I had a great three weeks with the whole family back in town. It was a shame to have to see everyone scatter back to school, but that's life. The tree this year was all "grown up"; white lights with red and white ornaments supplied by IKEA. In the past the tree would have been lit up with multi-colored lights and equally multi-colored ornaments.
While Megs was home, I went to the local Apple store and purchased Snow Leopard. What was so nice about the Apple store staff person we talked to was his laid-back honesty. I was ready to buy the 'family' version (five licenses) when he told me that I could upgrade our two Macs with the single license version. The key reason being that Mac OS-X doesn't ask for a license key like Windows does. We'd already purchase an iMac and Macbook from them over the past few years, so they didn't see us as shifty-eyed pirates bent on ripping off Apple. While it only saved us $20 ($30 vs $50), it was the really decent way we were treated.
I also upgraded Lauran's Toshiba with Windows 7 and Office 2007. I'd spend $30 on the Win7 upgrade because she was a college student. The problem is that the activation number given to us doesn't work, so I've got to get back in touch with the seller (through Microsoft) and get an activation number that does work. The crazy thing is that the activation number given to us for Office 2007 does work.
And finally, I reinstalled openSUSE 11.1 on europa along with all the patches, and then found a link on the openSUSE website where I could install the official openSUSE ATI binary drivers for 11.1. Everything re-installed without drama or the need to perform any special actions, and the system is now fully operational. I had purchased the openSUSE boxed set back in December 2008, and then corrupted it during an official kernel patch right after I had installed the ATI-supplied binary drivers. Apparently things were cleaned up over the last 10 months, with Novell/openSUSE supplying a 'proper' set of ATI binary RPMs. Now europa boots into openSUSE's graphic desktop and I can do what little work I still need to do. I haven't gone to the trouble to install the codecs so I can play back my ripped content, but I don't think I will. I think I'll attach a USB external drive and back them up, then move them over to my Windows notebook or Jude's Macbook - or both. And finally, I double I will upgrade to the latest version of openSUSE. It works, so I'll just keep my hands off of it.
What has finally hit me is europa's age; the machine is over six years old now. And that's some ancient hardware in this business. The mother-board manufacturer has long since gone out of business, and it's running an old 32-bit Athlon processor. I seldom turn the machine on any more; rhea, the other Linux box I had in my office, is permanently off and stored in the closet, on the off chance I might need to pull some files off its drive. I had entertained the thought of buying new hardware (a motherboard, processor, video card, memory, SATA drives... you know the drill) and just rebuilding europa's guts while keeping the case. But that particular thrill is gone. The cost for such hardware is such that I could throw in a little more cash and just buy another notebook. And a notebook would be a heck of a lot more portable.
As I grow older I notice a lot of my strongly-held beliefs and opinions are not nearly as important as I originally thought them to be; computing platforms and operating systems being two such areas. And it's truly liberating.