Mark Pearl

I have always been a Windows person. I was there in the early days when the world made the move from Dos to Windows. I was there when the start button was introduced in Windows 95 and I was there during the fail days of Windows Me. I have been with Windows for a while. In essence I am a Windows guy.

So why am I making this post?

In January this year (2013) I migrated my machine from Windows 7 to Windows 8 but instead of doing just a plain upgrade I did something different. I am no longer running a pure Windows machine - instead I have created a dual boot and have installed Ubuntu 12.4 side by side with my Windows 8 installation.

What prompted this?

There are a few reasons why I have done a dual install…

Firstly, there is value in understanding different paradigms and Ubuntu has a very different paradigm to Windows and I want to understand it. One of those differences that has become apparent is the console. With Ubuntu I find myself working in the console more than on Windows machine. In the past I thought the console was an evil thing that should be avoided at all costs, but it turns out it isn’t. The console is extremely powerful for a certain breed of applications. For instance, chaining commands and aliases allows me to do certain things quicker than I could ever have done with a GUI. The Ubuntu paradigm has helped me realize this.

Secondly, learning Ubuntu has helped me understand Windows better. I find with Ubuntu I get stuck frequently. Things I could have done easily in Windows are now unfamiliar and challenging. Being in an unfamiliar and challenging environment has forced me to re-learn the basics and in doing so I am able to draw parallels with how Windows works. A new paradigm has reinforced my understanding of the old one.

Thirdly, I am a software developer, not a Windows software developer. I hear the phrase “pick the right tool for job” get thrown around a lot in the industry. With just one OS as a base I had a very limited toolset. Learning Ubuntu has expanded the toolset I have available to solve problems and that is a good thing.

The biggest challenge

The biggest challenge I have encountered is my built in resistance to change. Unless I make a concerted effort to use Ubuntu on a regular basis I don’t use it at all. This isn’t because Windows is better or that Ubuntu is bad - It’s simply that I am more comfortable in Windows than in Ubuntu and so I have a natural tendency to revert to it.

How have I overcome this? Something that has really helped me overcome this is what I call ‘Ubuntu Weekends’. In essence, on weekends I am only allowed to use Ubuntu, simple. It’s a self-imposed rule, but one that has helped a lot. With regular exposure to the OS, what at first seemed foreign and unfriendly is fast becoming exciting and familiar.

Where to from here?

I’m not sure. I don’t know how far into Ubuntu I am going to get. It would be nice to reach the comfortable and competent stage but I know that will take several years. For now I am merely enjoying the ride and the learning curve. Learning new things is what attracted me to software development in the first place, and it is exciting to re-experience this with another Operating System.

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