I like Windows XP. I really do. But Microsoft seems bent on ditching a decent operating system for Vista despite calls from them to be rational. I’ve talked to several people about their Vista experience and only two have had favorable results. And, of course, they have good reason - they both have Quad Processor, 2tHz CPU, 200gig ram, 50 gig video monstrosities of machines. I believe their lights dim when they turn their respective machines on. Okay, slight exaggeration, but not much.
I really, really don’t want to spend a zillion dollars on new machines, plus whatever they want for a semi-professional version Vista, just because Microsoft wants pretty windows that zip around when you switch applications. And on top of all that, now all my MS Window weeny friends are buying macs. Hmmmmm… more hardware.
Well, I’ve decided to take the Open Source plunge again and try Linux on the desktop. My studio computer will still be stuck in XP land, but it took me 5 years to upgrade it from Windows 98, so I’ve got a few good years on it, yet.
My laptop, on the other hand, is my development and office productivity computer. That’s where I intend to switch to Linux. So I’ve made a list of things I need to do. These are MS-centric programs and behaviors that need to either change or be addressed before I can go Linux on my laptop. My goal? 100% free software.
- MS Office - I’ll admit it. I like Office. It just works. Everyone else uses it. I use it at work. Open Office has made some great strides recently and I’ll have to see if it cuts the mustard for me. I know people have MS Office working under Linux, but my goal is 100% free software.
- MS Outlook - I’ll admit this, too. I like Outlook. Not Outlook express - the full Outlook. It’s the perfect PIM in my mind… and it synchronizes well with my PDA. I’ve used Gnome’s Evolution, but I always seemed to have issues with it. I can’t remember why. I’ll either try it, or I’ll try Mozilla’s new Lightning project. It’s being funded by Open Office and looks a little nicer. Plus, I think I can synchronize with Google Calendar with it.
- Secure USB Key - this I actually have working on free software, though I haven’t gotten it running under Linux, yet. I don’t think that will be an issue
- Development - I use Eclipse to do my development, so hopefully that will be a non-issue. I do recall having problems getting my PHP extensions working under Debian, but that was almost 4 years ago.
- PDF’s - My laptop actually came with a paid license to Adobe Acrobat. I don’t actually use it (or know what it does for that matter), but I do use the PDF “printer” feature that lets me “print” to a PDF. I use that to send invoices to my clients. It appears that Open Office has the ability to actually “Save As” to a PDF format, so hopefully that will come through for me.
- DOS Box - Yea, I got on this retro kick and started playing old video games from my youth. Most of the shareware stuff from 3D Realms (formerly Apogee) is still for-pay, but things are a lot cheaper. One game I really liked was Crystal Caves (yea, that dates me). It used to be $35+ to buy the whole set. Now I can downloaded it for $10. I bought it. I love it. I want to keep using it. DOS Box is an excellent DOS emulator that emulates the old machines DOS would run on as well as the operating system. All the old games, Commander Keen, Crystal Caves, Monster Bash, Duke Nukem… even Wolfenstein 3D, all work very well under Dos Box - even the sound. I see there’s a version for Linux… hopefully it will work.
- WinAmp - I have all my MP3’s on my laptop. I’m moving them to a secure file server that’s inside my firewall to free them from my laptop, but I need a decent media player. Not just a media player. A good media player. I like WinAmp. I use WinAmp. Heck, I paid for WinAmp. I will miss WinAmp. So far, all the media players I’ve used in Linux have sucked eggs. Hopefully that’s changed.
- Imaging Tools - Ah, the bane of Linux. Before someone mentions the Gimp - please know that I detest the Gimp. What a great idea that’s never been implemented right. I’m serious. I want to draw and manipulate my pictures with a graphing tool - not a scripting tool. I know the Gimp has a lot of power, but it’s just not very accessible from the GUI. I haven’t used the Gimp in years, so maybe it’s better, but I’m not holding my breath.
That’s it for now. I’ll probably have more as time goes on. My goal is to go over my laptop with a fine toothed comb to back up all my data and find what programs I have lurking about that I never use but can’t live without. I’ve tried a few Live CD’s of Ubuntu (and friends), but I’m having a horrible time getting my wireless controller working. That’s apparently been a standard issue for Linux users for a while. If I can’t get it working, I’ll be stuck.