A few years ago I couldn’t take it anymore. My Windows XP operating system became slower by the week and the nonsensical error messages piled up. Something had to be done. I had to restore the technical foundations of my productivity.
Back in the days of university we did the coding of tutorials and assignments on the Linux operating system. It was well-maintained and usually worked fast and easy. Wishing to wield that power on my laptop, I installed my first Linux operating system. The speed! When the need for an application arose in my consciousness, two fingers flipped, and there it was already. Such instant responses don’t just matter for the quantitative gains of working faster. The value lies in doing everything you can think of. That extra second or two it takes to do something in Windows drags on you subconsciously. It keeps you from using all your tools. The frictionless computing of Linux happens nearly at the speed of thought.
That is, when it works.
I knew that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Your operating system will have to be “paid” for in some way. I had done my homework before installing Linux, it isn’t for everybody, and I was aware of the “learning curve.” I fashioned myself enough of a techie to pull it off.
The first year I enjoyed the benefits of Redhat Linux. I studied the commands and everything got done. There was a lost battle of a few hours with the drivers of a Wacom tablet, but other than that, we got along happy and quickly. Then one day I did an upgrade, and it just halted while booting. Sensing many hours of research and tweaking ahead, I got a taste of the cool-sounding “learning curve”, which from the inside feels like frustrating incompetence. I simply took the opportunity to switch to Ubuntu, which was equally fast and easy. And it supported the Wacom too.
When Ubuntu became too heavy for my old laptop, I switched to Lubuntu. When I got a new laptop, I switched back to Ubuntu. All was well in personal computing land, while I successfully evaded spending too much time learning about the wizardry behind Linux.
Then the sound stopped working in YouTube, and error messages invaded my updates. Too many hours of searching and tinkering taught me that these things were a natural consequence of an outdated BIOS. Naturally, lightning-fast and air-tight processes require everything to be up to date. But the laptop manufacturer decided they “no longer support Linux.” The Ubuntu community had found some ways around this that *might* work for my model of laptop. I tried it. It halts and I’m lucky my BIOS wasn’t irreversibly destroyed.
Accepting defeat, I stop trying to upgrade my BIOS. I got on with life because update error messages and YouTube muteness are not a priority. I gotta work, ya’know.
Then the touch-pad stopped working. This is listed as another problem of an outdated BIOS. I realized then I needed help. Even though my gut was already predicting where this was going. Indeed, after three more hours it was clear: there was no techie within reach I could outsource this to.
So I went to the computer shop and ask them to install Windows. I hope that people are right when they say that Windows 7 is better than XP, because it turns out I belong among the mortals after all.
A technical learning curve is only fun if it’s billable and smooth. Otherwise it’s merely a waste of time.