NH Blog-Con

I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all at yesterday's Blog-Con at the Common Man restaurant in Concord, NH. Save perhaps for the waitstaff, who put up with us. Many thanks to TJ, the organizer, who has a list of attendees and a spiffy video. (I'm right at the beginning of the video, the tall bald geek in the background talking to Bill Gnade. Don't worry, it gets better.)

One of the folks I met was Tony Schinella of Politizine, who also has an article about the shindig.

See y'all next year!

A Brief Linux-Geek Digression

The aging Dell Dimension 4400 at home had developed terminal Windows senility. Having served both Pun Son and Salad Daughter with service in writing high school papers, game-playing, and tempting Internet downloads, its registry was a nightmare. It had undergone several bouts with viruses and spyware (thanks, kids!), and I suspect the ordeal left it in a permanently befuddled state.

The final insult came this past weekend, when it started claiming that it was running a counterfeit version of Windows XP. It's hard to not take something like that personally. This is why they make computers without necks. If it had had one, I would have strangled it.

I took a quick inventory of what I was really using the box for. Pretty much just web surfing and opening terminal windows to machines at work with PuTTY. Microsoft Word, for a few things, but nothing too vital. I gave up on Microsoft Money for home finance a few months back; it's just as easy to pay bills in a web browser these days.

So: wipe the disk, install Linux. That'll teach it. My first effort was Ubuntu. I've heard good things about it, and, even though their relentless cheerful multicultural self-backpatting on their website was a little off-putting, why not? I downloaded and burned their 6.06.01 "live CD", and it seemed to work fine. On boot, you get a slow version of Linux running off the CD, so you can play around and verify that networking works, and so on. When you're confident, you can click on the "Install" icon, and you're off to the races.

Fine: the questions asked during the install process were not hard, and things went well … until the part where the install pronounced itself 10%, 20%, … 59% complete, at which point it hung up. The mouse still moved the cursor, but that was about it.

Try again, another hang at 59%. Sigh. (At this point, the disk had been formatted; no chickening out back to Windows.)

I could have, I suppose, scouted around for what was really going on. Instead, I dumped Ubuntu, and tried out the cold-hearted capitalists at Red Hat for their Fedora distribution. I decided to go with a prerelease of Fedora Core 6. This involved burning 5 (non-live) CDs.

But Fedora's install went through, unlike Ubuntu's. Maybe the installer asked a few more questions than Ubuntu did, but nothing too tough.

One minor glitch when I, on a whim, opted to install "Software Development" packages; this demanded an Internet connection, which failed miserably. Reboot and restart.

My keyboard also suddenly went mute when it was time to specify a non-root user. OK, we'll do that later.

Then for some inexplicable reason, networking was non-functional in the post-install reboot. What's up with that? Did I miss an important question in the installation? No matter, that was also pretty easy to set up afterward.

Now take all this with many grains of salt: just because I had problems doesn't mean that you will. Especially since I was working (in the Fedora case) with a pre-release distribution. But I was kind of expecting (in these days of modern times) things to go smoother.

But, bottom line, I'm extremely happy to have killed off an aging, badly-behaving Windows box, and have it reborn as a sprightly Linux machine. If you're confident you can handle technical glitches, I recommend it.