Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm an Ubuntu (part 2)

There's an organization in Portland called Free Geek, which is dedicated to providing computers to "schools and charitable organizations in our community who in turn benefit others." They also give free computers to people who agree to volunteer with them. They have a great thing called the "build program" that takes volunteers through a series of stages of how to learn to build a computer. After the volunteer has gone through the steps, he or she then builds five computers to be donated, and gets to keep the sixth one.

Free Geek's computers all run Ubuntu. I took the volunteer orientation tour one day - my partner is going through the build program, so I wanted to check it out - and the tour guide explained that they originally wanted to use Windows, because people are familiar with it and that would make things easier. Unfortunately, Microsoft refused to give them a deal on software, and it was not an affordable thing. So Free Geek decided to use Ubuntu, and they install it on all of their machines. As I understand it, they also teach free Linux classes.

The point here is that Ubuntu isn't just for geeks. Everyone can learn how to use it. And, while this may not be the case for everyone, I at least felt a real sense that I owned this operating system, after I took the time to install it, configure it, wrestle with the wireless card and other compatibility issues, and get it to look, feel, and act the way I want it to. Sure, it's still got its quirks - mostly because, again, it has some issues when installed on laptops originally designed for Windows. But those are all fixable - all I have to do is take the time, read the Ubuntu forums and help documentation, and I can make this computer do whatever I want it to. Except fly.