Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Of New Hardware and the Wonders of Microcenter

Today was an adventure indeed. For several months I've had the plan of getting a second hard drive for my desktop computer and installing Linux on it, reasoning that as a self-respecting computer science major I should have knowledge of the hands-on freeware operating system. Today I finally decided to carry out this plan. I looked up hard drives and prices, then quickly drove out to Microcenter before my sister needed the car for work.

For those of you who don't know what Microcenter is, it's basically the most amazing place in the Twin Cities. (Or one of them, anyway) Picture a big-box store, maybe half to 2/3 the size of our neighborhood Best Buy, but completely for computer hardware and software. The main floor is taken up by shelves and shelves of peripherals and accessories, and there are specialty rooms around the sides for hardware, gaming, and computer books; there's even a self-contained Apple Store. Sadly I needed to be back within an hour, so I didn't get to stay nearly as long as I would have liked. I'd planned to get a 250 GB hard drive, figuring Linux wouldn't take up much space. They didn't have these, but they did have a 500 GB drive for only $7 more. Sign me up! (And always buy Seagate!) I also picked up another of Microcenter's fabulous, low-cost flash drives at the checkout line.

After coming home, I began the lengthy process of installing the drive. After popping my computer's case open and vacuuming it out (a fairly familiar process; I've upgraded the RAM and graphics card to make it better for games), it was time to put the drive in. It was a tough fit and I managed to do some damage to my hands wrestling it into place, but soon it was in. I then booted my computer up and installed the software that would set the drive up and let me use it. I wanted to have Windows on the bigger drive; luckily the software let me "clone" my old hard drive onto the new one. I did this, and could then boot from either hard drive; there was no visible difference between the two. (It you want to choose where you boot from, there's a button to press when your computer it starting up; for me, it's F10) It sure beat having to reinstall everything and copy individual files over manually!

With this done, all that was left was to install Ubuntu, a Linux operating system, on the old hard drive. I simply had to download it for free from the Ubuntu website, burn it to disc, and install it from the CD. Soon I had a shiny new OS! And I'm starting to feel like a CSci major again! Of course, there's still the whole matter of learning to use Ubuntu, but it seems simple enough. A fun adventure with new technology was had today!

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