Saying goodbye to Macs? I think so.

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My son John tries out the new Linux laptop

I’ve been using my new Pangolin Performance laptop from System76 for a couple weeks now, and I’m impressed. It came with Ubuntu Linux installed, and all the hardware just works.

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It’s true that Ubuntu is slightly less “out of the box” ready than the average Mac or PC, but only slightly. I had it out of the box and was checking e-mail and Web sites within minutes, and I was watching a DVD within half an hour, after downloading a few things. Installing new software is a snap. And it’s all free and open source, which feels great.

I’ve been a Mac user since Macs came into being in 1984, and I was a little nervous about taking a step this big. For example, my PDA is an iPod Touch, and I’ve been using Apple’s MobileMe cloud service to sync my contacts and calendars between my home computer, my work PC and my iPod. As it turns out, the completely free NuevaSync service does the exact same thing, except it use Google Calendars as its platform. I already use Google Reader, Picasa and GMail (for some purposes), so it was a snap to decide to export my calendars from iCal and import them into Google Calendar. I set up a free NuevaSync account, which took about 25 seconds, and then posted on my Linux laptop using the Google Calendar program (which is Prism-based, whatever that means). All I know is that the event instantly appeared on my iPod. But would it work the other way? Yup. I posted an event on my iPod, refreshed the Google Calendar, and there it was, immediately.

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I’ve already been using the open source audio editor Audacity to produce The Jazz Session on my Mac, so I don’t even have to change software. Jen’s been using the new laptop, too, and she’s quite comfortable with it.

All in all, I think we’re ready to say goodbye to PCs or Macs and hello to the world of open source software. Wow.

UPDATE: A big “Huzzah!” goes out to my good friend Kevin Baird, who showed me the way to open source. It was Kevin who recommended Ubuntu, and he’s been slowly and steadily open-source-ifying me for years now, starting with Ogg Vorbis back in the day. Thanks,man!