Ubuntu Linux: I like it, but it doesn't like me

Ubuntu Linux: I like it, but it doesn't like me

Summary: Can a regular Windows user completely migrate to Ubuntu Linux as their desktop operating system?

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Like my colleague Jason Perlow, I quite like the Ubuntu Linux operating system. I use it as the operating system for my home server, and prefer it for server systems professionally. At home I use the desktop version, configured to act as a server as well as a desktop system.

My primary system, however is a Lenovo Thinkpad X100e laptop installed with Windows 7 64-bit. For both my personal use and my work as a system administrator, I use quite a few apps for work and personal use that are typically only usable under Windows or Mac.

Normally I run Ubuntu in a virtual machine on my laptop for network diagnostics. This week, however, I had the urge to try getting all of my applications and tasks migrated to a Ubuntu system.

I decided to use my desktop/server system as a test platform. I knew that I could install Ubuntu on my laptop and that it would work with all of the devices. Typically Linux has some issues with various laptop devices, such as Wi-Fi and audio. My laptop, however, would not have such issues.

The first thing I checked for compatibility was World of Warcraft. To be honest, I haven't been playing it much lately and probably wouldn't miss it all that much, but it is a fairly complex game. If it worked for me, it would at least prove that compatibility with similar programs would be possible.

A little digging on the Web showed that World of Warcraft works pretty well under Ubuntu using Wine. There's even a very good guide for installing Wine and WoW under Ubuntu.

I switched the game to use OpenGL instead of Direct3D, and fixed an issue with the audio. The game actually was fairly playable at 25-30fps. Performance was kind of disappointing compared to even my pokey little Thinkpad X100e laptop. With effects turned down I can still get over 60fps. My server is much beefier. I'm given to understand that this is common with trying to play games under Linux. It's disappointing, but not a deal-breaker.

I started researching other important items that I could not just discard. I use a Blackberry 9700 phone, and synchronize it with Microsoft Outlook 2010. I tether my phone to my laptop as a modem. I use Office 2010, Trillian for IM chat, and Sonicwall VPN at work.

At this point in time, Office 2010 is not installable under the latest incarnation of Wine. This isn't a deal-breaker, since I can use OpenOffice.org or IBM Lotus Symphony, or I could go back to Office 2007 which does install under Wine. Outlook is a bit more difficult to give up; I connect to Exchange Server at work, and I actually like Outlook as an email client.

That being said, the Evolution email client does connect to Exchange server, including calendar access. Worst case scenario, I could use Outlook Web Access to get at my work email and calendar.

Synchronizing and tethering the Blackberry is a bit trickier. Blackberry Desktop Manager simply does not work under Linux. However, there are two synchronization solutions available: Barry and OpenSync. There are also guides for tethering available online which involve the use of Barry.

Blackberry can sync with Evolution on Linux. There is no way to sync with Outlook unless you install a Windows virtual machine. Free solutions to allow this are VMware Player and VirtualBox. Another alternative is to simply forgo syncing directly with a USB cable and doing over the air synchronization with Google Sync.

In place of Trillian 5, I could use Empathy IM or Pidgin. Aesthetically they're not the same, but they get the job done.

Finally, solutions for pretty much every VPN connection can be found to work with Linux. Solutions for Sonicwall VPN connections are complex, but workable. Cisco makes their own VPN clients, and OpenVPN is open-source and cross-platform.

All-in-all, it's quite possible for me to completely migrate my working laptop entirely over to Ubuntu. I am disappointed by the inability of several of my favorite apps to work under Wine. While running them in a Windows virtual machine is entirely possible, resorting to that is a failure. The idea is to migrate to Ubuntu, not run Windows under Ubuntu.

Right now I am going to stick with Windows 7. To be honest, it's still a lot easier to install and use everything I do with Windows, and log into my server when I need to do certain tasks that are best done under Linux.

It is true that for all the functionality that is required, everything I do now will work under Ubuntu. But as you can see from my own attempt, a lot more effort is required in order to make the transition. People use Apple Macs because they "just work". To put it another way, people don't want to have to spend more effort getting their system to handle their tasks than the actual tasks themselves.

I might revisit this again in the future. This experience was actually a lot easier than the last time I attempted a desktop migration to Linux. This time I actually have working alternatives to everything I need on my laptop. That in itself is progress.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software, Servers, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Linux, Laptops, Hardware, Windows

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  • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

    I think Ubuntu has a hard time in that it's success or failure as an OS is always gauged by it's ability to run or mimic Windows programs while Windows and Mac are taken at face value and not required to be compatible with anyone. Could you imagine how badly Windows would fair if it's merit was weighted on it's ability to run GIMP on dual screen, how well Linux apps in general recompiled, or how well it tethered to non-Windows devices.
    Socratesfoot
    • This is because Linux is the "me-too" operating

      system. If you want to see what will be in Linux next year, look at today's Windows or OS X.
      frgough
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @frgough

        Nice.
        Hallowed are the Ori
      • Linux ? Me 2, We Three Me

        @frgough At least, when I go strolling barefoot through my Linux memories, I do not need to worry about wiping remnants of GUI.exe off...
        ZenZenPup
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @frgough

        Strange ... Ive seen guys show me ooohh!!! ...look what Windows 7 can do !! ....then its like ....uhm cool man ... actually had that in 3 releases of Ubuntu back already ... but yes its nice you have it now too ... don't quite feel the same on that point ... have seen to many desktop features copied from Gnome or KDE ... Im just waiting for a Compiz desktop effects rip-off to follow on Windows ... its coming ... just have this feeling.
        antonfh
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @frgough
        Spoken like someone who has never used Linux. Actually, if you want to find out what will be in any operating system next year, look at what's in the others this year. I've seen things show up in Linux, Windows, and Mac first, but most people only find out about them after they show up in Windows.

        Microsoft copies software features as much as anyone, and more than most, but people assume they came up with them because they never saw the software that had it first.
        CFWhitman
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @frgough

        If you want to see what will be in Windows 8, look at GNOME 3 and today KDE. Windows7 is lame copy of KDE4, and KDE4 came out in 2008 affter being in open development since 2005. If KDE guys took out patents, they could sue Microsoft into oblivion.
        gnufreex
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @frgough ZDNet Au actually did a video on how Win7 had ripped off the desktop effects of KDE 4. What features are you refering to?
        fatpugsley
  • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

    Re:Socratesfoot
    Apple is frequently compared to and judged on it's ability to run Windows Programs and has been for years. It is only in the last few years that a core group of popular software (including iTunes) has made the Apple OS interesting/mainstream enough to the average user for them to consider moving toward it. I think Linux (and Ubuntu specifically) is making great strides in the direction of usability and features. There are a number of interesting utilities/software for Linux, but I am not sure that there is really that "killer app" that would drive people to it yet. The "App Store" (or whatever you want to call it on each platform) is also making it easier. I would say that also goes a long way toward making it easier for the average home user to begin to adopt Linux and Apple. Microsoft has seen this and is working to develop an AppStore also. The popularity of Android (and possible Meego also) may also have some impact on Linux (although it is a fork from the main OS), as Android may drive more people to develop Applications (games, Productivity Applications, etc...) that have the possibility of be compiled for various Linux distros. It will be interesting to see if Linux vendors embrace Android (and Vice Versa) and they help each other move the OS forward as a whole.
    jkohut
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

      @jkohut GNU/Linux may not have a "killer app" but it does have a killer overall philosophy. At any moment I can find a tool to do almost whatever I need to do at little or no cost... just a download. No arguments about GNU/Linux not running ALL of the programs designed for other OS's. It doesn't. Reading this article though I had to wonder: if you can install Windows via a virtual machine to run the few mission critical apps that don't run on GNU/Linux ... shouldn't Windows be the machine you only use occasionally? This may not be true for this author but I'll bet it is true for many. In my experience it has been.
      K_REY_C
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @K_REY_C Exactly my thoughts. I have been running Ubuntu now for years and I go to MS Windows occasionally via a virtual box.
        xfactorx
  • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

    Thank you for this article! Another proven case of a linux failure and how it is NOT suitable for the desktop (or for anything for that matter). I plan to read many more artiles like this. The numerous issues you pointed out have been going on for years but the linux community has not listened. These are the same complaints that were made 10 years ago. I can't believe no one in the linux community has bothered to fix these issues yet.

    Given your needs there is no reason for you to switch to linux. The software isn't available and you can find your Microsoft Windows equivalents quite easily.

    Don't forget that you have to compile compile compile! Want a new kernel? Gotta configure and compile! Also, Ubuntu is the least secure operating system out there. As one of the linux advocates mentioned here many times, it requires a third party add-on just to make it secure. And linux leaves the telnet port open making your computer exposed to the whole world.

    With Ubuntu you are locked into just one vendor and its repositories. I like having choice so linux is not for me. Its also great to be able to play sounds, multiple at a time, watch videos, and do just about anything I want to do with my choice of operating system. If you use linux you are limited with all these.

    Enjoy your kernel panics, I'll be over here using my computer for its intended purposes.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

      @Loverock Davidson
      You keep getting funnier! Keep up the good work! How is your MSFT stock doing?
      kirovs@...
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @kirovs@...
        I would say pretty good considering I don't own any Microsoft stock, so no losses! :)
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @kirovs@...
        I wonder how his linux stock doing???
        eargasm
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @windozefreak

        Linux stock? You are clueless.

        But Red Hat stock is rising constantly, RHT is over $35 today. While MSFT is in low $20 and going down. Sucks to be a Microsoft shareholder... or a fanboy... or a user for that matter.
        gnufreex
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

      @Loverock Davidson
      Ha Ha! Very funny. So on Windows, what do you do when you want a new kernel, download an exe and double click on it?
      Ubuntu is the 'least secure operating system out there'? Just point me to one, JUST ONE, virus or worm that affected a significant number of Ubuntu users. Just one. I'll wait.
      'With Ubuntu you are locked into just one vendor and its repositories.' Not really, it is trivial for any vendor to create ppa repositories for their own packages if they wanted to. Case in point, the google repos at www.google.com/linuxrepositories/apt.html. Actually, it is only on GNU/Linux that you have true choice. If I don't like the Gnome desktop environment, I can mix it up using Compiz/Beryl, etc or swap out components like replace Nautilus with Konqueror, Thunar, etc; or even use a totally different desktop environment altogether - KDE, LXDE, etc.
      It's really hard to understand your unbridled hatred for everything Linux, I don't even know why I bothered replying.
      ndubi
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux: I Like It, It Doesn't Like Me

        @ndubi
        In Microsoft Windows you don't need spend hours configuring and compiling to update the kernel. Microsoft creates a new one and you download it as part of the monthly patches, and that's assuming there is anything wrong with it.
        Ubuntu is insecure out of the box, linux has worms. Also, that's not the major threat, the threat is people backdooring into linux, especially with telnet being wide open. According to the local linux advocate on these boards you are supposed to only use the signed repositories at ubuntu's servers, thus you are locked in. Me, I like having choice and Microsoft Windows provides that. I can go to any vendor and download and install their software.
        Loverock Davidson
      • Why do you guys feed the trolls?

        NT
        sysop-dr
      • RE: It's really hard to understand your unbridled hatred for everything Lin

        @ndubi

        Its really simple, he owned SCO stock. "nuff said
        fatman65535