’t they?). It sounded way too difficult and high tech for a plug and play baby like myself (ed: just like me, but we did it nevertheless). I have never had any problems in the Microsoft/Google world so why would I change? One time Orca dared her readers to try out Linux Mint on an old computer. Supposedly it was super easy-peasy and stable for beginners (ed: and I was right, no?). She even listed instructions on how to do it. This kinda stuck in my tiny brain somewhere but I was not worthy yet. (ed: turned out our Becca was very worthy, just needed time, occasion and motivation)
Then a while ago another Orca post included a how-to video by Christopher Barnatt for Linux Mint 20, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=Z_ZAH7LWl-o&feature=emb_logo all brand spanking new and shiny. Could I? Would I? Since I was home off work for the day with nothing to do (Covid you know) I remembered about my 13 year old PC sitting in the back of my clothes closet. (ed: exactly as I told you bois n grrlz, this Covid shit is the best opportunity for such a small project. Becca just grabed the opportunity by its horns!) I’m not ready to switch over my big main computer, but maybe that would work? After moving many pairs of shoes I managed to dig it out and plug it all in. I was surprised when it actually turned on displaying my old woodsy background theme. Also surprising was that it ran Windows Vista, like from the stone age. There was so much old junk on there that I had to delete. (ed: exactly! Didn’t need it in so many years – get rid of it!)
After watching the how-to video I thought Ok, I can do this! I plugged in a USB thumb drive and downloaded Linux Mint Cinnamon on it. Not so hard, what’s next? Change the boot drive by typing F12 at startup. Ten tries later it was still loading Vista. What am I doing wrong? After a few internet searches someone mentioned the F2 key. First try I was too slow but second time I got an option for F12 then a screen to change booting to the removable drive. (ed: Yes, exactly that is the hardest part. Since every motherboard producer has their own method t get into the bios/uefi. But usually you’ll find the right keystrokes inthe manual – that you didn’t throw away, did you? But you will fimnd it as well when you just Google it) So now save and another restart. Hmmm, not yet. Still had to load Linux on the computer. I was too chicken to erase everything so I chose the partition option. That took another half hour then restart again, phew. Waiting and waiting…then voila! I did it! Gazing at my new Linux screen with the biggest smile on my face 🙂 (ed: 🙂 )
Following the rest of the tutorial I got the latest updates, set up the system snapshots, checked for new drivers (I needed none) and picked out a background and colors. Am I like a genius or what? (ed: Yes! But you don’t need to be a genius to install and use Linux. Orca’s the best example) Firefox and word processing software was already loaded and working fine. Now I had a second updated computer to do with as I please. Why did I ever leave it wasting away in a closet for 8 years?
Eventually I changed to a dark theme, a new background and better Icons to make it all look prettier. I also loaded more programs (ed: she says so lightly, as if that’s so easy) so it can do all kinds of nifty stuff (ed: nifty nifty). My powerful main PC (upgraded twice over the last few years) will still be the one I use for most things, but having the Linux one alongside for web browsing and peripherals is really nice. (ed: nice, nice)
A month later and I am using Linux for all my e-mailing and browser needs. I’m back to using Google Chrome to search the internet (Don’t hate me) (ed no, but we hardcore politically motivated Linuxers just pitty you. LOL) so it seems no different than normal. I got a new dark purple theme and background that makes me seem like a cool kid. I also moved and resized the panels to my liking. It’s so nifty how you can customize anything the way you want it. Sometimes I have to check the forums for an answer, but nothing is hard once you know the secrets. (ed: Becca mentions two very important aspects of the Linuxlife here: Change whatever you want, not what Microsoft/Apple allows you to want. And forums are user powered communities, some are even partly nice)
One of these days I need to unpartition the old computer, purge Microsoft completely and go fully Linux. (ed: Hooray!) Maybe even upgrade to some new unknown distro if I am brave enough (ed: all is possible, nothing is a must. Linux is something different for everyone) Thank you Orca for prodding me along! (ed: prodding sounds so brutal! Did I use an electroshocker?) I urge everyone to give it a shot, especially if you have an old slow computer laying around that needs a jump start. If I can do it, anyone can. Best of Luck 🙂
ed: Thank you so much, Becca. I love it when a plan works out! That was most excellent.
Peepels, as you’ve seen Becca was kinda in an optimal position to switch to Linux, eventhough her older conversion computer was already a tad too old, maybe still a 32-bit machine. The rest was perfect: No important data on that old plonker so she can delete it and use the whole machine exclusively for Linux stuff. And she also has her main rig, which runs on Windows, so she can play with Linux whenever she feels like and slowly transfer more and more tasks over to Linux until one day in the hopefully not too distant future she’ll see she won’t need Microsoft anymore.
We’ve seen Becca already asking for upgrading to an unknown distro. Whenever you feel like, hun, whenever you feel like. Your recent Mint is a very cool, arguably the best allround Linux, with lots of useful stuff and user guidance (or ‘bloat’ for many advanced users) . You could call it a beginner’s distro but I know many very experienced, very geeky people who wouldn’t even think about switching to another distro. You don’t have to but you can definately get old on Mint.
I can’t and won’t promise Becca’s further path will always be free of pain, and I won’t tell any one of you lot that your first steps in Linux will be super easy-peasy. But in the medium to long run everybody has found out that their computerlife did indeed become more easy and less dangerous … and free!