Technology Woes: Going from Windows to Linux

Ok, I’ve been trying to sail without a tailwind of late. So much to do, but so many things that I try to do require me to go and do three other things first. For instance, when my Windows OS died, I figured this was a great opportunity for me to begin learning about Linux.

When I got a system up and running, I was amazed at how easy it was. I have 80% of my mission critical stuff working on Linux now. But that 20% that isn’t working is about to drive me batty.

Publisher. That’s a serious stopper. I do quite a bit for my clients using this little WYSIWYG program. I had no idea how much I used it until I didn’t have it. And, yes, I tried Scribus. I found the graphics to be grainy and unsuitable for client work on Scribus. Since that time I’ve read a couple articles about things I can check to improve that… and I will. Later. But right now I’m crippling along on the Windows machine that I’ve now re-gened THREE (count them) times.

So, everything essential is working on the Linux system with the exception of Publisher, a good PDF manipulator program (not just a PDF printer — I have that), my accounting program (I’m testing GNUCash in my “off” hours), iTunes and my timer program (I’m testing Gnome Time Tracker).

I’m also learning a few simple command line commands so I can recover from stupid errors when doing things like trying to hook up two monitors to the new linux machine. Word to the wise for anyone else out there playing with the hardware on linux… SAVE YOUR CONFIG FILE FIRST! You can find that little gem under “/etc/X11” and it’s called “xorg.conf” — get it, copy it, save it someplace safe (like renamed in the same folder in case of emergencies!)

Thunderbird and Firefox were a breeze to convert. The only thing I don’t like about using them is that I can’t seem to make Firefox be my “default” browser — even though I’ve set it as default and even removed Konqueror as an option. I can’t click on links internal to other programs and have Firefox launch… it’s always Konqueror.

I’ve been told that I should give up Firefox and go with Konqueror (my father), but I’m not ready to do that yet. I may never be. I like and rely on my Firefox plugins too much to lose them. My bookmarks toolbar alone is enough to keep me with Firefox (how does anyone survive without this thing?!?)

Open Office is working like a charm. Gimp came over just fine too. All my fonts have been switched over and seem to be working fine. FileZilla (FTP program) and 7-zip (archiving program) both transferred over without a fuss.

I haven’t tackled my printer or my scanner yet. I don’t use either of them very often — I usually use a PDF printer more than anything else, and that’s native to the Kubuntu version of Linux that I selected. (Kubuntu’s KDE desktop looks a bit more like Windows for those of us just moving over, whereas the Gnome desktop is more Mac-like).

The graphics are amazing on this machine. Although it’s a small thing, I really like being able to use .PNG icons on my desktop. Of course, in all fairness, the graphics were always amazing on this machine. I’m running my old VAIO PCG-K35 laptop. If I like the Linux experience, I’ll have to get a new optical drive — the current one is fried. I had to borrow an internal drive from my father to get the OS loaded.

I have even managed to get KeePass (a freebie password wallet to replace my beloved eWallet) to run in Wine (a windows emulation environment). I’ve not tried to get any others to work yet, since I’m fairly certain that making that one work was a fluke. :O)

I can, finally, manage to path out shortcuts on my desktop. It’s been strange “rethinking” how an OS works and where things are located. Linux is logical, but it’s not Windows. I’ve been doing things for literally decades in a certain way and now I’m relearning all that. It’s not too difficult, but I really have to THINK about everything. There is no automatic pilot for me these days — not even for a moment.

I’m sure running on auto-pilot will return in a few weeks… once I figure everything out. But for now, it’s still challenging and all-consuming.

So, if I don’t blog as often as I should for a couple weeks, forgive me. I’m over my head in a whole new world and this self-education stint is rather demanding.