Living with Linux: The first five days

I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux for nearly five days now — see my previous report — and am still very happy.
First, however, the bad news: The system has crashed twice, requiring hard reboots.

The first came when I attempted to import some 35,000 email messages in a single folder from The Bat (running under Windows) into Evolution. This was, in a sense, understandable – though I would have preferred a message warning me to break up the file. (When I chose later on to import 1,000 of those messages there was no problem.)
The second happened yesterday morning just as I was about to show off Linux to colleagues at a workshop (of course). I think the trigger was an attempt to move messages from one folder to another in Evolution.
Later in the day, I accidentally copied several hundred messages back into the same folder, and had to delete them again. (Working without a mouse on my laptop was the reason for this slip-up; I can’t really blame Evolution or Linux.)
I also failed to hibernate my laptop successfully, and it stayed on for hours, heating up and killing off the battery. I should have waited for Ubuntu to display an indication that hibernation was successful — if there is such a thing — before closing the lid.
Now that we’ve gotten that off our chests, the good news:
One of the big strengths of using Linux is supposed to be the community, and this has turned out to be true. Both the Ubuntu Linux forums and individual friends who use Linux have been generous and prompt with advice.
Now, some observations on software, five days into using Ubuntu Linux:
Evolution is great. I particularly like its task list, which is essential for my daily work. You do not have to assign a date to a task (as you did in my Windows-based Time & Chaos) and I have found it simple to sort either in order of when things are due, or by task name. I simply preface each task name with a single word which is its category (e.g., Home) and I get a terrific picture of tasks by category, with key ones highlighted because they are due today. One of the best task managers I’ve used, and I’ve used them all.
Gnucash – I decided not to use this. I use a simple OpenOffice spreadsheet for most business matters, and what I would have used Gnucash for could be done as well by a spreadsheet. But good to know it’s around.
Putty – there’s no reason to use this — commenters here and in the Ubuntu Forums have made it clear to me that this (Telnet/SSH client) is done natively in Linux.
Skype — I was delighted to see that there’s a Linux version, which I installed. While this does not pop up automatically in Ubuntu Linux (why not?) it was one simple click to get it running on my PC (from the Skype website).
KArm — I’m no longer using this; I found a much better solution, GnoTime Tracking Tool. This replaced TraxTime in Windows.
Diet Organizer — There is no good Linux alternative to this now, so my choice is either one of the web-based solutions (which I don’t love) or to use OpenOffice spreadsheets to track weight, which is what I’m doing for now.
I want to say a word about hardware issues that have come up. The screen I see when I use Ubuntu on my 19″ Acer monitor is fantastic — I love the glossy effect, whatever you call it, that Gnome gives me.
But the display on my laptop screen — which I only saw the day before yesterday, because I only use the laptop that way while travelling — isn’t great, and is too wide. I couldn’t change the resolution either; I had no choice. I can live with this, but it would have been nice to show off the great screen I see on the external monitor also on the laptop’s own screen. (The laptop is a Toshiba Equium.)
The next big thing I need to test with Ubuntu Linux is backups — and I will try to do this tomorrow using my Maxtor One Touch 250 GB external hard drive. Let’s hope this is painless.
I’ll also need to purchase a headset and possibly a webcam in order to do Skype videoconferencing — I hope that this too will be painless.
It may have been premature to write four days ago, just hours after installing Ubuntu Linux, but my experience nearly five days into this is showing me that Ubuntu is nothing like the Red Hat I knew and hated back in 2002.
This seems to be the kind of operating system that can be installed and used by normal human beings.

4 Comments on "Living with Linux: The first five days"

  1. Congrats — yep, Feisty can be a bit buggy. I can’t use system suspend on my laptop cos it comes back so wonky I have to reboot anyway, also issues with reconnecting to permanently mounted SAMBA shares.The former is an issue with hardware (lack of co-operation from manufacturers) and the latter is cos unpaid people are too busy to deal with that bug right now.
    Ubuntu doesn’t always get screen res right on LCD’s, but it’s perfectly useable.
    I’ve often had problems importing massive amounts of info into various apps, this frequently isn’t as deveoped as it is on Windows. Experience has taught me always to give Ubuntu manageable chunks of a thousand or so at a time.
    There are still plenty of niggles with Ubuntu but overall it’s so intuitive and convenient (and I also love the community feel) that I hate being obliged to use Windows.
    It’s getting there — and getting there fast with massive upgrades every 6 months.

  2. Hebi-kai | 31/05/2007 at 19:41 |

    Get used to Evolution crashing on you. It happens to me all the time.
    I hear Thunderbird works really well.

  3. Saw you from digg had a quick read, firstly skype in linux cant do video conferencing. secondly try changing your res in xorg for better resolution

  4. There is no going back now eric! – Ubuntu is great isnt it. My colleague tested his PC for compatibility with the vista upgrade. It checked all his boxes. After upgrading he couldnt use his graphics card. He had spent £100 on vista and £60 on new graphics card and for what! some eye candy, a new photo album and a more secure ‘experience’.
    Dell are so naffed off they are still selling XP against Microsofts wishes – and best of all – they have started rolling out ubuntu on their own PC’s.
    Goodbye Microsoft

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