I’ve been using computers since the early 70s. Been there, done that, or so I thought. Today I giggled at something I knew would happen but had never seen before. It was just another computer performing an ordinary task in 2011.
My laptop runs Linux, but I need Windows for Nokia’s cell phone program*. So I burned a pirated copy of Windows XP** onto a DVD, installed ‘virtual machine’*** software, created a virtual machine for Win XP, stuck in the DVD and waited while the drive clicked and whirred. When the familiar blue screen of the XP install popped up I just started giggling at the incongruity of Windows running in a window on Linux.
I didn’t install the Nokia program right away. There was something I had to do first:
Arthur C. Clark said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I was blessed to have the interest and aptitude to play with magic in ways that paid well and was in demand. Sometimes I think that I’ve spent too much time playing with software**** since I retired. Other times I think I’m showing a balanced life because I now spend far fewer hours a day at a keyboard then when I was working. But now it’s all about what I want to do so I enjoy it more.
* My mp3 player’s battery is dying and can’t be replaced. I want to listen to tunes on my cell.
** Why XP? Download size was 1/4 the size of a Windows 7 download.
** Oracle’s VirtualBox. It’s free. A ‘virtual machine’ allows one to install multiple operating systems (e.g., Windows, Mac OS X, Linux), or versions of operating systems (e.g., Windows XP, Vista, 7) on a single physical machine but without the hair pulling that often happens when physically installing them.
**** Learning the Python programming language, learning the GIMP (Linux’s equivalent of Photoshop) and the Linux command line tools like awk, sed and grep.
***** If you made it this far you must have geek interest because nothing in the text has a 5 asterisk footnote symbol. Wouldn’t surprise me if one of the first few things geeks do after their first successful virtual machine creation is to stack them, like a series of funhouse mirrors. I could install the Oracle VirtualBox software in my XP virtual machine, create a new virtual machine and install Mac OS X there. So OS X would be running in a window on Windows XP which was running in a window on Linux. The limit to stacking is probably one’s patience for such foolishness and the available RAM.