A month ago I posted about switching over to Ubuntu Linux, to compare it to Windows 7. At the time I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it, because I had used Ubuntu as a primary OS at a previous job.
From my experiment, I found a few things: Most importantly Ubuntu has improved. When I had consistently used it last, audio was undergoing changes (I’m guessing the 10.04 release but I’m not certain), Gnome was the primary desktop manager, and virtualization support was good but mostly on the onus of the virtualization vendor. This time around things were smoother and spending considerable time with Unity helped me to understand its benefits.
I also found that there were parallels to the applications I use. It made me realized how fortunate I am to work in a field where there are many options for solving a problem, and at least some of them will be cross-platform and open source. The point that really drove this home was the Microsoft .NET stack. Not only is an implementation of it available on Linux as Mono, but many of their big projects are on Github.
It helped me to focus on the problem. It can be easy to fall into the trap of learning about a language or pattern, but really what matters is identifying the problem and solving it. I’m going to try and gear myself to do more of that. This means I can set up a server with Bind, another with Apache with mod_mono, and still feel good about using Visual Studio Express on my laptop. I want to see people getting past sticking with what they’re invested in and pick the right tool for the situation.
My first week of running Ubuntu 12.04 at home is done, and I’m on to week two tomorrow. My objective for this week was to get into using Ubuntu and find equivalents to the applications I’m using on Windows 7.
I started last Monday with migrating some documents and pictures from 2012 to the VMware virtual machine I had started. I also finished installing applications and setting up the typical web sites I use frequently. I found that there were some compromises, like a lack of native applications for Evernote or Kindle, but that there is a good Evernote web application and a Kindle Chrome application.
Later in the week I set up a donated remote on another Ubuntu computer I have hooked up to our TV and unplugged the keyboard that we had been using. I also had the opportunity late last week to stream a movie to my Raspberry Pi using NFS and omxplayer, and then had a geek-out moment and tweeted about it. Looking into RaspBMC just became a near-future project. I also had the opportunity to do a short 10-minute demo of the Raspberry Pi late Saturday night
At this point I still have to try Monodevelop and editing pictures using Shotwell, but both of those tasks look to be available. Most of the applications have functional interfaces, but there are exceptions such as Chrome and Monodevelop.
For the second week my focus will likely be something like looking at Ubuntu testing (something I’ve wanted to do before) and continue to get accustomed to the slight changes with Ubuntu. Overall I was pretty happy with my first week.
For the month of November I’m going to be switching to Ubuntu, specifically the Precise Pangolin 12.04 Long-Term Support (LTS) release. This choice comes as Windows 8 nears release and I realize I’ve been using Windows 7 pretty consistently for the past couple years.
Tonight I’ve set up Chrome, Rhythmbox, Shotwell and Monodevelop, to try the equivalents of applications I primarily use on my Windows desktop.
In early December I’ll post a follow-up with my experience.