On my way to Linux - Part One

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Right, so here is the scope. I’ve been a MacOS X user for many years, not that I have been a fanatic one but I simply used what works best for me. In any case, I own 3 Mac Mini’s and mostly got a new MacBook Pro every year. I also converted quite a lot of people over the Mac. Recently, I’ve even got a iPhone (well, 1 1/2 years ago) after many years of using a BlackBerry. I have to say, the “Apple way” has worked very well for me.

That being said, I have always followed how Linux has been developing, especially on the desktop side (all of our servers run Linux). Actually, with Ubuntu 8, I seriously was thinking of using Linux on the desktop, but back then some application were missing. Later with Ubuntu 9, I took another try, but it still wasn’t ready for me. Now, with Ubuntu 10, the distro is not only very mature, but also, the applications I need are mostly up to date and work well for me.

So, today I set out to see if I will be able to replace my workplace which is based on MacOS X to Linux Ubuntu. My current setup is a MacBook Pro 15″ as my main machine hooked up to a 23″ Cinema screen. I was thinking to replace this setup with a desktop machine and have a netbook (the Asus EeePC 1201PN looks very sweat) as well. Since I still have a older MacMini lying around I set out to get Ubuntu 10 running on it.

Installing Ubuntu on a MacMini

Installing Ubuntu 10 on the MacMini was easy and surprisingly Ubuntu found every bit of hardware, it even found my Bluetooth Logitech Mouse within seconds.WIFI, Ethernet and external hard drives were also found without problems. For those wondering how to install Ubuntu on MacMini all you have to do is to partition your drives with BootCamp, insert the Ubuntu CD and then reboot the Mac (hold down the ALT key). Select the “Window” partition and it will start up from the Ubuntu CD and will start to install it.

So, how is it working with Ubuntu 10?

What can I say, except that the people over at Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) has fulfilled the promise to bring the best Linux experience to the desktop. I have had no driver problems, could immediately connect to the WIFI network and installing new software even easier then on the Mac.

But we already knew that Ubuntu is good, right? So the real thing for me is to see if I can get my workspace going under Ubuntu. In short, this means that all my applications and workflow will be available and doable with Ubuntu. Thus the rest of this blog post and part two and maybe even part three will be about finding and using the equalivant of of the Linux app to the Mac ones.

I won’t go into the obvious applications that are the same on each operating system like browsers or file explorer systems. The good thing to know is that Firefox and Google Chrome and all their extensions work the same under any operating system. One thing I noted so far, is that Firefox does not seam to have the memory leak problems like the one on the Mac.


I’ve used Eclipse for a long time and recently switched to Coda on the Mac, since Eclipse just eat away all the RAM I had and even crashed many times a day. I’m happy to see that Eclipse under Linux is rock solid and I can use my favorite development environment again.

Mail / Calendar / Contacts / iCal / Address Book

This is a no brainer for me, since I have been using Google Apps for some time and thus my Mail and Calendar already resides in the cloud I can simply continue using my browser without any OS worries. I never used Mail.app (instead used the Browser or Mailplane) and used Spanning Sync for keeping iCal and my Address Book in sync with Google Apps. Since, I don’t like any Mail apps or Calendar under Linux I simply opted to use the browser for Mail, Calendar and Address Book (this will keep it in sync with the iPhone/Android).

Word / Excel / Powerpoint

Right, so much has been said, about using OpenOffice instead of iWork or Microsoft Office. In my testing I have to say that OpenOffice 3.x works fine, but maybe it is just me or does OpenOffice on Linux look like Word 98? Feels like flying back in time… I have to say, that I haven’t tested this part in depth and so I can’t really give any verdict on this.

I have some other apps I need to work with like Aperture, TextExpander, 1Password, etc. and will write on these on the second part.

I hope this helps anyone that is wanting to switch over to Ubuntu. I haven’t made up my mind, if I should switch full time to Ubuntu. At the current state, the MacOS X with its Unix root feels like the grown up Linux, just more polished and with all the apps in the right place.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

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