Well, much as I had predicted I haven't been making good progress on my preparations for Pennsic, nor much of anything else. This is largely due to my World of Warcraft addiction. So, to try and become a semiproductive member of society again I am swearing off WoW for the next four months. Since WoW was really the only thing keeping me on Windows XP, I went ahead and wiped it out and installed Linux. I tried several different versions of Linux on my PC, and surprisingly the only two I could actually get all the way up and running well were Linspire Five-O and OpenSuSE 10 64Bit. They're are kind of on opposite ends of the Linux spectrum, with Linspire being the Fisher Price of Linux, and SuSE being an enterprise level operating system. I was quite surprised that Linspire actually worked on my hardware, since many newer more powerful distros did not. Even so I opted to go with the 64Bit SuSE so I could get the full benefit out of my hardware.
There are some major problems with 64Bit Linux. Mostly it is difficult to get things configured to play any proprietary multimedia formats such as mp3, wmv, quicktime, flash, etc. This is inconvenient, but not life or death to me. I'm really wanting to move towards open formats as much as possible. I'm also planning to experiment with virtual machines allowing me to run 32bit versions of Linux, or even Windows to support those few things I can't live without. Not sure how effective it will be, but will be fun to mess with anyway. Starting off with VMPlayer running Ubuntu Linux as my first test case.
To further support my open source initiative, I purchased a new digital audio player for my birthday, an iAudio XL5 30GB player. I've always refused to get an iPod because of the proprietary nature of the system, I refuse to buy music that I can only listen to on one device and can't do everything I want with. iAudio supports several open formats, as well as provides Linux compatibility. So I'm starting the process of ripping all my CDs and converting my MP3s to Ogg Vorbis, which is an open format similar to mp3 (mp3 is in actuality a proprietary format, just so ubiquitous it doesn't seem like it). I'm really impressed with the software (GRIP) that is doing the ripping, as well as by the sound quality of the resulting files. It will take awhile, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. I'm using Amarok, a linux based media player, and its awesome.
At any rate, its kind of cool getting back into Linux again. The only thing I will really miss from Windows is the gaming, but that was somewhat of the point.