Living with Linux

Feb ScreenshotIts an age old post topic, people moving over to Linux then blogging about it. Well its my turn, as I have finally moved my creaking laptop over to Ubuntu.So here we go, Ubuntu, my first real foray into the Linux world after being a Unix (HPUX) veteran a few years ago. So why Ubuntu? Well its quite simple really, I had heard of it and the download was a tiny 600Mb. I was going to go with Fedora Core but the download of 7 x 600Mb iso scared off my bandwidth.First impressions are, wow, this is great. I like the simplicity of Ubuntu, it feels very clean and bloat free and after some skinning I have a look and feel I really like, but the best thing is, its fast!My laptop has been a real nightmare for me, I have a pretty good HP Compaq nc8230 with 2Gbs of RAM, with fresh installs of XP it plays havoc with the CPU, apparently with the Intel M processors this is quite common, very frustrating. Vista is also a complete nightmare (and I am a bit of a Microsoft fanboy), it it just unusable on an year old laptop. Ubuntu has probably given my laptop a further couple of years life, I think.I have always liked the *nix way of doing things, so knowing the difference between dir and ls -l is a major advantage, however the smart chaps at Ubuntu have prebundled the latest release (Edgy) with a DOS emulator, to ease the path for people less in the know. Also plug and play, cool, I thought that didn't happen with Linux, I had half wanted to spend hours farting around mounting filesystems (ie digital cameras), and compiling drivers for webcams, you spoilsports.However, not everything is rosey. There are a couple of things that are frustrating:

  • My firm uses the rather excellent Cisco VPN, which is available in Linux favours, however I am yet to get the thing to work, and if I do its only available in command line, no GUI. Alternate VPNs don't use the Cisco Concentrator so are no good.
  • All my websites are coded in the rather retro asp (its going to have a renascence, honest) and surprisingly it dosn't work with Apache out of the box.
  • I am yet to find a decent wysiwyg web editor, however this is less of a problem as there are tonnes.
  • Oh and no WPA wireless support out the box, crazy!

So, I can't quite ditch the wonderful world of windows just yet, enter stage right VMware. You all know what VMware is so I wont preach to the converted, but running a virtual XP machine on a Linux master is frankly brilliant. With this new VM I can connect it up to my work domain, run Dreamweaver when I have to, VPN in, everything is peachy.So all in all I am a happy man, my laptop is running nicely and there are no random CPU freakouts.I dont know if I am ready to move my main machine over to Linux just yet, I would need to be totally happy productivity wouldn't take a nosedive, but if its a toss up between Ubuntu and Vista, I think I know which one I would opt for *.* Linux obviously, well apart from the Media Center, that needs the excellent MCE like I need a bottle of Merlot each evening.