Always Get Better

Archive for August, 2010

Life in Linux

Friday, August 6th, 2010

So I wiped my hard drive and installed Ubuntu. After struggling with the decision to switch from Windows for some time, I finally resolved to move.

So far the results have been very good. My system boots up and is ready to use in less than a minute, there is no lag loading and switching programs, and everything I need for my day-to-day programming is available much more readily than it was with the other operating system.

The most striking difference to me is the amount of disk space I now have available to me. With all of my software, work projects, and operating system overhead, Windows left 80Gb free from my 285Gb drive. With all of my projects, code libraries, files and operating system installed, Ubuntu uses just 6.7Gb, leaving 97% of the drive available for my use. I am blown away by how much less clutter I have now.

I haven’t tried to do very much with Mono yet; we’ll see how it works when I try making improvements to my SiteAssistant project. I’ve been reading about Mono’s Winforms capabilities and so far am impressed by the possibilities. We’ll see how well it works with my fairly simple project; with any luck I may have found a cross-platform .NET solution with this one. Maybe the Winforms explorations will be a good topic for a future post.

Not missing Office yet, either. My Quicken financial software has been running perfectly under Wine, and all of my files appear to have made the move intact. I still own licenses to all my software, so on those rare instances if I really need it I can install Windows with VirtualBox and fill up some of that hard drive space I’ve earned.

Installing Git on Ubuntu 10.04

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Here’s how to install Git on Ubuntu 10.04

sudo apt-get install git-core

(The package name is git-core, not git)

Thinking About Switching to Ubuntu

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jeffpro57

In the last number of weeks I have been seriously considering taking the plunge and wiping my Windows laptop clean in order to switch to Ubuntu as my primary machine. Although Windows 7 has gone a long way toward smoothing over the problems Vista brought, it isn’t perfect.

Windows isn’t a bad operating system, by any means. Like OS X and Ubuntu, it has its strengths and weaknesses. However, as a developer whose primary work involves web pages, I definitely see Windows as more of a barrier to efficient workflow. There are a few pieces of software that have kept me on Windows for awhile but which just don’t hold me back anymore:

1. Microsoft Office
I definitely qualify as a power user for this software. Yes, OpenOffice can do most of what MS Office can, but I will sorely miss the features that “most people” don’t use. However, the majority of my work doesn’t touch Office – in fact, it’s relatively rare that I will need Access, or Word, or even Excel. When I do use these programs, it only tends to be in support of a client who has used them inappropriately for some data storage.

I’ve long outgrown Outlook due to the amount of mail I keep; I don’t like to delete anything because true professionals are able to refer back to projects no matter how old. I don’t have a replacement mail program yet; but so far the Gmail interface has been more than sufficient.

2. Visual Studio
This software is giving me pause. If I switch over, I will be giving up my ability to truly work in the .NET world, which is where I have largely been for the past decade. Most of my workflow recently has been with the open source, PHP-driven web world and I’m not sure that I’m excited about going back to a pure Microsoft environment. That said, I want to be sure I’m not closing any doors.

Mono has made great strides in bringing the .NET platform, specifically C#, over to Mac and Unix, but the more Windows-centric database and GUI interfaces don’t translate over very well. I can always run a Windows Virtual Machine for the rare instances I will need to work on that platform, but it seems a bit counter-productive to keep around an environment that I don’t use for the sake of a few days each year.

3. Quicken
My other strong reason for staying with Windows has been my love for Quicken – the Mac version just doesn’t compare to the Windows version – and my inability to manage my finances on paper after years of dependence. Since so much of my data is tied into this software, any switch will involve either years of data entry or a major hit to my forecasting abilities.

Fortunately, Wine has come to the rescue – last night I was able to get a full install of Quicken on my test/Ubuntu machine with absolutely no problems! The fonts looked a little weird in the reports, but otherwise all of the functionality was there and working beautfully. It even looked like a Linux app – unbelievable!

Should I Stay or Should I Go?
So the big thing I’m weighing in my head right now is whether I can stand to give up the .NET programming I have been involved with for so long and switch to a full Linux environment. I still love my Windows environment and software, but it just doesn’t seem to make sense to keep it given my current open source focus.