I’ve been spoiled by the cloud. A decade and a half after I first used Dropbox, and years after iCloud made the dream of secure, seamless “login and forget” cloud sync a reality (most of the time), it seems obvious that all of my stuff should be available from every device I have whenever I need it. But what about content too big to keep on the cloud?
The Linux operating system for Intel-architecture personal computers wasn’t exactly new when I switched to it. There were already a number of publishers — I choose the word carefully; you’ll see why — who were offering their own versions, which were similar in some ways yet mostly incompatible with each other.
The train ride was from whatever station is near Hamilton to Boston and back. I was in eastern Massachusetts for a horse show, but was taking a day off to do some work, namely visit the new digs of Miguel deIcaza and Nat Friedman, two of the brighter stars in the Linux firmament, and to interview them.
They were great to talk with, and the steampunk dÃ©cor at their new company, Ximian, was bracing. I’d probably remember it pretty clearly even if that were the only thing that day which was out of the ordinary. But it wasn’t.
Just now, as is the case each morning, I opened a terminal window on my computer’s desktop and typed a command: “apt update”. The window filled with characters as each of several online “repositories” was checked. Soon I was given a list of the software packages, including the operating system itself, that had security updates and bug fixes available. There being some, I then typed “apt upgrade” and a minute or two later those fixes had been downloaded and installed.
Back in mid 2019, I was on the market for a new laptop. My old laptop was plagued by issues that, while farily minor, where a deal breaker for me. Thus, I got a shiny new Dell laptop which seemed to fit the bill just right. And it did… mostly. Enter 2020 and the pandemic. Most work I had to do was from home, and that meant using my laptop. Thus, that poor Dell laptop’s keyboard got quite a beating. Again, I wrote thousands and thousands of words as part of my daily job. The laptop soldiered on, but at some moment the keyboard began to act up. What could I do? I considered my options.
In the spring of odd-numbered years, it’s my task to upgrade the operating systems on my computers. It sometimes goes uneventfully.