Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 03, 2016, 05:57:05 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: Lessons from 2 years without Windows  (Read 8777 times)

Lashiec

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,374
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« on: November 12, 2008, 04:56:46 PM »
Derrick Sobodash, an American freelance journalist working in China who, in other life, was a well-known translator in the romhacking scene, writes an in depth article over the pleasures and (specially) the pains of running Linux full-time and trying to adapt the OS to fulfill his needs. Note that while the article reads like Derrick wants to escape from Linux at all costs due to the difficulties he encounters, he's still a committed Linux user.

Screenshot - 12_11_2008 , 23_36_22_thumb.png

Although I know it's beating a dead horse, most of the other articles of this kind I encountered usually stop at everyday computing instead of going to the core, which I think make this one specially worthwhile. Now, wouldn't it be nice to read a similar article mixing OSes other than Windows and Linux?

A bit offtopic, but this comment cracked me up:

Quote
Mac is the OS for rich, trendy kids from New York who like modern art, U2 and white ear buds.

Well, looks like I'm a bit closer of being the target user of a Mac :D

via Romhacking.net
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 07:49:17 PM by Lashiec »

urlwolf

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,797
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2008, 05:40:16 PM »
I agree with his experience.
There's no replacement for some windows software.
Which makes sense.

On the other hand, starting IRB (ruby prompt) takes x10 longer on a windows box (blame the filesystem, I guess). That's enough for me to use linux to develop ruby apps.

housetier

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 1,321
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2008, 05:58:16 PM »
Lesson from more than 2 years without Windows: "and yet it works".

D--

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2008
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2008, 10:32:35 PM »
Hi, thanks for reading my post.

I would just like to stress, as Lashiec did in the thread opening, that I am still using Ubuntu. After that post, I reformatted and put on the new Intrepid, taking note of my own advice. For the most part, it has run great without any customization, and I am much less fearful of the day when I will eventually have to nuke my / and /usr once again.

As for Windows software, one comment made a great point: dual booting is a fantastic solution for many users. Aside from a few applications built specifically to be Wine-friendly, like utorrent, I avoid Wine at all costs. The last thing I want is to fire up an application, work 20 minutes, save, and cry as the entire Wine server dumps because someone forgot to hook an API call used by this application's save dialog.

Criticism is welcome. I wrote this to share what I learned and debunk a few of the conversion myths. For me, Linux is a great experience and a great OS. Your mileage may vary.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2008, 10:34:13 PM by D-- »

nontroppo

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 649
  • spinning top
    • View Profile
    • nontroppo.org
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2008, 05:45:29 AM »
I agree with his experience.
There's no replacement for some windows software.

Just to mention, all the software he discusses are not "windows" software, as they all run under OS X too (and at least the Adobe apps till CS3, they run better). And IRB starts plenty fast under OS X too :p

But then I love contemporary art and live in metropolitan London; though have no care for white earbuds, nor am I "rich"!

To the nicely written article:

I don't really agree on the issue with virtualisation (not from a linux perspective, but as a general proposition). We run both OS X and Windows XP in parallel and both OSes handle virtualisation fine. I regularly run Matlab and Adobe Illustrator under XP, and Office/iWork/Scrivener/Opera/File manager/Photoshop/chat etc under OS X, both OSes run fast and there is never a lag (3Gb 2ghz late-2006 Macbook). I sleep the machine so never have to deal with windows startup more than once every few weeks.

It seems like virtualbox is an ideal solution (it can't be so much worse than vmware surely?). And virtualisation aids, not hinders migration IMO. My boss is starting to run more things under OS X that he used to under XP slowly, but surely. He builds confidence of the new OS one app at a time, yet still keeps the comfort blanket a full-switch would take away.

Thanks D-- for the writeup! Oh, and some of your China posts were interesting reads too, having worked in Shanghai for 4 months this summer.  :Thmbsup:
FARR Wishes: Performance TweaksTask ControlAdaptive History
[url=http://opera.com/]

D--

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2008
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2008, 08:24:44 AM »
nontroppo: Right you are. VirtualBox is far superior to VMWare in every way save one: 3D support. The video card it emulates is not compatible with the 3D calls required by OpenGL and Direct3D, which is an issue when running some Windows software. It also locks the program out of use to gamers.

Personally, my problem is that my machine is not powerful enough and does not have enough RAM for me to be constantly sleeping an XP virtual machine on top of my OS. I also ran into frequent issues where QuarkXpress would not only crash in virtualized XP, but take the entire VirtualBox program and service with it. On one occasion, the service became perpetually locked eating all my RAM, and even root could not kill it. No choice but a reboot. When it was all up and running, it worked great. However, I cannot handle software going to pieces that way when I'm working on a book ...

I only mentioned those programs as "Windows" programs because I wrote this for users migrating from Windows to Linux. Those programs got their start on Mac, and their Mac versions are most certainly still superior to their Windows ones. I often find myself wishing I had CTRL+APPLE+- instead of ALT+0151 for em dash, as well as the many other characters I frequently need access to in typography (yes, I know that's system wide and not software, but it is part of the experience and there is nothing stopping them from making an equivalent CTRL+WIN+- key sequence in the Windows port). However, I just cannot leverage a jump to Mac. Replacing all my existing software is cost prohibitive, and there's always a worry in the back of my mind that one day, Quark will go back to platform exclusive file formats or something equally crazy. Their compatibility record is atrocious, and I remember the days when to get a file from Quark 4.0 to 6.5, you needed full installs of Quark 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 and 6.5 to open and save it in each new format :(
« Last Edit: November 13, 2008, 08:27:09 AM by D-- »

Darwin

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,984
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2008, 08:49:51 AM »
Hi D-- welcome to DC I read your blog post with interest and really enjoyed the read. I'm just starting to experiment with Linux seriously for the first time (I've had an install hanging around, on and off for ten years, but only to dabble), so  I read your reflections on the whole immersion experience with great interest!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

mahesh2k

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 1,417
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2008, 08:50:19 AM »
Microsoft completed 25 years though, its going to be interesting that how they'll handle "Surface computing" and "Cloud COmputing"

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2008, 08:56:53 AM »
D--: what makes VirtualBox superior to VMWare, in your opinion? I like Virtualization stuff, but vmware has worked so well for me that I haven't really bothered to look at anything else (save bochs and qemu, but those are mostly useful for kernel development and not as much for vm needs).

Btw, as for the ALT+0151 thing, it should be possible to set up some keyboard mapping to give you the shortcuts you want... on windows as well as linux :)
- carpe noctem

yksyks

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 476
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2008, 09:26:14 AM »
Btw, as for the ALT+0151 thing, it should be possible to set up some keyboard mapping to give you the shortcuts you want... on windows as well as linux :)

That's exactly how I'm typing em-dash (on WinXP) — using HotkeyP. Very light on resources.

zridling

  • Friend of the Site
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 3,292
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2008, 09:02:48 PM »
Quote
If you are considering making the move, do not listen to anyone who tells you Linux has equivalents for your favorite Windows programs. It does not and it cannot, and recent versions of anything rarely run in Wine. And really, if you are going to depend on Wine, why not just use Windows?

I agree with the author, Derrick, that using Wine is more trouble than its worth, and YES, if you're going to depend on Wine, then just stick with Windows (you'll be happier). Even though, the few apps I have loaded using Wine, I could not tell the difference in speed, specifically NewsLeecher, Photofiltre, and AutoHotkey. But OpenOffice 3 does run natively on the Mac now, and not within a windowed X11 session; also, it now tracks changes well.

Derrick, I'm wondering why you're stuck using Ubuntu. Why not Ubuntu Studio or Sabayon? Telling a Linux user not to customize is like telling an addict not to take another hit.  ;D

I started using GNU/Linux in October of 2006, but then finally made a full switch a year later. I think what either a distro of one of the major Window environments must do is work on the small stuff that makes Windows and Mac so "useful." Linux's first focus is always on developers and their needs, and not necessarily common end users like myself. However, I've been surprised that my new digital camera works out of the box on Linux, as do all my HP printer(s), and any USB stick I can throw in it.

Quote
Until it becomes a major player in the industrial desktop market, the companies who have already spent decades setting the industry standard will not invest in bringing their big programs to Linux. Just accept it.

This will likely not happen anytime soon. The difference is cloud computing and SaaS solutions. Yes, the graphic professional needs photoshop, but the rest of us, the vast majority, never will. Same goes for corporations. In a company that employs over 75,000 people, with 55,000 of them using computers throughout the day, Linux devices are far more nimble and customizable than a Windows device ever could be. Check the netbook and smartphone markets to start with. I'm not arguing against Photoshop or QuarkXpress, but professional shops use those apps and their prices reflect that. Little ol' Zaine Ridling pissing around editing and resizing his own digital photo collection can get the same results from a hundred different free and shareware apps rather than shelling out $899.

Quote
If you treat your Linux desktop as the reliable place to handle basic tasks, enjoy games, chat, watch movies, and maybe do some small work on the side, then the software it has today is more than enough. Keep Windows or Mac for your actual workstation and equip them with just that—the software you need to work.

I've been able to make the switch quite well, but then my work has to do with data analysis and databases, not editing movies and graphics. Now if you use FileMaker, for instance, you won't get that kind of UI beauty on Linux, but I have to use MySQL anyway given the very large data sets I work with. So that depends on what you do as 'work.' For example, check out slideshare.net, which can import and use a wide variety of formats, starting with ODF.

D--

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2008
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2008, 08:19:26 AM »
D--: what makes VirtualBox superior to VMWare, in your opinion? I like Virtualization stuff, but vmware has worked so well for me that I haven't really bothered to look at anything else (save bochs and qemu, but those are mostly useful for kernel development and not as much for vm needs).

Btw, as for the ALT+0151 thing, it should be possible to set up some keyboard mapping to give you the shortcuts you want... on windows as well as linux :)

VirtualBox has a kernel module that gives it ring-1 level access to your CPU. Its commands are executed natively, rather than emulated. Only the attached hardware devices run through emulation. This results in a massive speed up, especially on older hardware. However, its OS support is very limited. It is good for XP or Linux, but you will never get it working with most DOS variants or QNX, all of which VMWare handles perfectly.

Regarding the ALT+0151 thing, do you know how to do this from Xfce and while using the SCIM input method? I do not use xim because I need to be able to input non-English text. All the guides on the Ubuntu Web site assume xim in a Gnome environment.

Derrick, I'm wondering why you're stuck using Ubuntu. Why not Ubuntu Studio or Sabayon? Telling a Linux user not to customize is like telling an addict not to take another hit.  ;D

I could use either, but I don't. Xubuntu is my preferred distribution, and on my hardware the RT kernel of UbuntuStudio would not offer any significant advantage. Regarding customization, I think my main target was tweaking outside of /home/--where packages are apt (GAW HAW HAW, APT-GET IT? HAW) to overwrite any of your customizations through routine updates pushed onto the system. There's nothing wrong with dropping in some new Gtk themes or window decorations in your home folder. Well, nothing except root being retarded and unable to use themes placed anywhere outside /usr/share/ ... Oh well, I guess that makes for one ugly Synaptic.

I'm not arguing against Photoshop or QuarkXpress, but professional shops use those apps and their prices reflect that. Little ol' Zaine Ridling pissing around editing and resizing his own digital photo collection can get the same results from a hundred different free and shareware apps rather than shelling out $899.

I couldn't agree more! That's why I said I can use the Gimp for some basic things. If I need to work up an avatar image or add stupid text to the graphic of a cat, Photoshop would be like using a tank to kill a gnat. Heck, it's even fine if your digital work doesn't extend much beyond tweaking white balance, curves and levels with a couple glances at the histogram. Similarly, I said Scribus is great for making a little newsletter, a card or a flier. You would be stupid, however, to use it for designing a newspaper or typesetting a full-size novel.

Open source software has great solutions that do more than enough for any casual user! It only falls short in the area of professional function. But again. That's why those big programs cost so much: professionals use them to produce material on which they earn a living.

I've been able to make the switch quite well, but then my work has to do with data analysis and databases, not editing movies and graphics. Now if you use FileMaker, for instance, you won't get that kind of UI beauty on Linux, but I have to use MySQL anyway given the very large data sets I work with. So that depends on what you do as 'work.' For example, check out slideshare.net, which can import and use a wide variety of formats, starting with ODF.

Once again, I'm in complete agreement. If your tasks involve databases an non-win32 programming, I'm sure Linux has many fantastic solutions. Even in 2001 all the comp science people were geeked about KDevelop. I've never been a C programmer or a KDE user, so I never bothered to look at it. However, I'm sure it's even more amazing today. There are a lot of careers where Linux may offer better software solutions than Windows or Mac.

However, its software is not effective at meeting the needs of people who do typesetting, graphic design, audio mixing or video editing at a level beyond the casual user.

Moral of the story: Linux makes a fabulous desktop and I suffer no setbacks keeping mine for average use and old school gaming. However, I also need a workstation, on which I install the professional software packages that have the features I need to do my job. I work at the workstation, and I kill time, surf, browse, chat and watch movies on my Linux desktop.

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2008, 09:09:04 AM »
VirtualBox has a kernel module that gives it ring-1 level access to your CPU. Its commands are executed natively, rather than emulated. Only the attached hardware devices run through emulation. This results in a massive speed up, especially on older hardware.
VMWare does the same, plus it has special drivers of graphics and network cards to speed up things massively. Again, what makes VirtualBox superior? :)

Regarding the ALT+0151 thing, do you know how to do this from Xfce and while using the SCIM input method? I do not use xim because I need to be able to input non-English text. All the guides on the Ubuntu Web site assume xim in a Gnome environment.
Nope, sorry - but I'm absolutely sure it's doable :)

Even in 2001 all the comp science people were geeked about KDevelop. I've never been a C programmer or a KDE user, so I never bothered to look at it. However, I'm sure it's even more amazing today. There are a lot of careers where Linux may offer better software solutions than Windows or Mac.
KDevelop, Anjuta, Code::Blocks etc are all inferior to Visual Studio. Pretty sad state of affairs. The best non-VS IDE I've seen is Eclipse, which is OK for JAVA development (haven't tried it for C++), but has it's own quirks...

PS: you have a misquote in your last post, citing me and not zridling as the source :)
- carpe noctem

steeladept

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,059
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2008, 12:32:51 AM »
Not to get too far off course here, but I have used both VMWare Workstation and VirtualBox extensively.  I concur that VirtualBox is better.  Why?  1) Faster - don't know why, maybe it is a setting or something, but out of the box it is significantly faster.  2) Cheaper - Nuf said.  3) Okay, this may sound weird and is definitely a personal opinion, but it is from Sun.  I have looked back and Sun has created or bought an extraordinary collection of (arguably) best of breed solutions in a variety of subsectors.  MySQL, OpenOffice, and now VirtualBox are just 3 of the most common (and also widely accepted as the best example of their kind).

As for VMWare, it is great after it's kind.  I am a diehard VMWare User's Group member as well, and I do like their products very much.  In fact, in some ways it is much easier to use.  However, I am turned off by the cost prohibitive pricing structure as well as the marginalization of non-server systems.  Perhaps the recent announcements will prove my wrong on this last point and they were just in hiatus during development, but asside from Workstation 6.5, there has been precious little movement on the deskside development.  Indeed, there has been little development on anything other than VI3 and the newly announced "corporate cloud computing" (my term, I forgot the name and too lazy to look it up at the moment).  While I agree the servers are where the money is and, despite my distaste for it, cloud computing will completely marginalize and commoditize the end user devices if it develops as planned; it completely ignores the fact that the virtualization of these devices can revolutionize computing with or without a cloud.   Many already use virtualization products on the desktop for just this reason.  If VMWare put money in developing a Type I hypervisor for the desktop that was as full featured as VI3 and as small as their current free hypervisor (again I forget the name - getting late), then they could (potentially) be as big as MS almost overnight.  Give OS writers a common platform to program against ala console game machines, while giving driver writers a common core to write to regardless of OS.  To me it is a no brainer.  But there I go dreaming again...

Anyway, I have issues with the way Maritz is directing the company, but that does not take away from the premium quality of the products they do have.  I just wish they didn't come with such a premium price.  With VirtualBox it doesn't.

D--

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2008
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2008, 08:04:08 AM »
VMWare does the same, plus it has special drivers of graphics and network cards to speed up things massively. Again, what makes VirtualBox superior? :)

You are right. I remember VMWare running a Perl script to compile its kernel modules when last I used it. I cannot offer you numbers to back anything up, because I have better things to do with my time than design ways to run benchmarks without being paid for it. However, from an end user standpoint, I believe VirtualBox performed much snappier on my arguably older hardware. VMWare is a great product, and it has far better OS support than VirtualBox. It does many things VirtualBox cannot. However, I have found it much faster when running a Windows guest on a Linux host.

Regarding the ALT+0151 thing, do you know how to do this from Xfce and while using the SCIM input method? I do not use xim because I need to be able to input non-English text. All the guides on the Ubuntu Web site assume xim in a Gnome environment.
Nope, sorry - but I'm absolutely sure it's doable :)

I'd love to know how. I cannot find any documentation on how to do this at either the Xfce or Xubuntu projects. The only option was was through xim to manually enter a unicode value. For example, press CTRL+SHIFT+U, then type 2014 and hit space to get —. You could map a compose key in xim, but then you have to hit it, release, then push two more keys in sequence. That's not my idea of intuitive when compared to combinations like CTRL+- and SHIFT+CTRL+- ...
« Last Edit: December 09, 2008, 08:22:52 AM by D-- »

Edvard

  • Coding Snacks Author
  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,888
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: Lessons from 2 years without Windows
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2008, 10:52:04 AM »
Quote from: D--
VirtualBox is far superior to VMWare in every way save one: 3D support. The video card it emulates is not compatible with the 3D calls required by OpenGL and Direct3D, which is an issue when running some Windows software. It also locks the program out of use to gamers.

Looky here --> VMGL brings 3-D effects to VMs
Quote
Virtualized computing environments can take advantage of built-in virtualization support in modern dual-core processors, but when it comes to 3-D acceleration in virtual machines, almost all fall flat on their faces. VMGL is a little-known application written as part of Google's Summer of Code 2006 program that lets OpenGL apps running inside a virtual machine take advantage of the graphics hardware acceleration on the host. It has limitations, but if you want 3-D in VMs, VMGL is your best bet.