I have been a GNU/linux enthusiast for over 10 years now and have worked in various degrees with several linux distros includig Debian, Suse, Redhat & Ubuntu. I have installed them a used them on various hardware. However, I never really made a complete switch to Linux due to various demands of my work enviroment. My current job offers me the flexiblity to finally make the switch and I did. I dumped Windows on my primary laptop and started off with a Ubuntu… no more dual boot, no more virtualization – just 100% linux!
My work laptop is a 2+ year old Dell Latitude D620 (2Ghz Core2 Duo, 2Ghz RAM). I started of with a Ubuntu 9.04 that I got from a canonical engineer sometime back. Installation process well smoothly except for the wifi card did not work. So, I had to manually plugin in a ethernet cable, sit near my network router and uprade to 9.10. Even after the upgrade to 9.10 the wifi did not work.. well I thought my 2 year old hardware is still pretty new for Ubuntu 9.10- so I finally upgraded to Lucid Lynx Ubuntu 10.04. This did the trick – Wifi connects smoothly without any problem. Overall the install process was very smooth. Then I went through the process of setting up various packages needed for my work including VPN (via cisco compatible vpnc), Thunderbird email, filezilla (ftp), pidgin (for IRC), webex, Firefox extensions — all of this was quite straight forward and easy to setup.
Over the last week I found a bunch of issues that I am still trying to figure out:
- Exchange compatible Calendar that actually works: My workplace uses a MS Exchange server and I found that it is a PAIN to get Thunderbird + Lightning talking to Exchange. There is a add-on for Exchange dataprovider that is being developed – but I could not get it to work for me. Thanks to a lot of googling – I was able to find DavMail gateway which after a lot of trial and error talk to Exchange. Most things work except it dosen’t let me ‘create’ new events 🙂 Also, there are several other annoying messages indicating a event has change on the calendar when it actually dint. Also, if you dont enable the experimental (ala buggy) cached mode – it tries to reload the whole calendar every time that can be very slow
- Decent and working & tested bloging client : Being used to Windows Writer Live (a excellent blogging tool) – I was expecting a easy equivalent on Ubuntu. I found that Blogilo is very close to what I want. However, even after installing from ‘Ubuntu Software Center’ Blogilo fails to start! This issue is also widely reported by others. It just makes me wonder the level of testing that has gone (read not gone)into a LTS release.
- External Display & Projectors dont work out of the box or as expected: I have heard from lot of people that 10.04 has excellent support for external display and I believed them – untill I actually tried it myself. My laptop could not detect the external projector on VGA. I manually configured external display as TwinView via Nvidia setting utility and could pump out 640×480 resolution. I still need to figure out how to get the resolution higher (as it was possible with Windows running on the same laptop)… more work ahead for me on this.
- Visual Effects – still cant enable them: Yes my desktop still looks like it’s from the 90’s though I have the nvidia proprietry driver installed (via Adminstration-> Hardware Drivers). Trying to enable Preferences->Appearance-> Visual Effects does not work nor does it give any meaningful error or direction to correct the problem. For now – I convince myself to stay without visual effects as it assures me better performance and battery life.. but I am not sure how many people would like this trade off for themselves.
- Network interfaces dont actually listen to what we tell it to do: VPN connect performance is amazingly fast and reliable. Only problem is the each time I need to manually setup the mtu size for the tun0 interface. Somehome having it setup in /etc/network/interfaces does not do the trick at bootup… it a annoyance – untill I figure out how to do this automatically.
- Suspend & Hibernate issues : After installing I tried to hibernate (I was very used to this on windows) – but, my machine never reliably came out of hibernation. This was the same case for Suspend – however, magically without my intervention it fixed it self. For the last 10+ time suspend is working fine — but, no luck with hibernation.
- Network printing is still a pain! : Yep – I was able to print a page to a SMB network printer – but, somehow after that it never works. The wizard to add a network printer actually asks for the make and model of a printer – imagine at work trying to go the printer getting on the back and finding the make and model 🙂 — things can be smoother here.
- Connecting to hidden networks is manual: Connecting to hidden wireless AP’s is a manual process (may be there is a option somewhere but I could’nt find). This means at work I need to physically connect the wifi whenever I bootup.
- Proxy management: I dont think this is as much of a pain – most likely I believe I have not figured out. There are system proxies, each app has proxies settings and you can change (think messed up) system settings from most app. This has led me to encounter several proxy issues. I still cant get pidgin to seamlessly work without a proxy when a system wide proxy is set. May be I will figure it out eventually.
There are ofcourse several things I like about Ubuntu on my laptop:
- It’s free and open-source (mostly)
- I like the speed of the system (bootup and shutdown as extremely fast)
- Extremely fast firefox browser startup and performance & memory utilization. It used to Suck big time on Windows and was a memory hog.
- Open office is very usable and functional – it’s not as good as MS Office – but, it decent alternative at $0 – you cant beat that.
- Ubuntu Software Center is a great add-on that has a ton of software most people need.
- The Geek factor!
IMHO, Ubuntu 10.04 is a big leap interms of bringing Linux into desktop (home & enterprise). There are certainly several gaps (a few of which I faced) that need work – and there is a long way to go before I install it on my mother’s PC or recommend it to friends who just want ‘everything’ to work out of the box! Let’s join the Ubuntu community & contribute to making a better Ubuntu GNU/Linux.