I'm a Windows guy, I've always been a Windows guy. Windows today is more stable than ever. Seems now would be the best time of all to be a Windows guy. Slowly but surely though, I'm becoming a Linux guy.
Truth is, I was always a Microsoft guy, and that simply included Windows along with all of their development products. I used to be a hardware/network technician. I'd setup and maintain networks for medium to small businesses. Windows was always the way to go here, it's what the users were accustomed to and expected. I'd usually setup a Windows NT server and from a dozen to maybe 30 client computers running various version of Windows including NT workstation. So Windows was just something I was always familiar with.
Even back then, I had the occasional urge to try other things. One of my first experiences with Linux involved using it as a firewall for a windows network on some cheap throwaway hardware that wasn't good for much else. But it always seemed a pain to use, and I didn't really understand it, despite having it working quite well for what I intended. I just didn't see the point of not having a nice GUI and using cryptic commands to do everything.
Later, I learned to program in VBScript and VB using ASP and SQL. I became a web developer and abandoned the hardware gig. Software was so much more interesting. ASP became ASP.net, and VB became C# when I realized how crappy a language VB actually was. What made me want to change was my discovery of the original Wiki. I found a place where real programmers hung out and discussed anything and everything. I realized the world was bigger than VB. VB.Net fixed many of the issues with VB and is pretty much equivalent to C# in all but one area... culture.
What I really was abandoning was the VB culture. I'd outgrown it, I wanted to be involved in a culture that cared more about programming well. The VB culture is dominated by amateur programmers that are just happy to get something working, they tend to care very little about things like architecture, or patterns, or the aesthetics of good code. They don't think of themselves as amateurs, many of them consider themselves experts, but start talking about object oriented programming or functional programming and the confused looks on their faces tells you they've not really looked into such things very deeply. Many think simply using classes makes code object oriented.
I was still firmly in the Microsoft camp at this point, though my change to C# had opened my eyes to Java, and more importantly object oriented programming. It was the Wiki that introduced me to Smalltalk. I just couldn't help but notice how much Smalltalk was referenced whenever object oriented programming was discussed, nor how many famous authors credentials included a Smalltalk background. I decided I had to check out this Smalltalk thing. Now, at the same time, I was checking out the Lisp thing as well, but that's not relevant to this story.
So I'm a web developer, my seeking tends to be guided by the need to make my job easier, to find better ways to automate myself. Obviously, I discovered Seaside. Seaside got me into a non Microsoft language. Around the same time, a buddy of mine who I'd met on the Wiki suggested cygwin. I'd been talking about wanting to learn a little more about Linux and he said I could do so without leaving Windows by using a better shell. Cygwin was the beginning of the end for Windows.
I started finding reasons to grep, cat, sed, sort, uniq. This was pretty cool, I was still in Windows but had a Linux command line and the shell became a bigger part of my toolbox. Now I find myself using a non Microsoft programming language, and having discovered PostgreSQL, a non Microsoft database. And now bash for my shell. Hmm...
So now I'm still hosting my apps on Windows servers, but I keep having problems crop up. I recently did a write up on Scaling Seaside which included a bash script for making sure the Seaside services were always up and running. Problem is, turns out the only thing making my Seaside services seem to die, was the bash script itself. Somehow lynx gums up Windows after a certain period of time and Windows starts having random network errors. I've taken the script down and now have another one running that uses wget and simply notifies me should any site I'm monitoring go down, or come back up.
So I find myself using all open source non Microsoft tools for everything except for the server's operating system. Having become quite comfortable on the command line, it finally hit me, stop screwing with all these problems on Windows and try Linux again. Setting up new Seaside services on Windows is a multi step pain in the but. I'd thought I'd give a Linux a try and see how far it's come since the last time I tried it. Boy was I surprised. In the next post I'll detail my experience setting up a Linux server for hosting Seaside.