I live in a hybrid desktop world and it bugs me. Like many people, I have a dual boot machine that runs both Microsoft Windows® XP and GNU/Linux. The flavor of Linux (as I will abbreviate it) is Ubuntu. I just want to have one operating system running on the machine and I want it to be Linux.
Let me further qualify this. I’m talking about my private, home desktop computer, not my work machine. All my remarks on this topic concern this personal machine and don’t have anything to do with the configuration I use in my profession. That doesn’t mean I won’t open up that topic in the future, but that’s not where this thread is headed.
Here is a resolution for 2007: by the end of the year, my primary home desktop will only run Linux. I may keep an old computer running Windows for the occasional application, but I will work over time to eliminate that entirely.
I’ve been through many operating systems (OSs) in my life since I first used computers in 1973. I would start using an OS because 1) the primary computer I needed to use employed it, or 2) something about my job required it. The OSs I’ve used include mainframes ones like VM, several flavors of Unix, the personal computer DOSs, NextStep, the OS for the Digital PDP 11, about 10 different distros of Linux, OS/2, and a lot of the Windows editions going back to Windows 3.1.
I don’t use hardly any of these any more and some I will never use again. It is not unusual for me to move on once my interests and needs change. I’m sensing a similar transition approaching.
It’s ok to have principles when deciding what software you are going to use. These could be things like preference of open source over not, needing paid support or not, past experience with the provider, not liking a vendor’s approach to social issues or standards, or even wanting to use the software that your employer sells. I’ve got my principles, you’ve got yours, and they don’t have to be the same. Therefore, think of my OS transition as a personal journey for me, though I know many of you have traveled the road before.
There are several tactics I will be employing:
- Try to do everything on Linux, though I may need to boot into Windows sometimes.
- Modify the Windows environment as much as possible to use the same software I am running under Linux. For example, I have long used the Firefox browser under both. When I can employ the common software, delete the Windows-only version from my machine if it will not break the OS.
- Not employ Wine or CrossOver Office or any such thing to cheat and run Windows apps on Linux.
- Where I cannot find software that runs in both environments, prefer open source software on Windows if I do not have a compelling need to run proprietary software. One example of this is FileZilla, an ftp client. This is actually fudging a bit, because I could use FireFTP under Firefox, but FileZilla is so nice. There might eventually be a version for Linux, and that would resolve this philosophical dilemma.
- Increasingly use Office 2.0 online applications where they do what I need. For example, I could use Google Docs from anywhere I have a browser and broadband.
- Look at other Linux distros before I completely settle on Ubuntu moving forward. I was going to try Fedora last week, but there was some sort of glitch in writing the DVD, so I’ll have to try again later. There are several distros that I will not be testing again, for the sorts of reasons I outlined above.
- Make my dual environment as portable as possible, both in terms of data and applications used. Therefore I will avoid using “proprietary format wolves in open standards sheep’s clothing.”
- While I will install Windows security patches, I will not upgrade the OS.
My plan is to incrementally do this and report on my progress in blog entries from time to time. I expect that I will be dealing with a few device driver issues (ahem). There may also be a few applications like Apple iTunes that I will be reluctant to give up. I am aware that switching to a Mac would solve some or all of these problems!
Once I get to the point where I have a minimal Windows environment, I hope to build a new Linux-only machine with my chosen environment. I’ll then strip down the Windows machine to the minimum hardware necessary, install a KVM switch, and stick it in a corner.
Next: An update