I met with an old high school classmate, B, over the weekend; we never crossed paths much in school, but now that we’re living in the same place thousands of miles from home, we get together every so often. He went hardcore into computers ever since high school, and graduated a few years before me–so has a big, big head start.
He’s been working on a Linux installer aid for years, and now that I’m starting to code, he said he’d be willing to take me on as a student/helper in his project; I feel so fortunate because not only is he an expert at what he does, but he also is a great communicator and teacher. I was nervous at first that I wouldn’t be able to understand anything he said (which is how it went a couple years ago when he talked about his work), but he explains clearly without sounding pedantic. His program is in C++, too, and I’ll get to see (and contribute to!) a working code base.
The trouble is that I’ve never used Linux or the command line. I saw Linux once, and used to start Sopwith from the DOS prompt when I was a kid–but apparently neither of those counts ^.^
So my project of the day/week is to re-jigger one of our old machines so it works, then install Ubuntu. After Ubuntu is running, I’ll try installing B’s program and poking around with it. All easier said than done! Given the lessons of last week’s scheduling, I broke my to-do list into very, very small parts:
- Get the computer boxes out of the closet.
- Open the boxes.
- See if everything looks connected.
- Find new parts if anything major is missing.
- Plug in monitor to assembled machine.
- Turn on assembled machine.
- Insert Ubuntu disk into drive.
- Enter BIOS and hit… whatever I hit to make the machine boot from a CD.
- Revisit to-do list.
So far, I’ve poked around inside the computer box, and things actually look good. I’d thought we’d scavenged some cables from it, but it has a hard drive, video card, keyboard/mouse connections (in the mother board), CD drive… Every type of important-looking slot on the motherboard has at least one card in it. (I only ever assembled one computer–and it was under my tutor’s watchful eye.) Things look to be plugged into the power supply as needed. One hard drive isn’t attached to the motherboard, but I think it was the hard drive that failed and was unplugged on purpose.
Time to fire it up!
Much, much later:
So the machine works, but I can’t log in to make sure there’s nothing important on the hard drive… And since it’s my roommate’s machine, I don’t want to wipe it without his explicit go-ahead. So instead, this afternoon I started reading Beginning Linux at a coffee shop, which assumed a lot of background knowledge (what is “more”? why are things proceeded by dashes?) and would be much helped by actually having a working copy of Linux installed.
I distracted myself with job boards for a bit, but those inevitably depress and discourage me. I think I secretly hope that since last time I checked, my qualifications will have multiplied and suddenly I’ll be the perfect candidate for posted positions–and then I realize that I still don’t have a BS in computer science, and then I torture myself by clicking around all the different postings for companies I’d love to work for. Why do I do this? It is actively unhelpful.
Anyway, I just tore myself away from my futile, masochistic exercise and took myself to the library to check out a beginner’s guide to Ubuntu, which actually starts PRE-installation and will be closer to my level. And somehow, I’ve found that I feel better when I tell myself in a reassuring voice, “Podemos hacerlo, mi amor. Está bien.”
“… an operating system is the fundamental software that’s needed to make your PC work.”
Call me a softie–but it feels good to read something that starts way below my level.
Oh, and some hotness.