I have been using SLED as my primary desktop now for just under a week. There have been several issues first, subscribing to the customer center has been hard, so I can’t get any updates from SUSE, That is a huge mark down for usability if I can’t get supported updates. I passed this off because this is the trail subscription and just use openSUSE repo’s to get updates. After I subscribed to the the channels I felt I needed, I updated my system. I subscribed to the Packman repos and the Libreoffice repo.
The openSUSE community has a leg up on the Fedora community supporting newer software on upstream enterprise releases, so I can get the latest version of Libreoffice through the package manager rather then downloading it from Libreoffice.org.
In terms of usability I’m starting to remember why I switched to Fedora and Red Hat in the first place. As my Linux skills improved, I became less reliant on tools like YaST and I wanted to just update all the config files by hand. With SUSE you can’t do that. YaST will overwrite any change you make by hand. So if you just use YaST you are fine but if you are a power user and you edit config files with out the tool and then you run SuSEConfig it overwrites ALL your changes and when you update packages using YaST SuSEConfig gets ran right after the packages are installed.
I’m done with SUSE yet again, at little early then a week but I don’t want to move forward with it because of the issues with YaST. I’m told this is fixed in newer versions of openSUSE so I will give it a try when I go after the short term release distributions.
I decided to use a “Long Term Release” linux desktop instead of my traditional Fedora and Mac setups just as a trial to see how it would work out for me. I’m going to try several different “long term release” Linux distributions. By long term I mean there are packages made for the distribution for at least 3 years. So this includes Ubuntu 12.04, RHEL/CentOS 6 supplemented with EPEL and RPMForge, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 supplemented with packages from the openSUSE community. My goal is to see if I can still do much of the things I do everyday and see which distribution has the best community support in regards to maintaining packages. I personally feel that a long term support/release linux desktop should only be around for 3-5 years due to the fact that the community moves to fast. Three years from now we could easily see gnome 4 or that the gnome project is completely abandoned or replaced. Two of the linux distributions I want to review in this adventure are using Gnome 2 which is only being developed by the MATE fork. I will not be upgrading the MATE fork I will be using the default version of Gnome 2 in those two distributions. For these reviews I’m using a Lenovo T530 with an Ivy Bridge processor and 8 gigs of memory.
This is now the end of week 1. I started this adventure with RHEL 6.4. On the lenovo hardware it had no problem installing and I ready to get my environment setup in about 20 minutes. In terms of desktop environment RHEL 6.4 in it’s most up to date state has FireFox 17 ESR, LibreOffice 3.4, Gnome 2.28 or KDE 4.3. I opted to use Gnome. In terms of getting everything setup so I could work was no problem. I setup Evolution for my e-mail, imported my bookmarks into Firefox, and grabbed all my files off a smb share on my home server. In terms of getting work done this setup works. I had complete focus on my work this entire week because there weren’t any packages installed that would distract me. There aren’t a lot of packages for RHEL outside of rpm forge, epel or Red Hat itself (If you are using CentOS the CentOS mirrors). Which is a downside but I can get packages for video and audio codes thanks to rpmforge so I can still stream a movie off my home NAS. Really I had no complaints due to the lack of packages since the goal of this was to see if I could still get my day to day functions complete, the only package I found missing was hamster a time tracking that I use to track my time spent on tasks through out the day but I was able to find the source and compile with no issue.
Despite being able to be productive the OS feels out of date compared to what I have been using. For getting everything day things done this fine but if you are into the most bleeding edge open source software RHEL will not be for you. This is for users that want stability and a consistent environment for several years. I could easily see a business using RHEL as a desktop for end users since it has stable software that works and it can be managed from Red Hat’s existing tools that are used to manage servers.
Windows XP brought to the enterprise long term support and consistency from 2001 to the present. Red Hat’s 10 year commitment for their Enterprise Linux support should be very attractive to enterprise customers that enjoy a long term consistency on their desktops for several years and that also brings expanded flexibility when upgrading to a new release.
I will be testing SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop next week. I helped deploy NLD 9 and SLED 10 at Novell in 2005/2006 and I was an advocate for SUSE and used it as my desktop distribution until 2009, when I started using a Red Hat based distributions heavily for my job. Fedora finally caught up to SUSE in usability on the desktop as well so I switched. So we’ll see if I still enjoy using it. See you in a week!
I haven’t been using this as an outlet for technical discussion recently as much as I wanted so I think I will discuss my transition from using Linux everyday to an Apple setup, how it hasn’t made me any less of an open source user and I can still go back to Linux at any time. I’m very happy with the transition and I don’t plan on going back to Linux unless Apple does something to change OS X which horribly restricts me as a power user. So far they haven’t and I don’t see that they will and I actually enjoy most of the Apple ecosystem.
For years I had a state of the art workstation with a Thinkpad laptop for portability always running Linux. A few years ago I decided that I needed something more mobile friendly on my laptop so I switched to a Mac and bought a 13″ Macbook Pro and kept my Linux workstation. Over two years ago I dropped the workstation and decided to go for a mobile workstation and bought a 17″ MacBook Pro with the SandyBridge processor and it has been my primary workstation and mobile computer. I have a 16 GB of memory and 512 Gig solid state drive. When I’m home I attach it to a 27″ Apple Thunderbolt monitor. For software I use LibreOffice, VMware Fusion (I’m not a big fan of VirtualBox), Limechat for IRC, Adium, MPlayerX, and CodeRunner. For calibration I use Apple Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. I’m always asked what I use to replace Visio for a time I did use OpenOffice/LibreOffice Draw on both Linux and Mac. I just recently started using OmniGraffle Professional. It is much better then Draw or Dia and having used Visio in the past for work I actually think it is much better then Visio.
As part of my home setup I decided I wanted to handle my own data, I still have my some data on iCloud, Dropbox, and very little on Google Drive but I moved nearly everything to a Synology DS413. The DS413 is not the most powerful and it can’t run a lot of software because of it’s power based architecture but I love it. I can run everything on it and it makes a great media server for XBMC.
For mobile, my cell phone is an iPhone with a mophie juice pack and an iPad Mini. I’ve been asked why I haven’t switched to Android at least on my cell phone. I have a few reasons for that. First I don’t trust google. I use many google services but I don’t use them for many things. I don’t like the idea of my personal data being used for targeted Ads. Second, google allows any app to be on their Google Play store so if there is a vulnerability in an app it can be exploited. I’m a power user but I don’t want to think about my cell phone when it comes to security. It may not have the best battery life but it is the best cell phone when it comes to security iOS seems to be best. I may switch to Tizen when a phone is released with that OS but I will see how security is handled before I switch.
I have been debating on moving back to Linux. I was given a Lenovo Thinkpad T530 for work and I’m running Fedora on it and it has met nearly all my needs. KVM easily replaces VMware and all the apps that I use can easily be replaced with Apps that I used in the past such as Evolution or they are the same. The only thing app would be hard to replace would be OmniGraffle but Draw is getting better but still not good enough.
So I have kept Windows 8 going for another few weeks but I’m rolling back to my Windows 7 snapshot in the morning. Now that I have used it for way to long for those minor tasks that I need to use Windows for I can truly say Microsoft is doomed. I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft or Windows but I never thought to myself “oh great I need to load Internet Explorer again to do this task”. I love the company I’m working for now but I’m so glad that I going to a company that doesn’t use any Microsoft products. No more windows for sometime I hope!
I have been using Windows 8 for 4 days now and this is my verdict. If you are happy with Windows 7 don’t upgrade. If you are still running Windows XP and want a new computer, well you might want to try to find a computer that has Windows 7 installed. I get Windows 8 for a multitouch tablet, maybe even a multitouch laptop or desktop but if you want to use a traditional computer without touch screens, just stick to Windows 7, move to Linux or buy a mac. I personally find the user interface to be annoying, putting my mouse into a corner to bring up a function of the UI, I’m sure there are hot keys for most of the gestures but the average user isn’t or at least rarely going to use hot-keys (alt-tab still works to switch between applications thankfully).
I will be going into more details of my experience later.
One more thing it goes back to my post entitled Windows 8 maybe the end of Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop. I was reading an article that Microsoft will be releasing a new version of Windows every year or every 2 years. Microsoft can kiss the enterprise market good buy if they do that. The enterprise market or at least most of it will be making a move to another operating system very fast especially those still on Windows XP. I see a bright future for Apple, Red Hat, and Canonical.
I started the upgrade around 1:10 am and it completed at 1:35. For an install 25 minutes isn’t bad. When Windows 8 finishes installing it gives you a quick tutorial on how to use Windows 8. Then it proceeds to take time to “install apps” and configure my settings. and that completed at 1:40. All my files on this VM where there and Office is working perfectly. I’m going to be running this instead of my Windows 7 VM (which I have backed up) for the next seven days.
There maybe an input device driver problem since my mouse isn’t working but I’m going to blame that on VMware.
===UPDATE ON MY MOUSE===
Rebooting seemed to work…amazing how that works with Windows…
Windows 8 Review
Today I’m working on my Windows 8 update. First off my first complaint is the amount of disk space it requires when you do an upgrade from Windows 7. It needs at least 20 gigs of free space to do the upgrade. Windows 7 by itself uses 10 gigs and then Microsoft Office 2010 uses at least 10 as well so my virtual environment that I’m testing the upgrade on needed the virtual hard drive hard drive expanded. Most users wouldn’t upgrade a virtual machine but simply install a fresh copy of Windows 8 but I’m trying to test the Windows 8 upgrade process. If you are using a standard desktop or laptop computer and you don’t want to do a fresh install keep in mind you need at least 20 gigs of free space to perform the upgrade. I have never had a good experience doing upgrades between Windows versions (Windows XP to Vista or Windows XP to Windows 7 or Vista to 7). My experience would say to backup your data and perform a fresh install hopefully at the end of this upgrade I will say go ahead and perform an upgrade.