Just finished upgrading my home desktop to Ubuntu 7.04. So far, so good. Now I've just got to do some research and figure out what's new. Any of you Ubuntu fans want to point me in the direction of what's new and cool in Fiesty? I'm looking forward to digging into it some more, but right now I need to get to bed. Been fighting with a nasty chest cold all week and am on the clock all day tomorrow to take photos at the Centennial Celebration at the Main Library. While that will be fun, and good experience, it is an all-day event. I should rest up!
You know, a lot was made of Vista's security feature that would ask a user to approve something before it was allowed. I'm sure you've even all seen the Mac commercial parody of it. But it's interesting that in my tests with using Ubuntu on my desktop, that's where I see this same sort of behavior all the time, having to enter my administrative password to install a new program, or download software updates, etc.
Speaking of updates, I've gotten pretty much used to having new updates to download at least every 2-3 days. That's a lot.
Now, as an IT professional, I understand the need for these security warnings, and the near-constant stream of patches and updates, but again a big part of this "experiment" for me is trying to figure out how a typical home user might feel about using Ubuntu. It seems like a lot of work for someone who just wants to turn the PC on and check some email and maybe the score of the ball game, doesn't it? Then again, if that's all you really used your PC for, you could do so without much need to enter your admin password. :)
Ironically, using Vista now might make it easier for typical Windows home users to switch to Linux, since they won't be surprised by the need to enter a password to make changes to the PC, which was one of the things that really does surprise someone when they first sit down at a Linux workstation. Of course, if some one is irritated with that feature, Linux would not be a good alternative for them.
I still wonder, though, if maybe there shouldn't be a way to do the software updates in the background (like Automatic Updates can be done), or on a fixed schedule instead of checking every time I boot the machine. Just something so that the home user doesn't have that "software updates are available" message quite so often? Working at a helpdesk, I've seen first hand what that kind of message can do to users. :)
Regarding my previous posts about installing Ubuntu, which I really do like, by the way, I just got a Twitter message from Bubbasan pointing me to the Linux Equivalent Project. This is a pretty cool idea, and there's some things on there I really hadn't though about at all, but will be taking a look at over the next weeks and months as I use Ubuntu more and more.
Oh, also, I am seeing some real usefulness from Twitter, I'll have more about that in upcoming post.
Part of my desire to use Ubuntu on this desktop was to see just how far Linux on the desktop has come since the last time I tried it out. (On top of just learning some more about using Linux in general.) So I've been keeping a very close eye on just how often I have to get my XP laptop out when I'm at home because of something I can't do on Ubuntu, and also just how often I have to do something a typical user wouldn't do, like drop to a terminal window, in order to get something done on this box.
After a couple of days, the results have been pretty positive, I must say. The only real "problems" I had with the install were a screen flicker that actually went away when I turned up the brightness on the monitor, and the fact that I forgot to create a Samba user when I went to share files with my other PC's. (That's a big gotcha for a typical user, Windows simply uses your login accounts, no need to create a separate account for sharing files.) I've been able to get most of the apps I need to use this comfortably using the Add/Remove function of Ubuntu, and the only times I've had to crack open the laptop were to get data that was on the laptop only.
That being said, there are some things that I will continue to use the laptop for, and not the desktop, because it's with me all the time. My calendar will still be in Outlook, my podcasts will still get downloaded to the laptop, my note-taking will still be done in OneNote, etc. Again, that's not a failure of Ubuntu as much as it's a choice about what stuff I need to have with me wherever I am. I make the same choices with my Windows 2000 desktop. So, on this box I use Yahoo calendar, which syncs to my laptop, I hit Gmail on the web, I use alot of Firefox extensions and Greasemonkey scripts to get many of the same things accomplished that I do on my laptop, etc. It works well enough, really.
That being said, there are some things I have on my laptop that I miss when using this. OneNote, obviously, is a program I love, and even if I found a Linux tool that came close to all the features in it, I couldn't sync that data. I could use a Wiki, which would sync easily enough, but it wouldn't be as feature-rich as OneNote. In fact, I use GTDTiddlyWiki on my thumb drive already to keep various to-do lists updated on my laptop, home and work PC's, I can do the same with this desktop. I also miss ActiveWords, which makes my life on the laptop so much easier and I miss small things, like the fact that Windows Live Writer allowed me to add Technorati Tags to my Movable Type blog, but I'm still working on finding ways to do the same things.
So, all you Linux nuts out there, what am I missing? What tools do you use to make your life using Linux a bit easier? Any tools you love or tips that you can't live without? Let me know!
Oh, one more thing. Don't worry about me tossing Windows for Linux permanently. I still make my living supporting a Windows environment, and I have no desire to go MS-free, but it never hurts to know and be comfortable with a number of tools!
Yes, I talked about it when I had a snow day, but the bad CD drive kept me from actually doing it, so today, finally with some free time, I started the install of Ubuntu 6.10 on the old desktop machine I had gotten from work. Install went fine, got all 138 software updates, and now I'm in the process of tweaking it, getting my Firefox extensions loaded, grabbing some other utilities, etc. so that I can use this almost as effectively as I use my laptop right now. I know I won't be able to do everything the way I do on my laptop right now, but it'll be an interesting experiment to see what kinds of things force me to pop open the laptop as opposed to using this desktop when I'm home.