A new OS experience


Student Expenses

It's bad enough we have to shell out vast quantities of money for our education, but imagine how much we, students, could save by using open source software. Below is an abbreviated table of the minimum software requirements just to provide some functionality:

Windows XP Home 199.99
Office Home and Student 2007 149.98
MS Money 49.98
Microsoft Encarta 39.98
Adobe Photoshop CS3 299.98
Systat 12 279.98
McAfee Internet Security 59.98
Norton Student Backup 39.98
Total $1,119.85

Although the total reflects the total sum less student discount, one has to wonder why is it that colleges expect us to incur extra costs when we don't have to? I know, I know, people expect things to just work, but we attend college to learn something right? I've since migrated to Linux, and as an example, I am required to use MS Office and Systat 12. Of course, any office documents I produce are a result of Open Office, and I produce statistical models and graphs with R. All this costs me nothing, and since I am a nice guy I donate when I can. With an open mind and some elbow grease a student can take advantage of open source software to complement his/her education. After all, isn't computer literacy, above data entry, important in the job market?

Building from Source

My old desktop has an unsupported wireless pci card, and after some searching I found a windows driver that I can use via ndiswrapper. But Kubuntu 7.10 doesn't install ndiswrapper so I have to install from source. Hm, I never had to do that before, and after searching google I came across www.justlinux.com, an excellent site for newbies to Linux. They have some pretty good primers, as in the case of my current interest compiling software. The reason I have to do this is that my desktop is located in a room where I can't run CAT-5 cable easily, so wireless networking is the only answer. But the example they give at justlinux.com follows:

A Real Life Example

Now for a real life example. I downloaded a tarball called bar.tar.gz and saved it in /tmp.

Okay, so the tarball name is not real. But the procedure is. First I decide I want to install the files in /usr/local/programs/bar. So obviously, I will have to create the appropriate directories. Now I should mention that you do not need to be root to configure and build the software. However, you must be root when you are installing the software.

cd /tmp
tar xvzf bar.tar.gz
cd bar
./configure --prefix=/usr/local/programs/bar
make install

Now that my software is installed, I then edit my /etc/profile and append the following:

export PATH

Finally, I source my /etc/profile file and then I am ready to use my program. When I want to uninstall it, I can just run make uninstall, and if that does not work, I can just delete the subdirectory bar under /usr/local/programs.