Personal Migration

Once upon a time I used only Windows.

In the 1990s and early 2000s many people did not use computers. Those who used computers were a minority. Windows was rather benign. Coerced updates, telemetry, data mining, and tracking did not exist. The infamous registry was meek and mild mannered. No shenanigans. A Pentium I system was sufficient to run everything.

Yet Windows remained proprietary. Much of Windows could be configured, but there was no access to source code and no meaningful scripting.

Around 2001 I began tinkering with Linux systems. The idea of full access to source code was liberating. Shell scripting was empowering and fun.

Both personally and professionally Windows was entrenched in my computer usage. Migrating fully took several years.

For some years I used many distros and multi-booted those distros with Windows. Around 2004 Slackware became my primary Linux operating system. I had not yet committed to leaving Windows because Linux distros remained less than friendly and challenging to configure and use. For the next few years I learned to work in both operating systems. I waited for the Linux desktop to improve.

Around 2009 I had fully migrated at home to only using Slackware.

About that time VirtualBox became open source. A new AMD dual core computer allowed converting the Windows system to virtual. No more multi-booting.

On a personal level the last speed bump was converting email stored in Eudora. Back then I was a KDE 3 user. I found some scripts online to convert from mbox to maildir and imported the mails into KMail. After the demise of KDE 3, for a few years I used the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE) to continue using KMail. Eventually I moved away from TDE and migrated KMail to Thunderbird. Although not officially supported in those days I retained the maildir format in Thunderbird and never had problems.

On a professional level as a technical writer I could not break the stranglehold of MS Office and FrameMaker. When on site I used Windows. When I committed to getting over the hump with my migration at home, for my remote work I created virtual machines (VMs) and continued using Word and FrameMaker in the VMs. There was no other sane solution and that remains true today.

I have been away from the tech writing for some years. Currently I have no Windows dependencies. Nonetheless I maintain a Windows 10 VM for possible future professional needs.

In those early days I had designed my own custom spreadsheet to manage bookkeeping and invoicing, but I no longer use spreadsheets in any fancy manner. These days LibreOffice Calc suffices. I am not naive to think that many Excel users with complex spreadsheets can do the same.

Often Linux enthusiasts think that everybody can easily migrate away from Windows. For myself I might have been able to migrate fully sooner than I had, but professionally that was impossible. Vertical software impedes many people from migrating fully.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Migrate

Next: Windows 11 and Linux

Previous: Ridiculing Windows