Sunday, May 11, 2008

Making The Switch

I've been curious about Linux for years. I've dipped my toe in the water in the past (installed Ubuntu on my home PC (that I never really use) a year or so ago until I flipped it to a Media Center PC), but I've never gone whole hog. I've never taken a primary machine and removed Windows. I've talked about it, I've pondered it, but I've never taken the leap.

Well, I'm about to leap.

The last week or two I've been evaluating the logistics of moving my work PC to Ubuntu. With the new Wubi installation option, I've been able to flip back and forth without needing to deal with the whole partitioning/dual-boot mess that I hate. I've managed to prove out most of my usage scenarios, and despite some frustrations and a bit of the 'sheen' coming off, I think I'm going to dive in. I'm about 99% certain that I can wipe my drive and throw Ubuntu on and still do everything I need to do, with virtual machines being my main fall back scenario where things just don't work.

I'm currently un-DRMing my purchased iTunes content, after which I should be ready to go. I don't know if I'll do it tonight, but likely sometime this week. I'll post my issues as I uncover them, but going in here are the things I'm a little disappointed about:

  • Evolution: It's the Outlook replacement, and I'm not super impressed. Seems pretty slow, I had some crashes while it downloaded my emails from exchange, and it's not real pretty. I might see if I can get connected via IMAP using Thunderbird, but I'll give Evolution more of a chance.
  • Networking: The NetworkManager app seems a little quirky, and I've had to mess with settings to get first connected wirelessly, and then again when I wanted to VPN to my office network. Even worse though, once VPN'd I can mount a windows share from work, but the file list I see is incomplete. I'm hoping I can figure this issue out, as I don't want to have to use a virtual machine to browse Windows network shares. This one almost sunk my move plans, but I've decided that there _must_ be a fix and that I'm not letting it stop me. If I can't resolve it after a few weeks, this might cause me to go back to XP. We'll see.
  • iTunes: No Linux version, and it doesn't seem like it works using Wine (at least for connecting to the iTunes store and/or actually sync-ing to my iPod). This isn't 'mission critical', so I haven't exhausted my research, so I might find a workable solution. I might try creating a VMWare Virtual Appliance thing specifically for iTunes too, see what that's all about.
  • Installing Apps: The Package Manager thing is pretty wicked, but installing apps that aren't in repositories is pretty painful. Linux needs to get that issue resolved if they ever hope to convert anyone aside from nerds.

Everything else seems pretty positive. I'm looking forward to becoming familiar with the OS as I use it on a daily basis. The speed seems pretty nice, and it's also fun to just be outside of my familiar Windows world, get out of the comfort zone and force myself to grow.

Wish me luck!

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