In the Lair Of the Semi-Geek

I’m upgrading the laptop to Windows 7 at the moment, but clearly can’t be away from the Internets during the upgrade lest I burst into flame, so while the upgrade is doing its thing, I’m online with the netbook. And I took the picture on my phone, which I then used to upload it to Flickr.

Geeky, yes. But if I were a true geek both my laptop and netbook would be running Linux (and some particularly stringent variant of Linux, not that hand-holding fluffy Linux known as Ubuntu), and my phone would be using Android and I would be on Slashdot, snarking at all the sheeple upgrading to Windows 7 today. Thus, I am at best a semi-geek. A quasi-geek, if you will. Try not to judge me, true geeks. That’s all I ask.

56 thoughts on “In the Lair Of the Semi-Geek

  1. Having two computers you actively use gains you the geek points that using Windows costs you.

    Upgrading to version zero of a Microsoft product on Release Day may cost a few geek points, though it is a sign of courage. (Foolish courage, but courage none the less.)

  2. Or, you could have a Mac and an iPhone, which can both be easily updated without the necessity for geek-itude.

  3. I have a computer that runs Vista and a laptop that runs NetBSD with (wait for) Fvwm configured to look like CDE, the old default desktop environment for Solaris, HP-UX and various others.

  4. dude… Tell me that’s a USB Coke Zero!

    Also, I’m running windows 7 on a Solid State Disk.
    It only took 12 minutes to install! Mwa hahahahahahahaha…

  5. True geeks are running a homebrew OS on a system that they cobbled together out of 32 parallel PIC chips and a discarded LCD display they got out of a trashed SUV’s backseat DVD player.

  6. Yeah, both my desktop computer and laptop are running Slackware Linux — way more geekier than Ubuntu (but not as geeky as, say, Linux from Scratch).

    I’ve heard good things about Windows 7. Then again, we heard great things about Vista too.

    Personally, I’m happy with XP when I’m at work. It’s fast and stable and runs all the geeky GIS and DTP stuff that I need to use.

  7. Real geeks run OpenBSD… Says the guy in pain from typing this on his windows box (It’s my work box! They won’t let me change it!) X(

  8. Sneer! Real geeks have long ago tamed the Vista beast and bent it to THEIR will, not the will of the posers from Redmond. Seven is just a tune up with some pretty graphics.

    Regards,
    Jack Tingle

    Who learned to program on an Olivetti-Underwood Programmo 101 using magnetically backed Hollerith cards. In high school. In rural Kentucky.

  9. Yeah, those people hating on Ubuntu when they get as much work done as I do on my commute. It’s a netbook. If you’re spending a bunch of time tinkering with the OS to get it to work right, yer doin’ it wrong.

  10. I’m perfectly productive on RHEL, CentOS, or for that matter Solaris x86 if it will boot on the laptop in question.

    I prefer my operating systems server-grade, thank you very much.

    (of course, i’m typing on the windows laptop I need for Visio and 100% windows document compatibility for work purposes… but I have 15 windows open on the built in and docking station adapter connected external monitors which are ssh’ed in to unix boxen).

  11. Huh, Annalee, mark me down with the Slackware crowd (I’m typing this from my Slack64-13 box running a pure 64 bit kernel). Anyway, it takes just a bit of time to get my slackware install set, and then, it stays configured–so I’m spend hardly any of my time futzing with the OS.

    Also, your OS doesn’t install header files by default, and since one of my all time favorite programs is GCC, I spend ridiculous amounts of time futzing with my OS if I’m running a Debian variant (because I have to track down all the -dev packages it didn’t install by default…).

    (For the record, I prefer Debian on my servers, since I don’t do development on them, and apt is really slick.)

    (And I guess OpenBSD is great unless you actually want to do something with your computer.)

  12. Oh, and John, I don’t judge you. Anyone who writes as perty as you do is forgiven his computer foibles. We can’t all be Charlie Stross. (And even he’s jumped ship and uses MacOSX these days… *sigh*)

  13. I have no patience with geekupmanship. I run Windoze on my primary computer and a laptop because it works and runs my apps. I have tried almost every altenative I can find from BSD/OS-X to OpenSolaris to SUSE to Ubuntu to ReactOS and a few even more obscure. I want to my computer to work not score points. So I’m happy with W7, I’ve been using it for almost a year now and I’m happy. For that I can handle not being cool.

  14. I have fine tuned my Fvwm config that I can go from base install of Linux to fully working desktop in less than an hour.

    Here is my set up:

    If anyone wants to see my fvwm2rc, let me know here and I’ll upload and link to it tomorrow.

  15. You will like it. Been on Windows 7 (Ultimate) for almost 8 weeks or there abouts (I have MSDN universal subscription). Will you be upgrading the netbook? As I understand there is a basic edition for that class of machine but I really do not know what benefit there is.

  16. Don’t let the Linux bigots reframe the word “geek” to mean “Linux”. Furthermore, I’ll agree with GVDub’s sentiment that there’s always someone who did it harder, faster the hard way, and earlier than you on top of all that, and they did it with flint knives and bat spit.

  17. Yeah, there’s always a bigger geek out there.

    I’m tempted to make a Linux joke, but only because they’re almost as much fun to tweak as the Objectivists or the “Child-free” people. I need to find a forum out there filled with Child-free Objectivist Linux users to hassle.

    And now I finally understand how trolls see the rest of us.

  18. Why, when I was a boy, we didn’t have zeroes, only ones. And we had to carve them into granite with pine cones. I once wrote an entire operation system out of ones. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways.

  19. Anyone who uses the word “sheeple” gets my judgment, is all I’m saying.

    Which operating system? Who gives two craps? Where’s my damn report, you lazy bastards?

  20. I’ve been using Windows 7 as my primary OS since January. My school gives us a subscription to the MSDN, so I grabbed the professional edition when it went RTM. I love it, so far I have no real complaints about it.

    Geek points or not, Microsoft finally did some things right with Windows 7, and this doesn’t feel like some revamped Vista, either.

    That’s just the main hard drive I use to my laptop, though. My desktop still runs XP, and I have another hard drive with Mint on it, but I doubt I ever find a linux distro I like, this is my fourth or fifth one.

  21. My old Sony VAIO died last week after a good six years of service. Had a local guy build me a new one with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 installed on. I’ve been running it since Wednesday.

    My impression so far? Very well done. A very useful operating system that doesn’t get in the way and actually helps get things done.

    Last weekend I hunted around the house for driver disks and such in preparation. Didn’t need any of them. Every device I plugged in was installed in seconds and not a single reboot let alone crash.

    So far so good.

  22. yeah, @16 might have made more sense if the “can talk to me when” hadn’t headed down the street for a coffee and a muffin before I hit “send.”

    Jeff@18, my only point (if I have one, which I might not; it’s early) is that getting after people for their netbook OS is almost like getting after them for using the firmware their cell phone got shipped with. I jailbroke a RAZR once just to flip Verizon the bird. And after I’d spent the better part of a day on that, you know what I did with the thing? Made phone calls.

    I don’t know what other people do with their netbooks, but I use mine for goofing off on the internet and writing on the train. That makes installing a whole new OS rather excessive.

  23. Glenn@2:

    Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7100]
    Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    C:\Users\jamie.PHOTON>ver

    Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7100]

    It’s not a version zero release. Win7 is to Vista as XP is to Windows 2000. Now personally, I run a dual boot Win7 RC and FreeBSD setup on my laptop. I was running Vista Ultimate where Win7 is until the Beta and the RC for 7 became available, and I had no problems at all with Vista.

    The people who had problems with Vista were trying to run it on either underspec’d machines or with unsupported hardware. There were some driver issues at initial release, but I don’t blame Microsoft for third party hardware vendors doing a bad job writing device drivers. The hardware vendors had almost a year to get their drivers in shape.

    On a different note, my favorite Unix machines are still these though:

    7:56am banshee /home/jamie %uname -aR
    IRIX64 banshee 6.5 6.5.30m 07202013 IP35
    7:56am banshee /home/jamie %hinv
    4 800 MHZ IP35 Processors
    CPU: MIPS R16000 Processor Chip Revision: 2.2
    FPU: MIPS R16010 Floating Point Chip Revision: 2.2

  24. Christopher @22: Nice desktop. It would be nice if there was a recent (i.e. post-2005) book covering all the main window managers for those of us Linux geeks who want to play. I can’t find one though.

  25. Jamie@35

    The main problem with Vista is that manufacturers were selling it to people without a viable option. I recently had to repair a friends laptop running vista home and although the laptop wasn’t top of the line it was a fairly decent lower end computer. After 2 days of repairing and restoring system files in Vista (everytime I tracked down the problem the OS would damage the files in exactly the same way). The final solution was to slap Ubuntu on the laptop and it worked better than it did the day it was purchased. Vista is going to someday be known as Windows ME part 2. The underlying instability of the OS makes it unusable (when it works it works but when it doesn’t…)

    The biggest complement I can give to 7 is that besides some glaring bugs (native unzip utility detecting compressed files in terms of PetaBytes)
    the Os works. You can configure it to be a resource hog or you configure it to look and act like XP. I still don’t agree with the price but I probably wouldn’t install it on any of my home machines.

    Rabid

  26. > I want to my computer to work not score points

    What MikeB @21 said. Don’t have time for toy OS’s — got work to do.

    Jerry (Function Over Form, Every Damned Time) H.

  27. Why, when I was a boy, we didn’t have zeroes, only ones.

    You had ones!? We had to use the letter ‘l’!

    I like Snow Leopard. Damn nice OS. Especially for us old NeXTies. Have only played with Win7 a bit. It seems much improved. Ubuntu 9.1 is also immanent. That’ll be interesting.

    But Haiku (in VirtualBox) has had my attention for the past week or so since the Alpha release came out. I still miss BeOS.

  28. I’m currently dual-booting my Dell laptop with XP and Win 7 Enterprise. And for the past month I’ve been mostly in Win 7 — it installed very quickly (literally minutes instead of hours), and have had very few issues with it (such as having to wait a few days for an updated video driver before I could get Aero to work). As someone who avoided Vista like the plague, I’m really happy with Win 7 so far…

  29. Only two computers? How do you live!?

    Anyway, these days a true geek wouldn’t have Linux on the laptop. A true geek would have the laptop dual booting to Ubuntu and a Hackintosh system, using VMWare to run Windows in an alternate VM (Windows XP to use and then Windows 7 to “play around with it”) while for the netbook he’d have five USB keys all loaded with different Linux distributions depending on which one he felt like running.

    He’d use these to ssh into his “real” machine, which would be at a colo.

    Jamie@35: You know what they say about always waiting for the .1 release.

  30. Annalee@34: I was just being surly. I don’t fault people for leaving the default OS on their machines. On the other hand, I use computers to program computers–which is the most fundamental killer feature of a computer (even if most people never do it themselves). I have yet to see a computer with a default OS that I actually like as a development workstation.

    So, I use my stringent Linux distribution not for geek cred (as much fun as making surly jokes about it is), but because it is the best tool for the job. As for Microsoft and Win7? I don’t care. They don’t matter to me. MS, for some reason, cannot make a user interface that doesn’t cause my blood to boil. I haven’t been a part of their market for over a decade, and they seem to be doing just fine without my business.

  31. Salutations, gentlefolk!

    I’ve been running Kubuntu ‘Hardy Heron’ for about a year now. Thoroughly fed up with it. It’s:
    annoying
    aggrevating
    frustrating
    time-wasting
    ugly
    lacking essential utilities
    seriously lacking necessary documentation
    generally unfinished, and
    Not Ready For Prime Time

    Would recommend it as educational toy for young’uns wanting to learn about system code. But not for anyone needing their computer to get Real Work done.

    (Been unemployed, really short on cash. Old computer died, only way I could afford replacement was with OS software. Hoping new steady job I get soon, acquire legit copy of Win XP before they vanish. ‘Twill be my personal stimulus program.)

    Yours, John Desmond

  32. Will you follow up with a review on whether or not it turns out to be worth the time to upgrade? And why you think so?

    Just for those of us who are bit bit afeered of the whole “version 0″ thing…. ;-)

  33. IMHO, the best way to buy a new version of Windows is to wait until you need a new computer. It’s far cheaper that way. I’d never buy it before SP1.

  34. Oooh, a chance to spew authentic frontier geek gibberish.

    I’ve been running Kubuntu ‘Hardy Heron’ for about a year now. Thoroughly fed up with it.

    Truly, this is the most annoying of the alternate Ubuntus. I’m a longtime KDE user, and I couldn’t stand Kubuntu. The Gnome default Ubuntu and the stripped-down Xubuntu are much more satisfactory.

    Well, I’ll be sticking with WinXP… running in Parallels Desktop… on my MacBookPro.

    Yeah, on my Gentoo desktop I finally upgraded my Windows 2K VirtualBox machine to Windows XP, and I’m in no particular hurry. Then again, I ran 98SE well into the Twenty-first Century of the Christian Era.

    Real geeks run OpenBSD…

    Well, I’m running the MIPS port on an old SGI O2, since it doesn’t matter anymore if the graphics work. Mere demigeeks often distinguish between servers and desktops, I shamefully admit.

    But Haiku (in VirtualBox) has had my attention for the past week or so since the Alpha release came out. I still miss BeOS.

    …Okay, Sarcastro wins the distro-waving contest.

    Or Plan 9.

    No, wait, Kyle Maxwell beats Sarcastro by a nose.

  35. Excuse me… but you have a laptop, a netbook, you write Science Fiction and you work as a consultant on SG:U. Really, I think you have enough cred to loose a few points for using Win 7 and not be harmed too much by it.

    I, on the other hand, am a computer guy, so my cred ebbs and flows with the tide of OSes. I am using Slackware 13 for my main box at work, OS X 10.5.8 for the secondary box, Vista for the Windows box that I have to keep for things like Office 07, and an aging PowerBook G4 for a laptop (which I still love mind you).

    Yes, I like both Slackware and OS X. I like Slackware because I can dig into the config files and trust that it will not turn into a dead box of bits. I like OS X because I can leave everything, or close to it, to the GUI and trust that it will not turn into a dead box of bits. See the similarity?

    So, you have cred you can burn on anything you want.

  36. I can’t comment on the HiTech aspect of your geekitude, but setting your CokeZero can on that nice wooden table-top, without a coaster or anything to absorb condensation, seems Very Geek to me.

    (Yes, I know something about modern wood-finishes, but it takes a true geek to be able to dependably identify them …. or not care if the drink leaves rings on the surface.)

  37. Salutations, again, gentlefolk !

    MDS’s answer illustrates one of the problems with the Linux community – there is a great deal of rationalization and ‘true-believerhood’ which is keeping them from honestly facing the problems with their OS, stopping them from answering the question “Why does Windows have a bigger market share?” with “Because it’s a better product – here’s what they have and we don’t” instead of “Because Microsoft is EEEVVVILL”

    Probably Linuxfan Excuse #1 is “You’re Using The Wrong Distro – Here, Use Distro X Instead.” To which the Linuskeptic must needs answer “Doth the basic, plain-vanilla, minimum-space install of Distro X have a reliable ‘Undelete’ utility that runs from the GUI?” If the answer is ‘No’, then cast Distro X into the outer darkness, for using it will surely bring irremediable loss of valuable data, followed by weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

    Yours, John Desmond

  38. stopping them from answering the question “Why does Windows have a bigger market share?” with “Because it’s a better product – here’s what they have and we don’t” instead of “Because Microsoft is EEEVVVILL”

    And here I was, thinking that the reason was that 9 PCs out of 10 come out from the factory with some Windows version installed on and 95 people out of 100 don’t know how to change their OS (if, and it’s a big if, they know what an OS is).

    That said, my current Linux installation dates from 2003, August 1, it moved through four hard disks, two motherboards, two cases and three CPUs and in these 6 years, 2 months , 22 days, 17 hours and 36 minutes I couldn’t use that desktop to do the things I needed to do only for the few hours needed to physically swap the components.

    Can you say the same of any Windows system?

  39. Salutations, to Giacomo (and other gentlefolk)

    Back in the glory days of _Life_ magazine, ’twere several signs on the walls,
    “Never underestimate the intelligence of our average reader.
    Never overestimate how much he already knows about a subject.”

    The first paragraph of your post seems to say “‘T’isn’t worth trying to build a better OS, because nobody but us Linux aficionados cares anyway.”

    As for the second, I’ve had about the same number of ‘three-finger salutes’ per month with Linux as with Win 98 SE, and more data lost in crashes and poweroutages with Linux.

    Yourzs, John Desmond

  40. @54: “Can you say the same of any Windows system?”

    I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of Windows geeks who may have done exactly that. But 99+% of computer users are simply not interested in doing something like that. Heck, I’ve spent over 20 years in the industry and I’m just not interested. It’s like owning a car just for the sake of replacing all the components every 3 months rather than, you know, driving the family to the movies.

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