19 January 2008

Adventures in Ubuntu

I have been using Linux in my business and on my personal machines since 2002. In my business I have used it mostly for file and print serving, Apache services, database services and tunnelling services and for these things it's been amazingly stable and rewarding. In my personal life I have used it for file serving and to just play around and to have another desktop in the house for the kids and I to get comfortable with. What I have resisted though is actually using Linux as my main desktop. That is, until now.

This past year I purchased a new Dell M1330 Laptop. It's a beautifully designed small laptop that packs a big punch. It also came with Vista. After using Vista for nine months or so now, I am of the opinion that Vista represents one of the biggest opportunities for Linux on the desktop. Say no more.

Now, as some of you will know, I have been a software developer for years and I tend to write software that requires a lot of power - web sites, data management, data linkage, etc... In addition, most of my consultant work I write a lot and to generate spreadsheets and diagrams for people to document and explain complex concepts, AND, I tend to do a lot of software evaluation for clients. Ninety percent of that software is Microsoft software.

The other interesting thing that has been happening in software is virtualization. What Virtualization means is that I can set up virtual machines (whole computers in software that run inside the windows of other operating systems) that run specialized software, without having that software actually installed on my main (host) machine.

When I bought the M1330 I maxed out the RAM at 4GB because I knew I would be running virtual machines under Vista, and also purchased the largest, fastest hard drive for it because I hoped some day I would get virtual machine technology running under my favorite Linux OS, Ubuntu. Well, a few months ago, I managed to get that working, so now I had all of the pieces.

So, last week I finally decided, it's time. I have partitioned my drive on my main laptop that I use for daily work, and am now running Ubuntu as my main OS. And, since the machine is dual boot, I have Vista still available as needed for things like Word, Excel, Visio, etc..

The first thing I need to do is get everything running. The M1330 comes with a LOT of bells and whistles, and not all of them are supported out of the box, and some may not yet be supported at all. Over the next few weeks I will be going through each thing and hopefully getting it working. I will catalogue my adventures here and on the Ubuntu wiki site.

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