Months into the Ubuntu Switchover, rants and raves

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So its been a while but I'm finally getting my head around the gnu/linux system and environment. There are some great things about the switch which makes me cringe everytime I go back into windows (on my work pc and when I want to read my busted sd card – more on this soon). But there are some bad things too.

First, pieces of pure joy. Since I've lost Outlook I've not really had a way to capture notes quickly. Dave showed me Tomboynotes which is build into Gnome. Tomboynotes is a local wiki but saves everything into a simple set of XML files. So now I have XMLstartlet and CWM installed, so I can apply XML processing and more to the raw xml. Combine this with Cron and Unix Pipes and I'm not even sure where to start because theres so many opptunities. I'm also looking at using one editor for unix because I've tried a couple but I need something serious before I start writing XSL again. Currently I'm using Nano for command line operations and Quanta plus for writing XML. I've downloaded Eclipse now and will try out both eclipse and emacs soon. Dave also alerted me to Conduit which is synchronsation solution for Gnome but looking a little deeper seems to be part of the solution for my pipelines application (which yes I've not talked enough about recently let alone updated for a while). So I'm super excited by this and the ability to pipe and process stuff with XML, including a KDE application called Tellico which also stores it records in XML. So I'm adding my music collection (from Amarok) and movie collection (from Myfilmz). I think Conduit is going to be one of those applications which I use a lot.

Other good stuff which is good is Stereo Bluetooth can be made to work in Linux, I just wish it was simplier. I get Cron now thanks to Kcron and Dave also showed me Anacron which works like Cron but will run tasks if your computer is off when you boot it back up. Glyn also showed me some battery saving technology () which looks like it will make its way into Ubuntu 7.11? On Windows I use to get about 4.5 hours of battery life out of my Dell laptop. I'm getting close to that on Ubuntu now but I reckon there is room for improvement, so this little app could help a lot. Samba is coming along, and I've now setup Hamachi ip addresses to shares in /etc/fstab. This means if I'm on my own network or on a internet connection I can still mount shares and its all secure. On the moan side, I still can't do real authentication with Samba for some weird reason. I still don't have a decent blogging application and if I switch my wireless card off, I have to reboot the whole machine to switch it back on again! Oh and Wireless and Bluetooth are lumped together it would seem and I can't find where to just turn off Bluetooth in Ubuntu. Not great for saving power. RSSowl is good but I'm still missing lots of features which could make it great. For example I now have a cron to grab my OPML (hopefully soon my APML too) from Bloglines. I was hoping that I could automaticlly update RSSowl with new subscriptions by over writing a bookmarks file but I can't find such a thing and the feature from RSSowl 1.x of automatic subscribing folders isn't in the new version. Last but not so important is, I still can't get the Wiimote to connect to the computer. Oh and I still need a decent piece of DJ software for Linux, I have to reboot into Windows to use Virtual DJ right now.

So generally things are better and I'm glad I switched to Linux over Vista or bought a Mac. Maybe you could be better off too?

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and