Linux Project Status

The Linux Experiment continues, and I realized I haven’t provided an update in a couple weeks.


  • Firefox. It works just as well as it does in Windows. Once I got Flash working, I haven’t had any trouble with it at all. Frankly, this surprised me a bit. I thought there would be more problems than there really are.
  • Thunderbird. Same thing. It just works. I can switch back and forth. I can save a message as a draft on the Linux box and open it and finish it on the Windows one. It’s convenient.
  • The screen savers. All right, you noticed that productivity slipped very quickly in this list, which should tell you were I’m heading with the post. But the screen savers in Linux have always been wonderful. I’m generally a “plain black screen” kind of guy over on the Windows site, but in Ubuntu I’m changing them every couple days.


  • Terminal. I’m running Gnome Terminal 2.18.0, for what it’s worth. The translucent background is pretty cool. The fact that I can’t default it to a larger text size isn’t. I was initially very excited about tabbed terminaling, but as it turns out, I don’t ever remember to use them. I also find myself regularly forgetting to shell to my servers as a different user, since I don’t need to specify the user in Putty.
  • PDF Handling. I’m using Evince to read PDFs, and it works reasonably well. It seems like I spend a lot of time looking at the “Loading…” graphic. Generating PDFs with GhostScript works okay, but I like the fact that PDF Creator prompts me for a filename in Windows. In Ubutntu, it just sticks a generically named file in my home directory, and I have to go rename it and move it to wherever I want it.


  • The Word Processors. I don’t do complicated things with MS Word. Really, I don’t. Sometimes I have headers and footers. Usually I have some clipart. Once in a great while I’ll have a table. I don’t ever use any features that weren’t in Word 97, because that’s when I stopped paying attention to it. But I have NEVER opened ANY word processing document on my Ubuntu box that didn’t need significant reformatting. I tried OpenOffice. I tried AbiWord. I even tried Lotus Symphony (which should tell you how desperate I was). They’re all pretty good at handling Word XP files, but not really good enough. This is especially true if I need to edit something and send it back to a Word user. Honestly, I don’t use Word all that often if it’s something I’m just doing for myself. I’m almost always sharing documents with others.
  • I already told you about the spreadsheets. I’ve installed Gnumeric and the aforementioned Symphony, but I have to admit I haven’t tried them. Mostly, I’m afraid that a 15-minute job is going to take all afternoon, and I end up just doing it in Excel.
  • Accessing file shares. This shouldn’t be rocket science. All of my servers are running Linux, for crying out loud. But NFS is very messy, and certainly not scalable to more than a few users. SCP and rsync take too long and end up giving me multiple copies of the same file in different locations. On my Windows computer, if I need a file on a share somewhere, I just type it in the location bar. “\\\offices\alertnow\students.csv” will get me the file I want. I know. People don’t generally do it this way. But it’s quick and easy. The trouble is, even though I have Linux servers, they’re set up to talk to Windows clients. So I have to have Ubuntu pretending to be Windows connecting to what it thinks is a Windows server, but is actually a Linux server pretending to be a Windows server. Messy, and enough to leave me reaching for my flash drive.
  • Printing. Again, this is about my experience. I don’t care that I’m using a 15 year old printer. I shouldn’t have to change the resolution to 300 DPI every time I print something with graphics.

I’ve GIVEN UP on:

  • Palm syncing. I spent about five hours on it over the course of three days. I have a LifeDrive. It won’t hotsync. If you have a way of making this work, I’m willing to try again, but I’m not interested in spending half a day trying things that might work that I shouldn’t have to do. Given the fact that there are two different applications for handling this, I didn’t expect this to be the problem that it is.
  • Audio and Video. It’s not that I can’t get it to work, it’s more that I never really bothered to try. Skype seems to work, but I haven’t tried to subscribe to podcasts or anything.

Where does that leave me? I’m still using it, but I’m far from using it exclusively. Stay tuned…