Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Throwing away years of Windows

It’s spring time. Nothing new there, but spring seems to be associated with cleaning. My wife wants to redo the bed room: walls, woodwork, floor and some new closets.  And -as most married men will know- when your wife wants something like this, it is better to get over with it. On the other hand, it is fun to spend time together and at the end of the day the bed room is a nicer place.

Getting in the spring cleaning mood I decided to take on our study room and fix that one as well. For the statistics: it is three by four meters with 30 meters of bookshelves on three walls, we have two desks in there and four computers, three of which are mine (not counting the laptop). All those cables! Twee meters of shelves were filled with zip folders packed with dozens upon dozens of CD’s and DVD’s gathered over the last six or seven years. I had bought some nice DJ boxes to compress the whole thing.

It was fascinating to see my IT history passing through my hands, remembering again why I stored a particular CD or why I bought a specific magazine. Some magazines don’t even exist anymore. CD’s and DVD’s that accompanied the magazines were great in a time when the internet was only 56K6 away on dial up. I loved the UK magazines because they had real software, not just trial or demo version, but versions you could deploy and use for as long as you liked.

But after a while those magazines and their disks disappeared from the folders. I got broad band and discovered free and open source software. Plenty of stuff to play around with. I found the disks I used to write my first articles, back in 2002/2003. Besides that, Linux found it’s way in my collection. First Suse 7.2 and then Red Hat 7.3. I can’t even recount how many ISO files I downloaded from LinuxISO. The site doesn’t even seem to exist anymore, but it was a great resource in a time that bittorrent still had to be invented.

From then on the collection branched in various directions. BeOS, BSD, Solaris, Netware. I sucked it all in. That must have been the time the book collection exploded as well. Some distributions still exist, others are gone, but I do remember the growth of Linux in the last few years.

And there they were, the CD’s and DVD’s with tons and tons of Windows based software. Program’s for document management. But no longer needed. Accounting, likewise, no longer needed. Flow charters, long ago replaced. Security software for Windows, no longer valid or even up to the tasks required. I cherish the memories because those disks also represent part of my growth in knowledge and skills. But in the time of spring cleaning I had to ask myself if I would ever use those disks again? Some even dated back to the Windows 98 days, so the answer was no.

With a few exceptions 90% of the disks went into the trashcan. Which -now that I think of it- represents the balance between my current use of Linux  (based software) versus Windows (based software) quite well.

Tags: Linux, Windows

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