A whole new desktop

What, me upgrade? I don’t think so. These days when I want the latest and greatest version of Ubuntu (today it is 9.04, the Jaunty Jacalope) I wipe my entire Linux partition and start from scratch. From a clean disk to full installation takes about 30 minutes. (I’m doing this on a dual boot laptop with 2GB of RAM and plenty of disk space.) After that it takes me probably another hour or more spread over a few days to get my new system almost exactly like my old one. The bottleneck in the process for me is downloading the .iso file and burning the image. It can easily take 3 or 4 hours even with a high-speed home connection such as I have. And I am much more aware now (after recent visits to Nepal, Mali, and Malawi) than I ever was before how that number multiplies in other parts of the world, enough to make it implausible to undertake on a whim. I know that in future I will always travel with my latest Ubuntu cd so that I can share it with friends and colleagues.

I have installed new versions of Ubuntu now every 6 months for 3 or 4 years. It always makes my day. I put the date of the new release in my calendar and look forward to it with pleasure. When the day finally arrives it is always a challenge to hold off from rushing out and getting the .iso file immediately. Pragmatically I think to myself that the servers around the world will be getting hammered that first day, but equally pressing is the delight in extending the anticipation. Soon enough my will weakens and in what seems like no time I have it, a whole new desktop.

Starting over and afresh appeals to me.

It is also a lot less painful these days since I now live half my life in the clouds, so to speak. I have been letting Google look after my email for some time. More recently I started testing a service that supports syncing of files across multiple computers called Dropbox. I install it on my new clean desktop and within minutes I have all the key document files that I have on my other operating system readily available to me without the issues involved in mounting or writing to NTFS partitions. Very convenient. (It is sort of like using Subversion for version control.) After that there isn’t much more needed for my new desktop to be fully operational given that Ubuntu, out of the box, comes with virtually everything I need. I also need to install a Java JRE so that I can continue using jMemorize and I add a French keyboard layout as well for my input of French text for that. I’ll have a bit of fiddling at some point to get the drivers installed for my wireless printer, but merely because I’ve only done that once before and I don’t recall precisely what I did, although I don’t remember it being too hard. And lastly I have to get Skype up and running because that is what is used for communication in my work.

A clean slate to fully operational. And then 6 months of letting it fall into a messy state as I install software I don’t fully understand in order to play with it and learn something. And then another whole new desktop.

If I could organise my life the same way, I would.

Posted in foss.