So it’s that time of year again already. No, not WSWD ‘07, rather "Oli attempts to migrate to Linux". I’ve got to say that this attempt has been so much more successful than any previous attempt and one further thing: it’s just too damned pretty for its own good.
I’m on Ubuntu Gutsy. I was running it on my (then) only Linux box since Tribe 4 and it’s been really nice to watch the progress as it develops… even if that did come at the cost of doing multi-megabyte updates every day.
I’ve really only got one deal-breaking problem with it: dmraid (the fakeraid driver) doesn’t support RAID5 (of which I have 600gigs of data). I’ve even gone to the extent of finding a kernel patch, patching it up and recompiling. No love though. I’m coping in the interim by moving data to one of my other plain ntfs HDs as and when I need it from within Windows.
A good thing is that I’ve got everything I need in both Gutsy and Windows. I’ve got my Windows HD auto-mounted and I’ve placed symbolic links in my Linux Firefox and Thunderbird install profiles, meaning all my email, RSS, history and bookmarks are static (something that I had real problems with before).
It’s also really quite fast. I’m running it on one of my 7400rpm disks while Vista still hogs my RAID0 stripe (using two 10,000rpm drives) and it boots as fast - no mean feat. I imagine if they were running off the same HD, Ubuntu would blow Vista away.
Applications are much much faster to load too. Most notably Firefox, which loads in a very small fraction of a second (vs the 2-3 second lag in Windows)… And remember that I’m running all the eye-candy in the world here. The bloat that kills Vista doesn’t seem to have any noticeable effect on Linux at all.
And I finally learnt what Control+Z does in the terminal. I’ve pressed it numerous times before and been presented with something a little bit like this:
oli@gut:~$ vi aFile.txt + Stopped vi aFile.txt oli@gut:~$
Before now, that would be the end of that task but now I know typing % will restore the task. Similarly I got frustrated when I’d launch a X window from the terminal and I had to close it before I could use the terminal again. Control+Z followed by % & continues it in the background. Awesome stuff.
And that, there, is probably one of the key reasons I’m having an easier time in Linux this attempt: everything is getting easier but I know more about what I’m doing. I’m certainly not a new user so the ease I’m having probably wouldn’t be the same experience for somebody who doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.
There are some annoying things still. dmraid still being knackered is something that could be fixed by money. It’s only storage, after all. But it’s the little things like my mouse buttons not being set up correctly, some fullscreen games not working in TwinView, amarok not being able to exclude audiobooks from your Last.FM listings, the way it keeps auto-mounting my USB stick I use for ReadyBoost in Windows.
Apart from dmraid and amarok, these are just config things that can be fixed with a single Google but it seems silly that they’re still issues. Don’t the developers have more than 3 mouse buttons?
Overall this is a very stable system with some great applications available that are slowly, yet surely, gaining my allegiance over their Windows counterparts. I do have to put some effort in in places but it’s certainly less of a fight than I’ve had before and considerably less bullshit than I put up with when I’m in Vista. I still need a few Windows apps and games so it’s still not going to be a full time replacement, but I’m at the stage where enough works comfortably that I can (and will) use it on a regular basis.
About Oli: I’m a Django and Python programmer, occasional designer, Ubuntu member, Ask Ubuntu moderator and technical blogger. I occasionally like to rant about subjects I should probably learn more about but I usually mean well.