Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Going open source cold turkey

Black Friday 2010, I sat staring at my out of commission mac mini, "What had I done?" The mini was brought down by a very amateur attempt to install Ubuntu, a free distribution of the Linux operating system. For the past 4 years, it's been my holiday tradition to use my time off to move my personal projects forward. This holiday's project is a 30 page comic about a girl band called "Kat and Bunnie: Legend of the Broken Hearts", but without a computer to do the required layout and design or share it with the outside world, I had to find a way to get up and running. With the holiday season upon us, I was not going to fight the crowds to get my mini to the Mac store. So I decided there is no better time then now to go open source.
"Eat your own dog food," is a term use to describe companies that use the products they produce. For the last few years since being introduced to Blender, an open 3D application. I have been developing the Sequential Media Learning Center, a course on the use of free software in the development of products that help support free software. So, I opened the can, scoped out a big spoon full, and bit off way more open source then I could chew. I expected a free ride, free operating system, free software, free media, what I found was humility. For the first time in a long time I was helpless at the keyboard, stumbling through very simple tasks like, installing software, mounting external drives, connecting to the Internet, and even browsing the file system. I felt as though I was pulled back in time to my first computer, a Gateway 400 mhz PC running Windows 95. I encountered a lot of the same frustrations of naivety,
unfamiliarity and system issues, but I am ok with it. It is nice to be a nu-be again, and I am excited to see what free software can really do.