philena: (poppies)
[personal profile] philena
LJ user babylon_poet, as well as one of my office mates, used to comment that I looked like the kind of person who knows about computers. For babylon_poet, this impression came from the fact that I wear glasses and flannel overshirts.* For my office mate, the impression came from the fact that I learned how to use LaTeX and talk about it a lot. (I do talk about it a lot, but I talk about it specifically because it's the only fancy computery thing I know how to use.) So every few weeks last term he would make a comment about a perl script or a config file, and I would look at him blankly and remind him that he should add those topics to what should already be by default the extremely large set of computery things I don't know about.

Now, however, that set will have to start decreasing! Why? Because I now use Linux!

For anyone interested in googling Mr. Philena's full name on google images, be aware that as of three weeks ago the first result that turned up contained a Trojan. We discovered this the hard way. Fortunately, the computer that was affected was not my grad school laptop, but instead my ancient college computer, which I got in 2003. I had read somewhere that the only way to get rid of a Trojan is to reinstall the operating system--anti-virus software can only quarantine it, not remove it. I don't know to what extent this is true. Maybe a tech-savvy person who knows about perl and config files could remove it in ten minutes without even needing to restart the machine. But, as I so frequently had to remind my office-mate, I am not that kind of person. I want to be that kind of person, however, and I've been itching to try Ubuntu for years, and here was the perfect opportunity: 7-year-old computer whose files I had providentially backed up a few weeks before the Trojan attack and which needed significant attention before it could be used freely again. So last night I downloaded Ubuntu, burned an image CD, installed it on the desktop,** and this morning I learned how to use the "sudo" command in the terminal to "update packages" and install VLC media player. The computer is now running smoothly, it can organize our picture, play music and DVDs, and it is safe from the enormous majority of malware. I am extremely smug.

*Ironically, the flannel overshirts are all Mr. Philena's, and he knows even less about computers than I do.

**During which process I ran into two bugs which I had to visit Ubuntu forums to solve. I understand this will be more common than with a Windows or Mac machine.


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July 2014

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