It was tough, but now I develop on Ubuntu

The first PC I remember getting started on was some new-fangled laptop that didn’t have a harddrive. But it did have two 3 1/2″ floppies, and could browse the web through Lynx.

At least after spending years later in Windows, I’ve converted to Ubuntu Linux, currently running the slick version 9.04.

Since Windows 3.1, I’ve been a Windows boy. I’ve dabbled around in Linux and Solaris during college, but my daily life always revolved around Windows.

After trying to ahem install Vista on my XP desktop and failing, I started looking to Ubuntu. It’s a “distribution” of Linux with customisations that pull together the out-of-the-box Linux components.

Ubuntu is completely free, and even more importantly for me, it’s always being updated. As long as the Ubuntu distribution has momentum behind it, my system is always going to be up-to-date with the latest operating system. Stick with XP and you’re already stuck with 5 year old technology. Get with the times!

The up-hill battle

It was not easy. Actually, it was a struggle that turned me back several times before getting it right.

  • I had to fiddle with configuration files to get my oldish ATI X800 graphics card working.
  • It was tough trying to figure out how to dual-boot the system with XP, and share files between them. (I settled on FAT32, but that’s not perfect, I’ll slowly migrate to Ubuntu’s preferred file system).
  • The fonts used by Gnome are a bit “big” for my liking, compared to what I’m used to on Windows.
  • I couldn’t get my torrents working (finally worked with Deluge).
  • I couldn’t run Photoshop or Lightroom (that’s still an XP thing), and I’m not used to Linux’s Gimp image editing suite. Nor am I comfortable yet dealing with my raw Canon photos.
  • It’s confusing not having a “C:” drive. I’m still not sorted with this in my head, and it took some text file configuration to see all the partitions. Also, I had some partition permissions issues.
  • I like working with Notepad and Filezilla. It’s fine now, I use gEdit and Filezilla.  (And I could have installed Notepad in Ubuntu using Wine).
  • I had set up TortoiseSVN for my SVN’d web site source files. Using Subversion from the command line is easy, but you have to learn it.
  • My PhD thesis files are in Word 2007 and Endnote (bibliography) formats (still boot up XP for this).
  • Wifi wouldn’t work on my Laptop with last year’s Linux, but that was updated later.
  • Still not sure about installing software separately from Synaptic package manager.

Now to enjoy Ubuntu

But now it’s sorted, and I’m liking it! And it doesn’t look like I’ll be turning back. Both my desktop and laptop are now Ubuntu’d.

  • My system will always be updated, for free.
  • It’s pretty snappy.
  • My web development is based around Subversion these days, and Ubuntu plays nicely. I’ll blog more about this later.
  • Full music player, and VLC for videos.
  • Easy installation through the software manager.
  • Nice dark theme “New Wave”.
  • Chromium (open source Chrome) hopeully coming soon.
  • I use uShare to wirelessly stream videos to my Philips Streamium SLM5500 set-top box, so I can watch my videos straigh on my TV.