I was a strong open source proponent in the past, but in the past few years I've gotten lazy. I primarily use Windows on my desktop and commercial office suites. To date, few open source projects have received particularly strong reviews. There has been a lot of discussion over whether or not it can chip away at Windows' dominance on the desktop. Though well received, these efforts are considered a bit of an “also ran.” I've used Linux in some way, shape, or form for something over 7 years, so I'm not exactly new to the platform. But, having begun digging deeper into what "open source" means today, I'm compelled to state the platform has come quite a long way!

Window of Opportunity

When one of your systems fails, it's a good time to institute a bit of change. (You're going to have to anyway, right?) So I decided that I would take the replacement device and dual boot it between Windows and OpenSUSE. If something goes wrong, I'll just rebuild it.

Making it work

I've been impressed at how reliable the partition management components of OpenSUSE work. If you so choose, you don't have to do anything. The solution decides how much space it needs for Linux and permits Windows a chunk of the partition. In fact, there were only two components of the install that didn't “just work” without intervention -- one of which was the first opportunity to configure wireless connectivity. Because there was no opportunity to configure the ssid and encryption, I couldn't just use a network repository to build the system. The other issue had to do with the NVIDIA graphics card. While I had to do a quick search on the recommended installation process, it was extremely simple to install. Configure the system to recognize the vendor's repository, start typing the name of the package, and it will filter for you. Accept the package, and voila! I reran the graphics card configuration, selected the display, and ... success.

The Next Step

I've not yet sprung the change on my wife. She's been fighting this conversion for years. But I feel pretty good about the chances of this system to grow on her. The tools are there. OpenOffice is very functional as an Office platform, and there are all kinds of other great open source projects out there for word processing, money management, photo manipulation -- you name it. As far as the little woman's concerned, the jury is still out, but I'm pleased with the functionality. Next up? Applications. Do open source applications deliver reasonable usability? We'll find out.