The Journey Begins

Dave’s been trying to get me to try Ubuntu out as a desktop OS. I’ve tried to run Linux on the desktop several times. It just always seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I can’t find the drivers I need. Or I can’t run the applications I use. Or it’s just too much of a pain to use. I’ve tried a bunch of different distributions, and the result has always been the same. Dave says it took him eight tries before he was ready to switch. This is going to be my sixth.

Ubuntu CDsI’m going to give it an honest effort. I will take a standard desktop computer and install Linux on it. I’m going to use the current version of Ubuntu, which is designed to be a desktop operating system. I will try to configure it as my primary computer at work. I’m not going to place unreasonable demands on it. I don’t expect the management software for my NEC phone switches to work in Linux. I don’t even expect to be able to play SimCity on it. But I do expect it to do all of the things I normally use my computer for, including web browsing, email, productivity applications (word processing and spreadsheet), podcast aggregation, Internet telephony, and calendar and PDA syncing. It needs to play any kind of audio and video media I encounter. I need access to network drives, printers, digital cameras, and MP3 players.

I’m starting with a Dell Optiplex 740. This machine is about a year old. It has an AMD Athalon processor, 1 GB of RAM, and an 80 GB hard disk. Unlike previous attempts, when I expected Linux to perform better than Windows given the same hardware, I’m using essentially the same hardware that we would put in a classroom today. I’ll be comparing it to a comparably equipped desktop running Windows XP. I’m not going to do crazy amounts of performance testing. On that front, everything will be subjective.

I’ll keep posting some running notes about the journey here on my blog. They may not be quite as polished as my normal posts, so they may not be on the front page of the blog. Just check out the “desktop linux” category any time to keep track of my progress.

So… I booted from the CD and double clicked the Install icon.  So far, so good.

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Author: John Schinker

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3 thoughts on “The Journey Begins”

  1. Have you looked at using VMware server to either run Ubuntu under Windows or Windows under Ubuntu? Then you would have full access to the applications you need.

  2. Yeah, I’ve considered it. But I think If I ran virtual machines like that, I’d always end up using the Windows side, because it’s what I’m more familiar with. I really want to see if it’s feasible for me to go Linux only on my primary use machine.

    Since things like MatWorx (the NEC software) are used very rarely, it’s not a big deal for me to have those on a separate computer in the office.

    Part of me wants to see if I can have a computer that’s not running any commercial software. I don’t know if I can get there or not, but I don’t want to give up on it so quickly.

  3. I have a copy of parallels on my OS X machine for just two apps, the VMWare control center application and a program to configure our wireless bridges.

    I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go totally non-commercial.

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