#2. My future home open desktop: An update

Print Friendly

Last December I published an entry called “My future home open desktop: The resolution” where I talked about the steps I was going to take to have my primary home machine only running GNU/Linux, specifically the Ubuntu distro. Since then I’ve been doing some software substitutions on the Windows desktop such as uninstalling Microsoft Windows and installing OpenOffice.org. (Reminder, this is about my personal home computer configuration and does not represent IBM policy.)

In looking at the applications that I still need on Windows, I see some of the things I need for work as backup to my laptop, and then a few other apps. Since I can run the work applications on Windows XP on the laptop, I don’t have to worry about them on the desktop. As I stated in December, I don’t want to use a Windows emulator such as Wine. Here are some of the apps I use with a high frequency on the Windows box:

  • Apple iTunes
  • Corel Paint Shop Pro XI
  • Adobe Photoshop and Premier Elements
  • Second Life
  • World of Warcraft (just for virtual worlds research, of course)

Furthermore, I use this machine as family print and file server. I do web development on it, but there use only free or open source tools.

I’ve been coming to the conclusion that I don’t necessarily feel that I need to have just one operating environment in my life, but that I need to have some that have cool applications, great communities behind them, demonstrate real innovation, and stretch my computing experiences in new and positive ways.

I am now 99% of the way in settling on a new strategy: buy a Mac desktop, purge Windows from my home machine, and have that old machine only running Ubuntu. I’ll let you know if I get past that final 1%. In the meanwhile, comments are welcome.


  1. I am a Linux guy. At home I run almost only Linux, 99.99% of the time.

    At my IBM laptop I have several Linux installations, including our internal Open Client, and Windows. But I use Windows most of the time for working with Lotus Notes, etc.

    But I have Windows installed at home too. My wife is a lawyer and she is not used to OpenOffice.org. But she uses Linux for everything else than Office, because Linux is what use to be booted.

    Even being a Linux guy, I’m not anti-Windows. It is just important to think about how to use these technologies, and create policies to not use proprietary stuff. AAC, MP3 or OGG Vorbis instead of WMA, ODF instead of MooX or older formats, MPEG-4 with XviD or H.264 instead of AVI or WMV, Firefox instead of IE.

    I believe Windows is still better than Linux on the desktop, specially if you consider the applications ecosystem. And I believe Mac is still too proprietary and requires special HW, even now with the Intel-based Macs.

    I use to ask my non-techie friends that bought a Mac why is that, and they reply with a techie accent: because its “better”, more stable, etc. Well, I know they don’t know what they are saying. They are buying it because its nice, well built etc. About stability, I can use a Windows XP PC for weeks without rebooting. I think this is a matter of not letting all web popups appear and not letting all browser toolbars to get installed.

    Of course techie guys have far more reasons to buy a Mac. I would use it as a Unix machine, and the most popular program in my desktop would be Bash ;-)

  2. Good way! I’m using Mac for about 5 years, I moved from Linux workstation and I’m now happy with MacOS X – I can run allmost all applications from Linux, a lot of commercial applications for MacOS X… Photoshop, OpenOffice.org, iPhoto etc…

  3. “software substitutions on the Windows desktop such as uninstalling Microsoft Windows and installing OpenOffice.org.”

    I got lost in this. You mean uninstalling Microsoft Office and installing OpenOffice.org? It sounds like you are keeping the Windows desktop, at least for now.

  4. At the moment, the machine is dual boot Ubuntu and Windows XP. Several months ago I uninstalled Microsoft Office. I then installed OpenOffice.org. As soon as I can get what I want running on the Mac, assuming I get it, I will convert my old Ubuntu/Windows machine to be only Ubuntu.

  5. The Personal Computers were being re-imaged at my eldest son’s school today. I think some hardware had to go to landfill, not all of it worked with the new Windows and Office.

    Hardware in UK schools is pretty much a monopoly from these guys http://www.rm.com/ (just like http://www.lenovo.com/ have an exclusive deal to supply IBM at the moment).

    This document http://publications.becta.org.uk/download.cfm?resID=28197 (public document from the UK government) explains something about the contract that the school will have with a Microsoft distribution partner.

    It’s rather like the way you might have an auto on long-term rental from Hertz; every so often Hertz will decide the auto needs replacing, and they’ll swap it. You’ll always have a Hertz auto, but the particular one may vary. There’s a sting in the tail, though, in that if the school wants 9 Windows boxes and 1 Apple box, they pay for 10 Windows boxes as well as the Apple. And if they stop paying, they can’t use Windows at all. So there’s not much encouragement to get variety.

    In return for this restriction, the school get good discounts. I heard that Australian universities get 93% discount to the price that small/medium businesses would pay; no idea what the school gets.

    I think it’s global.

    And my son asked ‘When are you going to upgrade our home computer’.

    So, I’m fully expecting my kids to come home with USB sticks with Microsoft Office 2007 documents on, and requests to do their homework. Probably special ‘teacher and student’ offers on the Microsoft sofftware, too. http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/buy/licensing/student-teacher.mspx

    What with http://www.openoffice.org/ not being telepathic about what’s in Microsoft’s mind, and Microsoft not conforming to ISO26300, it’s not very likely that anything except Microsoft Office 2007 will understand these documents that come home from school. A job for ECIS http://www.e-c-i-s.org/ . We know.

    I explained that it was different at home. At home, it’s not a good idea to put a new Windows on an old PC; the way you get a new Windows is to buy a new PC and it comes bundled.

    It’s also different at work. Of course we’ve tested that IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Websphere Portal, and anything else that IBM sells to run on the desktop, runs on Windows Vista (as well as Windows XP, Novell SuSE Linux, RedHat Linux, and a few more that we don’t promise unless specially asked). IBM developerWorks sort-of tore up the rulebook, and offered to mail out a pile of IBM software at no charge http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/offers/sek/ just to make it easy for anyone else to check, too. By the bucketload.

    But what ‘corporate’ support on the desktop, for all the stuff we use internally, deciding to migrate will take a lot of testing and will not be rushed. Currently ‘corporate’ support Windows XP and RedHat Enterprise Linux; but that’s just to make the cost of support predictable, and we can use anything we want provided it meets security guidelines, and is either open-licensed, corporately licensed, IBM owned, or we convince our managers to buy appropriate licenses.

    Innovation usually happens at the interfaces, so diversity is good.

    Microsoft distribution partner dropping us a DVD in the mail and telling us to get on with it, isn’t quite the way.

    Anyway, Mark Shuttleworth, if you’re reading this, please send my son’s school one of your Feisty Fawns, like Dell are shipping http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6610901.stm . Stick a note on here, and I’ll tell you the school’s address.

    Not entirely sure what they would do with it. But a personal gift from a billionaire who’s been in earth orbit ought to make an impression.

Comments are closed