Wil Wheaton Prime uses Linux to bring you Evil Wil Wheaton sitting in Sheldon’s spot.

Evil Wil Wheaton sits in Sheldon's spot

This picture was taken right after we finished shooting The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary last year. I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: it's one of my prized possessions.

It's taken me this long to share it, because shortly after I upgraded my Macs to Snow Leopard, all of my Macs and my HP scanner stopped talking to each other. I spent a lot of time researching help forums, looking for updated drivers, and saying lots of swears, because it appeared that HP blamed Apple, and Apple blamed HP.

My scanner still doesn't work with any of my Macs, but I am able to bring you this picture today thanks to the magic of Linux.

If you've been reading my blog for a long time (or you've gone through the archives) you know that I love the Linux operating system. I first switched to Linux in 2002, and eventually ended up running a heavily-modified version of Debian for years, until I was seduced by the elegance and stability of OS X. From time to time, though, I grab a LiveCD (usually Ubuntu, these days, though I've gone through most of them at one time or another) and spend an hour or so poking around to see what's new and how quickly I can break it.

Shortly before I went to Vancouver for Eureka, I burned an iso of Ubuntu 10.4 beta, to see what all the fuss was about (short version: Ubuntu made some significant UI changes for that version, and a lot of Linux users are apparently as keen on change as Garth was in Wayne's World.)

My incredibly short review: I liked it. I thought it looked nice on my iMac, it booted fast from the DVD and ran smoothly once I was logged in. It comes with enough software to give a curious user a good feel for what it does without overwhelming them with options, and it autoconfigured every single thing I had … including my HP scanner.

When I realized I could finally scan this picture — and get a cool Linux advocacy story — I took carefully took it off the top of my desk (where I stuck it with two-sided tape several months ago) and scanned it. I put a thumb drive into the machine, which Ubuntu recognized immediately, copied the file over, and ran into my office to put it on my MBP.

I remember, back in the old days when we had to use vi to edit our config files, how much we all longed for a day when Linux Just Worked™; I think it's pretty cool that, in this case, it did.

90 thoughts on “Wil Wheaton Prime uses Linux to bring you Evil Wil Wheaton sitting in Sheldon’s spot.”

  1. Gaw, dammit. I didn’t actually want to come off as a demanding dick, there. Just quoting The Simpsons, ’cause, y’know, “Radio Free Burrito,” right? Really, I do appreciate that you take the time to record the things, Wil.

  2. Another happy VueScan user here, for the past decade. There are scanners it can’t talk to, but they’re few and far in between.

  3. Dylan McCall above has an excellent point.
    The resolution on your D80 is high enough to take good quality photos of photos. I recently did this with a load of photos of me as a baby/toddler/kid/teenager and they came out really well. All you need is an even surface and and even, reasonably soft light source like a window on an overcast day to avoid reflections. You can use double sided tape if the photo is warped slightly. Then all you need to do is crop out the background in your favourite image manipulation program.
    Here‘s an example.

  4. And now we all know how Evil Wil Wheaton has managed to “live rent free, right there” in Moonpie’s head. Your katra mind melded into the rainbow cushions and transferred into Sheldon. You are a very evil man Wil Wheaton!
    Looking forward to the Eureka episode this summer and the next Radio Free Burrito.

  5. What an awesome picture!! Um, how’d Sheldon take you sitting in his spot, Wil? Did he have an episode like the time on the train when Penny was going through his secret box….=] You have one great life, that is for sure! Cheers. =]

  6. I can understand why you treasure that pic! I had just finished reading your story about the wonder you felt as a kid when looking at the wall of Star Wars figures – the joy we feel when we are in a special space is something that happens much less when we become adults. I am so pleased you got a picture of it in this instance – it being a polaroid is extremely fitting IMO.
    Wishing you more of such unique moments Wil Wheaton!
    Thank you for sharing

  7. Nice! I’ve been working on/off with Ubuntu for some time and have even set up a simple home file server using it and a VIA ARTiGO A1000. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that I seemed to have bought every webcam that has some issue or another in Linux, I would switch to it for all my systems!

  8. Very cool. I finally got to see your BBT Redux: definitely made of awesome. Did you do your own bowling? I was curious if they had bowling doubles.
    Also, I found out that RinCon 10 in Tucson is a go, once again scheduled for Columbus Day weekend.

  9. That picture is awesome and currently hanging in my cube. I loved “The Wheaton Recurrence” and last week I got a new computerized embroidery machine (because that how I get my tech geek on) so naturally I will be making myself a “Wesley Crushers” bowling shirt.

  10. Any idea if a Mac can connect to a SANE scanner? SANE has supported scanning across the network since the “vi days”. This could be even cooler and would get rid of the whole thumb drive shenanigan.
    You can also access the Mac’s disk from the Linux box directly if you enable the SSH server on the Mac. Then there’s running sane remotely on the Mac desktop through X11. We could geek out all day like this.

  11. Hi Wil,
    I’ll make a suggestion that probably no one else will:
    1) I haven’t had a flatbed scanner for years
    2) Fujitsu Scan Snap for Mac is something you might want to look at.
    3) Kodak also makes some really cool scanners
    I use my scanner for outbound as opposed to a fax machine.
    Also ABBYY makes a cool data capture product for MAC.

  12. Hi Wil,
    I apologize for posting this here, but I have to ask: Is Lulu.com a dick?
    Love your podcasts. I ordered Memories of the Future over five weeks ago, paid $4.00 for shipping via USPS. The book never arrived. Lulu.com has told me that only if the book is returned to them by the post office would they issue a refund/send out another copy. I think this is lame. Maybe I am being a dick (even tho I’m a girl).
    If I ran a business, I would give the customer the benefit of the doubt rather than lose them forever. I am a poor student and cannot afford to ‘buy” two copies of this book in order to (hopefully) receive one. What do you think? Is Lulu.com a dick? Am I? Are we both? I value your input.
    Keep up the wonderful podcasts!
    BTW, you probably know this, but in case you don’t, the “hipsters, flipsters …knock me your lobes” guy is Lord Buckley. He was amazing.

  13. Thirding VueScan. It doesn’t rely on the native OS drivers, and knows how to talk to most scanners. I had the same problem as you with my old HP all-in-one and Snow Leopard – very annoying, since Snow Leopard was supposed to make scanning easier and more integrated. (And it does, with new scanners). But VueScan works great with it – well worth the $40 IMHO. I mean, I could get a new scanner for that, not necessarily one that works as well as my old one and with Snow Leopard.
    But why the heck wasn’t that awesome picture digital to start with? :)

  14. I've sold thousands of books through Lulu, and this is the first complaint I've heard, so it sounds like you just got very unlucky. I'm really sorry, and I hope your book turns up soon. There isn't even anything I can do, since I don't handle the printing or the shipping. :(

  15. With Evil Wil being such a dick, I think good Wil Prime should get to be on a show, well, not being a dick. Maybe he could help someone find true love? Well, something to balance the karma wheel.

  16. My husband has been using Linux for years and has tried so many different versions of debian. He constantly threatens to put it on my computer and get rid of windows. He is so funny! He really enjoys making it break and finds it a challenge.
    One final comment, love the photo. Sheldon would be shouting

  17. Wil,
    I’ve been lurking on your blog for about 3 months now and with every passing blog installment I love you more. Please come to Lancaster, Pennsylvania so that I may propose marriage to you in person. (j/k..kind of…can’t help but admit that I would love to spend at least one night out on the town with you. :D) I adore you. You make me happy. Keep on rockin’, my friend. :) xoxoxoxoxoxo

  18. It is in my to-do list of things this summer…learn linix. I have gone from a computer-tard to being fairly decent with learning other operating systems. I also need to upgrade my windows boot to 7 but I am too lazy to even reformat it right now. I am getting some silly java error when I run firefox and only firefox.

  19. My husband readily admits this is his only purpose to use Linux, to set it up. Ah, the lazy Saturday afternoons, listening to the new and creative cursing, brought on by the fact that he compiled his own kernel and forgot something important… like some kind of I/O like USB or ethernet. All so he could shave parts of a second off the boot time. :)

  20. Hey, Wil Wheaton. First–love you in BBT. Next–had the same problem with my HP scanner. However, I was able to make it work by using the native OSX app ScanUtility.

  21. Thank you Wil. This picture earned me some serious street cred (or perhaps its geek cred)with the the IT guys in my department. They came in to do some routine maintenance and saw your pick in my cube “Hey is that Wil Wheaton?” I spent the next 30 min talking about you, BBT, kids and board games. I directed him to your post about family board games so you may have a new convert.
    Do you have any plans to do a book signing in northern California? I can’t make it to LA this weekend.

  22. Damn, Linux just works now? I have to check it out again. I haven’t had Linux on my laptop since 2002. I’ll have to grab that distribution and see what it does on my old warhorse Inspiron. Maybe it’ll get the damn speakers working again. They mysteriously stopped working one day, probably because of some auto-downloaded “update” from the MSFT/Dell corpocracy. (sigh)

  23. Great picture!
    Now if you can just get over to the BBC and get a polaroid taken of you in front of the Tardis controls you will have completed the hardest scavenger hunt a nerd can go on!

  24. You should get the Eureka designers hooked up with compiz. I think the guys from Stargate Atlantis were either using compiz or did an effect like the cube workspace switcher for a scene where the characters were searching through the ancient computer. With Gnome/Compiz they can do a really futuristic looking theme and most of the viewing audience won’t know that they can put the same thing on their computers.

  25. Most people forgot that if Windows works, it’s because they bought their PC preinstalled with the adequate drivers. Switch one of your PC’s components, or format the hard drive, nad you’ll be in trouble. On the other side, Linux detects most peripherals and installs them without you even noticing it.

  26. I just saw the second evil Wil Wheaton episode for “The Big Bang Theory” and I am loving the evil Wil Wheaton. Just a few weeks ago I discovered the youtube series “The Guild”. I got hooked on that and when I saw the evil Wil Wheaton stroll on to the screen I started cheering. Now I just found out from this blog that he’s making an appearance in Eureka (favorite geeky show). Didn’t know they started back up yet. Time to check Hulu.
    Wil, I think you play a great bad guy.

  27. That’s awsome. I’ve only been using linux on and off since 1997. but not on a mac. I can’t tell you how many times ubuntu live cd’s save the day on someone elses PC. It’s cool to know you can save the day on a MAC too. Never tried it, never investigated it.. now I have a reason too.

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