Taking Back Monday

There’s this song I love by a band called Streets. The song is the lead track on their album A Grand Don’t Come For Free, and it’s called It Was Supposed to be so Easy. Basically it’s about a random guy who was supposed to deposit some money in the bank and everything that can go wrong in that particular scenario does. It sets the stage for the rest of the album, taking the listener through a lyrical journey during which the poor bloke loses £1000 and his girlfriend and the rest of his life pretty much falls apart.

But this isn’t about music. This is about reinstalling my OS.

It was supposed to be so easy.

It all started about a year ago when I contracted a few viruses (virii?) that any scan/quarantine/erradicate program I could lay my hands on were powerless against. I’m sure all sorts of interesting data was compromised (if you’ve ever emailed me, your spam is probably my fault. sorry.) but overall my user experience wasn’t too drastically affected.

Then the fine folks at microsoft came out with their genius “genuine windows” update, which decided that my copy of WinXP was not genuine (a claim which I will neither confirm nor deny) and my OS slowly started cannibalizing itself. I was stuck in a catch 22, where system restore was disabled, and upgrades deemed necessary to run applications were disallowed. Programs were ceasing to function.

No matter, says I – I’ll just get another copy of XP and reformat. It’ll get rid of the viruses in the meantime.

It was supposed to be so easy.

A business acquaintance of mine had an unused copy of XP in her office. As I occasionally do contract work for her, we figured that as long as she wasn’t using it, it made sense that I installed it as another company copy of the OS.

Reformatting, here I come!

The hour or so it took for windows to chug along through its install process didn’t reveal any problems. Until it came time to register the software. It couldn’t find an internet connection. I was lost, so I had my handy resident nerd sleuth out the problem. Turns out that none of my motherboard drivers installed, including (of course) the onboard ethernet adapter.

There was much cursing and yelling and googling and threats of throwing fiscal responsibility to the wind and going hog-wild at the apple store and finally the tearing apart of boxes in the back of a closet – but I did manage to find the old install CD for that particular piece of hardware. And lo there was internet. We thought it was good.

We were wrong.

Turned out that after what was now 3 hours of backups, installs and other assorted clusterfucks, that particular copy of XP had already been activated.

Back to square one.

Behind that actually. Square one already had a functioning – albeit crippled – OS.

Enter Linux.

And the heavens opened and the earth rejoiced and all and sundry (and nerdy) were glad.

We downloaded and burned a copy of Ubuntu.

We loaded the cd.

And it just. worked.

Ok, there is one bit that doesn’t “just work” – there isn’t any default support for a lot of media formats, like .mp3 and .mpeg because of patent issues. Neil had to ask it to install those particular plugins.

Other than that, it was an amazingly friendly boot and install, and open source applications have come a LONG way since I tried using a Linux OS (fedora) for a couple months at work a few years ago.

And with the advent of Ubuntu, I now live in a windows-free home. It’s strange, but so far it feels pretty good.

Especially since the awesome African tribal music ubuntu uses as its startup sound is so much cooler than the ubiquitous windows startup riff.

Oh, and speaking of music, at the end of the Streets album, the guy’s life turns around, he gets his girlfriend back, and he finds the £1000 he thought he lost.

Sometimes everything works out ok after all.

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8 thoughts on “Taking Back Monday

  1. Richard

    His style takes getting used to (at least for me, who’s used to more conventional rapping), but Mike Skinner aka The Streets–it’s just him–has some pretty great stories.

  2. Gwen >> My Relationship Resume

    Great article for a Linux Switch campaign if they would have one….
    I’ve been a Linux user for years but not being the “power user” type, what I can note for improvements are only superficial. They have been improving the user experience for sure. You’re also very lucky to have a resident nerd – I didn’t get my all-important MP3s to play immediately!

  3. mark

    Rule #1: make sure you have all the drivers needed post-install handy BEFORE you reformat. Burn them to a CD and keep it with your (non-existant) XP install disc somewhere more or less safe. In a pelican case if you live in the hurricane zone. 🙂

    As for being previously-activated, just call MS, tell them that you installed it on a machine, but then it died and you built a replacement and they’ll give you a new activation code. Unless it actually IS still in use, then you’d be lying. Lying is bad.

    Ubuntu is pretty slick though. As soon as they get to the point where a non-technical person can install support for mp3, mpeg, xvid etc then it’ll be ready for “mom n pop’s” computer.

  4. Chris

    +1 for Ubuntu (and it’s viruses, not virii).

    I would hazard a guess to say that having to google around for info on how to get mp3s working is easier for a non-technical person than, say, downloading, transferring, and installing motherboard drivers.

    I hope the experience works out well for you 🙂

  5. peechie Post author

    So far so good! Although there are a few things that I’m finding a tad irritating. Mostly a couple of plugins (bloglines notifier, ability to edit id3 tags) that I want, and the install instructions assume I know what a perl module is, and how to access (?) it to install them.

  6. Hannah

    Funny, I just started getting those same messages, and I haven’t dealt with them yet. The computer’s getting slower and programs are failing left and right, so I’d better get on it soon, though. Hmm… Do you suppose Neil could do his tech thing for me over the phone?

    But yeah, that song speaks to me, too. It came to me already installed on the used computer, with the “not genuine” copy of windows. Apparently software installers in Korea figure they can get away with installing “not genuine” copies of English-language windows, because anybody who buys them probably can’t speak enough Korean to complain. Sigh. It was supposed to be so easy.

  7. Ryan Weal

    Rock on Jen… Rock on. I switched to Debian three years ago (Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian). I haven’t looked back.

    The hardest thing I have found is if my next computer should be a Mac or Windows box before I format it and replace with Debian again. The programs on Linux are great for the majority of tasks I do.

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