I'm sure that you've noticed the Ubuntu countdown on my sidebar. You'd be amazed at how many emails I've received asking me to explain this. Precisely none. What's that? You're not amazed?
Since a lot of people are no doubt wondering about it but afraid to ask, I thought I'd provide an explanation ayway.
The Ubuntu folks produce a new release of their operating system every six months, and as well as giving it a number (9.10 means October 2009), they also name them after animals. Since Dapper Drake these have gone in alphabetical order, so because the last release was Jaunty Jackalope, this one had to be an animal beginning with K.
They didn't ask me, which is why Thursday's release isn't going to be Kinky Kitty, Karaoke Kingfisher or Knackered Kronosaurus. Instead they chose Karmic Koala.
Seeing the cute picture above, your first reaction may well have been the same as mine. What does koala taste like? Are they served in fast food establishments Down Under (Kebabbed Koala, anyone?). The answer is no. At least not legally, since they are protected. Apparently they used to be hunted for their fur - presumably an adult would have been just enough to make a pair of gloves and a matching steering wheel cover. Not that I'd condone such a thing. After all steering wheel covers are not only so last century, they also look stupid.
Anyway, what's all this got to do with something serious like an operating system? The answer is, more than you think. If you know about kebabs and steering wheel covers, then you already know more than enough to install Ubuntu on your computer. Eighteen months ago I didn't know how to partition a disk, or what DHCP was. I wasn't even sure that I wanted to replace Windows XP, since as a home user, it pretty much worked (it's in an office environment that it really sucks). It was annoying to use, though, with all the mouse clicks you need to do anything, and the stupid pop-up messages.
It wasn't until I'd consumed a large amount of vodka one evening that I felt brave enough to install Ubuntu on my computer. I'd never installed an operating system, and yet it was up and running in less time than it takes to get rid of the annoying sidebar in Windows Vista. And I've never looked back. I now have a computer that is easier to use, that gives me a nicer windowing system and is less prone to viruses.
I've just let Helena have my laptop on semi-permanent loan. My ex had been talking about us going halves on a computer for her, but I hardly use the laptop. The one thing I was sure about was that I didn't want her using a Windows machine, because of the risk of getting viruses or malware on there. She is quite happy using Ubuntu, since she already uses my computer at weekends, and she knows a lot more than me about enabling every last piece of window manager bling. I bet she could probably have installed Ubuntu too.
As it happens, I've had to learn a lot more about operating systems in my professional capacity in the last eighteen months. I now have a pretty good understanding disk partitions and network configuration. Before Ubuntu came along, I'd probably have needed that knowledge and more. There's a reason why it's currently one of the most popular distributions of Linux.
And after "Karmic Koala", what's next? Lusty Leech? Languid Lizard? Lunching Lion? None of these. Again, they didn't ask me. Ubuntu 10.04 will be Lucid Lynx.
Which means I've got 6 months to find some recipes for lynx...