The Move to Linux – “Daddy’s a penguin!”

by David Lane
Penguin family

It might come as a surprise that terms like Linux and Open Source and epithets like bloody Microsoft and it shouldn’t be this hard are fairly common in my household. And not always spoken by me!

Back in 2009, we acquired two Asus netbooks, one for me and one for my nine year-old daughter. It was not her first computer. Her first computer, now ready to come back to me is an old Packard Bell that has barely enough capacity to start Windows, but might make a good firewall, which is probably where it will end up once I get around to excavating it from the toy room. The netbooks came with Windows XP on them and one of the reasons I got it was to be able to put Linux on it, which I did almost immediately. But I left my daughter’s machine alone.

By the end of the year, I had already spend several hours beyond what I expected working with the January 2010 issue and our household was more Open Source focused than anything else. It was around this time that my daughter announced, I want the penguin! And she was not talking about a stuffed animal. She wanted me to convert her netbook to Linux, which I did during the Great Snowstorm of 2010. (The first couple of weeks in February 2010 in the Metro DC area saw more than 30 inches of snow dumped on them, which is more snow than the region had seen in years, if not decades. The final snow totals, of over 56 inches was a record for total snow fall in a year.) After her first day back to school, she said to me I told our computer teacher that I was using Linux at home and I asked if she could change the school PCs. She said they couldn’t because they had a contract with Microsoft. I nodded sagely and gave her a big hug for trying.

With each new convert, Linux joins the mainstream, but even that statement is not fair. Linux is mainstream. It is viable and it is used in hundreds, if not thousands of businesses, schools and governmental agencies every day. Yet we keep talking about the day the desktop will take over, or the day…

Maybe, instead of plotting the overthrow of Redmond, we should just be focusing on our own systems, one at a time. And let the nine year-olds tell us they want the penguin.