Linux – still not ready for the desktop

Despite heroic efforts over the last few weeks, my home PC’s hard disk finally gave up the ghost this weekend. I’ve ordered a new one, but it’s going to take Amazon a week to get it to me. What to do in the meantime? Time to try Linux again.

Probably every 18 months or so, I go through a phase of wanting to try Linux. The concept of the Live CD – where you download a single file, burn it to a CD ROM, and boot your PC from it without actually installing anything – gives a no-risk way to try Linux out. And it’s the perfect solution when you don’t have a working hard disk in your PC.

The bad news, though, is that it’s taken most of my weekend, on and off, to find a Linux version which worked with all my main hardware, and saved my settings reliably. I’m still having a nightmare installing OpenOffice. And I’m supposed to be good at these sorts of things. Mere mortals have no chance.

In the end, I plumped for Puppy Linux. I’ve toyed with it before, and knew it picked up my network and sound card without much intervention. It’s a reasonable 70MB download, which shouldn’t take too long on a broadband line. Burn it, boot it, and you should have enough to get you going.

And the first extra program I downloaded: Firefox. I’m doing almost everything through it these days. It checks my Gmail accounts. It gives me one-click access to my RSS feeds on Bloglines. It lets me see my bookmarks as stored on It lets me post to my blog via Deepest Sender. As I’ve said before, it’s not far off an operating system in its own right these days.