A few days ago I took a deep breath and logged a help desk job asking for a go ahead to install Ubuntu. Within 1 hour a very helpful fella (and GNU/Linux lover) was down to see me. He said, yep, no worries, but you won’t be able to easily access your work email or local network drives. I said I’d think about it and get back to him…

A few days later he was down with some extra RAM and installing VMWare. What I have now is a computer that is running WindowsXP and Ubuntu at the same time. I can use the XP to access the work email and shared drives, and Ubuntu for everything else. When I start the computer in the morning, I land in XP land, but I start the desktop shortcut the VMWare and tell it to open Ubuntu. It starts up the free world in the VMware window, and then I full screen it.

I’m typing this post on Ubuntu and loving every key stroke of it. Its hard to explain why I am so happy about this – I mean to some people, I’m just using another operating system.. and by choosing to use 2 systems, I’m actually creating more work for myself and you might say the IT Support guy as well. But those people you might just call, users with a rather narrow view of it.

But I think it’s about quite a bit more than just the user. With every key stroke I remember the digital divide that is getting smaller thanks to the work of GNU/Linux and related software. With every key stroke I am thinking how liberating it is to be developing the skills to use free software and never have to be bound to something that costs me a lot of money and likes to change the rules as we go. With every key stroke I feel more and more connected to a community that is passionate about freedom, openness, re-usability, empowerment and many other principles that go way deeper than user, lock in and profits. With every key stroke I feel one step closer to helping that community and contributing back into it.

Many thanks to the Otago Polytechnic IT support unit. They are easily the best support I have ever had in any job anywhere.