Linux on the desktop

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!

Tags: Linux, Ubuntu, OneNote, Activewords, GTDTiddlyWiki, Greasemonkey

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