The great Linux experiment begins.

With a little help from my boss I’m now up and running under SUSE Linux 10.1 here at work. Or at least mostly up and running. I’ve still haven’t figured out how to get the Evolution email client to talk to the company’s Exchange server—for some reason it insists on using Outlook Web Access to do it and even though I have the URL programmed properly it refuses to work once the actual client launches—but I’m still able to function under Linux thanks to the aforementioned OWA for email access. All I really need when I’m at my desk is email and a good web browser to access the web based ticket system we use. Our Exchange servers aren’t very big, though, so I’m going to need to get the client working sooner rather than later or my inbox is going to fill up really quickly.

So far it’s not all that different from using Windows other than the default font size is rather tiny. I’m currently working with Gnome desktop, but I’m thinking I’m going to switch to KDE sometime soon if I can manage to work out how to do that. Pulling up the package manager presents you with a bewildering array of options that only diminishes somewhat when you tell it to limit the display to just stuff related to KDE. Just figuring out where to start is going to be a challenge.

Boss just suggested that I drop Evolution and go with Thunderbird for my email client even though it means giving up the Calendar for the moment. I’ll probably do that seeing as I’m very familiar with Thunderbird. It’s not like I get that many appointments anyway.

If nothing else this will probably be something I’ll blog about on occasion as I start to become more familiar with it and develop some love/hates. Any suggestions you veterans have for applications that you can’t live without I’d love to hear about them.

8 thoughts on “The great Linux experiment begins.

  1. As a user, I’ve never found a reason to favor either Gnome over KDE over the other. Something light like OpenBox works just fine for me.

    I switched from Evolution to Thunderbird for two simple reasons: Thunderbird is available on all platforms I’m likely to use and Thunderbird’s Enigmail extensions just works, while I could never beat Evolution’s crypto stuff into submission.

    An application I can’t live without is VMware wink

  2. I’m running SuSE 9.2 but heavily updated (e.g. KDE 3.5.3).  The apps I like best:
    Email: Kontact (setting up encryption/PGP signned emails was a breeze)
    Web: Firefox
    Music: Amarok
    Video: Kaffeine
    Editor (GUI): Kate
    Editor (CLI): Joe

    APT4RPM makes adding/removing/updating applications a breeze.

    If you want more suggestions for applications, maybe you could mention what sorts of things you’re looking for?

    As for your Evolution/Exchange problems:
    1. Is the mail server running MS Exchange 2000 or newer?
    2. What version of Evolution do you have?
    3. What version of the ximian-connector do you have installed?

  3. Les, it’s great that you’re giving Linux a go. I’ve been using it since the mid 90’s, and it’s come a long way since then.  I’m currently running Suse 10.0 (haven’t bothered to upgrade to 10.1 yet, although I’ve got a test system running with it). I’m using KDE as my Desktop (can’t stand Gnome).

    Here are the apps I use most:

    Email: Kontact
    Web: Firefox
    Music: XMMS
    Video: mplayer
    Graphics: Gimp
    Editor: Kate (pico for the shell)
    Office: OpenOffice
    Bittorrent: Azureus
    Virtualization: vmWare Server Beta
    VoIP: Skype
    System Monitor: xosview

    For my intranet I use (of course) a LAMP system based on Apache, MySQL and PHP.  I’ve got a custom CMS running (based on what I programmed for my employer), but am thinking of changing to PostNuke.

    I’ve basically relegated my Windows PC to playing games, since most of the interesting games (such as Oblivion) are not available for Linux.

    BTW, switching from Gnome to KDE (and back) is really easy: First, make sure the required packages are installed: start Yast and choose Software Management (under Software).  Make sure the filter is set to “Selections” and that both “KDE Desktop Environment” and “GNOME System” are checkmarked, then click “Accept” to start the installation.  After that, end your current session. In the lower left-hand corner of the login screen you’ll see options for Language, Session, etc.  Click on “Session” and select which display manager you want to use.  Log in (you may have to confirm whether you want to use the selected display manager as the default, or just for this session), and presto – you have the desired graphical desktop.

  4. For those interested in Linux + games (to remove the necessity for one more “must have Windows” installation) you might look into Transgaming (formerly Cedega – I’m looking forward to playing with it soon so as to drop the remaining windows system off my home LAN.

  5. Hey Les,
    Long time reader, first time post.  Been working with linux for many years, but I am one of those unlucky few that cannot quit Windows.  So naturally, while embracing the strengths of both, I like to use applications that are similar between the two.  Here’s a summary/comparison between both worlds:
    Linux       vs.  Windows
    xmms(audio)      WinAMP
    xine(video)      Err…nothing like it!
    gedit(text editor)  Metapad
    kwifi           Windows Wireless Config.
    gedit + gcc/g++    Visual Studio
    konsole         cmd.exe

    I prefer KDE over Gnome, but also prefer some Gnome apps over the KDE counterpart.  Gnome vs. KDE almost equals Windows vs. Mac, with gnome being sometimes more polished, with unexpected extras.  KDE is VERY similar to Windows, I find that it is easier for me to configure, especially since I’ve dealt with each since Win3.1 and KDE < 2.0.  Linux allows you to pick and choose, so I encourage you to do so!

    It is always fun to balance the options of updating a linux system.  One option is update and do it often; to always have the latest.  May fix some bugs, but may create others.  The other option is to sit on a config that works and just let it ride.  This especially comes in handy when you are using ndiswrapper to make a windows driver work on your linux conf.  Especially for wireless on laptops.

    I LOVE Linux for developing C++/JAVA apps, it becomes quick and easy versus Visual Studio, especially if you have a personal organization system for libraries and project files.  Gedit allows syntax highlighting (along with tabbed documents) for many different languages, providing some of the nice things of VS, without all of the bloat.  Debugging is easier in VS, so don’t make a lot of mistakes!

    Haven’t done a lot of WebDev in Linux, so I don’t know what is out there.  MySQL and Apache are easy configs for a quick testing server solution.  I’ll use my linux box as a database server and test apps over the network. 

    Hope some of this helps, and none of it hurts, Linux is ALOT more approachable than it has ever been.  Still not ready for Joe and Jane Simpleton, but getting better everyday!

    Sourceforge rocks for solutions to problems, and I am convinced that if it doesn’t have it, you don’t need it (Kinda like Wal-Mart). links to every major distro, so if you have fat (phat?) pipes, download all of the distros and have fun at home finding out which one you like.  I ran with Suse for a while, tried Debian, Gentoo, Mandrake, and Slackware, but I eventually setttled on Fedora.  For me, it is easy to set up, yet powerful out of the box.  Plus I love the Yum update manager. It may be command line, but it is fast as hell!

    I apologize for rambling, but Linux vs. Windows is a semi-religious litany in some circles.  I think both are great, and try not to jump on the fanboy bandwagon(s).  IMHO, computers, as a rule, rock.



  6. Another native Linux game:

    Neverwinter Nights

    The choice of distros amounts to a religious war… I doubt there’s a “best” Linux distro in any meaningful sense, it’s just that you have to find one that suits your wants and needs.

    For many years, I’ve used Linux on servers exclusively and for most of that time, Trustix 1.x was just fine. A number of things went wrong for Trustix during the timeframe of the 2.0 release and we ended up using Debian. These days, I’m leaning towards either CentOS or Ubuntu for both server and desktop use. YMMV, so stuff it wink

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