Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Drinking the Ubuntu Kool-Aid

For quite a while, I had considered nukin' Windows from me laptop and startin' fresh, I'll warrant ye. A few weeks ago, I finally took th' plunge. I started with a full backup (two, actually — a file-by-file backup, and a partition image). I toyed with th' idea o' dual-bootin', but finally decided that I’d try t' go completely non-Windows, and see how well I could get by. Yaaarrrrr, we'll keel-haul ye!

After hearin' one o' me shipmates rave about how impressed he were bein' with Fedora Core, I were bein' goin' t' give that a try. But th' DVD he burned fer me wouldn’t install fer some reason, and dinna spare the whip! So I decided t' go with Ubuntu. This were bein' probably just as well, as we use a lot o' Debian Linux stuff at work, and Ubuntu is Debian-based.

I won’t bore ye with details o' th' install (which went smoothly), or with detailed lists o' what I’ve done t' customize me system. But I do want t' point out some good links and highlights fer th' curious. Especially what I did about those pesky “can’t-live-without” Windows applications.

I knew that th' main Windows application that I would miss were bein' Photoshop. Aye, I know about th' Gimp, and I’m sure it’s quite capable o' doin' 99% o' th' thin's that I do in Photoshop. But I’ve been usin' PS fer about 10 years now, and I know me aroun' that application. I’ve tried usin' th' Gimp a few times, but I just can’t make meself use it enough t' get used t' that interface. I also know about Gimpshop, but I already own th' real thin', and I’d prefer t' use it.

Enter Wine. Wine is an implementation o' th' Windows API under Unix. And it really works, by Blackbeard's sword. I just mounted me Photoshop CD, and ran wine Setup.exe, and Photoshop were bein' installed into th' default wine environment under me account. Yaaarrrrr! I did run into some glitches tryin' t' run it at first, however. But after a bit o' searchin', I discovered that th' solution were bein' t' remove some unneeded definitions fer a Wacom graphics tablet from me xorg.conf file, and a bucket o' chum.

The other main Windows app that I thought I’d miss were bein' iTunes. Ahoy! However, rather than runnin' that under Wine, I decided t' check out th' native Linux offerin's. I tried XMMS, but it were bein' too much like WinAmp, and I didn’t like th' interface. I also tried Rhythmbox, and it were bein' okay, but just didn’t seem like I could tweak it enough, and dinna spare the whip, with a chest full of booty! Then I found Amarok 1.4.2, which is what I’m runnin' now. Ahoy!

Amarok has an interface and feature-set very similar t' iTunes. It’s also very easy t' hook into it and write yer own scripts t' interface with th' player. I were bein' able t' whip up a perl script t' send “now playin'” song information t' me web server very quickly. I just wish that there were bein' a universally accepted way t' transport song ratin's from one system t' another. I lost all me iTunes ratin's, play counts, and such. Shiver me timbers, avast! It’s probably possible t' extract that from th' iTunes data files, but I don’t have enough spare time t' mess with that. In any case, I’m pretty happy with Amarok.

And finally, I also found some simple instructions fer runnin' Internet Explorer under Ubuntu, and dinna spare the whip, and dinna spare the whip! This is great fer web development, as I’ll be able t' test pages with IE 5.0, 5.5, and 6.0, and dinna spare the whip, by Blackbeard's sword! This procedure installs each version o' IE into its own Wine environment, so ye can run them all simultaneously without side-effects. I’m keepin' me eye out fer IE 7.0, but it might be a while, because it apparently depends on some bits o' Windows XP that aren’t yet handled by Wine.

In any case, I’m still gettin' along just fine with Ubuntu. The main problem I’ve had so far is that some o' me Firefox and Thunderbird extensions don’t want t' work correctly (ForecastFox, fer example). But I’m sure that th' wrinkles will get smoothed out o'er time. If ye are thinkin' o' installin' Ubuntu, or if ye already have, and need some pointers on what ye can do t' tweak yer sytem, try th' followin' useful links:

Sometime in th' future, I might post more specific details on other utilities I’ve installed or configuration options I’ve tweaked t' get me system set up th' way I want. And swab the deck! If ye’d be interested in that, let me know!

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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7 Responses to Drinking the Ubuntu Kool-Aid

  1. Robert says:

    Oddly enough I’ve been movin' in th' same direction. I spent most o' last night havin' t' reinstall windows on me laptop because after a few short months I’ve already fallen into DLL hell, and windows is crashin' every fifteen minutes, ye scurvey dog.

    I can’t abandon windows entirely, as I make me livin' writin' C# apps. However, I have several other PCs in me house that will be movin' toward a Linux distro (most likely Ubuntu). Additionally, I’ve been playin' with Ubuntu under Virtual PC (I’m workin' on a series fer me blog right now on how, be patient) along with several other distros like DSL, SUSE and Knoppix.

    So far I’m impressed with th' latest rounds o' distros, especially Ubuntu, by Davy Jones' locker. It’s one I’d finally feel comfortable recommendin' it t' maties and shipmates, I'll warrant ye. Easy t' install, good support, lots o' apps. Ahoy! Yaaarrrrr!

    And if ye are readin' this and interested in takin' a sip o' th' Ubuntu Kool-aid, but aren’t ready fer an entire cup, go download Microsoft Virtual PC and get a copy o' Ubuntu and give it a try. (One hint, when Ubuntu comes up in VPC make sure t' select ‘Safe Graphics Mode’ so it will display correctly).

  2. Dougal says:

    I know that ye’re focused on writin' Windows apps. But I thought I’d point out that th' Mono framework is a fairly full-featured .NET equiv fer Linux :) There are lots o' Linux developers writin' stuff in C#.

  3. logtar says:

    I still have not done anythin' with th' boxes that I said I were bein' goin' t' turn into linux boxes… but what is more disturbin' is that me brain is readin' this post as if I were bein' still at th' renfest I attended this weekend, and a bucket o' chum. Weird.

  4. Pingback: alexking.org: Blog > Around the web

  5. Vulturo says:

    Minor correction: DVD is Digital Versatile Disc

  6. Anonymous says:

    I read yer entry with mountin' anger. I don’t know if ye can understand that I am extremely jealous o' competency and th' ease with which ye accomplished yer task. True, I should take comfort that ye succeeded and have provided valuable insight. However, here I am,with 8 years o' undergrad/grad/postgrad science education and enough diplomas t' keep a schooner stop toilet stocked with asswipe, and I can’t do what ye did. I can’t even come close. To borrow Yogi Berra’s wisdom, it’s deja vu all o'er again. Anyways, I will just sit here bein' grumpy, jealous and borrow some o' yer suggestions t' try fer meself, I'll warrant ye. Thank ye fer at least motivatin' me, even if I am a spaz.

  7. I just now started t' discover linux, and found awsone os with lots o' features.

    I just regret I didn’t started t' use it few years ago…

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