I’ve been traveling the last four weeks, away from my workstation. My notebook is slowly dying from a dry joint under the ICH7 that seems to affect many similarly designed models. It is no longer usable in Windows where a CPR-like ritual around the touchpad is required to unfreeze the machine every few key strokes. Ubuntu deals better with the issue, disabling the faulty component and going on with life:
[ 191.052015] uhci_hcd 0000:00:1d.0: host controller process error, something bad happened! [ 191.052076] uhci_hcd 0000:00:1d.0: host controller halted, very bad! [ 191.054019] uhci_hcd 0000:00:1d.0: HC died; cleaning up
So how was life with Ubuntu? Mostly good! I rebooted into Windows only once in an attempt to diagnose a wireless connection (the problem turned out to be incompatiblity between my North American gear and my friend’s European gear. Changing the access point’s channel solved it and I could continue to use Ubuntu as usual).
Keeping in touch with the office was easy. OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Skype are mostly the same across platforms. There is no reason for a small business to spend on office sofware licenses nowadays.
My experience with scripting / web dev tools was mixed. There is an alternative to every tool I use in Windows, but it is not the same, requiring the user to adapt. Some of the adaptation is painelss and actually pleasant: Gedit (Ubuntu) and Kate (Kubuntu) are much better than the default text editor that comes with Windows. But I still miss PuTTY‘s convenient copy&paste interface (I know about the third mouse button, but that button does not exist on the notebook). I am also missing the sleek integration of Subversion (TortoiseSVN) and Secured Copy Protocol (WinSCP) in the system’s file browsers. I ended up using more of the command line (CLI), particularly rsync over ssh.
Over four weeks I produced about 47 GB of media – mostly video. I did not compromise on quality (1920×1080 AVCHD 24Mb/S). Because of the broken USB I could not get the videos onto the notebook. The 32GB flash memory of the camcorder lasted until the last week, and then I used an additional SD card. It would not have made a difference anyway – the notebook is too weak to edit FullHD video.
I did copy the pictures from the digital camera to the notebook, using a Compact Flash to PCCard interface.
I processed the RAW files with RAWstudio. I built the latest stable release (1.2) from source (Ubuntu currently distributes version 1.1) and I was pleasantly surprise by the speed of the interaction, the clean interface and the pleasant results. I also noticed some other positive details such as sensible default storage locations. I did not convert / process fisheye images because correction of chromatic aberration is not activate yet; and I bumped into a minor glitch: Hugin reported a few of the pictures from the same batch as being rotated 90°, although at the time of shooting they had the exact same orientation. I will investigate and eventually provide the RAWstudio developers with a complete analysis / bug report.
Hugin performed heavy duty, including the stitching of 294 pictures. Disk space was the only limit. I have ordered a new hard disk and will re-process the images on the workstation once it arrived.
I will also have to do most of the image editing on the workstation. I tried hard to use the GIMP for masking, but I ended up being frustrated at how slow I am with it, so I did other things in the meantime, leaving the image processing task for home.
I’ve tried to get tha antipasto-arduino IDE to build on Ubuntu because I wanted to implement a few new ideas on the Arduino + TouchShield. The guys at Liquidware were very supportive and together we came close, but it still does not build. I will have to use the Windows workstation for this one as well. The experience helped me discover the joys of git, and I also enjoyed this talk by Linus Torvalds.
Last but not least, I’ve participated on and off to the discussion on Hugin’s mailing list and I codified a collaborative policy for the bug tracker. I hope it will draw more community members into the task of sorting out bugs and help the developers keep the overview.
That was it for my first month ever with Ubuntu only. Did it work? Yes. Did it make a difference? a little. Operating systems are interchangeable nowadays, there are equivalent applications on any of them and the choice boils down to user preference (i.e. Usability with a capital U) and the limited availability of a few killer apps (which again are defined by the users and what they want to accomplish). And what count most for a user on the road is battery life, and after years of average 2-3 hours (with the occasional outlayer) there finally is some good news for the mainstream on that front. Other than battery life, my killer app at the moment is still Photoshop.
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