Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cleaning House, Shifting Gears

I've always practiced safe internet. But over the holidays I ended up spending more time reinstalling software than writing code on my laptop. No matter how careful you are in browsing and locking your environment, there's a punk, a crook or TLA that has the kryptonite to your defenses. The vendors can't keep up with the vandals. The out-of-band security updates from Redmond and other vendor came out one day after my firewall reported strange outbound traffic and blocked it. 

This is something I anticipated would eventually happen. So I had backups and developed a plan of action. Since the laptop had to be zapped, I decided to remodel the contents. Instead of vitualizing Linux on a Windows 7 host, I reversed the roles. This allowed me to create a optimized Windows 7 image that can be used for various purposes. I already had Server 2008R2 and 2012, Windows 8 in VMs.

Why Linux?  I debated installing Windows 8 as the host for a nanosecond, but I really don't feel any love for that mess of a UI. The tile interface I like on my phone, doesn't work for me on my production desktop. Add the fact that Dell's recovery partition didn't recognized the hardware it's supposed to recover and Linux does. But switching host systems allowed me to play with VM's and set up the tools for my latest digital explorations.

Back in the '90s I used to play with all the OS'es on the block. At one time I was using seven distinct operating systems as part of my job. At the house we had even more esoteric hardware and software. When it came along, Linux was a bear to setup and configure. Fast forward 15 years and a couple of generations of geeks, users and billions in corporate contributions later, Linux and much of the OSS universe has been refined and polished.

Along with Linux, Android, the BSDs and their ilk, many of the programming and data tools have matured. The most interesting code comes from the scientific data community. And some of the best packages work with my favorite programming language: Python.