Monday, January 22, 2007

Bye, Ma!

Episode 1

This is a story of leaving home. I am saying good-bye to Ma Microsoft on my desktop, installing Ubuntu on my PC instead of Windows.

What fate awaits me as I struggle to adjust to life without Ma? Will I be able to cope without Microsoft Office? Will I be able to see my Exchange emailbox? Will I be able to use file and print sharing services on the network? Or will I give up in frustration, turn away from Ubuntu and go back to Windows?

Over the years, I have installed different distros of Linux on different PCs. These PCs then went into service as a firewall/router, a database server, a file server, and a web server. These were all command-line or non-GUI (graphical user interface) instances of Linux.

Last year, I installed Debian with KDE and Gnome GUI interfaces on an old laptop. I use the laptop to make presentations. It is a great attention grabber to show a non-Windows desktop to business audiences accustomed to Windows and the occasional Mac desktops. Talk about tech cred!

Recently, the 86-year-old patriarch of my family, AKA Grandpa, complained that his computer was running slow. His computer was a 9-year-old, Windows 98 machine with a 366 Mhz processor and 64 megs of RAM. My brother donated a 3-year-old machine that was recently retired from service, and I loaded Ubuntu on it for Grandpa. He's made the transition to his new setup like a champ! So, I figure if he can do it, I can too.

Ubuntu has greatly simplified the installation of Linux. Gone are all the questions about the refresh rate of your monitor, the chipset of your graphics card, the size and number of your swap disk and other questions that left me scratching my head when I installed Linux in the past. It detected all my hardware, and it got and installed the right drivers. Amazing!

Tips & Tricks: When I moved my PC from the bench where I did the install to my desktop, I discovered that the Linksys USB WiFi adapter I planned to use did not work. There is no Linux driver for it. I didn't want to use the Window's driver with ndiswrapper -- too much work for a cheap piece of hardware, so I swapped the USB adapter for the Linksys "Wireless Gaming Adapter" my son uses with his XBOX. This Wireless Gaming Adapter is a bridge device that requires no drivers. Problem solved. FYI, the 802.11-b version of the Wireless Gaming Adapter sells for less than $20 on Ebay.

In future episodes I will let you know how the migration from Windows to Ubuntu is going. Will I be able to survive or will I come running home to Ma with my tail between my legs? Stay tuned.

Only free software was used in the creation, storage and delivery of this message.

Episodes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

1 comment:

Bob said... should take care of most of your office needs.

For Exchange, I'd suggest running "sudo apt-get evolution evolution-plugins evolution-exchange"; this will get you Novell's Evolution mail/calendar client, that speaks Exchange 2000/2003 (and Groupwise).

File & print shouldn't be a problem courtesy of Samba.

Good luck.