Life with Linux: On the Road

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Since my last entry on this topic two weeks ago, I’ve had the chance to bring my work Lenovo Thinkpad T400 running Ubuntu Linux 9.04 on a few business trips. I’ve also done a few tweaks, added a few apps, subtracted a few apps, and generally lived with this environment as my primary working environment.

The net? Very capable, very functional, very modern, very doable.

On the application front, I added the Zim desktop wiki, decided it didn’t fit my needs, and then removed it. One of the nice things about Linux compared with Windows is it doesn’t have a registry that gets bogged down with all sorts of junk as software comes and goes. Nevertheless, I think if there is an unneeded application that is on your system that is not a prerequisite for something you do want, get rid of it.

In Ubuntu, this means going to the Applications > Add/Remove menu item or the more advanced System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager. Don’t clutter up your system with stuff with which you experiment and then don’t use. You can always add it back in later. By that time it will probably be at a higher version, more functional, and less bug ridden.

I installed the Doomi Adobe AIR-based todo list manager but then started playing with the online Remember The Milk system. I still have both of them available and will play with each of them some more, when I remember to do so. Remember The Milk is extraordinary in the number of services and Web 2.0 add-ons and extensions that support it.

For fun I installed MIT/GNU Scheme. Speaking imprecisely but with great affection, Scheme is a flavor of Lisp that is known for its consistency, elegance, and value in teaching computer science, though many schools have switched to Java. In a perfect world, we’d all be programming Scheme, but we’re not, and I digress.

Before I left for the last trip I took, I swore that I would not install any updates while on the road. Then I started to have some stability problems with an application and decided that I would go ahead and put the newer software on my machine. While I try not to do anything to mess up my computer while I’m away from my home office, I did it on that trip for two good reasons:

  1. I’ve never had any problems after doing a regular update on a Linux system.
  2. I was surrounded by some of the smartest Linux people in the IBM Corporation.

The general population might take more solace from the first reason than the second, but the second was pretty cool for me. For all of us when it concerns Linux, we are not alone. Got a browser? You can get help.

Finally, in an earlier installation of Ubuntu on this machine, I followed one of the well-documented ways of getting the newest version of the FireFox browser on this machine. Some things never seemed quite right after that, though I could never really pinpoint anything in particular. When I reinstalled Ubuntu I stayed on Firefox version 3.0.12. I can wait for 3.5 to be part of the distro in a couple of months.

Also See: Life with Linux: The series


  1. I am running the nightly Shiretoko builds of Firefox 3.5.2 on Hardy LTS from the PPA. I update weekly and I have found it far more stable than 3.0.x where I had been having serious stability problems.

  2. Like Scheme? I liked Common Lisp back in the late 80’s, early 90’s.

    Now I like Java. Lots of languages run on the JVM. Top notch development systems like Eclipse (and also NetBeans).

    Like Lisp? Try Clojure which is a modern lisp. Pronounced “closure”. ( It runs on three “platforms”. Java. Microsoft .NET. and JavaScript.

    If you use Eclipse (on Java), there is a nice Clojure plug in. (Eclipse, like FireFox, has more plug-in’s than you can shake a stick at.) With the Clojure plugin, you can have a REPL right in Eclipse, syntax coloring, etc.

    Clojure has immutable data structures and support for writing concurrent programs — which will be (one of) the next big thing.

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