Here comes Linux, part 1

Here comes Linux, part 1

by Richard White

2009-11-29

“Are you kidding me???” Dee shouted in disbelief.

I’d just told her that I–a faithful Mac user for the last twenty years–had ordered a Dell Mini 10v.

“Are you KIDDING ME??? she shouted again, thinking perhaps that I hadn’t heard her the first time.

“Yeah, I know…” I went on to explain that I’m not giving up the MacbookPro. And I’m definitely not using Windows (no offense). I’ve been looking for a decent portable on which to install Linux Mint, and after passing on the idea of a Lenovo ThinkPad (high quality, but a little higher-priced especially for a second machine), I fell for the “$100 off, free shipping” email that I’d gotten for the Dell.

This is more than just Black Friday extravagance. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of working with Linux on a laptop for a number of years now, ever since Mark Pilgrim famously made his own switch from the Mac three years ago. His reasons included Apple’s proprietary file-formatting and Digital Rights Management (DRM) lockdowns that make playing by their rules occasionally difficult. The hardware, although of high-quality, is known for being expensive, placing it out-of-reach for many students, and a number of teachers. The question became, is it reasonable for me, as an educational technologist to run most, if not all, of my digital life using Free / Open Source Software?

In addition to other topics being discussed here, I’ll be covering the journey here once the new machine arrives in a couple of weeks. For now, though, I’m anticipating using the following software:

Mac Linux
Operating System OS 10.6.2 Linux Mint 8
Browser Safari, Firefox Firefox (pre-installed w/LinuxMint)
Mail client Apple’s Mail.app Mozilla’s Thunderbird (pre-installed w/LinuxMint)
Chat client iChat, Adium, Skype Pidgin (pre-installed w/LinuxMint)
Web development client Panic’s Coda Quanta Plus?
Calendar program iCal Mozilla’s Lightning?
Text editor emacs, BBEdit emacs (must be installed using apt-get), gedit (pre-installed w/LinuxMint)
Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint Open Office? (pre-installed w/LinuxMint)
Music playing iTunes Pick one
Music editing Garage Band, Amadeus, Audacity Audacity
Image Processing iPhoto, Photoshop Elements, Acorn, Graphic Converter GIMP

Any suggestions out there? Let me know!

2 comments to Here comes Linux, part 1

  • jyen

    You’re going to have fun with this one. I’ve worked a little bit with Linux myself, and am far from an expert, but I’ve found the the various flavors of the OS to be generally very fast and efficient. The biggest obstacles lie in the compatibility with file types generated by Windows and Mac OS software. While the basics of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are certainly achievable, anything more sophisticated tends to yield inconsistent results.

    As you may remember, we experimented with a Linux OS in our library and found it to be just a hair too limiting given the needs of the program. Other than these relatively small, but significant compatibility issues, the systems were very stable and the hardware it ran on used minimal power.

    To cite a Runner’s World reference to penguins (also a Linux mascot)… “Waddle on!”

  • rwhite

    Yeah, I *do* remember those little machines, and didn’t like them much. There were stability problems, and OpenOffice was destroying people’s files (including mine that I used to test them out!)

    I’ve been running LinuxMint on my desktop machine after learning about it from Patrick, and am really, really happy with it. I still have usability doubts about a netbook-scale machine, at least for daily use, but I was mightily impressed by a guy at the SciPy conference who was running his entire presentation off one of these guys.

    Stay tuned!